By the Editors of FarewellTravels
For some travelers, half the fun of taking a trip is bragging about it when they return. Whether they make small talk with fellow soccer moms, regale guests at a dinner party or post photos on Facebook (the new water cooler), these travelers pride themselves on taking unusual trips.
Other travelers literally feel like they’ve been everywhere. They studied abroad in college, traveled to Asia for business, and hiked the Alps on their honeymoon.
For both these kinds of travelers, the big question is, where should they go next?
Whether you’re in either category or you’re just looking to travel someplace a bit out of the norm, take a look at our short list of recommendations. Then shoot us a note here to discuss planning your trip.
Road Tripping in Iceland
Many think of Iceland as an unchanging inhospitable snow-covered land. But it’s the variety of terrain here that makes this North Atlantic island such an extraordinary place to visit. Spend 10 days driving its 830-mile Ring Road and you will see more dramatically diverse landscapes than most people see in a lifetime (glaciers, mountains, desolate highlands, fertile river valleys, volcanoes, lava fields). You can easily travel independently by car with an itinerary and accommodations booked in advance.
Cave Dreams in Turkey
Anyone who thinks of caves as forbidding and claustrophobic, has never been to the Cappadocia region of Turkey. The area’s distinctive volcanic cliffs are pitted with caves and linking tunnels which provided shelter to local inhabitants for more than 5,000 years.
Today those caves (which are tremendously popular with Europeans but surprisingly, not as well known among North Americas), are destinations for travelers looking for unique hotel experiences. And no, these are not designed for adventurers looking to bed down on hard rock floors. The rooms are elegantly furnished and offer all the amenities of any traditional hotel, along with activities such as hiking, horseback riding, hot-air ballooning designed to showcase the area’s vineyards, churches and sandstone cliffs.
But it’s back in your room, sleeping beneath ceilings carved out of rock, where you’ll most appreciate this extraordinary place. Fred Flintstone never had it so good.
Flying Safari: Botswana
No matter how many times you’ve been on safari, you can’t help but be wowed by Botswana. Between the variety of landscapes (from the arid landscape of the Kalahari Desert to the lush Okavango Delta) and the herds of big game, safaris here are in a league of their own. Flying by small plane between luxurious tented camps gives you a true “Out of Africa” experience you’ll be excited to share when you get home. While here, you can also visit Victoria Falls, on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. One of the original Seven Natural Wonders of the World, it is the world’s largest sheet of falling water.
Off to Mongolia and Siberia
Few places in the world conjure up such vivid images of mystery and isolation as do Mongolia and Siberia: one the stomping ground of Genghis Khan and his raiding Hordes, the other the no-where-land to which political dissidents were banished by the Soviet Government. Today these remote locations offer memorable experiences for the curious traveler. A visit to Mongolia can include trekking through the country’s rolling grasslands and mountains, spending nights in the felt tents of nomadic herders, and exploring the sand dunes of the Gobi desert by camel.
Neighboring Siberia has an equally exotic appeal. Unlike its bleak reputation, it features such compelling attractions as Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest lake, stunning woodland scenery, and the longest railway in the world from which to see it all.
Chances are you’ve never heard of Ladakh. Set between the Himalayas and the Karakoram, this sparsely populated area in the northwest part of India is a land of high passes and mountain lakes punctuated by Buddhist communities and ancient monasteries. It attracts adventure travelers from around world who come for the trekking, mountain biking and river rafting.
Eye on Alaska
To really see the bears, spawning salmon and moose that distinguish Alaska from the “Lower 48,” not to mention its glaciers, mountains and dense wilderness, you need to travel by boat, railroad, plane and on foot.
A Sip of Argentina
Argentina is known for its stunning scenery and world-renowned wines. Why not combine the two in a trip that features both? In the Lake District of Patagonia you can hike, kayak, and raft in and around Nahuel Huapi Lake, then down to the Mendoza Region, home to more than 900 wineries. What better way to sample the wide variety of Sauvignon Blanc and Malbec wines the country is famous for, than with the majestic Andes hovering in the distance? You’ll come home with delicious memories and a few bottles to keep those memories alive.
Spain’s Holy Route
Many believe the best way to see any country is on foot. Visitors to Spain take that belief to heart. The country prides itself on its many well established walking trails. The best known by far is the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, a route originally taken by pilgrims more than a thousand years ago, and which has attracted both the religious and the curious ever since. The walk runs through the Galicia region of northwestern Spain, a tranquil region of green rolling hills, rocky coastal cliffs and sandy beaches. Tour companies lead today’s pilgrims on eight and nine-day 100-mile excursions. You walk by day, dine and sleep in manor houses and monasteries by night. The trip attracts the fit, the unfit, the religious and the skeptic; all come back moved by the spirit of this special journey.
Photo Credits (Starting at top of page, working down):
Hippo photo: Susan Farewell
Road Tripping in Iceland: Visit Iceland
Cave Dreams in Turkey: The Turkish Culture & Tourist Office of NY
Flying Safari: Botswana: African Portfolio
Off to Mongolia and Siberia: Nomadic Expeditions
Into India: Make My Trip
Eye on Alaska: Michael Pressman Photography
A Sip of Argentina: Southern Explorations