The best travel discoveries of 2018: chosen by Guardian writers

Castles and museums, beaches and cities, train lines and walking trails – plus gorgeous places to eat and stay. We share our favourites finds of the past 12 months

On the road out of Dakar, heading down the coast, we passed through a baobab forest. The guide was fairly blase about it but I insisted on stopping and exploring. It was the first intimation that Senegal is an amazing place and, secondly, that it doesn’t quite realise it. The country continued to surprise and delight me throughout the trip, which was to the coastal province of Casamance, a bird-watchers’ paradise. What really impressed me was the people: energetic, intelligent and – above all – creative: the standard of artistry and craftsmanship was extremely high. Added to all that, you have good beaches, winter sun and no jetlag.
Kevin Rushby

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