Until now, Zambia has had little recognition as one of Africa’s great safari destinations. Yet experts know it as the birthplace of the walking safari — as well as the home of some of the most highly trained guides on the continent. In South Luangwa National Park, visitors can expect to see more animals than baobab trees, while Liuwa Plain National Park is the setting for the world’s second-largest wildebeest migration, when tens of thousands of the creatures head across the plain from neighboring Angola. Last year saw the arrival of Liuwa’s first permanent camp: King Lewanika Lodge, a six-villa safari lodge overlooking a watering hole where hyenas and antelope gather. —Mary Holland
Landlocked Laos might be quieter than Southeast Asian neighbors like Vietnam and Thailand, but 2018 could transform the country into the region’s next hot spot. Wattay International Airport, in the capital of Vientiane, is set to complete a terminal expansion to accommodate more international links next year, but the biggest changes are foot in the UNESCO World Heritage–inscribed town of Luang Prabang, in central Laos. This serene riverside spot lures travelers to its golden Buddhist temples, French-colonial architecture, hiking trails, nearby elephant sanctuaries — and now, glamorous new digs. Last year, the design-forward Azerai opened inside a century-old French-colonial building that was formerly an officer’s quarters. The debut concept from Aman Resorts founder Adrian Zecha has airy, light wood interiors that nod to local culture in their use of batik textiles and Laotian artwork. There’s also an 80-foot swimming pool in a tree-shaded central courtyard. The upcoming Rosewood Luang Prabang aims to be a destination in itself. Opening in mid 2018, this highly anticipated resort will feature pavilion-style villas, luxury tents, and a spa that seems to float above the jungle. —Kate Springer
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