Even though the world has endless travel options, most of us succumb to the more popular, ‘safer’ ones. We go to the same places, do the same things, and take the same photos–all while having the option to explore a limitless list of unique locations! It is time to take charge, step out of your comfort zone, and give yourself the gift of a truly one-of-a-kind travel experience. Check out some of these spectacular countries that are unfortunately overlooked often:
The naturally blessed country of Bolivia is an underrated destination for a vacation. Bolivia is famous for its dizzying altitude, incredible range of flora and fauna, and its iconic salt pan, the Salar de Uyuni, which covers 10,582 km2 of the Andean Plateau. This is the country’s biggest attraction, and this beautiful, endless white landscape is typically part of 3-day jeep tours. Bolivia is also replete with gorgeous towns and villages, such as Coroico and Copacabana. Coroico is a resort village with jaw-dropping views of lush Bolivian jungle, icy peaks, and tropical foothills. Copacabana is a touristy town on the shores of Lake Titicaca, and from here you can board ferries to the islands of the Sun (Sol) and the Moon (Luna), and enjoy the beaches of the Incas. Oruro is another town famous for its carnival season which features extravagant costumes, festivities, and thousands of performers.
The relatively lesser traveled Ethiopia has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other African country, as well as a rich scroll of wildlife. Here, you can visit the Awash National Park, which is home to 80 mammal species and 450 bird species. You can visit the beautiful town of Bahir Dar, which is located on the southern shore of Lake Tana. Bale Mountains National Park, located 400 km southeast of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, is categorized as a Biodiversity Hotspot by Conservation International and features rare species of birds and amphibians, as well as incredible flora. On your vacation, you also must visit the historical towns of Gonder and Harar, which are important cultural centers in the country and are adorned with beautiful ancient ruins.
The South American nation of Colombia is a versatile blend of landscapes and altitudes–here you will find everything from snowy mountains to tropical grasslands and beaches. You can enjoy a plethora of adventures and outdoor activities such as mountain trekking, cycling, and coastal activities at Providencia’s reef. The country boasts of a range of urban landscapes such as the sprawling capital city of Bogota, to smaller towns in the hills. On the other hand, there is no shortage of historical sites and cities–case in point, Ciudad Perdida, which is an ancient city built between the 11th and 14th centuries. For the longest time, Colombia has remained an unpopular travel destination as it has notoriously been deemed ‘unsafe’, but things have changed. Today, Colombia is much safer, and all in all, an excellent tourist destination!
South Korea is an overlooked treasure when it comes to touring Asia, as travelers typically prefer going to Japan or China. The country has it all–a vibrant culture, delicious Korean cuisine, incredible landscapes, ancient temples, and a multitude of events and festivals to cater to every niche and interest. Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is all-accommodating, and there is something for everyone. You can visit Seoul’s palaces, famous temples, and quirky neon-lit bars to end your day perfectly. South Korea is home to some very unique festivals such as the stunning Jinju Lantern Festival that takes place in October, the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival, and the Boryeong Mud Festival. To get a taste of quintessential Korean pop culture, attending a K-pop concert is a must!
The extraordinary nation of Kyrgyzstan is an upcoming name on the travel radar–and for good reason. The country is a magical union of nature and culture, and there is so much to do and learn here. Kyrgyzstan is often referred to as the ‘hiker’s paradise’ owing to its ideal mountain setting, and low (but gradually rising) tourist footfall. At night, when you’re up in the mountains, away from the city, make sure to look up and stargaze! And then, sleep peacefully in a traditional ‘yurt’ to get a true taste of nomadic life.
You must also visit the breathtaking Skazka canyon on the south shore of Lake Issyk-Kul. Watching Salbaruun (traditional eagle hunting) is also an unmissable cultural activity in Kyrgyzstan, and it is a truly impeccable experience to watch trained eagles chase and hunt prey. Kyrgyzstan is well-regarded for its hospitality, delicious food, and local bazaars, and you are sure to never forget your time here.
Madagascar is a true treasure trove of nature: blessed with diverse landscapes, a goldmine of wildlife, and incredible sights of waterfalls and canyons. Famous for its lemurs and gigantic baobab trees, Madagascar is a remote country and doesn’t receive too many tourists. This just means that you can truly feel like you have the whole country to yourself! You can visit the beautiful Isalo National Park which features cliffs, canyons, and hiking trails. Around 100 species of birds can be found here. With no interruptions from pollution and city lights, this is the place where you can enjoy gorgeous sunsets and spectacular views of the Milky Way.
Ranomafana is another important national park, as it features 12 species of the iconic Madagascar lemur. For a more ‘western’ and beachy feel, visit Nosy Be, a touristy volcanic island with beautiful white-sand beaches. This can be the luxury leg of your Madagascar vacation, as you can simply relax at a resort and party on the beach to your heart’s content.