Travel is increasingly becoming synonymous with busy crowds, jaded tourists and disgruntled locals. However, there’s always a flip side. As travel is becoming relatively cheaper, faster and more convenient, there are places that are emerging off the grid of traditional travel locations.
You’re in your 20s: you’re young enough to want to go and explore the unseen wonders of the world; you’re old enough to use your own money; you’re (relatively) free; you’re not tied down. You won’t get to relive this decade again. So here are 10 of the hidden gems that you could aim to visit.
1. South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
This is a tranquil haven that is home to an embarrassingly diverse array of wildlife. Thronging with big game, little game and about 400 different species of birds, this 9059 km2 gem of a park provides a retreat for weary travellers. For the more adventurous there are activities such as the walking safaris that can bring you face to face with a herd of lumbering elephants. For the more mild-hearted enjoy the sunset with an Amarula at a rustic campsite or luxury lodge.
2. Ahmedabad, India
Throbbing with colour and diversity like most of India, Ahmedabad is the largest city in the state of Gujarat. It is especially vibrant during days of festivals and traditions. Popular ones include Uttarayan, a day of kite-flying and the 9 days of Navaratri, which marks the end of harvest season. Pay a visit to Sabarmati Ashram,a former home of Mahatma Ghandi, or absorb the bustling markets while inhaling the delicious smells of fried snacks as the blood-red sun sets above you.
3. Shikoku, Japan
Like most of Japan, Shikoku has a rich cultural heritage. Unlike most of Japan, Shikoku is not frequented by hoards of tourists that throng towards the country’s urban metropolises. Shikoku is known for being home to the bathhouse that was featured in Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar winning animation “Spirited Away.” There are all the monuments and buildings that you’d expect from feudal Japan: shrines, luxurious gardens, old castles and the oldest Kabuki theatre in Japan.
4. Baku, Azerbaijan
Baku is a mishmash of the old and new and the East and West. The old city is a UNESCO World Heritage site with ancient Persian influences visible in the narrow alleyways and intricate stone facades of old mosques. The new city co-exists in complete contrast to the old city which it stands beside. It is an emerging hub of economic and cultural activity that exists as a collection of beautiful contradictions.
5. Dead Sea, Jordan and Israel
The Dead Sea is said to be the lowest point on Earth. The saline waters are famously unconducive for marine life, but the salts allow for extreme buoyancy when swimming. The minerals found in the water are also deemed beneficial for general well-being. The historical riches are plenty: Christianity, Islam and Judaism anchored early roots in the region, as befits the haunting beauty of the place.
6. Lobito Bay, Angola
The bay is a long stretch of land that protrudes defiantly into the Atlantic Ocean. Lobito was established as a port municipality, dating back to the days of Portuguese rule. This is evident in the architectural designs of the old churches and forts. As well as the history, the coastal town attracts anglers and water sport enthusiasts.
7. La Paz, Bolivia
La Paz is nestled neatly in between the craggy mountains of the Andes. If the view doesn’t knock the breath from your lungs, the staggering altitude of 3,000m + will. Wander around and explore the churches that date back two centuries ago or through the Witches’ market that sells all manner of things.
Despite being the youngest city in Asia, and its tumultuous history, Timor-Leste has a quiet beauty made up of rugged cliffs and buttery beaches. You can wander through the tropical rainforest vegetation or go for long hikes along the coast or just take in the scenery from the top of a rolling hill.
9. Dunhuang, China
Dunhuang is located along the well-trodden route of the ancient Silk Road in the province of Gansu. The city boasts historical buildings that pay tribute to the travellers that chose to settle here. The Crescent Lake and Buddhist Caves are popular attractions. The slightly eerie sound of the wind slicing into the sand dunes is ubiquitous among old and new travellers to the city.
10. Bay of Fires, Tasmania, Australia
Bay of Fires is an outdoor-enthusiasts paradise. The picturesque turquoise waters and beaches belong on a postcard. The flame-coloured granite rocks break up the otherwise traditional ocean view. You can go on a guided tour that takes you on an exploration of the area.
Featured photo credit: Raisa Ismail via facebook.com