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5 remote destinations to put on your travel radar

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5 remote destinations to put on your travel radar

Whether it’s a misty mountainside reverberating with animal calls or a sparkling beach that appears still undiscovered, there’s something truly magical about exploring a remote destination. Travelling to the world’s lesser-visited corners offers an opportunity to expand your knowledge and understanding of our planet through cultural, wildlife, adventure and scientific experiences — particularly when travelling with an operator that offers expert guides well versed in the area’s requirements. Here are five of the best destinations to consider.

1. Rwanda 

Best for: mountain gorillas and off-the-beaten-track safaris

Rwanda is a destination of great natural variety, home to shimmering lakes, modern cities an undulating patchwork of emerald green hillsides. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the country’s well-connected capital, Kigali, to the remote Volcanoes National Park. Here you’ll find some of the country’s most memorable wildlife experiences, including the opportunity to track and view mountain gorillas. With trekking hikes sometimes lasting well over four hours, it’s worth every step to view these awe-inspiring animals in their natural habitat, against a backdrop of the Rwenzori Mountain Range and five of the eight Virunga volcanoes. Visitors can follow in the footsteps of world-famous primatologist Dian Fossey and learn about the work she did to help save the species from extinction. Specific permits are required and strict guidelines are in operation to ensure the wildlife are protected, so it’s best to travel with an informed, expert guide.

Then, head east to Rwanda’s Akagera National Park, where a world-class rewilding project is underway. Increased community engagement and conservation measures — including a new law enforcement strategy as well as wildlife reintroduction, monitoring and surveying — has resulted in the wildlife population of Akagera growing from less than 5,000 in 2010 to 12,000 today. Go to spot lions, Masai giraffes and southern white rhinos. 

How to do it: Direct flights are available from many international destinations to Kigali. From here, the best way to explore Volcanoes National Park and Akagera National Park is on an expert-led itinerary with a local private guide. To find out more, visit vayaadventures.com

Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is one of the few places where visitors can view mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

Photograph by Guenterguni, Getty Images

2. Costa Rica 

Best for: nature-based activity and tropical rainforests

With rainforests brightened by birdsong, lively rivers and intimidating volcanic landscapes, Costa Rica’s reputation for exciting travel experiences is one that those in the know have long tried to keep to themselves. Adrenaline-hungry travellers seeking aquatic adventures can go white-water rafting or kayaking on the Pacuare River, while those with a head for heights can get a bird’s-eye perspective by zip-lining through the rainforest in Herradura.

In 2021, Costa Rica was awarded the Earthshot Prize to Protect and Restore Nature, due to its reforestation and ecotourism efforts. It’s also one of the few countries in the region to develop a comprehensive National Decarbonisation Plan, aiming to become carbon neutral by 2050. Choosing to travel here helps support these endeavours, particularly if you visit with an operator that focuses on active learning and carbon offsetting.

How to do it: Fly to San José, from which you can join a Costa Rica tour that takes in a number of outdoor activities and responsible destinations. Learn more at roadscholar.org

Whitewater rafting is just one of the many ways to enjoy Costa Rica’s wildlife-rich landscapes and wild natural beauty.

Photograph by Alyssa Bichunsky, Road Scholar

3. Mongolia

Best for: monasteries, mountains and nomadic culture

Situated between Russia and China, Mongolia is a destination that’s become synonymous with remote and rugged adventure — its deserts, forests and grasslands untapped by the majority of travellers. Ulaanbaatar, the country’s capital, is undoubtedly the best base from which to begin your trip. Here, Mongolia’s traditional yurt-style architecture sits alongside the striking Soviet design of buildings such as the National Theatre, while sites such as Choijin Lama Temple and Gandan Monastery offer an insight into the country’s fascinating religious history.

Those seeking the utmost adventure should head northeast, to the picturesque natural landscapes of Gorkhi-Terelj National Park — or southwest, to the vast expanse of the Gobi Desert, where trekking, horse-riding and archery opportunities await amid the peaks of the Gobi Altai Mountains. Don’t miss a trip to the Flaming Cliffs, where the rocks glow in vibrant shades of red and orange at sunset. This is where Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews and his team from the American Museum of Natural History made the world’s first discovery of dinosaur eggs, and visitors can still view many fossils. Base your stay at Three Camel Lodge, around an hour’s drive away from the cliffs. Here, cultural experiences are combined with a commitment to supporting local causes, from paleontological expeditions to the Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project. 

How to do it: You can fly direct to Ulaanbaatar from a number of countries across Europe and Asia. To explore the best of the Gobi Desert, book onto a guided expedition. Learn more at nomadicexpeditions.com

Mongolia’s rural areas are home to nomadic sheep, goat, horse and camel herders who move their yurt-like gers (portable dwellings) with the seasons.

Photograph by Tuul & Bruno Morandi, Getty Images

4. Lipsi, Levitha and Amorgos

Best for: quiet islands, ancient villages and empty beaches

Despite its reputation as a well-travelled tourism destination, Greece has more than 1,200 islands and islets, many of which remain relatively little known. On the quieter islands, the ancient custom of filoxenia guarantees a warm welcome. The word, meaning hospitality, literally translates as a love of strangers. It’s best showcased on the island of Lipsi, where the Lipsi Winery welcomes visitors to enjoy a tasting of wines including Aposperitis, an award-winning sweet red made using Greece’s indigenous Fokiano grapes. Exclusive to the winery, this drink is made using the island’s traditional techniques (picking fully ripe grapes that are then left to dry for days in the sun), which produces a distinct fruity flavour.

Even within the Aegean island groups of the Cyclades and Dodecanese — home to the popular destinations of Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes and Kos — you can find plenty of lesser-visited islands with whitewashed villages, dome-topped churches and isolated beaches to discover. From Levitha — home to just a handful of people — to the caves and coves of Amorgos, visiting quieter islands means that the economic benefits of tourism can be spread to businesses that are located outside of major tourist hotspots.

How to do it: Fly to Athens to board a cruise that takes in all these destinations and more. To find out more, visit varietycruises.com

The Aegean island groups of the Cyclades and Dodecanese are best explored by boat, allowing you to visit a number of lesser-known spots such as Amorgos.

Photograph by Dietmar van de Rydt, Variety Cruises

5. Antarctica 

Best for: polar wildlife and expert tours

As your ship sails through the Antarctic Peninsula’s 800 miles of ice-carved channels, islands, glaciers and iceberg-strewn bays, the crystal-clear light will have you reaching for your camera over and over. And it’s not just the landscapes — Antarctic wildlife is fascinating, too, with many spectacular species to spot. Keep your eyes peeled for several different types of penguins, as well as seals and whales.

A trip to Antarctica also provides an opportunity to visit a number of fascinating historic sites, including the remote South Shetland islands, a critical breeding ground for penguin colonies. It’s best to explore in the company of expert guides, who can help ensure you discover this pristine environment in the most responsible way, while also sharing their in-depth knowledge. Many polar expedition ships feature talks on geology, glaciology, history and wildlife, as well as expert-led excursions such as Zodiac (small boat) tours, sea kayaking and standup paddleboarding between icebergs. Robert Kunikoff, a travel adviser with Global Travel Collection, says “exploring Antarctica is an extraordinary opportunity, but it’s essential to approach it with humility and responsibility. We are custodians of this pristine environment during our visit, and so are tasked with ensuring its preservation for future generations.”

How to do it: An expedition cruise is the best way to discover the Antarctic peninsula, with expert guides and on-ship scientific offerings. Find an expert advisor at globaltravelcollection.com

A penguin on a rocky beach

Though it is the only continent on earth with no terrestrial mammals, Antarctica has a lot to offer wildlife-lovers, with opportunities to spot birds and marine animals like penguins, whales and seals.

Photograph by Kurt In Albon, Getty Images

This paid content article was created for Sustainable Travel International. It does not necessarily reflect the views of National Geographic, National Geographic Traveller (UK) or their editorial staffs.

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