Cape Town - As South Africans, we all have those destinations on our must-visit radars - the popular, easy-on-the-pocket and visa-free spots.
These include the likes of Mauritius, Thailand and closer to home - Namibia for example. All spectacular within their own right and worth a visit for very different reasons.
But where are the places that are not so popular? Perhaps the question to even consider is which far-flung destinations are just appearing on the radar? It could be set to host a significant event or ultimately accessibility has improved.
We've uncovered a few you might be interested in. Take a look - think you have a suggestion to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why.
The sandy beaches, rainforests and diverse ecosystem make this one of the most iconic places in the world.
Home to legendary cities including Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Salvador, Brazil really is one big adventure. If you want to visit the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, head to a favela party and kick back with some caipirinhas.
While carnival is on the go, this visa-free spot for locals is a lot easier to get to these days. In 2016 Latam became a direct route offering for locals between Joburg and Sao Paulo.
But overall South America is back on the map with more accessibility and cheaper stay options.
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Rwanda is a popular destination for 2018, with new lodges opening up. The destination is also enjoying increased air access. Perceived as safe and clean, Rwanda has become a bucket list destination for travellers who want to experience the remoteness of the wilderness and feel a close connection with nature and wildlife, says Henk Graaff of SW Africa.
Although the country has many tourist attractions, the most sought-after is an experience with its mountain gorillas in the Virunga region at the Volcanoes National Park.
While it might not be uncharted per say, it is certainly experiencing renewed interest, especially now that a new government is in place. The country has always been seen as the black sheep of Africa, but it's become a very attractive destination as it's not overly frequented.
Mana Pools, for example, is one area in Zimbabwe that is quite difficult to access, but when travellers get there, they feel a sense of achievement and wonder.
"All activities in Mana Pools are exclusively nature-based, from hiking to bird-watching to studying the stars at night. There are no shops, and mobile phone network coverage is very limited," says Graaff.
Mana Pools is extreme in the fact that it is a "wild" destination with unfenced camps and a high density of potentially dangerous wild animals traversing the camps, such as lions and crocodiles. This makes for real adventure with real danger experienced.
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Another close to home favourite. The much-awaited Maputo-to-Ponta do Ouro road, set to open this year is expected to be a game-changer as it will drastically reduce travelling time between Kosi Bay and Maputo.
Natalie Tenzer-Silva of Dana Tours says the new road will certainly open up the east African country for more business. It will also include Africa's largest suspension bridge, Catembe Bridge.
"The new road will put Maputo firmly on the map for South African travellers in 2018. This capital city is renowned for being one of Africa's most attractive capitals and the most developed city in Mozambique. Ultimately Maputo is that wonderful mix of Latino African style and charm," says Tenzer-Silva.
To get to know the city, opt for a Dana walking tour of the Baixa region.
The Baixa is where Maputo’s colonial history began and this tour takes you to the very heart of Maputo. Stops along your walk include the Railway Station, Fortress, Central Market and Independence Square. You will also pass by the City Hall, Cathedral, Botanical Gardens and Steel House.
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With improved flight connectivity and a sudden resurgence in connecting with authentic old-world experiences. Ethiopia today is providing a fascinating fusion of ancient sites, modern growth, incredible and diverse natural landscapes and a history that is quite overwhelming.
It’s a land of natural striking contrasts, from bleak desert, fiery bubbling pools in the lowest place on earth, lakes, canyons and rivers, to soaring mountains, wide plains and ancient cities.
It’s home to nine Unesco World Heritage Sites - eight of these are cultural, one natural: the spectacular Simien Mountains National Park in the north, known for its soaring peaks, Afro-alpine windswept moors and unique animals such as the Simien wolf and gelada baboons.
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AfriTravel is securely on the bucket-list radar of most South Africans. And if you haven't yet considered Morocco, you should be - for a number of exotic reasons.
Famed for its rich mix of Berber and Sufi spiritual culture, infused with mystical palaces, mosques, sprawling souqs and legends of magical genies - this is a journey that engages all the senses.
Whether you opt for the serenity and sacred tranquility of the national parks and deserts overlooked by the Atlas or immerse yourself in frenetic pace of the medinas with its colourful spice merchants and street performers together with their cute monkeys - it is bound to be an unusual experience.
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South Africans are travelling further afield with Asia and Malaysia travel up 70% in the first seven months of our Financial Year, according to Flight Centre Travel Group.
Another emerging trend according to their booking trends include, "considerable increase in growth of visitors to Turkey 81%".
With the Istanbul New Airport, set to be the largest airport in the world when fully completed at the end of 2018 - the city which already sits on both the Asian and European continents, is a new hub for obvious reasons.
Turkish Airlines also serves more international destinations that any other airline operator on the globe, flying to 288 destinations in 113 countries globally.
Its recently extended 'Stopover' service to South Africans, including free accommodation for long stopovers of 20 hours makes it a great multi-spot escape. Keep in mind you have to be flying to either Asia, Far East and Americas (The USA, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Cuba), the UK, Ireland, Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Tunisia.
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The land of the ancients is loaded to the hilt with passionate people and charming landscapes, which South Africans are eagerly looking to enjoy, according to Cost Saver Tours.
From the monumental structures of Athens, to the crisp white houses of Mykonos.
Athens is one of the world's oldest and most famous cities and arguably the wisest. It isn’t every day you get to explore the home of Plato’s academy, or traverse the grounds of Aristotle’s Lyceum, but you can wander as you please in this expanse of Greek history.
Santorini in the deep blue of the Aegean Sea is the rugged landscape of Santorini, or Thira, as the locals call it. Mykonos also boasts an eclectic history and was once home to Neolithic tribes, Ionians and Catalans.
Set to host the Soccer World Cup this year, this visa-free destination for locals is going to be brimming with travel options over the next couple of months.
According to travel blogger Marc Dinkelmann, it’s one of those countries that the rest of the world only hears bad stories about, be it the criticism Putin draws from the West, the conflict in Crimea with Ukraine or old tales from the Cold War. But any way you look at it, it’s one of those places that interests people for reasons that we sometimes aren’t so comforted by. Moreover, coming from a country that overcomes negative stereotypes, locals know better than to right a place off because of bad coverage.
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Scandinavia and especially Norway is a popular destination for 2018 for the South African travellers, who are drawn by Norway's ethereal natural splendour, says Theresa Szejwallo, MD of Trafalgar South Africa.
To answer the growing demand for this destination, Trafalgar has recently added a new tour to the region, Best of Norway.
Travellers can expect pristine nature - an untamed landscape of fjords, lakes and dense forests that begins in the understated capital of Oslo. For a truly unique experience, travellers will be able to stay on the shores of the Geiranger Fjord in the family owned Union Hotel complete with its very own spa and vintage car exhibition, or they can enjoy dinner with the 5th generation Øvre-Eide family on their livestock farm in Norway that has been a working farm since the 1500s.
Alaska and Iceland
Northern Lights with Hurtigruten is high on the wish list for many South Africans as it still is in the period of one of the best years to be guaranteed to see them, says Jane Davidson, Director for Development Promotions.
"Demand for Expedition travel to Antarctica, Arctic (Svalbard) and Iceland are increasing. These destinations are always under threat of not being around in years to come in their existing form, and they are all once in a lifetime opportunity
According to the How Far from Home Couple Channel and Stevo, relaxing in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is also a once-in-a-lifetime must.
"It couldn’t have been a more special evening, arriving at 10pm in the middle of Summer to avoid most of the crowds."
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Set to host the Rugby World Cup in 2019 - you can either start planning that epic trip now or you can head there ahead of the big event if you don't really want to deal with the crowds or jump in pricing later down the line.
Japan is a surprising neon whirl of the ultra-modern with the traditional and visiting for the first time with very little knowledge of Japanese, means you are mostly dependent on Google Translate, with a spot of laughter-filled charades in between.
Online booking sites offer plenty of rooms at no greater cost than hotels in South Africa. Getting into the city is easier than expected but do factor in Jetlag.
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If you’ve done Bali, Seychelles or Thailand and even Mauritius you may want to break the mold on your previous tropical island escapes and head to the Philippines. The Southeast Asian country is home to over 7 000 islands but is still fairly new to the tourist scene and can be refreshing travelling with more locals than internationals.
Being a visa-free destination and able to secure a round-trip at an estimated R7k this should be on your immerging routes radar.
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While possibly not the easiest or cheapest destination for South African travellers, it’s actually a bit more welcoming and rand-friend than you might think.
It’s a long haul across the Atlantic, so you will want to make the most out of your decision to head to the Great White North. South Africans are allowed 6 months on a visitor’s visa, but with less time, it’s best to choose a central hub to fly into and then head either east or west from there.
Unless you’ve dreamed about frolicking in the snow in minus 20 or more degrees, the best time to be heading there would be in spring (March – May), summer (June- August), or fall (September – November).
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