As international travel has become more accessible, more and more countries are flooded with tourists year round. This is great for economies, but can shatter the travellers’ expectations of experiencing untouched land and culture. As much as I love meeting other travellers on the road, I really appreciate the times when I feel like the only foreigner around. I crave being in a place where I am the odd one out, leaving me feeling vulnerable and susceptible to culture shock. While there are many popular travel destinations, there are also places around the world that are still less visited for those really wanting to get off the beaten path.
Serbia is a country that is emerging from a rather troubled twentieth century and settling down into a peaceful democratic nation. The country has a wealth of attractions for visitors including: a superb range of historic castles and fortresses, lovely forests, fantastic lakes, several national parks and happening nightlife. Serbia is also currently one of the best value European destinations making it a destination options for both luxury and budget travellers.
This South American country holds a special place in my heart. In 2004, I spent a semester abroad during high school living and teaching in Capiatá, Paraguay. This experience is what ignited my wanderlust and set me up for the life I live today. Paraguay is said to be the unloved child of South America, neither being as cheap as Bolivia or having the major attractions that can be found in Brazil, Peru and other nations on the continent. This landlocked country is however one of the best destinations for outdoor activities. From fishing and enjoying life on a cattle ranch to tubing and exploring the Mbotavi Ecological Reserve, there’s more to experience than you may think! For history buffs, there are also the great historical sites such as the Jesuit Missions, and the South American football museum to visit. For me, Paraguay offered a more raw cultural experience compared to most of the other countries I’ve been to. I’ll forever remember the days of relaxing in front of my house with my Paraguayan family, sipping on tereré, nibbling on chipa, talking about football and learning phrases in Guarani.
While South East Asia is definitely a region that has been on the tourist trail for some time, the military dictatorship in the country formerly known as Burma kept most visitors away for the second half of the twentieth century. As restrictions and military control has loosened in the twenty first century, the natural beauty and the historic sites of the country are gradually being rediscovered. There’s a great hub for trekking at the Kalaw Hill Station, and the lovely contrasts of Yangon, with its green parks, colonial buildings and temples such as the Shwedagon Pagoda.
This country is one that most people may dismiss as it’s a Stalinist state almost entirely controlled by the government. The country is however quite safe for visitors, even while the dramatic fiery crater at Darvaza is often called the ‘gateway to hell’. The Karakum Desert takes up much of the country, while the dry climate has meant that there are many historic buildings and fortresses in the desert that are remarkably well preserved.
The economy of Botswana is one that has been built on diamond mining. The wealth from this industry has helped the country to become one of the safest and most stable in Africa. There are some great safari destinations to be enjoyed here, particularly the Okavango Reserve where the river crosses the Kalahari desert, which draws a wealth of animal species to the area, including elephants, giraffes and lions. The indigenous tribes of the Kalahari can be visited for interesting cultural experiences, while the modern capital Gaborone is a distinct contrast to the rural areas.
A small nation made up of 33 islands and atolls in Micronesia, this beautiful paradise hasn’t developed a range of luxury resorts so far, so accommodation is generally on the rustic side. However, those willing to take on the challenging trip via Fiji or Nauru will find some wonderful water sports including scuba diving and fishing among the most popular activities. The local people are famous for the warm welcome they offer, with Kiritimati often being the most popular island to visit.