2017 has been the most travel packed year for us yet. This year, we traveled all around the world, visiting 20 countries (13 of them we have never visited before) on 5 different continents. 
Halong Bay Cruise: Oksana & Max enjoying the scenery of Bai Tu Long Bay on Dragon Legend Cruise
Enjoying the scenery of Bai Tu Long Bay in Vietnam
 
With our new commitment to sustainable travel, we approached travel in 2017 from a slightly different perspective, focusing on making responsible eco-conscious choices in every aspect of our travels and making a positive impact on the communities and destinations that we visit.
 
Our year was full of amazing experiences. We were lucky to visit a variety of amazing destinations, learn about many fascinating cultures, try a number of unique cuisines, and be blown away by some beautiful landscapes. This is our list of the best of the best.

Our Top Destinations from 2017

Southern Patagonia, Chile

We traveled to Southern Patagonia to hike in Torres Del Paine National Park, but we were blown away by how much more there was to this region. We fell in love with Patagonia’s mountains, valleys, forests, and glaciers!
Top 7 destinations around the world: Chile Patagonia Torres Glacier
Glacier Kayaking at Glacier Grey in Southern Patagonia
Sunrise at Paine Grande
Sunrise at Paine Grande, Torres del Paine, Patagonia
The scenery was amazing, the hikes were incredibly rewarding, the food was delicious, and local hospitality was unbeatable.
Las Torres Hotel - one of the highlights of our time in Patagonia!
Las Torres Hotel – our favourite hotel in Patagonia!

READ NEXT: 20 PHOTOS THAT DEMONSTRATE THE UNDENIABLE BEAUTY OF CHILEAN PATAGONIA

Cusco, Peru

Cusco had us hooked from day one. While the city is typically known as the starting point for trips to Macchu Picchu, we really enjoyed exploring this part of Peru beyond Machu Picchu. 
Cusco, Peru
Cusco, Peru
We loved going off the beaten path with Apus Peru and discovering the lost ruins of Choquequirao on an epic 5-day trek through the Apurimac Valley.
Giving thanks to Pachamama on the ceremonial platform at Choquequirao ruins
Giving thanks to Pachamama on the ceremonial platform at Choquequirao ruins
We are happy to have had the opportunity to hike to the Rainbow Mountain, to explore Sacred Valley, and to sample some of the region’s amazing cuisine.
Overlooking Rainbow Mountain, Cusco, Peru
Overlooking Rainbow Mountain, Cusco, Peru
At the Sacsayhuaman Ruins in Cusco, Peru
At the Sacsayhuaman Ruins in Cusco, Peru

READ NEXT: ALTERNATIVE TREKS IN CUSCO, PERU

The Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galápagos Islands is a fascinating destination, not only because of the abundance of wildlife (swimming with sea lions was unreal) but also because of the unique landscapes that we encountered while there.
Looking into the caldera of Cerro Negro volcano
Looking into the caldera of Cerro Negro volcano on Isabela Island, Galapagos
Lava rocks, pink lakes, gorges, incredible sunsets, and the beautiful crystal clear waters made the Galápagos Islands one of the most picturesque destinations we have visited this year.
Exploring the Lava Tunnels on Isabela Island. Galapagos
Exploring the Lava Tunnels on Isabela Island
Tortuga Bay, Santa Cruz Island
Tortuga Bay, Santa Cruz Island
Salt lake on Santa Cruz island. Galapagos
Salt lake on Santa Cruz Island
 
Plus traveling to the Galapagos on a land-based tour with the amazing team from Galakiwi allowed us to interact with locals, indulge in amazing local cuisine, and experience these islands in a more sustainable way.
Sunset SUP on Floreana Island, Galapagos
Sunset SUP with Galakiwi on Floreana Island

READ NEXT: HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO THE GALAPAGOS

Mongolia

Traveling around Mongolia was challenging, but that was a part of the appeal. Being able to explore the country on our terms and following our own itinerary made our experience in Mongolia that much more unique.
Top 7 destinations around the world: stargazing in the Gobi Desert
Stargazing in the Gobi Desert
3 weeks in Mongolia
Yoliin Am Valley, Gobi Desert
3 weeks in Mongolia
Khongoryn Els Sand Dunes, Gobi Desert
We were blown away by the scenery in Mongolia and by the simple nomadic life lead outside the capital. We couldn’t get enough of Mongolia’s vast open steppes, its valleys, forests, and the beautiful lakes.
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Planning a Trip in the time of COVID?

Keep in mind that information found in this article may have been impacted by travel restrictions and other closures. Double check opening hours, tour providers and hotel status before you go. And don't leave your home without travel insurance!
If you are looking for an insurance provider that covers COVID-19, we recommend SafetyWing. Get Medical and Travel Insurance starting at just $40/month and you can sign up even if your trip has already started!

READ NEXT: WHERE TO GO IN MONGOLIA: OUR SUGGESTED MONGOLIA ITINERARY

Chengdu, China

Out of all the cities we visited this year, Chengdu, China surprised us the most. We expected a grey dull city but instead came across a vibrant thriving hub with great Sichuanese cuisine, cool shops, and a hip vibe.
Chengdu, China
Green streets of Chengdu, China
Hotpot in Chengdu, China
Hotpot in Chengdu, China
But the best part was that the outskirts of Chengdu were full of fascinating cultural sights and important religious temples, offering lots of great day trips to culture seekers.
Panda at the Panda Research Centre in Chengdu
Panda at the Panda Research Centre in Chengdu

READ NEXT: CHINA TRAVEL TIPS: THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

Virunga National Park, DRC

Our trip to Virunga National Park was one of the most impactful journeys of this year. Despite the political unrest in the country, the park’s fearless rangers work hard to protect the park’s mountain gorillas and other wildlife and better the lives of the villagers inhabiting the outskirts of the park.
Virunga National Park, DRC
Virunga National Park, DRC
In good hands with our ranger, Ali
In good hands with our ranger, Ali
 
For them, every tourist dollar is a big deal and thanks to our great experience staying inside the park, tracking mountain gorillas, and climbing to the top of Nyaragongo Volcano, we can’t stop raving about it to others.
Top 7 destinations around the world: Virunga Nyiragongo
Admiring the active lava lake at Nyiragongo Volcano in Virunga National Park

Uganda, Africa 

The pearl of Africa was the biggest surprise of our East Africa trip. We were blown away by Uganda’s wildlife diversity and by the number of unique experiences we had while there.
At Murchison Falls in Uganda
At Murchison Falls in Uganda
From gorilla and chimp tracking and fantastic wildlife safaris to beautiful eco-lodges and the incredible adrenaline-filled adventures on the Nile River – Uganda seemed to have it all and at a fraction of the price compared to Tanzania or Kenya!
Friendly visitor at the Crater Safari Lodge in Uganda
Friendly visitor at the Crater Safari Lodge in Uganda
On a safari in Uganda
On a safari in Uganda 
Tree climbing lions in Queen Elizabeth national Park
Tree climbing lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda
Sundowner on a safari with Ishasha Wilderness Camp in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Sundowner on a safari with Ishasha Wilderness Camp in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn was meant to be just one of the stops on our Christmas adventure in the Baltic, but it turned out to be so much more. We quickly realized that our preconception of Tallinn as a dull grey former soviet union city was completely wrong and fell in love with Tallinn’s medieval charm and Scandinavian hip.

Master's Courtyard, Old Town, Tallinn
Master’s Courtyard, Old Town, Tallinn

Even in the winter, Tallinn proved to be exciting! Enchanting cobblestone streets were filled with locals and visitors enjoying the Christmas Market festivities, the mood felt buoyant and the city was reverberating with holiday cheer!

Christmas Market in the Old Town Square, Tallinn, Estonia
Christmas Market in the Old Town Square, Tallinn, Estonia

Outside the city, Estonia was quiet but beautiful. The country is rich in national parks, beautiful beaches, and the famous Estonian Bogs (wetlands) and is a popular destination for outdoor activities (although most are easier to enjoy in the summer).

Lahemaa National Park, Estonia
Lahemaa National Park, Estonia
Baltic Sea at Vosu beach, near Lahemaa National Park
Baltic Sea at Vosu beach, near Lahemaa National Park

There is so much more to see and do in Estonia, but we, unfortunately, ran out of time on our short visit in 2017  We are definitely putting this great Baltic destination on our list for 2018!

As you can see, our favourite destinations from 2017 are scattered all over the world and offer something for every type of traveler. Whether you are a foodie, a city explorer, or someone looking for a way to escape the hustle and bustle and connect with nature, we hope that you find some inspiration for your 2018 travels on our list of favourite destinations from 2017!

Happy Travels and Happy 2018!

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