6 Places I Want To Visit In 2016

A large part of my travel is centered around reviewing airlines as opposed to visiting specific destinations, though there’s no reason I can’t combine the two. Earlier in the year I made a list of 16 airline products I want to review in 2016, so why not make a list of places I want to visit as well?

I’ve been inspired after my recent visits to Colombia and Mauritius, both of which I enjoyed immensely.

Cartagena-2
Cartagena, Colombia

Let me say that this list is intended to strike a balance between being aspirational and realistic. In other words, these are places I actually think I’ll be able to visit this year. I’d really like to go to Namibia and the Atacama Desert and the Galapagos Islands and Easter Island and the Seychelles, but I’m trying to be realistic here, given the challenges I face when being “disconnected.”

With that in mind, below are six places I’m hoping to visit in 2016. Some are motivated by the landscape, some are motivated by the great hotel options (which would be killing two birds with one stone for me — visiting a new place and also reviewing a hotel which interests people), and some are motivated by the airlines which fly there.

With that in mind, in no particular order:

Peru

This is the trip I’m most excited about, and that I’m actively working on planning. There are three fantastic Starwood Luxury Collection properties in Peru, which I’d base my trip around, including Hotel Paracas, Palacio Del Inka, and Tambo Del Inka.

My plan is to start by visiting Lima for a couple of days, and then take a bus to Paracas. Paracas looks incredible, as it has both desert and ocean landscape.

Paracas-1
Paracas, Peru

Paracas
Paracas, Peru

From there I’d take a bus back to Lima, and then fly to Cuzco, and then stay for a couple of days at Palacio Del Inka in Cuzco.

Palacio-Del-Inka
Palacio Del Inka, Cuzco

And then from there I’d head over to Tambo Del Inka, which people rave about. You can do daytrips to Machu Picchu from Tambo Del Inka.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, Peru

If anyone has any tips for improving this trip, I’d love to hear them!

Costa Rica

This one is pretty straightforward. I’ve never before been to Costa Rica, and the Andaz Papagayo seems like a great place for a quick getaway. Fares on Alaska Airlines from Los Angeles to Liberia are reasonable, so in conjunction with some Hyatt Cash & Points availability, this seems like a pretty affordable (and fun) getaway.

Andaz-Papagayo
Andaz Papagayo, Costa Rica

Russia

Several weeks back I wrote about how I’m hoping to visit Russia this summer. As I explained in that post, Russia has a lot of policies I disagree strongly with, but I also find I learn the most from visiting places I disagree with. Culturally the country fascinates me, so I’m hoping to visit Moscow and St. Petersburg this summer.

Moscow
Moscow, Russia

South Africa

Growing up, one of my best friends was from South Africa, so we spent several weeks there over New Years many years ago. However, it has been over 15 years since I’ve visited, and I’ve been wanting to go back. Obviously I’d like to return to Cape Town, along with some of the beautiful countryside located further inland. I’d also love to finally do a safari, though due to the lack of connectivity typically associated with them, that may have to wait.

Cape-Town
Cape Town, South Africa

That would also allow me to review South African Airways on the flight there, and then on the return I can pick up a cheap paid first or business class ticket back to the US, of which there are many when departing Cape Town.

Jordan

I’ve been to quite a few places in the Middle East (UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, etc.), and Jordan is the next country in the area I’d like to visit. While Amman doesn’t seem like the most exciting city, I’d love to make it to Petra. I’m hoping to make this trip in the fall.

Besides, maybe this trip will allow me to finally give Royal Jordanian another try.

Petra
Petra, Jordan

Israel

Amazingly I’ve never been to Israel, so I figure it’s easy enough to combine a trip to Israel and Jordan onto one itinerary. Royal Jordanian operates the ~70 mile flight between Amman and Tel Aviv, and fares are cheap, or worst case scenario an award ticket is easy enough to book.

Tel-Aviv
Tel Aviv, Israel

Bottom line

The above are just six of the places I’d really like to visit this year. I chose them because they’re practical for the most part, especially in connection with reviewing new airlines and hotels. I’m 100% committed to trips to Jordan & Israel, as well as a trip to Peru, and then a getaway to Costa Rica. It’s finalizing the trip to South Africa and Russia which I may have a harder time finalizing.

What places are you most interested in visiting in 2016?

Comments

  1. I’m very surprised you haven’t visited so many of these landmarks and world wonders!

    You’ve been traveling for so long and often, how did these places never come to mind?

    Tel Aviv is amazing. Go during Gay Pride!

  2. Had perfect internet and phone service at Singita lodges in South Africa. Maybe you can get a 4th night free with your CC? Above Aman level lodges.

  3. I’m doing 12 days in Peru w/ my GF in late May / early June. 60k Miles RT on LAN! Hit me up if you want to compare notes – have done a ton of research on restaurants, etc.

  4. Lucky I’ve been to Costa Rica, I love their airport at San Jose. I’m pretty sure it has a priority pass lounge 😉

  5. Ben, I’d recommend that you spend a couple of days down in the Sacred Valley of Peru before going up to Cuzco. That will greatly reduce your altitude-related discomfort.

    Lima is at sea level, Cuzco is about 11,000 ft., the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu range from about 6000 to 9000 ft. That surprises many people — the fact that Machu Picchu is 2000+ ft. lower in elevation than Cuzco.

    What I’ve done on my trips there is to immediately take a cab from the Cuzco airport down into one of the Sacred Valley towns (Pisac or Ollanta), visit Machu Picchu while I’m there, then head back up to Cuzco for a couple of days.

    There is interesting archaeology all over that area of Peru, and you won’t be disappointed.

  6. Machu Picchu is great and when traveling from Cusco to Machu Picchu visit the salt mines and the sacred valley. Buy your ticket to Machu Picchu ahead of time and add on the hike to Wachu Picchu (It’s the peak you see in the picture.) There are limited spots for that hike and it gives you the best views.

    For Jordan, consider going on a night when they have the Petra by Candlelight. Yeah, it’s a tourist trap, but Petra illuminated by candles is gorgeous, especially if you bring a good camera along. Along with Petra you can swing by the Dead Sea, but don’t miss out on Ma’In Hot springs, one of the nicest places that almost no one who goes to Jordan knows about. There’s an Evason hotel, and even if you don’t stay there you gain access to the springs just by booking a massage. (If driving in Jordan, which we found to be fine, remember that there are speed bumps on the road, I frequently saw them last minute, so there were a few screeching sudden slow downs and also they have cops doing speed checks so go the speed limit. Also, if booking the airport hotel, you can request that a representative meet you at the gate and then he escorts you through immigration to the head of the line and onto the hotel shuttle.)

  7. Exciting stuff! For Peru, you might want to shuffle the order a bit. Urubamba and Machu Piccu are at a much lower altitude than Cuzco, so it’s generally better to do the Sacred Valley first, and Cuzco at the end of your trip in case anyone is susceptible to the altitude.

    Depending on flight timings, it might also make sense to do Cuzco before Lima and Paracas. The pre-7AM flights to Cuzco are the most consistently-operated, and flights from the US tend to arrive in the middle of the night, so it can be easier to connect than to deal with Lima traffic more than necessary.

  8. I’ve been to Peru, Jordan, and Israel. Peru remains one of the most wonderful places I have ever visited. In fact, one of my favorite restaurants in the world is in Lima–it’s called Astrid y Gaston, and is located in a gorgeous old mansion. You can do a 30-course tasting menu (yes, you read that right!) with wine pairings for about $150 per person. Central is great, too, but I actually preferred Astrid y Gaston, though Central has more international notoriety.

    If you’re going to Peru, do yourself a favor and also go to Puerto Maldonado (it’s a 1 hour flight from Cusco) and stay at a lodge for a few days in the Amazon. The lodges have great wifi so don’t worry about staying connected! I stayed at the Hacienda Concepcion and it was marvelous. I had a fantastic guide, and saw monkeys, caimans, capybaras, and endangered giant river otters in their natural habitat. It was an unforgettable experience, and I would urge anyone to do it.

    I would also recommend taking the luxury Hiram Bingham train either from Lima to Machu Picchu (the station is in Aguas Calientes, which is at the base of Machu Picchu) or in the reserve direction. Like flying first class, but on a train. Do it!!

  9. The Andaz Papagayo is great. We’ve been three times and enjoy it more each time. Very easy transit from LIR, maybe 25-30 minutes.
    Weather will soon transition to rainier season. Jan thru March/April is high season. Dry and sunny. Very sunny.
    Back to the hotel. It is only cheap on points Rates are often $400-600/nt plus resort fee. However, as you likely know, Hyatt only charges 15,000 points/nt. IMO, one of the very best values in the entire Hyatt chain.

  10. Try and stay some place local in Peru, not just a fancy hotel. You will experience so much more. Or even better, do the 4 day inca trail. That’s an experience you will not forget.

  11. Israel is long overdue! Seem to recall you were planning to go years back but there was some snafu. Lucky since you’re eligible why haven’t you gone on Birthright? It’s an amazing experience you should try to get in before you’re too old.

  12. Petra is one of the most Amazing places I have ever been to! We had a magical day there — we were suppose to stay at what at that point was the Sofitel but because our plans got changed were unable to. I have an idea of your Ben — don’t fly Royal Jordanian Fly to Tel Aviv, then fly down to Elat from there you can have a mini beach stay on the Gulf of Aqaba and your hotel can organize for you a trip to Petra either for the day or an over night. It’s a great drive and really cool going from Israel to Jordon. If you did it this way you could review El Al 😉

  13. Paracas itself is small and stinky place, the nearby beach is dirt and stinks a lot. Not many people around, but not secluded or very nice. If you can afford – do a private boat tour instead of the one with a group, although all the tours leave at the same time, so you’ll be sharing views with tons of boats. Also, if you loved dune bashing in Dubai, go for it in Paracas too! The main hotspot for dune bashing is Ica with Huacaina oasis, but private operators offer dune bashing in Paracas too and it’s more than worth it. The buggy they use is open air, instead of the jeap in Dubai, and you feel the air in your ears.

  14. Ben,

    Just came back from South Africa – went to Cape Town first and a private safari reserve. Both excellent and very affordable – can’t beat an amazing $10 bottle of wine! Lots of friendly people too. Was at the One&Only Cape Town and was fantastic. Not many Starwood options – only one I found was a Westin. Hilton is “centrally located” but not close to the V&A Waterfront and other attractions. Also didn’t look that great.

    SAA is okay, could be better. Don’t have high expectations.

    Surprisingly the safari lodge I stayed in had wifi but not the strongest. I know this day in age it’s crucial to upload pictures to social media ASAP but I loved being in the moment watching nature at it’s best.

    Israel is excellent too but expect security everywhere.

  15. I just did Israel/Jordan in February. The easiest way to get to Petra is actually to fly to Eilat and walk across the border. I booked a private tour to Petra which worked out well since everything was taken care of. The site is huge and we wished we had had more time there. If I were to do it again I would try to spend two days there.

  16. We did Sochi for the Olympics and stayed in Moscow for a week! We had excellent food, a great time at local bars (even though some wouldn’t let us in BC we were American) let me know if you need some restaurant, hotel advice! We loved Moscow!

  17. Greece Ben! We in the US would really like to know about the starwood properties there.there are some exceptional ones.

  18. Good choices. The next step would be to backpack. Stay in $10 hostels and meet people from around the world. You will find that most people don’t know, dont care about Krug grand cuvee and yet have a lot of fun in life.

  19. Lucky plz go to saudi arabia before Israel because if you step food in israel you may never enter saudi,it is one of the best places to go to in terms of cultural you have to try it out

  20. They aren’t point properties, but the Inkaterra hotels in Peru are pretty wonderful. We stayed at the Hacienda Concepcion, which is on the Madre de Dios river (a tributary to the Amazon). The location was amazing and it was a pretty incredible value considering the location, food and level of accommodation. I’d second the suggestions of others to build in time for acclimating to the altitude in Peru, it definitely knocked us back a bit when we first arrived in Cuzco.

  21. Ben – all great choices. Here are some additional suggestions.

    Russia – in addition to Moscow, you must visit St. Petersburg. Take the train from Moscow. If you route via EK from Dubai, they also run a daily into St. Pete. A beautiful city not to be missed. I stayed at the W-St. Petersburg. Great Hotel!!!

    Jordan – Do not skimp on Petra. Two days minimum. Be the first person to enter the site and watch the sunrise over the Treasury. Not to be missed!! A stop along the way to the Dead Sea to include the Christ Baptism site are also a must.

    Never stop exploring!!

  22. I did the Peru trip last thanksgiving and stayed at the two Luxury Collections hotels (both upgraded us to a suite btw with SPG platinum). Book a private tour to visit Moray Ruins and Maras Salt Mines on the way to Urubamba from Cusco or vice versa. It’s not that much more expensive than a taxi ride to transfer between the two hotels. Let me know if you need the contact to book the tour!

    In Lima, do not stay at the Sheraton in Lima downtown, not a safe area to roam around. Stay in Miraflores instead, great Marriott properties there! I redeemed my free annual cert from the Marriott credit card there, brand new property breakfast included! If you need a contact for a private transfer let me know too! If you are a foodie, Lima has 3 of the world’s top 50 restaurants!

  23. Oh, and for your bus ride to Paracas take Cruz del Sur bus in first class. It’s still very cheap, but first class seats are so much better!
    And if you wish, you can do a day trip (with private company) from Lima to Caral archeological site. There are 22 pyramids, all of them older than Egyptian pyramids. It is the second oldest civilization in the world. The tour is not very popular, because everybody are going to Machu Picchu, but if you have a day to spare – visit Caral from Lima and visit pre-inca site. Lima itself is quite boring and traffic is terrible and taxi drivers regulary refuse to take where you wish to go because of traffic jams, which start at 6am and finish at midnight daily.

  24. Did the Peru, Ecuador trip last year. The Radisson Miraflores was a fine hotel in a nice location in Lima. The Palacio Del Inka in Cuzco was awesome. We day tripped from there to Machu Picchu. Then we made our way to Quito for a night before heading to the Galapagos. We booked a small eco-tour group for our stay and tours there. That was definitely a great way to visit there.

    Prior to that my wife and I spent 4 days at the Andaz Papagayo, Costa Rica. It was a great place to stay. Had an awesome sunset sailing cruise booked from the beach at the hotel. We happened to pick a good time to go and the hotel was about half full and had the cruise to ourselves and one morning had an entire beach for ourselves. That an the iguanas loved roaming the beach and getting their picture taken and the monkeys would venture onto the hotel property.

  25. I would not recommend Placio del Inka in Cuzco. It is a very average property, service leaves something to be desired, and with rooms on the small side. Belmond is clearly the market leader in Peru, and they have fantastic properties, including two in Cuzco. While I’m on about Belmond, their train to Machu Pichu is fantastic (albeit expensive), as is their Mount Nelson hotel in Cape Town.

  26. I think if you’re going to Peru and are planning to go to Machu Picchu you should definitely do the Inca Trail. The trail wasn’t easy, especially breathing while hiking at 14,000 feet on the 2nd day. But, the experience is amazing. Even though I picture you as more of a luxury hotel type, sleeping in a tent on the Inca Trail is fabulous.

    Definitely do Jordan and Petra. I’d like to get back, because there’s a lot of great things I didn’t have time to do. Jordan was initially just a stopover back when single partner awards were cheap and awesome on British Airways. I flew CX to ORD-HKG-BKK on a 1-way award and then RJ from BKK-AMM-ORD on separate ticket. But, I did Petra which was awesome. And then I did Wadi Rum, which is also pretty amazing. Again, you end up sleeping in a tent (But on a cot or bed), but highly recommend doing it. I wish I’d have had time to see Jerash and the Dead Sea.

  27. We also stayed at Tambo del Inka, which was a very nice property, and a significant upgrade over Placio.

  28. Just returned from the same Peru trip on Tuesday. I know you’re typically not a Hilton fan, but the DoubleTree resort in Paracas is lovely, and a nice retreat. Other than that, visit Paracas for the side trip to Huacachina and hire a private dune buggy to take you dune bashing and sand boarding–you won’t regret it. Also, the bus ride down would be fun–but my wife and I rented a car. Getting pulled over by a dirty cop asking for a bribe was totally worth it for the great memory (we didn’t pay a dime).

    My wife and I loved the Palacio del Inka (awesome breakfast in bed, genuine hospitality, great location. But no AC?), but the Tambo del Inka is a true 5 star hotel. We happened to be there during the hotel’s electricity conservation evening, and we enjoyed a candlelit dinner and traditional Peruvian dancing. Their base rooms are big, and the overall hotel feel is that of a classical lodge–with 5 star amenities. If anything, we wish we would’ve done a few more nights at the TDI.

    Machu Picchu is, of course, legendary. But do yourself a favor and get on the earliest train possible–the crowds can be a buzz kill. And here’s one vote for hiking Montana Machu Picchu. Less steep than Huaynapichu, but significantly higher, and the views of the Peruvian mountains are out of this world.

    Last but not least, I agree with the above regarding altitude sickness. Upon landing in CUZ, we taxied straight to the Tambo del Inka in the SV. Drink a ton of water and say yes to the hotel’s Coca tea and you probably won’t feel it.

    At 30k AA one way (even post deval), this trip is too good. Have fun!!

  29. Costa Rica is a tale of two countries. I doubt you’ll do this but don’t go there and only visit the tourist regions. Try to see the whole country.

  30. The culinary experience in Lima is worth the trip there. Astrid and Gaston, Mercado, Panchita, La Mar, Rafael and Central (voted 1 of the best restaurants in the world). The Westin in Lima is nice but the JW Marriot has a better location.
    Tambo del Inka is a beautiful and fantastic hotel. I stayed 4 nights and used it as my base for daily excursions. Full breakfast and suite for platinums. Got the best guide in Peru, he had taken 30 head of states to Machu Pichu and Cuzco. The week before I went, he was the guide for Bono (U2) and his family. I can contact you with him if you are interested. Went hiking with him. Amazing!! Besides Machu Picchu, I visited Salinas de Maras, Moray and other places. In Cusco I had a “Safari of Cuscan art” and went to the roof of the main church (He had the contact to do this)…I wish I could share pictures here.
    Palacio del Inka is nice too, but not to the extend of the Tambo del Inka so lower you expectations.
    There is an ALTITUDE problem in the area and it will probably affect you in Cusco. Take it easy. I took medication before I went. One guy from our group felt really bad at the airport and needed oxygen.

  31. Ben, you probably know this, but if you are doing an Etihad reward ticket to Jordan you can book it as one ticket through AUH, you don’t have to book a flight to AUH and then a separate ticket to Amman from AUH. We are going in May and it was a nice discovery to realize that we could save the miles by booking it as one itinerary for the 67,500 (pre-devalued AA) miles instead of 67,500 to AUH and another 25,000 miles from AUH to AMM. (Each way)

  32. There’s NO WAY he can go to Saudi Arabia – it’s not allowed as a tourist and he probably cant get a business visa, which is the only other way he could get in.

    Peru is great. Ive never heard of this paracas place you mentioned. Ditch it and head to Arequipa instead. It’s an AMAZING city and the colca canyon nearby is awesome. From there you can fly to Cuzco and Machu Pichu. Probably the best places I’ve been. And Lima is an AMAZING food city. Probably the most interesting one in all of the Americas (North and South). I definitely recommend Astrid&Gaston, and would recommend any cevicheria, although La Mar and Pescados capitales are my favorites. Lots of good options.

    Deal with being disconnected. the world can wait 🙂

  33. Given how much you transit the Middle East, make sure you make arrangements to avoid an Israeli stamp in your passport. There are ways to be accommodated and it will save a lot of hassle later on.

  34. What happened to Longyearbyen?

    If bae doesn’t want to go on any of these trips, I’m happy to be your backup travel companion!

  35. I so hope you make it to Russia and Israel. I had so much fun in Tel Aviv.

    I would dump Jordan in favor of Iran. Connectivity would be an issue and the hotel scene is abysmal but I can guarantee that you would be completely fascinated by the place.

  36. “I’m very surprised you haven’t visited so many of these landmarks and world wonders!”

    Thank God for hotels-with-points-expansion or they wouldn’t even be on his radar…

  37. Clearly there are no shortage of recommendations here, so I certainly don’t expect you to take mine, but I’ll share them anyway.

    Regarding Jordan, you might want to also consider Wadi Rum. It is a really interesting landscape there and I loved it. Also, I stayed a night in a Bedouin tent which was a memorable experience. No loyalty points, but it is worth looking into.

    Regarding Israel, there are lots of things to do and places to see. I prefer getting outside of the city (Galilee region, Golan Heights, the Negev), but if you aren’t here long you probably won’t have time for that. I can’t really recommend hotels since I haven’t stayed in chain hotels, but hotels here tend to be underwhelming. Regarding connectivity, it is easy to stay connected here.

  38. Just did 10 days in Peru and stayed at both Palacio del Inka and Tambo del Inka. Both wonderful properties. Definitely do a couple days in the Sacred Valley itself – Pisac Market, Ollantaytambo, Salt Mines. If you have the time, I’d highly recommend staying one night at the bottom of Macchu Picchu at the Inkaterra property. It’s lovely! Not sure about ability to redeem loyalty points there but the property is incredible plus then you can give yourself two days hiking around the MP site (one day for the main grounds and a little extra exploring, one day for the extra peak Huayna Picchu and some extra exploring. There are various additional hikes/sites off the main grounds). Per other comments, definitely buy MP tickets in advance – bus and entry tickets.

    Lima is a great city. Incredible food, nice architecture and lots of surfing! Happy to send along specifics for restaurants, sites, etc. if you end up booking!

  39. In Peru, I would head to the Sacred Valley first. Take the train to Aguascalientes and stay there for 1-2 days. First day go to Machu Picchu and take your time admiring the site. 2nd day climb Wayna Picchu. Make sure to pre-book this one a few months before. I stayed at the Tambo del Inka after the Inca Trail and is a wonderful hotel. Urubamba is an ok town but you can visit the surrounding areas which are beautiful. I don’t know if I would do day trips to Machu Picchu from here though.

  40. If you wanna go to Petra, but are not interested in Amman, you could also do a beach vacay in Aqaba and do a day excursion to Petra (it’s about 2h). The Kempinski and Interconti there a pretty nice and TK has good connections, too.

  41. There is much more to Costa Rica then the western shore, if you really want to see what the country is all about head inland to the rain Forrest..

  42. Concerning Peru, I would make the trip a loop and hit Arequipa along with Lima and Cusco. Also don’t skimp on time in Cusco. There are tons of things to do in the Sacred Valley. I would also visit Machu Picchu on an overnight visit rather than doing the one day tour out of Cusco.

  43. Safari is not to be missed! It is the best single experience in my life. Although I go even few years because it is so far and so expensive.
    It’s good to disconnect for a few days and safari is the perfect place. Having said that the game lodges say in Sabi Sands are going to have Internet. And great game and it’s a good place to cut your teeth on safari!
    I will look forward to a review of one of those luxury lodges…

  44. As long as my parents are still alive (they are in their late 70s), I will be spending pretty much all of my vacation time visiting Australia – this will be my third year in a row going back to Australia for two+ weeks to visit, so no exotic destinations on the agenda.

    Of the places you have listed as wanting to visit, Petra is a place I’d like to see, too. I also want to visit Patagonia, and get to Antarctica one day.

  45. Why do you guys consistently give Ben a hard time? Isn’t everyone entitled to his or her own travel preferences? If you don’t like the lens through which he experiences the world, there are myriad other travel blogs to read.

    Ben, sounds like a great year ahead. I, for one, am looking forward to reading about it all.

  46. @Tom

    Israel doesn’t do passport stamps anymore, at least at the airport (Allenby Bridge might be different). You get a little paper visa than can be discarded at will.

  47. Consider a trip to Chile for Easter Island and Atacama. I just got back from a week’s trip to Easter Island, tagging along for my husband’s work assignment. It was wonderful, far exceeding expectations. I have a couple of recommendations:

    – Don’t use miles to fly to IPC. The award prices are too high, and availability is usually terrible. Instead buy your ticket from lan.com. Load the Chile version of the site, as the prices for a roundtrip business ticket is ringing in at just 360,000 pesos from Santiago. That’s just north of US$500, a fantastic value for LAN’s 787 business product. I flew the 787-8 on the way out, and the 787-9 on the way back. Food and service were excellent. Especially the dinner on the return flight.

    – Internet cellular connectivity is not bad. Ente, one of the local Chilean mobile companies, has an office on Easter Island. Just buy a prepaid chip for your phone, or better yet, your mifi or 3G modem. Prices are reasonable for data, and Skype and YouTube worked mostly fine.

    – November to March is a great time to visit for the ideal beach weather on Easter Island. The water was very warm in March, and Anakena beach is stunning. For he sites, year round is fine.

    For a visit to the Atacama desert, you can’t go wrong with either Iquique and/or San Pedro de Atacama. Both have great connectivity from SCL, though, the premium economy product is lacking (akin to intra-Europe business). Iquique even has a couple hotels where you can use points.

    Hope to see you in Chile!

  48. Hey Ben –

    I agree with @Boco about Petra by candlelight. It’s truly special. I also recommend getting a good guide while there — someone who can make the history vivid and give you context. I have a name, if you want one.

    St. Petersburg is fantastic, and is a great walking city. The Hermitage alone is worth spending a half a day in. Catherine Palace, the Summer Palace, and the Church of the Savior are also worth time. Go during White Nights, when the city becomes a party town. Again, a great guide who can put the art and history into your soul will make a huge difference. I stayed at the W; it was ok, but so self-consciously hip it was pretentious.

    Andaz Papagayo is very nice, but not extraordinary. The Tapas restaurant/bar is especially nice. There are some river rafting trips you can arrange, and you might enjoy popping over to the Four Seasons for dinner (though I wouldn’t stay there on a bet — they’ve really screwed with the environment over there.) I was in the presidential suite, which had the advantage of a private pool and monkeys hanging out in the trees.

    I’m planning a trip to Peru,and for me it wouldn’t be complete without a cruise in the Amazon. I’ve spent time in an Amazon ecolodge in Ecuador, and it is one of the most beautiful, touching, alive experiences our world has to offer. In Peru, Aqua Expeditions and Delfin cruises both offer three & four day itineraries, in somewhat luxurious accommodations. @Brooklyn Boy makes a good point about Puerto Maldonado. Inkaterra Reserva Amazonia is reputedly a great place to explore the rainforest in…and has a treehouse you can overnight in!

    Israel is one of my favorite places, and I wouldn’t miss time in Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the Dead Sea, and surprisingly, Masada. Hate to hit on a familiar theme, but a great guide makes it much better.

    As for a safari, I’m a huge fan of Botswana. It’s not that much different in terms of time than going somewhere in South Africa, but the wildlife experience is richer. Later this year, I’ll be going on my third safari and can point you in some appropriate directions. Feel free to get in touch.

    And while we’re on bucket lists, the most extraordinary travel experience I have had was Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda. An hour in the presence of these amazing creatures changes you. Though you’ll have to stay in the mountains to see the gorillas, you can at least earn/burn points at the Marriott that’s going to open in Kigali in September.

    Good luck in your travels!

  49. @OneMileataTime By the way, I was curious to know how Lan turns around the 787s that fly to IPC. The SCL-IPC flight leaves at 9am, and the return flight arrives in SCL at 9pm. I’m guessing they’re making a highly efficient use of the plane, maybe flying from JFK-SCL-IPC-SCL-MAD all in one go. Know of any web sites to look this up, and see the plane utilization?

  50. I’m sure you know this, but the W Tel Aviv is opening on November 1st (as of now — In Israel, there’s no such thing as punctuality). Would be great to read a review of the new hotel. If you can, try to make it up to the Ritz in Herziliya and/or the Waldorf in Jerusalem.

    All your travels sound amazing, keep it up!

  51. Ditto to the numerous previous posts regarding seeing Machu Picchu on a day trip. That would be criminal. Spend the night at the Sanctuary Lodge – the only hotel onsite. It’s worth the exorbitant cost. Likewise, start in Urubamba at the Tambo and leave Cusco until after MP. Do they still have the one train a day that goes directly from the grounds of the Tambo to Aguas Calientes? That was pretty cool when we did it as the Tambo had not been open very long and we were the only two people on the train for that extension.

  52. 1) My parents visited South Africa earlier this year…they loved it.

    2) As far as my interests go, I’m visiting Prague again, with a nine hour layover in Dubai on the way home…doing first on British and a mix of business and first on Emirates.

  53. I have been living in Lima for the past 5 years and frequently travel to the Sacred Valley for work. You will definitely have a wonderful experience while in Peru.

    In Lima, I agree that you should avoid the Sheraton downtown since it isn’t a spectacular place to be at night. Any hotel in Miraflores, San Isidro or even Barranco would be the best location and would be safe to walk around at night. The Westin is a beautiful hotel but is located in the financial district of San Isidro. The JW Marriott has excellent location and there is a new Courtyard and Four Points in Miraflores.

    If you want to try a “local brand” hotel – try any of the Casa Andina hotels. There are a few different options in both Lima and Cusco. Also look into the Inkaterra hotels – their high end hotel in Aguas Calientes is beautiful.

    As for restaurants, Lima is known as the culinary capital of South America. If you want an amazing dinner, check out Astrid & Gastón at Casa Moreyra (http://casamoreyra.pe/) for their tasting menu or La Barra, also done by A&G but order off menu. Make a reservation in advance! Gastón has become a celebrity chef here in Peru and has many restaurants across Lima (T’anta, Madam Tusan, Panchita, Papacho’s, Los Bachiche), these two are by far the highest class. Central and Rafael are also excellent options for a high class meal. If you like seafood, visit La Canta Rana in Barranco for fresh ceviche – every time I’ve been it is full of limeños and zero tourists! If you’re looking for something local there are dozens of places to get great food.

    In Urubamba, have dinner at El Huacatay. The chef used to work with Gastón and now has a small restaurant in town, just a few blocks from Tambo del Inka. In addition to Machu Picchu, visit some of the ruins within the Sacred Valley – Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero are great but try to do these before Machu Picchu. It will make Machu Picchu even that more impressive.

    Cusco has some great restaurants as well but just as many tourist traps. If you change your mind about Palacio del Inka, the JW in Cusco is beautiful as well. Of course the Belmond (former Orient Express) hotels are all excellent as well. If you feel like splurging, take the Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu.

    I’m happy to share more about any of these places if you wish!

  54. The Inkaterra property outside of Machu Piccu is amazing. I love your list – quite a few of those are creeping up pretty high on mine right now too, but are looking more like 2017 than 2016 plans.

  55. You need to pick the right months to go for the weather reason alone. We really look forward to that. We have a trip to Middle East that includes Petra next January, then we head to Hong Kong for CNY. This helps us to do a farewell flight on CX F.

    Been in Russia in 2013 and South Africa 2015. Both countries are AMAZING. Though both countries really require a week or better, 10 days, to worth going. Short trips in a few days would be a sad waste as the travel time is very long even cost is not an issue. We spent 11 days in Russia as part of a much longer trip on an amazing DL100K J award. We spent 12 days in South Africa as 50% time of a long trip (the other 50% was in Turkey, also self-driving – from Cappadocia to the Turkish coasts from the Med to the Aegean. That was on the USDM 110K J award right after it joined OneWorld long before USDM was folded into AAdvantage.)

    For our Russia visit, we actually took the “long way” to enter Russia – after visiting Riga and Tallinn, we took a 7hrs long distance bus to St. Petersburg and spent 6 days there staying at Staybridge. We like the “apartment” set up. It is within 2 min thru a little plaza next to a metro station so the location is not an issue even though it is far out from the center. Metros in both St. Petersburg and Moscow are VERY SAFE. The stations have amazing art decorations and themselves are worthy to do a sightseeing route.
    St. Petersburg is a beautiful city in Summer. Of course the Crown Jewel is The Hermitage.
    Contrary to the popular advice, you do NOT need to buy tickets to the Hermitage online to avoid lines. Instead, there are 2 ticket machines, one on each side, right after you enter the courtyard of the Hermitage where you see long queues of people to exchange their online tickets / buy tickets. Virtually NO ONE uses the ticketing machines which only take cash by the way. Took us less than 5 min to get our tickets on both visits.
    Keep an eye on cruise ships schedules – try to go a day where there are no more than 3 ships in port, preferably smaller ships… Or go after 1pm. The Hermitage deserves 2 days but if you are really pressed with time, choose carefully the routes on the “Must See” stuff so hopefully you dont waste a lot of time trying to find your bearing. The place is Huge!
    I would recommend flying S7 to Moscow – it is faster than the express train and dirt cheap with Avios. At the gate we found out we were upgraded to the business class for the short flight. Impressive service as they had a 3 course lunch served course by course on such a short flight.
    We spent 5 days in Moscow, staying at a Renaissance at the outer loop of Moscow as recommended by a Marriott employee who said it was his favorite property at Moscow. During our stay, the US sport teams for the 14th IAAF World Championships in Athletics were staying in this Renaissance. So this tells you the hotel while constantly is priced cheaper than other Marriott properties in Moscow, is actually a reasonably good hotel.
    Hotel is within 10 min to a metro station that takes you into Red Square in 20 to 25 min IIRC. It has a fantastic club. The nightly offerings had some memorable dishes including one night it was grilled lamb chops that rivaled to what you would find in a decent restaurant. Drinks flew freely from late afternoon to 8:30pm. The attendants actually walked around with the bottles.
    Be sure to visit the Treasures of the Kremlin Armoury museum.
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-21041398
    The most annoying part was they did not sell advance tickets, but only one hour before each time slot. So the lines are always long at the ticket booths at each slot. May be they improve this practice since our visit.

    South Africa – if time permitted, you should drive the famous Garden Route. You can start from either end – head East or West. We flew to Port Elizabeth and started our drive towards Cape Town. AMAZINGLY wonderful towns / deserted beaches along the way. We enjoyed the driving days as much or even more, than Cape Town. Avios is great to use for the flights between Jo’burg and small towns, but not so good for JNB-CPT because Kulula (the LCC of Comair which is owned by BA) shuttle flights are very cheap at about $50 one way.

    At Cape Town be sure to go to the Cape Peninsula – it can be done as a day trip. The Two Ocean restaurant there probably has an amazing view and a very reasonable pricing comparing to restaurants with this kind of location and foods in other parts of the world. Plan your driving route carefully to include Simon town and the famous route along the cliff, and pay attention to the direction taking into account of the Sun light direction. So you would have the sun light always at the “right direction” to shine on the scenery you are seeing.
    Everything in South Africa is cheap to begin with but now it is dirt cheap due to the Rand has devalued 50% against USD since a year ago. It probably the best travel value in the world now. It is worth to have a rental car all the time as it is cheap, and make it super convenient than taking a taxi. Driving on the other side is no big deal once you get the hang of it after a day or so. The drive to the True meeting point of Two Oceans, Cape Agulhas, is quite an experience as the landscape along the drive is not like anything we have ever seen. Cape Hope is not the true most southern tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas is.
    It will take some planning that you are not used to, but probably this will be a start for you to finally spend time to really enjoy a place, a country. 😉

  56. Agree with adding Chile and Easter Island to your list Ben!

    @andesbrian: They do a pretty quick turnaround at IPC which was around 45 minutes during my visit last october

  57. Maybe catch the 777-300ER ZRH-TLV? also, how about write a review on EL AL biz class?
    In Jerusalem:
    I highly recommend the king david hotel to use your 4th nigh free citi prestige benefit, although I prefer the food in the rooftop of the neighbor mamilla hotel. However, the local food really stand out in local breweries and food stalls around mahane yehuda.
    In Bethlehem: you need a tour guide otherwise it would take you more than 2 hours to get into the nativity church.

    Before you come here, you should evaluate your church threshold and plan accordingly 😛

  58. I noticed the quick turnaround at IPC, too. It made me wonder if Lan has the 787 take an overnight longhaul to SCL, then a morning flight from SCL to IPC, followed by the quick turnaround IPC to SCL, and then finally another long haul overnight. More curiosity than anything, but it seems like they might be making very efficient use of the planes.

  59. @Andesbrian: Def a place to visit but I thought that 3 full days was just enough time (and the 280 TP on BA was just what I needed to move to Emerald..and cheaper then eco). Well LAN has a lof of the 787, last year they had two flights MAD-SCL each day with them aswell. But when I catched a couple of early flights out of SCL during my stay I noticed a lot of 787 parked – so they could be there overnight awell as it was probably to early for longhaul arrival

  60. I don’t recall any chain hotels on Easter Island, but I stayed in a gay owned and friendly hotel while there (Inaki Uhi Hotel). I’ve seen lots of people recommend 3 days on the island in various travel forums. I spent a week there and I’m very glad I did. Rent a moped for part of your time and explore.

  61. @Eric @Tina I’ve been to Easter Island twice now. The first time was 3 days to visit the sites. I agree with Tina that it was enough time to take the different tours and see the island. However, this 2nd time was with my husband for one of his work visits, and for just over a week. I loved the climate this time of year, and I was surprised how quickly the time passed. The beach in late summer (March) is spectacular, and it’s hard to tire of lounging in the temperate water, taking in the beautiful beach and its Moai statues in the background. We rented a Suzuki Jimmy for some days, for other days an electric bicycle from a new outfit Easy Bici. Highly recommended given the hilly terrain, but with incredible island and sea views everywhere.

    http://easybici.cl/en/

    Lots of good food on the island, as well. Didn’t know about Inaki Uhi Hotel. Something to look up for next time.

    We ended up carrying many bottles of wine on the flight Santiago to IPC. Since it’s a domestic flight, there’s no limit. If so inclined, it’s worth stocking up at a good wine shop, like Mundo del Vino, before heading to the island.

  62. Cheap fares AMM-TLV route? I definitely did not find that to be the case, but I found the Avios redemption prices to be very fair for such a short route. It’s a handy little positioning flight for those of us who frequent Israel but want to redeem Etihad or Emirates awards. Another easy and cheap flight from TLV is LCA to position for awards.

  63. Israel is a vile hole
    Having been with friends we couldnt get out of there quick enough.
    Palestine, jerusalem, west bank gaza etc we found absolutely fascinating and most non jews extremely welcoming. The sooner palestine gets its airport up and running the better.

    You realise lucky by having been to Israel it jeopardises future middle eastern adventures. Having publicly published trip notes on Israel and then ticking no to isreal on custom forms will end you up in jail.
    And i expect even your backside couldnt cope with that pretty boy.

  64. Hey Ben,

    Glad you’re going to Israel though the points redemption opportunities are sparse. I’m going this summer, it’s always a fun trip. And I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised by this info but for other commenters, they will stamp a paper instead of your passport if you prefer not to have the Israeli stamp, but all the ME3 say they carry Israelis and non-Israelis with Israeli stamps.

    Glad you are going, more and more it is seen as an unpopular decision, but you said it best that we don’t have to agree with politics to learn something important from a place. Israel is a good time, enjoy!

  65. Lima: Astrid y Gaston is one of the best rated restaurants in the world. Make a reservation or you’ll end up eating in the kitchen, which is seriously a spectacle in itself so it’s better not to make a reservation.

    Lima: The nicest part of town is Miraflores which has many fine hotels. There is a Marriott overlooking the ocean and two Casa Andina hotels a block from each other which are very nice. Miraflores is walkable and has great bars and clubs. Don’t miss visiting Barranco which is just a few clicks down the road easily accessible by taxi in 15 minutes.

    Cuzco: The first time I went, I had altitude sickness for several hours after flying from Lima to Cuzco. To overcome this, drink mate de coca (a tea) at the priority pass lounge in Lima just before your flight and/or take it with you on the plane and mix it with hot water. Just don’t bring it back to the States. It’s illegal here.

    Sacred Valley: A must-see. We hired a cab for the day and went all over. The ruins at Pisac are worth checking out, as well as the salt mines and Chinchero.

  66. I go to South Africa every year and absolutely love it. King’s Camp in Timbavati is my happy place, although I’ve been to several lodges. There is definitely internet at all of the five star lodges, although you won’t be having a 30 minute skype call. You can do email / blogs / pictures uploads just fine.

    I’ve always used this great travel agency to help me understand the pros / cons of the different lodges. They also always get me a lower rate than what is posted on the lodge websites: http://lodgetrackers.co.za/

    Definitely also recommend Easter Island. I could only go for 36 hours in between work stuff, but it was 100% worth it. I hired a guide (Easter Island Travel) which was great because some of the best sites were down roads that didn’t look like roads. They aren’t in any of the guide books and I would have never found them myself.

  67. A few comments:

    1. We had a wonderful time at the Hilton in Cape Town. We were only Hilton Gold and travelled there on points, but were treated like royalty. Executive lounge was excellent.

    2. Hard to believe you have never been to Israel. I lived in Jerusalem for six months and spent two more months on a separate trip touring the country. The country is tiny but it is incredible in all respects, and especially in Jerusalem, you are literally living every day in the midst of tens of centuries of history.

    3. Josh G mentioned that Ben is eligible for Birthright. Did I miss that post?

  68. Lucky
    Even if you have passport stamped on piece of paper for Israel entry like i said given your spread all over the internet it wouldnt be hard for middle eastern countries such as UAE to trace your Israeli activities if you havent declared it.
    It can potentially be a horrendous outcome.
    There are so many beautiful places in the world why waste your money and points visiting Israel.
    I would rather go to syria!

  69. Russia: When in St. Petersburg, be sure not to miss the gardens at Peterhof Palace – they are the most gorgeous gardens and they really go on and on!

    Peru: I’d recommend spending at least two days at Machu Picchu so you can be sure you see everything you want to see and won’t feel rushed. Hiking Huayna Picchu offers an amazing view, but I strongly recommend only doing the basic hike to the top and back down (the trail extends on for many more miles and it’s not worth the effort).

  70. Just visited Petra in February, and it’s quite an amazing site. However, as you might expect, there are a few scams going on. The first one is the horse and buggy rip-off. For a ridiculously high fee (for Jordan), you can take a horse and buggy through the siq to the Treasury. However, you must book a return trip, so the one-mile ride there and back will cost you JOD 50 (about $70). All the way through the siq, the horse will slip and nearly fall on the concrete floor (yes, concrete floor). Once you get inside, the first view of the treasury is just awesome, and as you go deeper into the valley, more and more spectacular sights are revealed. We hired a guide and found him to be arrogant, disinterested and prejudicial. Seems odd for a place that depends on tourist dollars, but our guide clearly didn’t like us. There are many merchants inside selling head scarfs and the like, mostly shamelessly overpriced. I was surprised that one merchant kept a straight face when he told me the price for an obvious fake “antique” item. Then there is the donkey scam. My wife wanted to see the monastery, so she arranged with a donkey guide named Abdul to take her up the 800 or so steps on a donkey and bring her back down again for JOD 50. As you might expect, the price was JOD 100 when they came back down. Abdul got quite aggressive when I told him that the price was too high, and several other donkey drivers started to gether around us, so I paid the JOD 100. The whole thing really spoiled our visit to Petra.

  71. Lucky, please fly to Israel and review the ElAl first class, that would make for a great review, and for an airline IIRC you have never tried.

  72. I have a lot to say about a bunch of those places but apparently so does everyone. I’ll keep it short.
    In Peru, get to huacachina. Oasis in a desert with sand duning and sand surfing and the most beautiful star gazing ever! Enjoy your trips.

  73. Oh man Jordan is so amazing. I went there a couple years ago and it was AMAZING! Just know Royal Jordanian is kinda not great in the fact that I had a 12 hour delay in Chicago and stuff. Also, if you’re going to be staying in Petra stay at the Petra Moon Hotel as it is walking distance from Petra and the town of Petra.

  74. Beautiful locations. Israel, Jordan and Peru have an amazing blend of history and modernity. Israel and Jordan form two of my top ten countries to live in and visit alongside Syria (before the last five years) and Lebanon. I’m sure you will enjoy it except for flying on El Al. I prefer Air Canada from YYZ to TLV. It also gives you the opportunity to experience ACs new 787, which I liked between YYZ and DEL last year.

  75. Oh and as far as Israeli immigration is concerned, they don’t stamp a page on the outside but provide a paper which you must hold on to and return before departure. Also, most countries will provide you a temporary passport for travel to Israel, at least that’s what I did when I traveled to and lived in Israel; hence being able to travel to neighboring countries which don’t allow entry to individuals who have been to Israel (with the exception of Jordan).

  76. Regarding all the Israel passport commentary – yes Israel does not stamp passports any more which works if flying into and out of israel (leave time in Tel Aviv though as they ask lots of questions on all of your middle east / muslim country passport stamps). However – I would warn against doing a land crossing into Jordan from Israel (though convenient) as other middle eastern countries can tell you were in Israel based on passport stamps if you do that. You’ll have stamps on the Jordan side of things but no stamps from the other side of a land border. The only friends I know that have done that have used a soon to expire passport knowing they won’t transit or enter middle eastern countries before getting a fresh passport.

  77. You have to do Russia in July. St Petersburg will have 24 hours of sunlight which is awesome. Walking out at 3am with empty streets and sunlight – it’s like the zombie apocalypse .

  78. A few tips on Peru, Costa Rica & South Africa.

    If you want to do Inca Trail, make sure you book at least 6 months in advance. The trail only allow 500 people (200 are porters and guide, so only 300 tourists) to enter a day. And also booked the Huanyan Picchu ticket early which also have 500 per day quota. I agree with altitude sickness recommendation, bring altitude sickness pill and spend extra few days in Cuzco to ajdust. Paracas is popular for people from Lima to go kitesurfing, however the beach isn’t that great and water is cold. As a kitesurfer, I prefer Mancora (north coast of Peru) much more. And i also recommend visit a jungle lodge outskirts of Iquitos where ‘real’ Amazon jungle is, none of the Puerto Maldonaldo touristy stuffs. National Geographic operate a cruise on the upper Amazon River. Amazon Jungle is one of the most incredible (and frightening in the same time) place I’ve been, after Antarctica & Okavango Delta area.

    For Costa Rica, don’t miss Arenal Volcano near the town of La Fortunate, weather can be very unpredictable and the volcano can be covered by cloud most of time, pick the dry season( which will still rain frequent). I would skip Monteverde. Manuel Antonion is the most popular town on Pacific coast, but I thought it’s beach was so so. Beware of the raccoon & monkey stealing your belonging. I didn’t get the chance to visit the Carribean coast, but heard it’s becoming popular.

    For Cape Town, visit during the Kitesurfing Big Air championship, it would be a true spectacle. And don’t just stay on the coast, fly up to one of the reserve on the north. You’ll need to fly into Johannesburg, but I won’t recommend staying there. Better spend more time in the park for the safari.

    We are planning a trip to Petra ourselves. Would be interesting to see your experience.

  79. Enough with the uninformed comments about traveling to Muslim countries with an Israeli stamp in your Passport. The only countries that an Israeli stamp is an issue are countries that Ben would probably never consider going to anyway, as things currently stand, like Iraq and Lebanon. I have a two page Israeli student visa in my American passport, as well as a Jewish name, and I’ve been to Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, The UAE, Jordan and Egypt, in the past 8 months, and I plan on going to Oman in a couple of weeks. I’ve had absolutely no problems. In Bahrain, the Muslim passport control agent even told me Shalom, after he examined my passport. Also, as many of you mentioned above, Israel doesn’t stamp your passports anymore anyway, also, when I went a few months ago, Jordan didn’t stamp my passport either by the Allenby Bridge/King Hussein border crossing. I don’t know about the other crossings though. Either way, for most, if not all of the Muslim countries that Ben visits, Israeli stamps wouldn’t be an issue.

  80. – Petra by candlelight is quite touristy but quite beautiful, you will want to do it

    -Petra, there is a hike that takes you to an overlook opposite the Treasury. Gorgeous view looking down at the Treasury. Surprisingly very few people when I was there. Don’t have the details, check some guide books.

    – Petra, arrive before the morning opening so you are the first in line.

    – Lima, JW Marriott was very good, great location, restaurant was great. Had one of the best fish entrees anywhere

    – Atacama, cannot say enough….fantastic, a must do

  81. Question for you folks

    Thinking about a night at Belmont Sanctuary at Machu Picchu. EXPENSIVE but my thought is I want to be able to explore it at opening time and maybe stay until closing to explore after everyone has left. I’m not a fan of big crowds. Any thought? Thx

  82. @MB,

    If you can afford it you should absolutely stay there despite the cost. Ignoring strong advice from friends I just couldn’t imagine it was worth it and stayed down in town instead. The minute I saw MP I realized I made the wrong decision. I guarantee you will forget the extra cost but never forget the experience of being right there to walk Machu Picchu at all hours.

  83. Peru and Costa Rica are high on my to do list. Peru seems to have it all, I feel that I would need to stay there for a month to cover all of its beauty and wonder.

    This year I only have trips to London + Paris planned but am looking to add more. I want to explore more of America as well. There is more to country than LA and NYC.

  84. 1. You can get wifi on a South African safari. We stayed at a mid-range tented camp (real floors, canvas walls) and had usable wifi. It was enough to check email, upload to instagram, and check football scores. Given what you work with on a plane, you should be able to find a safari camp that will work for you.

    2. If you’re going to Jordan, make sure to work in a trip to the Dead Sea. It’s not that far from Petra.

  85. If you go to Jordan, make sure to see the sunset in Wadi Rum. It’s beautiful and not too far from Petra either.

  86. tip – spend the money and stay at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge next to the Macchu Picchu ruins. Otherwise you will spend most of your time trying to get to the ruins. I have stayed at hotels at the bottom of Macchu Picchu so I know what I am talking about. Better yet, stay at their sister hotel in Cuzco (Hotel Monestario-close to EVERYTHING) and take the Belmond Hiram Bingham up to Macchu Picchu. They have a package for this. I did this the last time I was in Peru and I was well-taken care of and was able to spend the amount of time that I wanted at the ruins.

  87. Hi Lucky,

    I’m so happy you’re going to Israel. There is so much to do there you need at least a week. I recommend travelling in Spring, Fall or Summer. Winter is the worst Israeli season. I recommend visiting Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Hertzilya, Ein Gedi, the Dead Sea, and Eilat. Arkia, and Israir offer flights to Eilat, from Ben Gurion, Sde Dov and Haifa. Arkia’s Ben Gurion to Eilat is on a 757 and the Eilat runway is tiny, so it’s a fun 30 min flight. You can drive down also, it’s a very scenic drive, be sure to stop in Ein Gedi, Dead Sea and Massada. In Eilat I recommend staying at at the Queen of Sheeba a Hilton property currently under renovations. In Hertzilya there is the Dan Acadia (Dan Property) the Daniel, or the Ritz. If I remember correctly, the Ritz isn’t directly on the beach, rather on the marina. Jerusalem is amazing. I recommend Chezkiahu’s water tunnels, visiting Mamila mall, the old city, Ben yehuda, shuk machane yehuda, and the western wall tunnels. If you want some history there is also the “Time Elevator”. In Tel Aviv, well there is so much to do there. Between beaches, the Olympic museum, the nightlife or the many malls, it’s an amazing city. There are also some cool places outside of the main cities, ziplining into the Jordan River, skydiving over the Mediterranean or Red Sea, Timna park near Eilat, scuba diving next to the Egyptian border, and so much else. Also off the beaten tracks are the kineret, or Sea of Galilee, the Golan is beautiful, the dessert kibbutz are amazing, including Sde Boker, where Ben Gurion grew up. Besides that their are also so many religious sites in Judea and Samaria/West Bank. I know for sure Israel no longer stamps passports at Ben Gurion, I’m not sure about land crossings. If you are looking for a safe Airline, El Al flys from LAX, JFK, EWR, Boston and other international destinations. Ben Gurion is also one of the world’s safest and most secure airports. In times like these, Israel’s over the top security is a good thing. If you need any assistance planning, please feel free to contact me.

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