Whilst wishing everyone an amazing Christmas and with 2018 closing swiftly in on us, I am finishing my year on a high and boarding a flight to The Philippines. Before I speak to you all in the New Year and after having visited over 26 countries this year, I wanted to round up my top five remarkable travel discoveries of 2017, to help you know exactly what to ask Santa for ;)

Sabrina Chakici in Zanzibar

Sabrina Chakici in Zanzibar

The Serengeti, Tanzania

Not just one of my favourite travel experiences of 2017 but one for the all-time list! The secluded yet intimate escape of a Safari expedition is something that should be experienced by everyone at least once in a lifetime. Driving through the African plains whilst encountering lions, zebras, giraffes and monkeys makes for the most extraordinary holiday and sharing remarkable moments with these wild animals was a few days I will never forget.

We stayed at Four Seasons Serengeti which is one of the most unique and extravagant hotels I’ve ever stayed in. The swimming pool overlooks a natural watering hole so breakfast with elephants was a daily occurrence!

Costa Rica

With all the wonders of both the rainforest and the ocean, Costa Rica is a country I wasn’t expecting to travel to in 2017 and yet one of my favourite trips. From watching baby turtles take their first walk down to the beach to seeing toucans soar through the sky, the close connection with nature was incredible. I also discovered the best natural spa in the world, The Tabacon Springs, where the heat of the volcano warms up natural whirlpools and waterfalls and guests can watch up from the Jacuzzis at a sky full of stars.

We stayed at Nayara Springs Hotel, where your balcony leads into the wonders of the rainforest and the sounds of howler monkeys are your alarm clock ;)

Bora Bora, Tahiti

It turns out those turquoise blue waters we see in the glossy magazines are, in fact, real because in the wonderful islands of Tahiti no filter is needed! There are so many countries that boast pristine beaches and enviable waters with gleamingly luxurious water villas but there is something about the atmosphere in Bora Bora that is unmatched by any other paradise location. It's simply heavenly.

We stayed at Conrad Bora Bora Nui where rooms boast stunning sunset views and a hammock directly above the sea to watch the bountiful marine life swim beneath you.

Zanzibar Island

A small island that, in my opinion, doesn’t get enough credit for just how beautiful it is. Powder white beaches, glistening transparent waters and exceptional hospitality. A laid back way of life pours from the sea onto the mainland and a visit to the The Rock, a restaurant on it’s very own island, will you have you remembering the unique beauty Zanzibar for years to come.

We stayed at The White Sand Villas, who earned the title of my best hotel discovery of 2017. The villas are exceptional spaces that even your imagination couldn’t create, all leading onto a postcard perfect beach.

Swedish Lapland

Amongst my tropical travels this year I also spent a lot of time in the snow with my favourite white escape being the magical plains and frozen lakes of Swedish Lapland. Here we mushed through the days with our pack and shivered through the night staring up at the Northern Lights, I even made a visit to the world famous Ice Hotel. The man-made ice extravaganza has a wow factor like no other hotel, the whole trip was a truly unforgettable experience.

We stayed at Camp Ripan which was the perfect base for both Northern Light viewings and Dog Sledging.

Read about all 26 countries I’ve visited this last year on my blog: www.clutchandcarryon.com

Written by Sabrina Chakici, TV Host & Travel Expert, Follow her on Instagram @sabrina_chakici