In keeping with our 2013 Resolutions series, we've rounded up four botanical hotspots around the world we're hoping-dreaming-wishing to visit. Who doesn't love the New Years "resolution" to travel more?! That's what we call a win-win situation.
1. Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy - for rich, unique Alpine flora
Established in 1922, the Gran Paradiso National Park in northern Italy was formerly a hunting reserve for the country's kings. Now it is a paradise of unspoiled Alpine wilderness with an incredible variety of plants, flowers, and animals, attracting botanists and nature-enthusiasts from around the world. To make the most out of your visit, sign up for a guided hike with one of the park's 60 wardens - who know and love the park like their own child.
Pack: hiking boots
2. Hvar, Croatia - for fragrant lavender fields
Formerly a 16th-century Venetian fortress, the island of Hvar has become a hotspot for yachters, island-hoppers, and celebrities, craving luxury villas and decadent open-air nightclubs. However, Hvar's real allure is its unspoiled beaches, breathtaking vineyards, and expansive purple lavender fields. Spend the day wandering through lavender fields, exploring abandoned medieval villages, and sunbathing on secluded white beaches (we swoon!). Finish with a cocktail…or two.
Pack: a bathing suit
3. Republic of the Congo, Africa - for unique wildlife and culture
Not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the much smaller Republic of the Congo has managed to avoid (most of) its neighbor's violent conflict. Still, not surprisingly, it hasn't topped many travel-destination lists until now. Recently, the much respected Wilderness Safaris opened up two luxury safari camps with designer digs in the heart of the world's second-largest tropical rainforest, the Congo Basin. If budget is not something you concern yourself with, book today.
Pack: a big safari-style hat
4. Singapore - for an impressive new-age nature reserve
Did you know a study released in 2011 by The Economist ranked Singapore as the greenest city in Asia?! Hoping to boost the city's image as an environmental tourism destination further, two vast nature projects, exhibiting an impressive marriage of nature and technology, will be implemented this year - Gardens by the Bay, a 250-acre nature reserve, and Marine Life Park, a water park and oceanarium home to over 800 species of underwater life. We'd like to visit both, thanks!
Pack: a digital camera
1. Women's Bean's Gore-Tex Cresta Hiker, $189 @ LL Bean
2. MIU MIU scalloped underwired bow bikini, $245 @ Net-A-Porter
3. The North Face Horizon Sun Safari Hat, $23 @ REI
4. Canon PowerShot ELPH 320 HS 16.1MP Digital Camera, $168 @ Best Buy
* Don't hesitate to bring us back any souvenirs!