The Top 10 Countries to Visit

If you’re in the mood to do some international traveling, there are many exciting countries worth visiting. The world is always changing, and some destinations are especially appealing right now. According to Lonely Planet, the following are the ten best countries to visit in 2014.

10. Malaysia

Malaysia has one of the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia. Aside from its many historic and natural attractions, the nation has recently opened some notable new sites. These include Legoland Malaysia and Melaka, a bird park that contains hundreds of species of birds. This is a great year to visit Malaysia, especially as you can now find reasonable fares by airlines such as AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines.


9. Macedonia

This Balkan nation is not yet as popular as its neighbor Greece, but it’s rapidly establishing itself as an international destination of note.  Macedonia has a wealth of history to explore, yet it’s also a very modern country as well, and currently has a thriving entertainment scene that features lots of restaurants, clubs, bistros and ski resorts.


8. Belgium

Belgium is a European country that some tourists tend to overlook, but this is quickly changing. It features several amazing cities, such as Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp, the heart of the Flemish region. Famous for its chocolate and beer, Belgium is also expecting to receive lots of visitors as it prepares to celebrate a four year festival commemorating World War l.


7. Seychelles

These beautiful islands, set off in a remote area of the Indian Ocean, are known for being a destination for the ultra wealthy. Fortunately, there are now some economical alternatives to the exclusive hotels and resorts of the Seychelles. You can find more affordable guest houses and B & B’s that allow you to enjoy the islands’ unique scenery and incomparable beaches at a reasonable price. This is the ideal beach hideaway for people who want to avoid the crowds.


6. Mexico

Mexico has long been a favorite destination for travelers seeking warmth, beaches and an exotic culture that is right on the border of the U.S. This is a nation that has something to offer travelers of all tastes, whether one prefers lounging on the beach with a cocktail, visiting museums or exploring Mayan ruins. Adventure loving visitors will want to experience the new zipline overlooking Copper Canyon.


5. Malawi

If you’ve ever dreamed of taking an African safari, Malawi is the place to do this in 2014. At places such as the Majete Wildlife Reserve, you can experience incredible animals up close without the constant buzz of four-wheel drives passing you by, as is the case in many other African national parks. Malawi is a country where you can enjoy the Big Five -elephants, buffalo, rhinos, leopards and lions- in a low key manner.


4. Sweden

Sweden is one of the most fascinating destinations in Northern Europe right now. In addition to the distinctive Scandanavian landscape, you will find all kinds of cultural attractions in cities such as Stockholm and Umea, which was named the European Capital of Culture for 2014. Sweden’s cities are full of lively clubs, museums and cafes. You can also enjoy the nation’s distinctively fresh cuisine, which includes local cheeses, produce, game and seafood.


3. Scotland

Scotland is always a memorable place to visit, but in 2014 it is especially exciting. Over the summer, you can catch the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow if you are in town. There are also a myriad of other events and festivals, including the Spirit of Speyside Whiskey Festival in the spring and the government sponsored Year of Homecoming festival. The nation has also recently upgraded its transportation system and opened some new sports venues to make it even more visitor friendly.


2. Antarctica

The world’s coldest and least populated continent has a lot to offer adventurous travelers. While not necessarily a country – it is a destination travelers should consider for 2014. Antarctica is one of the few regions where you can appreciate the stark beauty of nature with hardly any distractions. There is the fascinating wildlife, such as leopard seals, killer whales, seabirds and, of course, penguins. You can also experience the grandeur of glaciers, giant icebergs and mountain ranges that have never been scaled. An Antarctic cruise is a travel experience unlike any other, and is worth putting on your bucket list for 2014.


1. Brazil

There are many good reasons to visit Brazil in 2014, starting with the FIFA World Cup. Even if you’re not a sports fan, however, this growing country has a great deal to offer. It features some of the world’s most beautiful beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema, as well as an always exuberant nightlife. If you go early in the year you can also experience the world’s biggest Carnival celebration in Rio de Janeiro.


10 Best Safaris in Africa

Up and down the Great Rift Valley, there are many parks and game reserves that offer visitors the beauty of Africa. Whether you are looking for lions and luxury or roughing it with rhinos, here are ten African safari destinations that are sure to please.

1. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Best known for the Great Wildebeest Migration between July and October, the Mara grasslands are home to zebra, lion, the African elephant, and the endangered black rhino, while some of the most dangerous animals in the world hippos and crocodiles can be seen in the Mara and Talek rivers. Visitors can find lodges or camps offering driving tours, horse-riding, or even hot air balloon tours.

2. Okavango Delta and the Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

The Okavango Delta is a lush oasis nestled in the heart of the Kalahari Desert, containing the Moremi Game Preserve. With both fertile grasslands and meandering waterways, the delta offers visitors breathtaking dry and wetland safaris, whether on game drives, on foot or aboard canoes, called makoru. Moremi is also a birdwatcher’s paradise, boasting more than 400 colorful species.

3. Kruger National Park, South Africa

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Offering both guided and self-drive safari adventures, this national park is home to all of the Big Five game attractions: lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros. Lodging at the park includes everything from tents to luxury accommodations in 26 rest camps.

4. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe/Zambia

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Not only does this area offer stunning views of the Zambezi River crashing spectacularly over Victoria Falls, but there are also many diverse safari options. Elephant and water buffalo can be seen drinking along the river from canoes or while walking along the numerous river trail walks. Visitors can also view the rare Sable antelope at the Matetsi Game Reserve, or literally get in touch with nature on elephant-back safaris.

5. Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania

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Where there had once stood a looming volcano is now one of the most beautiful natural wonders in Africa. The world’s largest unbroken caldera, a collapsed volcano crater, Ngorongoro is home to large populations of lions, hippo, and gazelle. Luxury lodges can be found on the crater rim with stunning views looking down into the heart of the once-mighty mountain.

6. Etosha National Park, Namibia

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Home to African elephants, black and white rhinoceros, giraffes, and leopards, the Etosha Pan floods during the summer months, attracting water birds, including flamingos and pelicans. Tourism is managed by the Namibia Wildlife Resorts, with five in-park sites for lodging or camping.

7. Lake Malawi National Park, Malawi

Located at the southern end of the lake, the Lake Malawi National Park boasts the first freshwater national park in the world. From Cape McClear and other landing sites, visitors can enjoy the pristine water, home to many different species of mbuna, freshwater fish known as cichlids. Other wildlife seen on game drives, boating, and walking tours include baboons, fish eagles, and hyrax.

8. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

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Despite its foreboding name, Bwindi welcomes visitors, offering thrilling mountain safaris, most notably, gorilla-tracking tours. Accommodations range from luxury lodges to tented forest camps, surrounded by more than 200 tree species, colobus monkeys, and chimpanzees. The park is open year-round, but it is best to visit during dry seasons to avoid the muddy conditions of roads and trails.

9. Luangwa Valley, Zambia

View the world’s largest concentration of hippos in one of the four national parks in this valley: North and South Luangwa, Luambe, and Lukusuzi. Safari adventures here include walking elephant trails and day and night game drives. The valley is also home to two endemic species, Thornicroft’s Giraffe and Cookson’s Wildebeest.

10. Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique

After decades of civil war, tourism in Mozambique is experiencing a renaissance, and the Gorongosa National Park has steadily rebounded since 2004. Now an active tourist destination, the park offers diverse flora and fauna, including buffalo, wildebeests, and rainforest habitats on Mount Gorongosa.