Globetrotting and seeing the world is a widely beloved past time, high on virtually everyone’s bucket list. Yet, this is often tempered with a mere vacation rather than a proper adventure. A family trip to Boca Raton can’t possibly compare to these places!
Admittedly, vacation is a time for full-time working individuals to kick back and relax for some two-ish weeks. It’s meant for us to forget about the everyday grind of modern life. It often means heading to a plush resort where one’s whims are effortlessly catered to. The urge to gallivant off around the world is reduced; we feel like we went on an adventure, but never really left our comfort zone.
Yet touring the world and backpacking is very common among young people. But so are many popular destinations that people go and see. The world is a very big place, though, and many places are overlooked. Here in this list is a number of destinations that usually are not first on a traveler’s check list.
Fancy some R and R at the South Pole? One may initially balk at the notion, but Antarctica is a vast and largely unspoiled continent of stark, frozen, and effortless beauty. Also one can find themselves following in the footsteps of the legendary pioneers who explored the continent over a century ago. Despite being an untamed, snow-choked tundra, there is an abundance of wildlife that thrives on the continent, usually more dependent on the coastal regions. A journeyer can see penguins, whales and even giant squid depending on his or her luck.
From one end of the globe to another, enter the Arctic Circle with the stunning vistas and somewhat unpronounceable names of the island of Iceland. Highly volcanic, the island stands as an above-surface relic of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that scores half the planet and allows thermal bubbles to ebb upwards into the atmosphere. Similar thermal heat fuels natural bubbling lakes, which people can bathe in. There’s also a museum dedicated to the phallus in the capital Reykjavik. What more could one want?
18. Alnwick Poison Garden
Every castle has ample grounds. The plethora of grand country houses dotting the English countryside are as reputable for their landscapes outside as the opulent décor inside. The decorations outside of Alnwick Castle are as toxic as they are pleasant to look at, however. The Poison Gardens are a little off base for the usual English Country Garden… prick yourself on a thorn here and you will find yourself in an Emergency Room as opposed to a genteel Tea Room!
Situated off the west coast of Africa, the island of Madagascar is a place that is somewhat unique. Being apart from the mainland continent for geological ages (in other terms, millions of years), much like Australia has been apart from the rest of the main continents, has permitted the spread of unique evolutionary traits in the animals of the island. 90% of the island’s flora is unique to Madagascar. Plus, there is the opportunity for spotting whales from the beaches and lemurs that are able to hoot like car alarms.
Nestled between India and China and clinging to the Himalayas, the nation of Tibet is a striking place of mountainous views, between sky touching splendour of the Himalayas and the wonderful majesty of the serenely peaceful Buddhist faith. It is apparent that every nation has unique cultures and practices, but none more so than Tibet’s Sky Burial. Rather than bury their dead like they do in the West, Tibetans often practice sky burial, leaving corpses to be reclaimed by carrion birds and decomposition. More squeamish travellers might want to avoid this, because travelling can be hard enough on the stomach as it is.
15. Papua New Guinea
Almost entirely clad in rainforest, Papua New Guinea is the world’s most uncharted and undiscovered country. A habitat at the base of a dormant volcano and various new species of animal were uncovered there recently. On top of all this there are wonderful outdoor pursuits: diving, surfing, and hiking, all side by side with local markets and native cuisine. Food is extended to the handiwork and arts and crafts by local artists, the beadwork for example. All elements that combine to make this little piece of undiscovered land, just slightly north of Australia, a truly unique gem in the south Pacific.
14. The Azores
A pricelessly unique amalgamation of European and mid-Atlantic island culture, the Azores are well worth a visit, if only just to be removed from any mainland. Although Portuguese speaking, little of the motherland’s influence threads itself through the islands. It is a spectacular opportunity to immerse oneself in a culture that has varied influences, yet has spun all of these things into something entirely unique.
13. Farasan Islands
Think of Saudi Arabia and images appear in your head of oil fields, desert, and Hajj – the required pilgrimage of Muslims to their holy city, Mecca. Yet there is more to this sandy kingdom than just that, for instance the Farasan Islands, in the Red Sea. The archipelago is comprised of the main island, Farasan, with little satellite islands around it. There, you can go on wonderful coral diving adventures (and you don’t even have to part the red sea!) Complete with Arabian gazelle, coral decorated houses in Farasan town, remnants of old pearl dealers inhabiting the island, and an old Turkish fort, this secluded spot is definitely an overlooked gem in the Middle-Eastern kingdom’s crown.
12. Giraffe Manor
One of the most unique and sought after trips that people aspire to go on is the African safari. To see the true exquisiteness of African wildlife on the savannah is an unparalleled and unequalled opportunity. Intense heat and unmatched beauty are unforgettable and will leave a lasting impression on a person for the rest of their lives. So why not go one further and check in with some of the graceful, long-necked creatures you’re bound to see, in a unique hotel experience? Situated outside the Kenyan capital of Nairobi is Giraffe Manor. There, guests can delight in feeding the animals and enjoying their stay, all from the relaxing comfort of an English manor, dropped into the middle of the Serengeti. It is either a blessing or a curse (depending on perspective) that the doors and windows are relatively human sized…
The land of Genghis Khan! It is a land of ostensibly perennial steppes in one region and the Gobi Desert in the other. Almost 40% of the nation’s populace are nomads and it is a unique experience to be led via horseback by a local, under the vast, uninterrupted canopy of an eternal sky. Visit Ulaanbaatar, the country’s capital, to see the reputed Winter Palace, one the Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, lated crowned Bogd Khan’s, imperial residences. Now that the dynasty has fallen, the palace remains as a museum to its last inhabitants. Many of his and his wife’s possessions are there on display.
10. A Personal Island
Many of the world’s richest people have access to their own personal islands. In Fiji, this offer is extended to everyone. To be removed from the entire planet’s troubles, detached on an isolated island, outstretched under the sparkling blanketed canopy of stars; it’s the dream. It only costs a mere $2,500 to partake in such loveliness in Fiji. You could go to the tropical idylls Laucala Island, which offers the opportunity to explore it’s 3,500 acres totally secluded from the wide world. Accessible via internal flights from Nadi Airport, the island allows visitors to indulge in either nature (rainforest tours) or an 18-hole golf course. Restaurants, horse back riding, diving and all from the luxury villa privacy the island grants, makes this resort a tantalizing and inviting experience in paradise.
Situated in Morocco, Tangier has a vibrant, old-world history. It’s gone from being an International Zone virtually lawless in the 1920s (its buzzing and wild energy was an inspiration for some writers and artists) to an international locus of intel gathering. The world’s largest spying agency is located in the city. With great routes to Gibraltar and the cities of Marrakech, Fes, Rabat and Casablanca, Tangier is both the gateway to a marvellous and eclectic nation of Morocco and just a stone’s throw away from Europe.
8. South Korea
South Korea is spectacular small nation that is unusual to visit. Its capital, Seoul, is a sleepless modern metropolis, brimming with the marvels of technology. This eastern take on western culture stands in stark contrast to its superjacent totalitarian neighbour, North Korea. A visit to the DMZ offers a glimpse into what is possibly one of the most repressive regimes on earth. It’s the shadowy underside to the 21st century pleasures enjoyed by the South. They’re constantly at odds, each with the watchful eye of an intensely armed and guarded border. There, you can see a tunnel Northern soldiers once burrowed in an attempt to invade the South.
7. Metropolis, Illinois
Ever fancy masquerading a little in the world of Superman? There is a little chunk of it in Metropolis Illinois, the world’s only Superman dedicated city. The town has a Superman Celebration every year in June. This town has gone whole hog in its homage to the DC Comic superhero. Even its local newspaper is named The Daily Planet in honour of the newspaper in the fictional Metropolis. A 1972 decree declared the town “the official hometown of Superman.” An “Amazing World of Superman” Museum opened the next year, but plans to build a glittering theme park met their own Kryptonite – funding scarcity – and the museum decayed while dreams of a theme park fell to the wayside. A “Super Museum” featuring Geroge Reeves’ belt and Power Crystal from the 1979 movie, a casino, and 12-foot statue still lure hardcore Superman fans to the town.
The infamous region in Romania is far more than just the vampire legends that Bram Stoker wove into it. It is such a vibrant and beautiful part of the world that even Prince Charles has a home there! Called “Land Beyond the Forest” in Latin, Transylvania is full of picturesque meadows, Saxon churches and ruins, and many ski slopes that cater to families. Cluj-Napoca is a vital center of cultural arts, education and industries, as well as the National Theatre, Roman Opera, Cathedral, and Botanical Garden. The region does still capitilize on the Bram Stoker novel, namely in the shape of Bran Castle, rumored to have sheltered the legendary Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration behind Dracula, at least for one night.
5. Igloo Village
In Finland lies a beautiful array of glass, see through igloos. A clear vista under the stars of the Arctic sky offers visitors a perfect panorama of the Northern Lights in all their magnificence. There igloos are local on the resort of Kakslauttanen. You can stay in a two person (with extra bed option and toilet) or four person suite (with toilet and shower, as well as a separate shower and toilet block, complete with sauna). Booking is available for the Aurorae from the end of August until the end of April. Other attractions include husky rides, reindeer safaris, watching the Midnight Sun in summer, and, for the seasonal minded, there is Santa’s home, an aptly red-coloured cabin across a bridge for all the girls and boys to visit who have been good this year.
4. Craters of the Moon
A National Park in the US that looks straight out of a dystopian movie or a Sci-Fi flick, the craters of the moon is a bleak and unique landscape formed between 15,000 and 20,000 years ago. Visitors can stay in a lodge and experience their own fantasies of being the survivors of some devastating global event. Located in Idaho, the highly geological cracks fan out from the conveniently placed Visitor’s Center over a span of 52 miles. In 1983, Mount Borah erupted and threw the mountain 1 foot in the air. Lost Valley plunged 8-feet. The violent activity is a perfect example for a tourist to witness the tumultous activity that roils and thrusts beneath the earth, something largely unnoticed in the day-to-day. It’s a perfect glimpse into the earth’s chaotic past and a reminder of the might of the ball of fire that rages beneath humanity’s feet.
Dubbed the world’s best climate, the amount of Al Fresco life in Malta, a Mediterranean island, shows through in spades. There are art museums and open air theatres for operas and concerts. The island, due to its location, is a crossing point between Europe and Africa, having suffered through history a litany of invasions from Greeks, Romans, Moors and eventually the British. This small place has received influences from more people than some continents! The island’s capital Valletta, is a tiny place (1km by 600m!) yet punches above its weight. Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and destined as the European Capital of Culture in 2018, the golden stone palaces (cathedrals rearing above local marketplaces and shops) are all within walking distance in the pocket-sized city.
2. Island of the Dolls
An island in Mexico full of mutilated dolls lies empty, the sole former resident having butchered them himself. The story goes that Julian Santana Berrera discovered the body of a young girl and her doll floating in the water. Afterwards, he heard the whispers and cries of a woman in the woodland. To appease the restless spirit, he hung the mutilated dolls. The tradition is perpetuated by Julian’s family with the place run as a tourist destination, 14 years after he was found floating dead in the water, just like that little girl. Now, tourists go and offer gifts to appease the dolls and so-called spirits that allegedly inhabit the forest.
1. Sahara Desert
The largest and hottest desert in the world may seem hardly an oasis of peace for any trip-taker. The rolling dunes and sands are up for glimpse for whatever hardy traveler wishes to experience and traverse the stunning wilderness. Scoring through north Africa, the Sahara’s dry expanse threads across numerous nations and cultures, allowing similarities physically to blend with the altering peoples over the northern half of the continent.