As we welcome in the New Year, notable travel media outlets such as AFAR, National Geographic and Lonely Planet have been curating lists of the best places to visit in 2023. Natural Habitat Adventures operates trips in 20 of these bucket-list destinations, from Australia to Zambia. Our partners Lindblad Expeditions, DuVine and Classic Journeys venture to other top travel spots, including Egypt and the Loire Valley.
Here are 23 entrancing nature journeys to inspire your travel resolutions for the coming year. Can’t decide? Take our custom travel quiz to narrow down your options!
1. Tasmania & Victoria, Australia
In December of 2022, I returned home from one of the greatest adventures in all my travels: Australia South: Tasmania, Kangaroo Island & the Great Ocean Road. Tasmania stood out in particular for spectacular wildlife encounters, especially Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, located in the heart of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Wombats, echidnas, pademelons and wallabies grazed beside us along the boardwalks at our lakeside lodge. On night walks, we caught sight of ringtail and brushtail possums under a sea of stars in the southern sky. We also had the rare opportunity to watch a Tasmanian devil feeding and see both Eastern and spotted-tail quolls at a conservation sanctuary.
AFAR’s Krisanne Fordham raves, “If you’re into nature, almost half of Tasmania’s land mass lies in national parks and World Heritage areas, so you’ve got glittering alpine lakes, rivers, incredible snowcapped peaks like Cradle Mountain and Mount Wellington,” which towers over the capital city of Hobart. This lush and secluded island state is a nature lover’s dream.
In Hobart, we stay at an elegant Victorian estate overlooking the harbor. Sample the best of Tasmanian food and wine before walking to the Royal Botanical Gardens, which burst to life with multi-hued lupines, rose-clad arbors and pink waterlily ponds.
“The waterfront city of Hobart has undergone a renaissance in the last decade, attracting both domestic and overseas tourists. The city offers plenty of opportunities to connect with art, food, nature and architecture,” comments Fodor’s Katie Dundas.
We fly across the Bass Strait to Tasmania from the state of Victoria. Journeying down the Great Ocean Road along the south-west coast of Victoria, we stop at scenic overlooks where fur seals lounge and gaze out on imposing limestone sea stacks, including the famed Twelve Apostles. On walks through eucalyptus woodlands and giant tree fern forests, we spot koalas, emus and superb fairywrens, and seek out kangaroos, potoroos and bandicoots at Cape Otway’s Conservation Ecology Center. A highlight is a bushwalk with an Aboriginal guide, where we sample native edible plants and learn about traditional medicines.
2. Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Fodor’s 2023 Go List
The granite spires of Torres del Paine, bathed in rosy alpenglow, are majestic to behold. Our Patagonia Wilderness & Wildlife Explorer: Special Photo Departure is perfect for those looking to photograph epic landscapes and intriguing wildlife, from guanacos, a wild relative of the llama, to prowling pumas. With an expert photography guide and an itinerary designed around helping you capture outstanding nature shots, this Andean adventure is one not to miss. A small group of only 10 fellow travelers allows us to maximize photo opportunities in secluded surrounds. You’ll come home with a treasure trove of pictures, from glowing blue glacial ice and turquoise lakes to towering massifs.
Fodor’s Heather Jasper declares, “Torres del Paine has some of the most spectacular landscapes on Earth…So close to the tip of South America and Antarctica, it’s easy to feel like you’re exploring in the age of Shackleton.” You’ll gaze upon glaciers dating 2.6 million years that are now rapidly retreating due to climate change—see them sooner rather than later.
3. The United Kingdom
“What is truly great in the U.K. right now,” Travel + Leisure’s Fiona Mozley states, are “the innovative chefs, groundbreaking galleries, majestic landscapes, stylish hotels, and cozy pubs that make the nation more inviting than ever. The Cotswolds and the Home Counties, meanwhile, offer the quaint villages and rolling hills of “Old England.”
Stroll past songbirds sheltered in hedgerows, royal estates with rose-clad gardens and wildflower-filled woodlands on our The Cotswolds: Exploring English Nature tour, Dine on sustainable farm-to-table fare in bucolic settings as you learn about artisan agriculture and conservation efforts, and end the day with a pint at a local pub that dates back centuries.
Fodor’s 2023 Go List, National Geographic’s 25 Breathtaking Places and Experiences for 2023
Botswana has long been at the forefront of sustainability and conservation travel, and 2023 offers new strides forward, from anti-poaching camera sensors to community-based outreach. Nat Hab is once again redefining sustainable safaris with the creation of an electric safari vehicle. Gliding across the savannah immerses you in the sights, smells and sounds of the wild. Our whisper-quiet, solar-powered vehicle allows for a stealthier approach to wildlife, enhancing our nature viewing experience while reducing our overall carbon footprint.
Emission-free mobility is the future of environmentally responsible travel, and we hope to inspire safari operators, and the travel industry more broadly, to follow our lead. The outcome is an unparalleled wildlife viewing experience and a greener safari. As the world’s first 100% carbon-neutral travel company, what could be a better way to raise the bar than a zero-emission, carbon-neutral way to explore the bush?
In the Okavango Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, search for the Big Five—rhino, leopard, lion, elephant and African buffalo—along with African wild dogs, giraffes, zebras and abundant birdlife. According to Fodor’s Sam Kisika, this “diverse wetland in the desert bursts with wildlife…Visitors to this thrilling region discover ever-transforming natural landscapes as you picnic in the wild and join exhilarating safari drives where sightings of hippos and elephants splashing in the clear waters of the Okavango River are part of the adventure.”
5. New Zealand
Travel + Leisure’s 50 Best Places to Travel in 2023, National Geographic’s 25 Breathtaking Places and Experiences for 2023, Condé Nast Traveler’s 23 Best Places to Go in 2023
New Zealand is ready to welcome adventure travelers from around the world. “After a stringent lockdown, New Zealand has at last dropped all travel restrictions. Happily, the country is becoming more accessible than ever, thanks to the nonstop flights between New York and Auckland that Air New Zealand launched in September,” T+L’s Peter Terzian comments. And starting in June 2023, Australian carrier Qantas will also offer direct flights from New York.
On our New Zealand Nature Explorer expedition, enjoy a private cruise of mythical-looking Milford Sound, one of the main settings for the film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. Search for kiwis on guided night walks in Rakiura National Park, whose Maori name means “Land of Glowing Skies.” Stargaze beneath some of the darkest skies on Earth at Lake Wanaka and, if lucky, catch sight of the aurora australis.
6. South Africa
“Complementing its internationally known (and loved) vineyards, South Africa’s new generation of chefs is propelling the country’s culinary scene forward making it a destination to visit not just for wine, but food as well,” says Lonely Planet’s Mary Fitzpatrick.
On our Cape Town Extension, which you can add on to our Secluded South Africa, food and fine wine are a highlight. At tastings at two historic estates in the Cape Winelands region, sample vintages and cheeses. On a guided tour of Cape Dutch farm, established in 1692, you’re invited to pick, taste, smell and touch an array of the more than 300 fruits and vegetables that grow here. You’ll also take a revolving cable car to the top of famed Table Mountain (part of the Cape Floral Region UNESCO World Heritage Site), visit Boulders Beach to see African penguins and stroll through Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens past 9,000 indigenous flowering plant species and a host of birdlife.
National Geographic’s 25 Breathtaking Places and Experiences for 2023
“Widely recognized as a leader in sustainable tourism, Slovenia has…added a new item to the menu: the Slovenia Green Gourmet Route.” This food trail of green-certified destinations highlights the country’s Michelin-starred restaurants, traditional farms and wineries. Slovenia was named the European Region of Gastronomy for 2021, and you’ll see why on our Wild Nature of Croatia & Slovenia adventure.
Visiting a 90-year-old apiary, you’ll learn about the sustainable artisan production of honey and taste it in honey liqueur, gingerbread and pastries. Dine at local family homes in the countryside and enjoy an Aperol spritz at romantic lodgings overlooking castles and shimmering blue lakes. Stop for a cheese tasting at a 13th-century village nestled among lush mountain slopes and sample wines from the Mediterranean across the Alps and the Karst to the Pannonian Plains.
Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023, Condé Nast Traveler’s 23 Best Places to Go in the U.S. in 2023
“Along with its spectacular wildlife, gorgeous fjords and glaciers, Alaska is also a great place to learn about native Alaskan culture and an example of Indigenous groups managing authentic tourism experiences that also embrace sustainability,” remarks Lonely Planet’s Richard Perry. In Anchorage, the first stop on our Ultimate Alaska Wildlife Safari, we focus on Alaska’s rich Native heritage with a privately guided tour of the Alaska Native Heritage Center or the Anchorage Museum’s First Peoples of Alaska exhibit. “Wedged between a frigid sea and the towering Chugach Mountains, Anchorage plays basecamp to Alaska’s vast wilderness,” says Condé Nast Traveler’s Jen Rose Smith.
From there, many adventures await: a scenic flight and glacier landing on Denali, a private cruise through Kenai Fjords and brown bear encounters in Katmai. We also travel a section of the historic Alaska Railroad, which is celebrating 100 years in 2023.
9. Queensland, Australia
Fodor’s 2023 Go List, Condé Nast Traveler’s 23 Best Places to Go in 2023
Cairns, Queensland, is the gateway to two World Heritage Sites: the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree National Park, the oldest rain forest on Earth. On Australia North: Kakadu, Daintree & the Great Barrier Reef, we enter the homeland of the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people, whose history dates back 50,000 years. “Australia is making an effort to return land to its native people, and Queensland has been leading the way, with thousands of acres going back to Indigenous groups over the last two years.
For travelers, this shift is yielding new experiences guided by the insight of the original stewards of the land,” observes Condé Nast Traveler’s Devorah Lev-Tov. Daintree National Park was part of a parcel returned in 2021, and it is now jointly managed by the Eastern Kuku Yalanji and the state government. Surrounding our secluded ecolodge are prehistoric-looking cassowaries and tree kangaroos, while lunch at the Daintree Tea House provides an opportunity to sample the myriad tropical fruits found where the rainforest meets the reef.
Travel + Leisure’s 50 Best Places to Travel in 2023, Virtuoso’s 2023 Travel Trends
For the Arctic explorer, Greenland beckons. Notes T+L’s Paul Brady, this Arctic country promises “plenty of beautiful landscapes and seemingly endless horizons.” Dramatic glaciers, massive icebergs and circling whales greet you on Zodiac excursions into Sermilik Fjord, an Arctic paradise now threatened by climate change. In August of 2023, join our special climate departure Greenland: The Fate of the Arctic in a Warming World. As you explore remote East Greenland from our luxury expedition camp, learn about the impact of a warming world on northern wildlife, Indigenous communities and the planet’s second largest ice sheet.
11. British Columbia
Condé Nast Traveler’s 23 Best Places to Go in 2023, Travel + Leisure’s 50 Best Places to Travel in 2023
British Columbia’s wilderness gems are effervescent on Spirit Bears, Humpbacks & Wildlife of BC. Seek out the mystical white bears that feature prominently in the oral traditions of Tsimshian coastal First Nations, cruise by breaching whales and kayak past sheltered coves and evergreen islands that speckle the coast.
“The province of British Columbia is renowned for its pristine natural beauty…and new Indigenous-led experiences are connecting travelers to the cultures most closely tied to the land,” says Condé Nast Traveler’s Chloe Berge.
We’ll enter the realm of the spirit bear with an Indigenous Gitga’at guide. He’ll share his culture and stories, and we’ll learn about efforts to protect the Great Bear Rainforest from logging and oil pipeline development. With a focus on First Nations and conservation, we’ll see firsthand how Indigenous-led ecotourism plays a central role in conserving the largest untouched temperature rain forest on the Pacific Coast.
Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023, Travel + Leisure’s 50 Best Places to Travel in 2023
Bhutan intrigues travelers in search of solace in nature. Retreat to a Himalayan kingdom and take time to wander across lush valleys and mountains blanketed in emerald forests. Lonely Planet’s Bradley Mayhew proclaims, “Its golden-roofed temples, magnificent fortress-like monasteries and timeless rural villages are as close to a Shangri-La as you can find in the modern world.”
Bhutan has long championed conservation, preserving 60% of its land under forest cover, as mandated in the constitution. In this carbon-negative country, visitor presence is still light, and a Sustainable Development Fee for incoming travelers helps fund cultural and conservation initiatives.
Journey to the “Land of the Thunder Dragon” on Wild & Ancient Himalaya: Nepal & Bhutan.
13. From Zanzibar to the Lower Zambezi: Custom Africa Adventures
Fodor’s 2023 Go List (Zanzibar), Travel + Leisure’s 50 Best Places to Travel in 2023 (Lower Zambezi National Park), AFAR’s Best Places to Travel in 2023 (Ruaha National Park), Town & Country’s Best Places to Travel in 2023 (Private Villas)
Our Adventure Specialists are Africa experts who can help you craft your dream safari. “Custom safaris are considered independent adventures,” says Megan Bryant, Nat Hab’s Director of Custom Africa Travel. “You can select your own travel dates, go to the locations and stay at the lodgings that best suit you, and travel free of a larger group. There are what we call ‘private bush homes’ where your party has exclusive use of the entire camp or lodge, complete with your own housekeeping staff, private chef and safari guide.” Town & Country recommends booking a private villa in Africa, “because, let’s face it, having the bush all to yourself is better.”
“For travelers returning to Africa for a second, third, or maybe even fifth(!) trip,” says Bryant, “we can get really creative.” While first-time visitors to Tanzania flock to the Serengeti, Ruaha National Park’s remote location sees few tourists, guaranteeing an exclusive safari experience. “Low visitation rates make biodiverse Ruaha a wildlife enthusiast’s dream: This vast landscape of habitats, ranging from savannas to wetlands, feels like a private game reserve, and travelers can go days without seeing another vehicle,” elaborates AFAR’s Jennifer Flowers.
The possibilities when planning a custom safari are endless. View hippos and elephants from your private camp overlooking Zambia’s Zambezi River or plan a getaway to Zanzibar, Tanzania, to swim with sea turtles, marvel at red colobus monkeys and feast on Swahili cuisine. “Zambia is a destination so many people miss,” says Leora Rothschild in Travel + Leisure. “The country’s Lower Zambezi National Park is one of my favorite destinations anywhere. Having a safari on a river adds a dynamic element,” offering a different perspective of wildlife from the water.
Fodor’s Mwende Mutuli Musau notes that Zanzibar’s “ethereal scenery draws travelers to this tropical archipelago. It’s an oasis on the Indian Ocean heralding pristine white beaches, it’s home to thick luscious forests, and it boasts an abundance of marine wildlife. This is one of the most unique travel destinations in Africa.”
Our Custom African Safaris span across Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
14. Uttar Pradesh, India
Travel + Leisure’s 50 Best Places to Travel in 2023
“India’s fourth-largest state is home to classic attractions including the Taj Mahal, in Agra, and the Ganges River ghats of Varanasi, the nation’s holiest city,” notes T+L’s Alisha Prakash. Capture ethereal images of the Taj Mahal at sunrise and sunset on our India Tiger Safari: A Photo Pro Expedition, and tour Agra Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A hot air balloon ride over the Pink City of Jaipur offers more opportunities for stunning aerial shots.
Our primary focus is photographing the large regal cats that prowl the jungle—Bengal tigers. You’ll safari in Ranthambore National Park at the best time of year for tiger sightings and photograph other wildlife along the way, including sloth bear, leopard, caracal, jungle cat, jackal, striped hyena, serpent eagle and marsh crocodile. Your Expedition Leader is an accomplished photography professional and tiger expert, helping you make the most of your epic photo adventure.
15. Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park
Fodor’s 2023 Go List
More than 500 giant sequoias are found in Mariposa Grove, including the 3,000-year-old Grizzly Giant and drive-through Tunnel Tree, which travelers can view on An Insider’s Journey into Yosemite. Observes Fodor’s Bunny McMadden, “The ancient ones who live in Mariposa Grove are so stunning that American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted said no photograph or painting could ever prepare a visitor for the magic of seeing them. These sequoias are no stranger to fire, which has long been an Indigenous tool for stewarding the land. But as wildfire consequences have grown more severe, seeing this majestic grove is at once more precious and urgent.”
16. Banff National Park & Athabasca Glacier, Alberta
National Geographic’s 25 Breathtaking Places and Experiences for 2023, Forbes 23 Best Places to Travel in 2023
Lakes like sapphire jewels dot the fir forests, gleaming below striking mountains that rise into the clouds. On our Remote Peaks & Meadows of the Canadian Rockies adventure, you’ll explore the many wonders of Banff, Canada’s first national park, including turquoise Lake Louise. “Lake Louise enjoys a prime postcard backdrop against a hanging glacier and Mount Victoria,” states Stacy Kristynik in Forbes.
You’ll head to Jasper and Yoho national parks from there before heli-hiking in the Bugaboos. The Canadian province of Alberta, where these natural wonders lie, is a leader in Indigenous tourism. Travelers “who seek us out want to reconnect and refocus,” imparts Brenda Holder, a Cree/Iroquois guide, in National Geographic. At Athabasca Glacier, our Nat Hab group hikes with a local Indigenous guide who offers rich insight into the natural and cultural history of the icefield region.
Travel + Leisure’s 50 Best Places to Travel in 2023
On our Tanzania’s Great Migration & Ngorongoro Crater safari, you’ll head to the Serengeti to witness stampeding wildebeest herds and venture into the largest unbroken caldera on Earth, home to the densest concentration of wildlife in Africa. Conservation travel—travel that has the power to protect nature, benefit communities and preserve cultural heritage—is the heart of what we do at Nat Hab, and exciting developments are ahead as a new era dawns in Tanzania.
“The leader of the country’s changing face is President Samia Suluhu Hassan, the first woman of color and the first Muslim to lead this country…she’s devoted herself to strengthening infrastructure, women’s businesses, education, health care…and sustainable travel,” T+L’s Samantha Falewée comments.
National Geographic’s 25 Breathtaking Places and Experiences for 2023, Town & Country’s Best Places to Travel in 2023, Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023
The austere beauty of Scotland’s Wild Highlands & Islands is striking to behold, and a greener future lies in store thanks to new conservation initiatives. After centuries of logging and overgrazing, “a move to return the Highlands to its original woodlands, by reintroducing former flora and fauna in a process called “rewilding,” is gathering steam… The nonprofit organization Trees for Life is opening a center in Dundreggan to educate the public on the concept of rewilding…and most ambitiously, the Affric Highlands project will start restoring 500,000 acres stretching from Loch Ness to the west coast in a 30-year initiative that could make Scotland the planet’s first rewilded nation,” declares National Geographic. Rewilding efforts range from planting pine, rowan and oak trees to efforts to reintroduce native species such as pine marten, red deer, otter and the rare Scottish wildcat.
Nat Hab visits the Scottish Wildcat Breeding Conservation Program at the Aigas Field Center, where we learn about the United Kingdom’s most endangered mammal. We also enjoy a special presentation at Trees for Life, which seeks to restore the Caledonian forest that once covered much of interior Scotland.
19. The Everglades
Condé Nast Traveler’s 23 Best Places to Go in the U.S. in 2023
Explore Everglades National Park, which celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2023, by private airboat on our Florida Nature Safari. A World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve and Wetland of International Importance, this subtropical wilderness spans 1.5 million acres. “The Everglades now faces its own unique set of environmental concerns, especially due to climate change and non-native and invasive species,” states Condé Nast Traveler’s Caroline Eubanks. During an interpretive experience at the park visitor center and hike, we learn why protecting this incredibly biodiverse wetland is so crucial.
Condé Nast Traveler’s 23 Best Places to Go in 2023
”Kenya has long been a big draw for safari travelers,” states Condé Nast Traveler’s Sarah Khan, and it’s easy to see why. On The Great Kenya Migration Safari, you’ll witness thousands of thundering wildebeest and zebra as they cross the Mara River. Experience the best of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda on our Ultimate East Africa Safari. You’ll visit Ol Pejeta Conservancy, home to the last two northern white rhinos. On both trips, you’re in for a luxurious stay at Nat Hab’s Private Mobile Camp bordering the Maasai Mara National Reserve, one of Africa’s most legendary wildlife realms.
National Geographic’s 25 Breathtaking Places and Experiences for 2023, Condé Nast Traveler’s 23 Best Places to Go in 2023, Travel + Leisure’s 50 Best Places to Travel in 2023
On Lindblad’s Passage Through Egypt, you’ll sail aboard the privately chartered Oberoi Philae, one of the grandest ships on the Nile, with Egyptologist guides and a certified photo instructor. You’ll be enraptured by the ancient Valley of the Kings, from the great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx to the elaborately decorated royal tombs of Seti I and Nefertari. 2022 “marked the centennial of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb—and in November 2022, Egypt hosted the United Nations Climate Summit, COP 27,” states Condé Nast Travelers Gilly Hopper.
The world’s largest archaeological museum, the Grand Egyptian Museum, is set to open in 2023 and will display a wealth of treasures, from Tutankhamun’s tomb to a 40-foot-high statue of Ramses II. “Further touristic draws, Egyptology-wise, stem from the relocation of the nation’s vast collection of royal mummies to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo,” notes Hopper.
22. Vienna, Austria
Condé Nast Traveler’s 23 Best Places to Go in 2023, Travel + Leisure’s 50 Best Places to Travel in 2023, National Geographic’s 25 Breathtaking Places and Experiences for 2023, Town & Country’s Best Places to Travel in 2023
“After a two-year hiatus, the 2023 Viennese ball season promises lush nights of live orchestral music and dancing in black-tie. Two of the year’s sparkliest, the Vienna Opera Ball and the Vienna Philharmonic Ball, are also marking their 65th and 80th anniversaries, respectively,” remarks Condé Nast Traveler’s Matt Ortile. Join the party and visit Vienna’s royal palaces, holiday markets and magnificent music on Classic Journeys’ Christmas Markets Cultural Walking Adventure.
Nibble on hot roasted chestnuts or an Austrian pastry as you stroll through some of the 25 traditional Viennese Christmas markets found in the Imperial capital. After a private tour of Schönbrunn Palace, the opulent baroque residence of Emperor Franz Joseph, enjoy a classical concert by Schönbrunn Palace Orchestra and Ensemble in the city where Mozart himself performed. “Austria’s capital city may be old — like, Holy Roman Empire old — but 2023 will see neue life in this historic destination.
The year ahead is the 150th anniversary of Vienna’s World’s Fair, and the celebrations include 12 months of cultural events. It’s also the 300th anniversary of the opening of the Belvedere,” proclaims T+L’s Maya Kachroo-Levine. Consisting of two Baroque palaces, the Orangery and the Palace Stables, this world-famous museum complex will have new exhibits to peruse—and don’t miss Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss. Recently opened museums featuring contemporary works include the Albertina Modern and the Heidi Horten Collection at the Palais Goëss-Horten.
23. The Loire Valley, France
Condé Nast Traveler’s 23 Best Places to Go in 2023
The Loire Valley offers pure enchantment. Visit this lush chateau-filled region on DuVine’s Loire Valley Bike Tour and Classic Journeys’ Loire & Burgundy Cultural Walking Adventure (Burgundy is also highlighted as a celebrated wine destination in Town & Country’s Best Places to Travel in 2023). “Thanks to the initiative of hoteliers, creatives and chefs…the region [has] sought to go beyond its picturesque historical marvels to establish new reasons to visit. That effort began in 2020, with the gastronomic and nature-inspired getaways offered at Loire Valley Lodges and Les Sources de Cheverny, and has shown no signs of stopping,” observes Condé Nast Traveler’s Lindsey Tramuta.
On DuVine’s cycling adventure, you’ll enjoy a Michelin-starred meal at the exquisite Les Sources de Cheverny chateau, your home for the night. And on both tours, you’ll stroll through fairytale castles and gardens, and admire sketches, letters and inventions at the home of Leonardo da Vinci at Chateau du Clos Lucé.
Here’s to captivating new adventures in the New Year!