Best of CH 2019: Travel

From Bhutan to Budapest and Maasai Mara to Mexico, our most extraordinary adventures

As the Earth made its way around the sun, our team of staffers and contributors traversed the globe in search of inspiration and the stories that come from diverse, in-depth experiences. We are more conscious than ever of the traumas imparted on the environment by long-haul flights—and this has only made the travel we commit to all the more valuable as we aim to reduce our time in the air. Perhaps unsurprisingly, our love of destinations within reach of NYCPhiladelphia, the Catskills and Hudson Valley, to name a few—only intensified this year. But we remain fascinated by remote destinations, be that the wilds of Canada’s Yukon Territories or the serenity of Chile’s Atacama Desert. The 10 selections below encompass all of the above and intend to enable others discover a little more about this remarkable planet, and to live what we loved.

Notes: Navigating Bhutan Before, During + After

At a Christmas Eve gala dinner in Agra, India (home of the Taj Mahal), I approached an American family that sat nearby. A part of me wanted to hear the familiar accent, another part wanted their take on the atypical holiday extravaganza we were attending. After introductions, we began to talk about our world travels and I explained that I’d just come from Bhutan. “Did you cry when you left?” a mother from the group asked. She’d been to the nation. She’d cried upon departure. She heard others did, too. It was a very appropriate question…

Word of Mouth: Mexico City Drinking + Dining

Distrito Federal, Mexico City, now formally Ciudad de México, is a dynamic and quickly evolving destination full of dichotomies, tradition and innovation. Whether attending Zona Maco, Design Week, or at any other time of the year, food is guaranteed to be a big part. While street food and family-style restaurants are essentials (try the white pozole at Los Tolucos), there are countless sophisticated and contemporary establishments worth visiting (you have, no doubt, been directed to Pujol). Long, late lunches are ideal for many of these places—start around 3ish, and graze while people-watching through to the evening…

Basecamp Explorer’s Sustainable Tourism in Kenya’s Maasai Mara

Just over 20 years ago, Svein Wilhelmsen visited Kenya’s Maasai Mara and met Ole Taek, a Maasai Chief. As the story goes, the two men spoke late into the night, and Taek shared his fears about the future of his land, the future of the ecosystem and in turn the Maasai people themselves. Struck by the conversation, the people, the wildlife and the sheer beauty of the place, Wilhelmsen vowed to help protect it. Just six months later, Basecamp Explorer was born…

Word of Mouth: Eating and Drinking in São Miguel, Azores

Secluded in the middle of the Atlantic, the allure of the Azores has somehow remained under the radar to even the most discerning travelers. As a part of Portugal, Azorean culture certainly feels European, though being 900+ miles from the mainland has allowed a distinct culinary heritage to flourish alongside its myriad natural wonders. The largest of nine islands, São Miguel holds perhaps the most diverse representation of the archipelago’s flavors. Our guide to drinking and dining on São Miguel highlights the greatest hyper-local ingredients and distinctly Azorean specialties, in locations within 30 minutes of the capital, Ponta Delgada…

Art + Design Institutions Perfect For Day Trips From NYC

With such a concentration of artists, studios, galleries and museums in NYC, nobody should be surprised that world-class art institutions exist in the surrounding cities, towns and hamlets. Drive in any direction and within two hours there’s a stop worthy of the art curious. Depending on the direction, you’re likely to end up at the Parrish Museum in Water Mill, New York, the Princeton University Art Museum in New Jersey or the Nakashima design studio in New Hope, PA. But follow the Hudson River north, as we did in a 2019 Lincoln Continental, and pinball around Westchester, swinging through Connecticut before wandering into the Hudson Valley, and you’ll find the eight destinations we explore below, which are worth a visit year after year. And, for anyone planning on spending more than a day up there, it might also make sense to continue the drive and stop by CH favorite Mass MoCA too…

Word of Mouth: Budapest Bars

To drink in Budapest is to engage with the city’s fortunes. An economic surge in the decade following the fall of the Iron Curtain gave rise to the city’s renowned “ruin bars”—community spaces serving as hybrid bar/cafe/performance venues established primarily in the neglected remains of disused buildings in the city’s old Jewish Quarter. In reclaiming its cosmopolitan legacy in the years since, the old imperial capital has proved itself in tune with global enthusiasm for craft cocktails and obscure wine varietals. The resulting melange of drinking establishments ranges from chaotic backpacker bars to subdued speakeasies, wine bars and beyond. Here we have listed some of our favorite venues that appear at all spots on Budapest’s nightlife spectrum…

Three Unique Offerings at Wm. Mulherin’s Sons + HIROKI, Philadelphia

In Philadelphia‘s Fishtown neighborhood, by the Market-Frankford Line train, a building that used to be a 19th century whiskey-blending and bottling factory (and later a motorcycle repair shop) is now the glorious Wm. Mulherin’s Sons. Inside, visitors find a stunning four-bedroom hotel and two restaurants. Each of the three offerings could not be more different—especially the two restaurants, Wm. Mulherin’s Sons and just-opened HIROKI

Word of Mouth: Chile’s Atacama Desert

Covering more than 41,000 square miles, Chile‘s Atacama Desert stretches along the Pacific and spills across borders into Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. Its innumerable splendors—rare flamingoes, mind-bending salt flats, desolate landscapes and celestial access, all high among the list—have many entry points. But none are so closely congregated as those around San Pedro de Atacama, which is set atop a volcano-speckled, arid plateau. To reach the remote town, a flight to Calama followed by a one-hour drive is most advisable—as we did while exploring the region with Luminox

Hiking Yukon’s Tombstone on Arc’teryx’s New Guided Trips

Respected, innovative outdoor brand Arc’teryx steps into the guided trips business. And if our experience with them—trekking through the wildest parts of Canada’s Yukon Territories—is any indication, thrill-seekers of all sorts are in for a breathtaking, pulse-raising treat. The Arc’teryx Trips website, which is officially open now, lists trips departing in 2020. The first round of trips will offer immersive travel experiences giving participants unrivaled access to remote destinations, including Canada’s Ghost, Tombstone and Chilcotin Ranges, the Tetons, Alaska, Corsica, the Alps, the Dolomites and more, in a mixed offering of trail running, mountaineering, trekking trips…

Reef Rejuvenation at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

There’s more than postcard views and luxury accommodation at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, which is located in the South Ari Atoll—a place that feels miles and miles away, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. While plenty of attention has been centered on the resort opening the world’s first-ever underwater residence, The Muraka, the property’s eco efforts are just as impressive. From their plan to be entirely plastic-free by 2020 to their hydroponic garden and desalination plant, to investing in community initiatives and education, Conrad Rangali quietly but continually works on its sustainability efforts for those living above and under the clear blue water…

Hero image by David Graver