South Africa voted top adventure destination for 2016.

By Peter Church

South Africa has been named the top adventure travel destination in the world for 2016, pipping hot contenders Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands to the post in Virtuoso International Luxury Travel’s annual rankings.

Virtuoso gives credit to southern Africa’s rise as tourism destination by including South Africa on two of its most important lists in its 2016 Virtuoso Luxe Report, which named the top global destinations for 2016, along with other destination categories.

The listings come at the same time that the Rainbow Nation country also slipped onto Virtuoso’s list of top five luxury travel destinations for next year, only being beaten by Italy and France.

Virtuoso is considered the travel industry’s leading luxury network consisting of both travel advisors and travel partners who specialise in creating travel itineraries you would not find online or plan yourself.

The achievement follows the recent announcement that Botswana has topped Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2016 list, followed by Japan and the USA. South Africa’s land-locked neighbour, which will be celebrating its 50th year of independence next year, is known for its rare combination of desert and delta, as well as its vast array of wildlife. A total of 17 per cent of the country is dedicated to national parks and in 2014 the Okavango Delta became Unesco’s 1,000th World Heritage Site.

Virtuoso’s results are based on the responses of elite advisors credited for being trend forecasters. While some may not be surprised that South Africa made it to the top in the adventure category, many are surprised about its ranking in the luxury category. Yet, Virtuoso says in a statement South Africa is far from short on luxury. Eight SA hotels were named in the world’s top 50 in the recent Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards. South Africa also dominated the list of the best African hotels.

The top global destinations according to Virtuoso are:

1. Italy
2. France
3. South Africa
4. Mexico
5. Australia

The top adventure destinations are:

1. South Africa
2. Costa Rica
3. Galapagos Islands
4. New Zealand
5. Peru