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Source: Leah Kelley

We all dream of visiting a spectacular destination. Some of us have even drawn up lists. But lists are one thing – making those trips a reality is entirely another.

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Global travel and search platform Cheapflights.co.za helps to narrow down the list and takes a look at the top 10 most popular destinations from around the world that should be on everyone’s ultimate travel bucket list.

Machu Picchu

Make time to explore Machu Picchu, the ancient “Lost City of the Incas”, that was built atop a mountain range 7 972 feet above sea level. Located in the Sacred Valley 312 miles from Lima, Peru, Machu Picchu is possibly the best example of Incan architecture.

Planning ahead is key, as only 2 500 visitors are allowed each day. “Peak season is during the dry winter months from May to October, so booking around these dates will likely be more affordable and Machu Picchu will also be less crowded,” advises Phil Bloomfield, Global Head of Communications and PR for Cheapflights.

Getting there: It’s generally cheaper to fly into Lima and then to book a separate flight on to Cusco – check out flights on local airlines as they often offer better deals from Lima.

Average airfare in April 2018 (just before peak season): R13 694. Cheapflights recommends flying from OR Tambo to Jorge Chávez Int Airport in Lima.

Hawaii

Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, each of Hawaii’s six islands offers a unique beach experience. Whether opting for Honolulu and Waikiki Beach in Oahu, the trendy beaches of Wailea, Maui, the untamed beaches of Molokai, the charmingly laid-back Lanai, the stunning black sand beaches of Hawaii Island, or the picturesque Napali Coast in Kauai, there’s a beach to suit every budget. Try to time visits for low season, which is mid-April to early June and September to mid-December.

Getting there: Average airfare from OR Tambo this December: R20 000

Iceland

It might take more than one trip to Iceland to chase the Northern Lights, which appear between September and April. Since the Northern Lights can only be seen at night, fill the days with adventures like exploring Thingvellir National Park or soaking in the Blue Lagoon. (Tip: when arriving on an early morning flight, pre-book a bus ticket that includes entry to the nearby Blue Lagoon to soak away jet lag. The popular geothermal spring books up quickly as do its special floating massages).

Getting there: Celebrate Christmas under the Northern Lights this December: R11 900

Grand Canyon

Possibly one of the most recognised attractions on earth, the Grand Canyon is an enormous network of canyons made up of layers of red rock, stretching half way across Arizona. Most people drive or fly over to see the Grand Canyon, but one of the most interesting ways to get there is via the vintage Grand Canyon Railway.

“One of the best ways to experience the Grand Canyon is to walk the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass bridge extending 20m past the canyon’s edge, 360m above the canyon floor. Remember that the main access via air to the Grand Canyon in not close by. Consider flying into Las Vegas or Phoenix towards the end of November into early December for the mildest temperatures,” says Bloomfield.

Getting there: Average airfare to Las Vegas in December: R14 500

Rome

From standing at corner coffee shops sipping espresso, to indulging in refreshing gelato, to sitting down to an opulent Michelin-starred dinner, there is no place quite like Rome. For seafood, head to the nautically themed La Rosetta near the Pantheon and, for Roman classics, head to Acquolina. For a splurge, head to the three Michelin starred La Pergola at Rome Cavalieri.

Aim for an Italian getaway in April to mid-June when the weather is moderate and it is not too crowded.

Getting there: Average airfare for April 2018: R6 555

Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is the world’s first national park and home to 10,000 geothermal features, including the ever-popular Old Faithful. Named for its consistent, predictable eruptions that occur about every 90 minutes, the geyser can shoot water up to 183 feet during eruptions that the last one to five minutes. Beat the crowds by visiting the park during non-peak hours (before 9 a.m. or after 3 p.m.) and during off-peak season in September or October.

Getting there: Average airfare this October to Jackson, Wyoming: R13 470. If convenience is key, fly into Yellowstone Airport (keep in mind it’s only served by Delta).

Bali

For those looking for ways to see Southeast Asia without breaking the bank, Bali is a dream destination. It’s a great place to find inner peace via secluded beaches, tranquil temples and sensational spas that don’t cost a fortune. Skip the fancy hotels in Jimbaran and save big by bunking in Sanur on the south coast, which has equally alluring yellow sand beaches. Avoid the tourists by traveling in September and October before the rains start and after most tourists have departed.

Getting there: Average airfare this October: R8 701

Caribbean

“A cruise is one of the best travel options for the Caribbean. Not only do you get a tropical getaway, but the ship itself offers entertainment, making it an experience in its own. The Caribbean is a vast place, so fly into Florida and start there,” explains Bloomfield.

With so many options, sales are easy to find on many Caribbean cruises departing from the south eastern U.S., particularly the cruise ports in Florida. Cruise your way to savings by booking last-minute, as the cruise ship companies are eager to fill any empty rooms. Avoid overspending and get inspired with Cheapflights’ cruise ship tips.

Getting there: Average airfare in December: R14 900 (to Florida)

San Francisco

The Golden Gate Bridge, a dramatic 1.7-mile suspension bridge connecting San Francisco to California’s northern counties, is one of the dozens of things that are just so San Francisco. The orange Art Deco bridge has grand 746-foot tall towers and attracts more than 10 million visitors each year.

Getting there: Average airfare in December: R13 224

Rio de Janeiro

While Copacabana Beach is the first stop for many visitors to Rio de Janeiro, one of the best ways to experience the city is to see it by air. Helicopter companies offer tours of Rio with flights from six minutes to an hour long. A highlight for most tours is a fly-by of the city’s iconic 30m Christ the Redeemer statue. Visit Rio in winter from June to August, taking advantage of the early spring season.

Getting there: Average airfare in June: R11 802