Use Instagram as a travel guide

    Instagram is changing the face of travel, with young travellers seeking backdrop vistas over the common sights. Kelli Armstrong lists the top 5.

     MARRAKECH, MOROCCO 

    Morocco’s bold colours, vibrant textiles and expressive locals make it a very photo-friendly destination for fashion, beauty and travel bloggers — and celebrities — seeking desert sunsets, camel rides, spice markets and designer hotels and spas. El Fenn is one such hotel (owned by Vanessa Branson, Sir Richard’s sister) that has garnered quite a following on Instagram. The Marrakech location is made up of seven courtyard houses decorated in ornate hues and traditional textures. It boasts pool pavilions to cool off in and a rich contemporary art collection to gaze upon.

    Morocco has a strong link to fashion, and was much loved by designer Yves Saint Laurent. A visit to his Marrakech home, Jardin Majorelle, is a must.

    The heartbeat of Marrakech is its bustling medina, a maze of souks (a must-shop for homewares, leather and jewellery lovers) and cafés serving mint tea. Within the medina is the Jemaa el-Fnaa, a World Heritage square that comes to life with snake charmers, acrobats and street vendors every evening.

     ESPERANCE, WA 

    This coastal haven in Western Australia is sending Instagram into meltdown with its pink lake that sits right next to the aquamarine surf. The astonishing bubble gum-pink hue of Lake Hillier is not the result of Photoshop but from an unusual combination of salt-loving algae and a type of pink bacteria that thrive in the salty lake. It really is this colour, and Instagram can’t believe it.

    As a result, Esperance has now become a global destination. Just a few months ago it was known only to a few surfers and hardy souls making the 7 hour drive from Perth. Now, it teems with tourists from all over the world who are finding that there’s a lot more to love than just the pink lake.

    Situated in the Bay of Isles, Esperance sits on a pristine coastline of endless beaches that offer both calm waters and gnarly surf breaks. It has lots of tranquil hideaways for swimming and snorkelling, with about 100 visitable but uninhabitable rocky islands. There’s an arts scene, plenty of local produce and the pubs of yesteryear for mingling with the locals. Drive 60km east to Cape Le Grand National Park and you can camp with kangaroos that hang out on the beaches.

     CAPPADOCIA, TURKEY 

    Lying in the heart of the Anatolia region is the lunar landscape of Cappadocia. The area southeast of Ankara is most famous for the unique fairy chimneys, strange rock formations found in the Göreme National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    The main hubs of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli are sprawling underground cities that fill you with imaginings of past civilizations. Many of these cave dwellings have been updated to cater to travellers on every budget — from contemporary hostel digs to high-end hotels like Argos, a site that was once an ancient Byzantine monastery and a lodge for camel caravans running the Silk Road. Some cave rooms date back a mind-boggling two millennia.

    The best way to soak up this incredibly vast scenery is by hot air balloon. Hundreds of balloons fire up for tours at sunrise and are a big drawcard for the Instagram generation.

    To relax, visit a hammam — a traditional Turkish bathhouse where you can steam, soak and enjoy a mud facial and massage.

     QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND 

    Lake Wanaka was one of New Zealand’s most Instagrammed places last year. Close to Queenstown, known as NZ’s action sports destination, the lake’s bewildering beauty is nestled below towering mountains on the South Island lakes.

    In winter, skiers flock here from all over the world for superb skiing and snowboarding at Cardrona and Treble Cone, cross-country skiing at Snow Farm and heli-skiing high in the Harris Mountains. Warmer weather activities are attracting visitors year-round, including fishing, hiking, canyoning, climbing and skydiving — all highlighted on the social media feeds of travel bloggers and photo-savvy holidaymakers who flock to the region more than ever before.

    Lake Wanaka combines the warmth of small town living with the quality and attention to detail you’d expect of an international holiday destination. Accommodation ranges from luxury lodges and boutique B&Bs to backpacker lodges and family holiday parks. The ski fields open in June, coinciding with the NZ Mountain Film Festival. Autumn and Spring deliver the most picturesque of scenery of the inspiring Lake Wanaka.

     COURCHEVEL, FRANCE 

    A favourite destination of royals, cosmopolitan alpine glitterati and ski bunnies who enjoy snow-capped indulgences. This French Alps destination is filled with world-class pistes, and with 600km of slopes, the three valleys boast the largest linked ski area in the world. Michelin-star restaurants and glamorous resorts assure you’ll have as much fun off the slopes as you will on them.

    Instagrammers love showing off the Six Senses Spa inside the luxurious Courchevel 1850 resort. Spectacular spots for apres-ski festivities include chalet-style restaurant Le Pilatus for lunch and the Fire and Ice bar for happy hour.

    As for the slopes, there are 27 green beginner and 44 blue intermediate runs, while the 38 red and 10 black runs will challenge the techniques and mettle of any pro.

    The nearest airports are in Geneva and Lyon, but if you can afford it, you can fly a light aircraft or small private jet directly into Courchevel’s own airport. Train is also an option, with regular services from London arriving at the nearest town, Moutiers, 24kms away.