Florida is so old hat. Instead, why not take a walk on the wild side and head to Azerbaijan, Iraq or Zimbabwe?
Well you’re unlikely to bump into Bob and Sue from the tennis club. More practically, Anglo Arab Insurance Brokers (aaib-insurance.com) now offers insurance for travel to Iraq, although the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advice (fco.gov.uk) is hardly a ringing endorsement for the Costa del Euphrates. Still, one for the more adventurous, and those who like to brag rather than tick attractions off a list.
Tempted? Al-Rafidain ( al-rafidain.com) can organise trips for one or two weeks
Why go? Exclusivity. Even ardent pub-quiz attenders who know that South America has 12 countries in it would probably name this one last. But there’s enough to keep you busy if you take one of KLM’s five weekly flights via Amsterdam to Paramaribo, the capital.
Once you head into the interior, there is dense virgin rainforest and sparsely populated savannah. Near Kwamalasamutu, guides from the Trio tribe will take you trekking to see the 5,000-year-old petroglyphs deep in the jungle.
Tempted? Journey Latin America ( journeylatinamerica.co.uk) offers a 13-day trip that takes in Surinam, French Guiana and Guyana
The commonwealth of Puerto Rico, whose inhabitants are US citizens, is the Spanish-speaking Caribbean that Brits don’t know. It’s now more accessible, with Virgin Atlantic flying from Gatwick and BA starting flights from the end of March. New upmarket hotels, such as the W Resort & Spa Vieques Island and St Regis Bahia Beach Resort, opened last year, although there’s a good range of family-run B&Bs and hotels that you can peruse at gotoparadores.com. The island is also a major destination for cruise liners, so you could combine a few days on the beach or in San Juan, the capital, with a jaunt around the West Indies.
As well as having one of the fasted growing economies in the world, Azerbaijan is also building the world’s highest flagpole (nearly 200m) on which to plonk the world’s largest flag. You want more? Baku, the capital, on the shores of the Caspian Sea, has quirky (and often windy) charms, including a restored old town, big-name Italian-label shops next to markets glistening with jars of pickles, tins of caviar and the gold teeth of the many vendors. There are also Turkish-style saunas, a Zaha Hadid-designed arts centre and varied nightlife with restaurants serving hearty Azeri cuisine, jazz venues and nightclubs: swanky Chinar opened in 2010 and is the hip choice for those locals who are long of limb, high of cheekbone and deep of wallet. Big international hotels such as the Four Seasons, Marriott and Hilton are popping up, too.
It’s a chance to experience a little-visited side of Africa and to visit a country that has moved on from its civil war and now welcomes visitors. You can get there on twice-weekly nonstop flights from Heathrow, but go before April or after October to avoid the rainy season.
From the capital, Freetown, the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, with more than 2,500 rescued chimps, is only a 30-minute drive away. Dotted along the Atlantic are some great beaches — try No 2 Beach, which has shallow, warm waters, community lodges and ample opportunities for bird spotting.
Siang River, India
If crowds are your idea of hell, then rafting the Siang River in northeast India will be right up your tributary. The Siang was first fully surveyed in 2003 and only 100 people are allowed to raft it every year. The spectacular scenery ranges from rainforests to wide gorges. On the river you’ll experience rapids that will rattle your fillings as well as calm stretches that allow you to lie back and enjoy the views.
Elections are predicted for May and fingers are crossed for a more transparent outcome this time. Tour operators see green shoots emerging since the Zimbabwe dollar was replaced by the US dollar. Chris McIntyre, of Expert Africa, says that visiting will bring income to the beleaguered local travel sector.
With the exception of Chizarira National Park, game densities remain strong and levels of guiding still “set the gold standard” for Africa.