African Lion photo by Green Global Travel

photo by Bret Love

GGT’s Top 10 Dream Trips For 2013


We don’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions, but we do believe in writing down your hopes, dreams and goals for the coming year in order to give yourself a well-defined sense of direction. It’s unlikely that we’ll take quite as many trips as we did last year, because we have some big projects (writing a book, launching bespoke editing and social media consulting services, etc.) we want to tackle. So we’ve chosen our Top 10 Dream Trips for 2013 very carefully in hopes that we’ll have a chance at making many of them become reality this year.



Our #1 Dream Trip from last year holds the top spot, and likely won’t relinquish it until my 12-year dream safari finally becomes reality. These two East African countries are a Mecca for wildlife lovers around the world thanks to incredible attractions such as the Masai Mara Reserve, Amboseli National Park, Ngorogoro Crater and Serengeti National Park. But there’s also the rich culture of the Maasai people, the impressive landscapes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and the important archaeological  site of Olduvai Gorge (where the Leakey family found humanity’s ancient ancestors).


Baby Elephant at Elephant Nature Park, Thailand

photo courtesy Elephant Nature Park


We’d never given Thailand much thought until our friend Diana got a job at Elephant Nature Park and educated us on the work being done there to rehabilitate elephants injured after being used in the tourist trade. We’d love to visit her and meet her beautiful elephants, and we’d also love to visit the nation’s northern mountains (home to numerous wildlife species and hill tribes), the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ban Chiang, the ancient city of Ayutthaya, the island of Koh Muk (including the Emerald Cave), and some of their many natural and historical parks. This would also be a landmark trip for us because it would be our first trip to Asia proper.



Indian culture has held a deep fascination for me ever since I was a child, reading Rudyard Kipling books. As I grew older, everything about the subcontinent seemed magical, from the complex music and rich mythology to the colorful art and flavorful cuisine. We’d love to explore as much of India as possible, rafting in the foothills of the Himalayas, witnessing sunrise at the Taj Mahal, looking for tigers in Ranthambore National Park, taking a boat into the Kerala backwater, experiencing the spirituality of Varanasi and soaking up the kaleidoscopic colors of Rajasthan.


Spirit Bear in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest

photo courtesy


After we learned about this burgeoning ecotourism haven from one of our naturalist guides during our recent trip to see polar bears in Churchill, British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest immediately shot up high on our list. A chance at seeing the extremely rare Spirit Bears is obviously a huge draw, but so is the opportunity to learn about the preservation efforts of the local First Nations people, go whale watching, and explore an ancient 2 million hectare forest reportedly packed to the gills with grizzlies, wolves, salmon and more.



Another holdover from last year, Belize is one of the few remaining Latin American countries (along with Bolivia) we long to visit. I’ve been dreaming about it ever since my first trip to Costa Rica back in 1998– exploring the Mayan ruins, visiting the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, and spending some time in Hopkins Village (the only continuous Garifuna settlement in Central America). And now that Mary and I are Scuba certified, we could take full advantage of the world-renowned diving off the nation’s coast, hopefully hitting the Blue Hole.


Northern Lights in Norway

photo by Varjisakka via Creative Commons


Will Norway will be GGT’s first European press trip? After the great stories shared by our former intern Holly Young (who has family there), we’re dying to explore the gorgeous waters of Hardangerfjord, hike in the Jotunheimen Mountains, and meet the indigenous Sámi people. We’d also love to explore the Arctic wonderland of Svalbard, which has 23 nature reserves and 7 national parks filled with diverse wildlife, is 60% covered by glaciers, and is reportedly an amazing place to witness the Northern Lights.



This North African country is another destination that’s been on my list of dream trips for well over a decade now, ever since I first fell in love with the country’s culture via the writings of Paul Bowles and the music of Bachir Attar and the Master Musicians of Jajouka. We’d love to savor the rich local cuisine, experience the rites of Pan in the Atlas Mountains, attend Essaouira’s annual Gnaoua World Music Festival, and explore the ancient walled medina of Fes El Bali (a.k.a. Fez, a UNESCO World Heritage Site).


Koala and Joey in Australia

photo by Benjamint444 via Creative Commons


We didn’t include the Land Down Under on this list last year for two reasons: 1) Getting there seemed far outside the realm of possibility, and 2) We weren’t yet certified to dive the Great Barrier Reef. Now, 12 months later, our traffic has increased by 500% and we’ve got brand spankin’ new SSI Scuba cards. In addition to exploring the world’s largest marine sanctuary, we’d also love to see the ancient aboriginal artwork at Kakadu National Park, see the myriad ecosystems of Fraser Island, witness the sun setting on Uluru (a.k.a. Ayers Rock), visit Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo (now run by wife Terri), and hug a cuddly koala. This would be a landmark trip for us, as it would mark our 7th and final continent!



This one would arguably be the most personal dream trip of all. Back before my beloved grandfather died, I interviewed him about our family’s history, which was when I learned that our lineage could be traced back to the Scottish King Kenneth MacAlpin. Apparently one of his ancestors, a young man named Ian, came over to America sometime in the late 1700s or early 1800s and changed his name to Love when he got to Ellis Island. I’d love to learn more about my family’s lineage, and then visit the towns in rural Scotland from which my ancestors originated. Given my love for my late granddad, it’s sure to be a deeply emotional journey.


Four Seasons Resort in Bora Bora

photo provided by the Four Seasons Bora Bora


We’ve already gotten an official invite from the VERY posh Four Seasons Resort, so we’re hoping to make Tahiti our first big press trip of 2013. Ideally we’ll spend a few days of romantic R&R in Bora Bora, which will be a refreshing change of pace after our recent focus on colder destinations. Then we’ll hopefully head to the tropical paradise of Moorea (which is known for its majestic mountains and waterfalls) and/or the endless lagoons of Rangoria, the second largest atoll in the world (and a haven for Scuba divers).



BORNEO– “I’d love to visit Borneo’s ‘Lost World’, the Mauliau Basin. It was discovered less than 100 years ago. Circled by cliffs, it’s geographically separated from the surrounding area, filled with waterfalls and exotic flora and fauna, and seldom visited.” –Matt Gibson


THE MALDIVES– “Because it looks like paradise on Earth!”  –Charlene Barnett-Kramer


Bagan, Burma

photo by Corto Maltese via Creative Commons

MYANMAR– “The long-standing travel boycott due to their repressive military government has recently been lifted. It’s a good time for responsible tourists to bring much-needed revenue into these previously isolated communities while experiencing the country before it modernizes.” –Cassie Kifer, Ever In Transit


TONGA– “Earlier this year I went to an island in Tonga with no electricity. There were no other tourists, and only 3 locals live there. It was the most relaxed my brain has ever been. I’d like to go back and do it again, only this time not in the rainy season!”  –Kate Voyage, 30 Traveler


ETHIOPIA– “I’d love to visit the Ethiopian Highlands (called ‘The Roof of Africa’) for the amazing wildlife diversity (gelada baboons and Ethiopian wolves) plus whacked-out geology.”  –Eve Wills


Where would YOU most like to travel in 2013? Let us know in the comments below!  –Bret Love 


If you enjoyed reading about our Top 10 Dream Trips for 2013, you might also like: 

GGT’s Top 10 Dream Trips for 2012

The Best Coffee in the World: A Gourmet’s Guide

AUSTRALIA: Top 5 Eco Attractions

SCOTLAND: 48 Hours in Edinburgh

TANZANIA: Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

67 Responses to GGT’s Top 10 Dream Trips For 2013

  • Gaelyn says:

    Looks like you have a full schedule for the year and many of these places are on my list as well. I’m looking forward to my Feb & March trip to South Africa and hope to head into Central America in our fall. Good luck with all the projects.

  • Hi Bret and Mary – Africa hasn’t really been on my travel radar but I keep hearing bloggers mention Kenya/Tanzania and that is putting it on my radar. Olduvai Gorge archaeological site in particular sounds like something I would like to do. Thanks for including my story about Tonga!

    • Yeah, Africa has had my heart ever since I went to South Africa back in 2000, so there aren’t too many countries on the continent (except for the war-torn ones) that AREN’T on our list. Some are just higher than others… 😉

  • We have been to Tahiti 5 times and visited many islands. I suggest saving Bora Bora for the last stop. The other islands are more wild and authentic and topping the trip off with posh in the end is a real treat. We stayed at the St. Regis and had a wonderful time!

  • OurPassportStamps says:

    You will fall in love with the South Pacific. I know Bora Bora is high on everyones list, but I adore Moorea.
    We were in Bora Bora for the Havaiki Nui. If this is something you are interested, you will want to postpone your trip there until the race, which is in the fall. It was just spectacular to be on the water to watch all of the outriggers come into the finish line.
    There’s a reason that Captain Cook spent year charting these waters…The most difficult thing you will do the entire trip is count how many shades of blue you see. Those photos you see of the South Pacific waters are almost never photoshopped …they don’t need to be!!!!!

    • Bora Bora actually wasn’t all that high on my list initially, until we 1) saw the Four Seasons Resort we’d be staying in and 2) got Scuba certified. Now, especially after the grueling 2012 we had, I can’t wait to visit. And we’d love to spend half our time in Moorea or one of the other nearby islands.

  • Suzanne says:

    Great pictures and ideas! Norway or Tahiti would be #1 on my list right now, although I have had many friends rave about trips to Australia and Scotland.

    • Yeah, the worst part about being part of the travel blogosphere is being jealous of all your friends who get to travel to a cool destination before you do. But it is very inspiring to get inside information on the world’s coolest spots before they become hot.

  • Laurence says:

    I can definitely confirm that Thailand is worth the visit – we’ve been loving our time here!

  • Cassie says:

    Thanks for including me, it’s unfortunate that I won’t be able to make it to Thailand and Myanmar as planned this year, but it’s on the list for 2014! And you have a really exciting list–India, Norway, and Morocco are also near the top of my list of dream destinations. I studied in Kenya when I was in college, and I’ve been wanting to go to East Africa again to explore the region on my own. I really hope you make it there this year, I’ll be eagerly anticipating your photos!

    • We hope so, too, Cassie! We’ve both been refining our photo/video skills the last two years, and if we get the 2-week safari we want we might even splurge to rent better camera gear. Fingers crossed it’ll happen sooner than later!

  • Nice list and we have no doubt you’ll get to at least some of your dream destinations in 2013. And there’s always 2014…

  • What a great idea, to have a concrete wish list of places to visit. You mention several I would like to see but very tops on my list is Morocco. I’m drawn by the food, the architecture, the colorful souks, and would love to visit some of the off-the-beaten-track cities. Won’t happen this year, I’m afraid because of family needs, but it remains on my wish list!

  • Wow, it looks like you have all 2013 planned already! 🙂 What incredible destinations! I wish you the best of luck. We hope to make it to USA and visit more of Europe this year, specially Scotland and the Netherlands in spring 😛

    • I wouldn’t go calling it a plan just yet, since we’ve only had actual discussions about 2 of these destinations. We always take a wait-and-see approach, because you never know. Scotland in the spring sounds lovely!

  • Erica says:


    But we’re looking to Asia this year. Here is to hoping!

    • Yeah, we’re hoping to get to Asia as well. We did Jordan last year, which is technically Asia, but to me it doesn’t really count since the culture has more in common with North Africa.

  • Some great hopes for the new year…I would love to see the Northern Lights also…

    • I’ve actually seen them once before, in Alaska, but they weren’t very clear and it was a long time ago (14 years, to be exact). We had hoped to see them in Churchill, but it was cloudy every night.

  • Thank you so much for including Save Elephant Foundation and our Elephant Nature Park in your list, Bret and Mary! We are sure you will enjoy your time with us and hope to see you in 2013!

  • YAY!! So glad you included the park in your list!! Can’t wait to FINALLY meet you.

    • Well, hopefully this will be the year we make it happen. Our meeting with Thailand’s Tourism Board went well, so now it’s just a question of making the arrangements and getting ENP on the itinerary. We’ll let you know if/when it looks likely!

  • Larissa says:

    I always love reading others’ lists, as it gives me ideas to add to my own 🙂

  • Natalie says:

    EH? Turkey not on the list? 🙁

    • Turkey’s on a list, but not this list. I’d say it’s in the Top 20, along with Iceland, Indonesia, Alaska’s Katmai/Kodiak region, Botswana, Namibia, Greece and a few others. It came down to a choice between Turkey and Morocco, and I have a deeper, longer personal connection with the latter. I’m guessing Turkey will be Top 10 for 2014, though. 😉

  • Ali says:

    Looks like a great list! Definitely some places on here I haven’t been to that I’d be interested in reading about. Australia was my 7th continent too, and it’s such a great country. I was in Bora Bora last January, and while it was gorgeous, it rained almost the entire 2 days we were there. Hopefully you’ll get to spend more time than that and have better weather! An African safari in Tanzania is pretty high on my list too, I definitely hope to make that one happen sometime in the next few years. I’m looking forward to seeing which of these trips work out for you (hopefully all of them!) and if anything else gets added to the list!

    • As long as not all of them work out for us in 2013, we’d be delighted to knock at least a few of these off our list. The goal for 2013 is to be more selective and strategic about the trips we take so we don’t get quite so burned out. But Kenya/Tanzania is definitely our #1 priority.

  • Raj says:

    no Nepal Included ?

    • Nepal is definitely on our list of places we want to visit, but I’m not sure getting there in 2013 is a realistic goal for us. Our friends who’ve been have shared wonderful stories, so hopefully we’ll get there (and Tibet, and Mongolia, etc) someday soon.

  • fun!! and YAY scotland!! that’s my fave place, ever. 🙂

  • I have been to just two places on the list! Time to get traveling…

  • Linda McCormick says:

    If you do make it to Oz, it would be so wonderful to meet you both. Would love to chat eco stuff – and travel – over a few cold ones 🙂

    • Agreed! It’s funny, we probably have more blogger friends in/from Australia than just about any other country on the planet. We definitely need to get there at some point soon…

  • Sophie says:

    More of Africa tops my list!

    • Yeah, between Kenya/Tanzania, Morocco, Botswana, Namibia, Uganda, Egypt and Ethiopia, it’s going to be years before we cross off all the African nations that are in our Top 25 list.

  • Bethaney - Flashpacker Family says:

    I’m dying to get to China this year. I’ve been reading a lot about it lately. There’s so much to do there and tonnes of variety. I do worry about the pollution though as I’m a really bad asthmatic.

    • Yeah, we probably won’t visit China anytime soon due to issues with their recent Human Rights record in Tibet and their refusal to clamp down on illegal wildlife trafficking. Hopefully that will change at some point.

  • Pappy says:

    Really useful tips. It is very good for all travel lovers. Bret and Mary, once again thank you for having such a nice and informative article.

  • Red Hunt says:

    As a fellow nature and wildlife lover I’m lucky to have been to many of the places on your dream list….and share some of them with you too. The Great Bear Rainforest and Ethiopia are both high on my must-visit list…all the best for 2013!

  • When you make it to Australia let me know! Would love to meet up with you in Brisbane! 🙂

    • Absolutely! But at this point it’s going to come down to finding a tour operator or tourism board willing to fly us over. Airfare from Atlanta to Australia is WAY out of our budget!

  • My top 2 dream trips are the same as yours! I’m not sure I’ll be able to make the africa trip this year, but we are thinking of spending 6 months in Thailand beginning in the fall of 2013. I think Thailand would be a great place for a thorough photographic journey. It would be my first trip abroad since becoming a full time nomad photographer and writer.

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  • Cheryl says:

    Look forward to seeing if you manage to get your top 10 trips done in 2013! 🙂

    • Oh god, I don’t even WANT to get all 10 trips done this year! Not to look any gift horses in the mouth, but we did 11 press trips last year and that was too many. I’d be happy if we were able to make 5-6 of these come true, honestly. Any more than that and we don’t have enough time for freelance work, family or friends.

  • Never even heard of “Spirit Bears” before! Very cool.

    • I read about them in NatGeo a few years back, but I’ve only started researching them in the past year. They’ve definitely put British Colombia on our map more than ever before.

  • Angela says:

    This year I would love to visit Venezuela, Myanmar, Cambodia and go back to China and India! Not sure I’ll manage to squeeze it all in one year, but it’s ok to leave some to the next 😉

    • Yeah, we don’t even WANT to try to make all of these happen this year. Personally I’d be delighted if we could cross 4-5 of them off the list, mixing in a few smaller trips here and there. Right now, we’re targeting Kenya/Tanzania, Scotland, Belize, Thailand and Tahiti (which is already confirmed) as our Top 5. If we can make all those happen, anything else is gravy!

  • Alexandra says:

    I’m going to be in Tanzania, Kenya and India this year! Maybe we will cross paths 😉 I would love to add the Maldives to my to-do list this year! It is a dream destination of mine since I am an island junkie but I also want to see them before they sink.

    Good luck with your list!

  • Jennifer says:

    You list a few places on our own wishlist: Africa, the Great Bear Rainforest, and Australia all top our list! We are going to Thailand to work with elephants, though we’ll be doing it at the Anantara Golden Triangle camp.

    Svalbard is incredible, though it’s not a great place to try to catch the Northern Lights. Can you believe Svalbard is actually TOO far north? They are seen there, but not regularly like in places in mainland Norway, Finland, and Sweden.

    • Good to know, thanks Jennifer! Ideally we’d like to see multiple parts of Norway on one trip, including a visit to the Sami people to see reindeer herding in action. We’ve been invited by Norway Tourism to visit, we just need to figure out the best time.

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