5 Trips of a Lifetime
From the wildlife of the Central Kalahari reserve—including antelope and the black-maned lions that hunt them—to the salt pans of Makgadikgadi and the wetlands of the Okavango Delta, Botswana holds some of the most spectacular vistas on Earth. Not to be missed: a walk with Zu/'hoasi Bushmen trackers, and an afternoon among the meerkat. This is the featured image.
Rio is on every traveler's wish list—even if they've already been. (Maybe especially if they've already been.) Cradled by those world-renowned beaches and mountains is one of the world's great colonial centers. But the city's staggering diversity is trumped by that of Brazil itself: cool cosmopolitanism on the coast gives way to the great Amazonian rainforest, where more species of flora and fauna convene than anywhere else on the planet—including nine kinds of howler monkey and the endangered Amazonian dolphin.
There are few places that better capture the grand soul of maritime Old Europe than Croatia. Zagreb's ancient fortified center rivals Budapest and Vienna in its stony streets and baroque architectural flourishes; further south, Dubrovnik — currently playing King's Landing in the HBO series Game of Thrones, and formerly the capital of the Maritime Republic of Ragusa, rival to Italy's Venice and Amalfi — boasts the sternly lovely old town of Stari Grad, whose convents, palaces, and fountains were cut from the same lightly colored stone. The latticed waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offer a delightful un-urban intermission.
We're relentless evangelists for the sundry and sumptuous pleasures of India (need proof? It's hereand herehere). More than a country, it's a bazaar for the spirit, fiercely extravagant one instant, modest the next. Delhi alone contains multitudes: the alleys of Chandni Chowk; the mosques of Nizamuddin Dargah and Jama Masjid; the Yogmaya temple; nearby, the Taj Mahal. Rajasthan is another world: the "Blue City" of Jodhpur, camels and chinkara in the Thar Desert. A feast for the senses from eye to tongue to fingertip.
The Virunga mountains, jutting like shards of dense emerald from Africa's central plain, are one of the world's great phenomena: volcano-born, ancient, now lush with an array of plants and wildlife as dazzling as any in Africa. Their most famous inhabitants are also their rarest: the mountain gorillas, critically endangered but also, in recent years, fiercely defended by conservationists. Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park offers one of a very few opportunities to encounter them in their native habitat. (It's also home to their nearly-as-rare evolutionary cousins, the golden monkeys.)