5 Destinations That Need To Be Explored!

South Africa:

I like to refer to South Africa as, “one world, in one country”. This destination is extremely diverse, and for those that are well-traveled, they continue to say South Africa is one of their favorite countries they’ve been to. South Africa features wildlife safaris, incredible mountain/coastal scenery, beaches, deserts, the wine region, bustling cities and coastal towns, diamond and gold mines, local townships as part of the history of the apartheid (Nelson Mandela), and it is home to various cultures/people with 11 official languages – this is just a taste of what South Africa has to offer!

Best time to go?

You can travel to this destination all year round; however, the most desirable time frame to visit would be between October and May.

Travel Style Options:

Private / Tailor Made, Guided Tours, Adventure & Active Travel, Rail Journeys, Ocean Cruises

Favorite Experience: Wildlife Safari

There are too many highlights to share from my trip to South Africa because everything was very different as you traveled throughout the country, but a wildlife safari is unlike anything you’ve done before…Entering the wildlife reserve of Kruger National Park in the early morning was like entering ‘Jurassic Park’. We had a full day safari observing the variety of animals, searching for the BIG 5 – it was exhilarating. Seeing these animals in their natural habitat was incredible. Within minutes of being in the largest game park in South Africa, we had a large hyena stop beside our open-air (raised) vehicle, staring into the distance, breathing heavily where you could see its breath in the cool air. Less than a minute later, giraffes and zebras were running across the road. As the day progressed the scenery and animals seemed to change. We saw several massive elephants eating off the tree branches, a rare sight of wild dogs hunting in a pack, to witnessing two lions with a fresh kill while hyenas were trying to take the remains away. This was entertaining to say the least! We continued along the roads, spotted a rhino hiding amongst the bushes, baboons causing a ruckus and then we started to be surrounded by rivers and ponds within the park. Here we saw numerous Cape buffalo, hippos, and crocodiles. There was one scene, with several giraffes drinking from the water, hippos swimming around, crocodiles near the water banks, Cape buffalo staring intensely ahead, with a lion walking around in the distance, all in one area. Hard to make that up! Unbelievable!


This country is the “land of fire and ice”! The scenery in Iceland is absolutely stunning and the experiences are endless. Home to the Vikings, this island was formed by volcanic activity 60 million years ago. It’s amazing to think that there are only (approximately) 350,000 people living in the country today, amidst such beautiful natural scenery. From glaciers to volcanoes, glacial lagoons to geothermal activity, you are in constant awe as you travel throughout the countryside. Iceland boasts over 10,000 waterfalls, has many hot springs/geothermal pools including the Blue Lagoon, hosts the largest glacier in Europe (Vatnajokull), black beaches, geysers shooting up out of the surface, and all of this is outside the lively capital city of Reykjavik. Iceland is also popular for its spectacular views of the aurora borealis and it is an adventure enthusiasts dream destination.

Best time to go:

This depends what you want. Iceland’s temperature throughout the year is generally mild. You can experience all 4 seasons in a day whenever you travel here; however, the end of May to August would have the most favorable weather and you can experience the Midnight Sun. September to April will be cooler, but many people travel there during these months for the opportunity to see the Northern Lights and because prices are generally lower.

Travel Style Options:

Private / Tailor Made, Guided Tours, Adventure & Active Travel, Ocean Cruises

Favorite Experience: Fishing in Grundarfjordur

Iceland is a destination full of endless adventures, whether it is exploring the many waterfalls up close, walking on a massive glacier, or riding a Icelandic horse. One adventure that was a true authentic Icelandic experience, that I’ll never forget, was deep sea fishing in Grundarfjordur. Say that a few times! As you can imagine, fishing is a huge part of the Icelandic culture.

This day was jam packed with unique and FUN experiences. We had a beautiful sunny day in May and we departed Reykjavik in the early morning towards Snaefellsnes peninsula. We traveled along the coast, viewed the Snaefellsjokull glacier-capped volcano, some of us even saw the elusive arctic fox running around, and we learned about the Greenland shark at a local farm as well as sampled a traditional dish of Iceland, called hakarl (Not necessarily a favorite amongst tourists! Research it and you’ll know why).

In the afternoon we arrived in Grundarfjordur, a small town of 900 inhabitants. Upon our arrival, we were greeted with, I like to call, “Michelin Man Outfits”- essentially full weather/waterproof suits to withstand the elements of Iceland. We embarked a traditional fishing boat and set sail into the Grundarfjordur Bay, admiring beautiful scenery with snow-capped mountains in the backdrop, predominantly the Kirkjufell Mountain. Here we saw puffins and other bird life flying around, minke whales’ fins/tails popping out of the water, then to our surprise we were handed fishing rods! Imagine 20 of us fishing at one time off the side of the boat and in less than an hour we had caught 2-3 cod each! It was a thrill, and this ended up being our dinner. We arrived back at our hotel and the staff cooked up an amazing meal. This was a highlight for most of our travelers in our group!


I like to refer to Myanmar as the “undiscovered land”. Very few travelers have ventured to this part of the world it seems. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is off the beaten track! This unspoiled destination is the land of golden pagodas and it is cultural immersion at its finest. Buddhist monks can be seen flocking to the temples throughout the country and you will see spectacular scenery from the rugged highlands to the lush lowlands. Even the food in Myanmar will surprise you with how delicious it is and you will find the people are very hospitable as you explore various colorful cultures. Myanmar is like Thailand 20 years ago and having the opportunity to see it in its “raw” form will be an experience like no other. Whether you visit Bagan (the land of thousands of temples, stupas and pagoda’s) to exploring the culturally rich region of Inle Lake (the second largest lake in Myanmar), OR to visiting Mandalay (a former royal capital located in northern Myanmar where you can visit the Mandalay Palace) to cruising along the Irrawaddy river – you’re bound to be impressed with this country. Although Myanmar has had political challenges and the military regime has had an impact on the country, Myanmar is slowly emerging as an up and coming travel destination. Relatively recently (2012) they have opened their doors and tourists are adding this country to their bucket list.

Best time to go:

November to February – best weather

Travel Style Options:

River Cruises, Private / Tailor Made, Guided Tours, Adventure & Active Travel

Favorite Experience: Inle Lake

In May of 2017 I had the privilege of traveling throughout Myanmar for 8 days. The authentic experiences were non-stop but when we arrived into the culturally rich Inle Lake region, I knew this was going to be one of my favorites. To start, and to our group’s surprise, we made an unplanned stop at the Red Mountain Winery which was a “wow” experience. Would you have ever expected wine production in this country!? The wine was decent, but the panoramic view of the area was breathtaking. After this visit, we made our way to our hotel located along Inle Lake to settle in for the night. The next morning, we departed from the hotel dock in small propeller boats to explore the lake region with mountain views in the backdrop. We cruised across the large lake observing the local fishermen, hydroponic farming, and the traditional leg rowers in action. We continued on and visited a golden pagoda at the end of the lake, explored a primitive village full of stilted homes on the water, cruised through floating markets to interact with the locals and finally to visit with a famous Kayan long-neck tribe – what a highlight!

*I’m sneaking one more highlight in here as I have to share this…Have you ever taken an oxcart taxi? After cruising a short portion along the Irrawaddy river and making it to a small town called Mingun, we were greeted by waving local villagers whose faces were covered in thanaka cream. Next thing you know, we were on an oxcart “taxi” to take us up the hill to the town’s temple. Where else can you do this??


There is something about Morocco that mesmerizes you – I call it the “mesmerizing land”. Everyone who travels here falls in love with this country. Morocco has plenty to offer, including medieval cities, the maze-like Medina’s, local open-air markets, Riads, mosques and minarets, the Sahara Desert, the Arab & Berber culture, the Atlas Mountains, Roman ruins, the Moroccan cuisine and the beautiful Islamic architecture/monuments. One day you will be staying in a traditional Riad (a Moroccan house or palace) in the Medina to riding a camel to your luxury camp/tent in the desert. Another day, you will be enjoying Moroccan tea in the red city of Marrakesh to next, dodging donkeys to get to a leather tannery in the holy city of Fez!

Best time to go:

October to April

Travel Style Options:

Private / Tailor Made, Guided Tours, Adventure & Active Travel

Favorite Experience: Food/Cooking Tour in Fez 

My wife and I traveled to Morocco in October 2018 and it’s by far one of our favorite holidays that we’ve taken together. We took several modes of transportation throughout the country including tuk tuks, cars, trains, a jeep safari vehicle, and of course, a camel…We enjoyed getting ‘lost’ within the old Medina’s of Fez and Marrakesh. One experience which was definitely a highlight for us was participating in a food tour/cooking class in Fez.

We arrived at a Riad within the walled city of Fez to start our excursion. To start, our host chef and his assistant, took 4 of us on a walking tour through the markets to collect our ingredients to cook our meal. As we explored the narrow streets, we stopped at several “local spots” to sample sweets, dates, fruits, nuts, a delicious split pea soup and we finished at a famous Moroccan tea shop (funny enough we recently saw a cooking show on TV which featured the owner and his small tea shop!). With our stomach’s half full, we made our way back to the Riad rooftop to cook our meal, a traditional Moroccan chicken tajine. As we wore our fez hats, we slowly became Moroccan chefs and ate one of our favorite meals on the trip, while listening to the call to prayer, which to me, never gets old!


Now, where do I start with Peru? I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to Peru twice and I can’t wait to return. Peru is known as the “land of lost cities and ancient Incan ruins”. The Incan civilization was the life blood for this country for years. Peru has a lot to offer; from exploring the Miraflores district or the Plaza De Armas in the capital city of Lima to hiking up the Inca Trail to one of the most impressive wonders of the world – Machu Picchu; from discovering the Spanish Colonial/Andean city of Cuzco to flying over the ancient Nazca Lines; from piranha fishing in the jungles of the Amazon to relaxing at the beaches along the coast – you’re bound to experience something unique and exotic here. What else you ask? Peru is a mountainous country within the Andean Mountain range, it’s a country full of open air markets where you can barter with the local vendors, and it’s always fun taking pictures with the llamas and the local Andean people in their traditional attire. And last but not least, the Peruvian cuisine, compared to the other South American countries, is renowned for being the best (especially their ceviche!).

Best time to go:

All year round; however, June to August is considered the peak season

Travel Style Options:

Private / Tailor Made, Guided Tours, Adventure & Active Travel, River Cruises

Favorite Experience: Andean Mountain Hike (Lares Trek)

Everything is a highlight in Peru, so it is hard to narrow this down. Machu Picchu, simply put, is the highlight for most, if not all people, who visit Peru. But one of my favorite experiences was embarking on a 3-day hiking journey through the Andean Mountains. We ended up booking the “road-less traveled” hiking trail, the Lares Trek, since the Inca Trail permits were sold out. We were happy this was the hike we choose as it was off the beaten track; hence why for nearly 3 days, we did not see any other tourists in site, just local villagers at the top of the mountains dressed in their traditional attire carrying baskets on their heads. Our guide navigated us through the mountain range while we had two porters and their horses speed ahead with our gear to set up the camp and cook our meals, for each time we completed our hiking segments (to have lunch/dinner). The scenery was unlike anything you’ve seen! The tops of some of these mountains extended high into the clouds, there were highly-elevated mountain lakes, as well as vast valleys and the mountain range seemed to go on forever. One day we set up our camp/tents late in the afternoon. Nearby we made a visit to a remote village tucked in a small valley in the mountains. Llamas, alpaca, dogs and even guinea pigs roamed the area! We went into the homes of the local villagers where they looked at us like we were from another planet and even the little kids were hiding from us. Through the interpretation of our guide who spoke the Quechuan language, we learned about the life (customs/traditions) of a family who lived in a small home (made of the natural resources of the area). It was an authentic experience that I’ll never forget! Then a couple days later we made it to Machu Picchu, which was an amazing way to conclude this journey.

Date: April 1, 2020

By Ryan Mikucki (Co-Founder of Trip Merchant)

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