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With every passing year, it seems like the world is getting smaller, as increasingly cheaper air travel making visits to far-flung destinations more accessible and affordable than ever before. However, there are still destinations out there that remain off the grid and which travel agent training won’t prepare you for. These sites all offer veteran and occasional travelers alike opportunities for creating fresh journeys and enjoying unique experiences. So consider these 10 under-the-radar destinations that will open up new horizons for your travel plans and give you new eyes on the world in 2019.
1. Kigali, Rwanda
Known locally by the nickname “The Land of a Thousand Hills,” the area of Kigali in the Central African Republic of Rwanda offers experiences you simply can’t find anywhere else in the world. How does seeing mountain gorillas and golden monkeys in the wild sound? Or taking a two-day overnight camping trip to the top of Karisimbi volcano nearly four kilometers above sea level in the Volcanoes National Park? The nearby Akagera National Park offers great opportunities for more traditional safari tours as well, and Kigali itself—Rwanda’s biggest city—is one of the safest in Africa, guaranteeing nice travel for any visitors passing through.
2. Mestia, Georgia
Nestled in the majestic surroundings of the Caucasus mountains, this charming collection of village hamlets in the country’s northwestern region will be heaven for hardcore and casual hiking fans alike. The locale is beautiful all year round, although heavy snowfall means a visit in winter should be recommended only for the more hardened adventurers out there. Although access has been a problem in the past, increased development of transport and tourist infrastructure in recent years means now is the perfect time to pay a visit before Mestia inevitably becomes a tourist hotspot.
3. Ouarzazate, Morocco
When you mention traveling to Morocco, big cities like Marrakesh and Tangier ultimately spring to mind. However, travelers willing to venture out further into the country will find sights to visit that are no less charming and exotic. Ouarzazate, also known as “The Door of the Desert,” sits just to the south of Morocco’s stunning Atlas mountain range, and offers the perfect gateway for travelers looking to be awed by the fearsome majesty of the Sahara desert. The area has been a favorite shooting location for Hollywood epics like Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator, and after even a brief visit to any of the area’s deserts, mountains and gorges it will be easy to see why.
4. Bacalar, Mexico
Mexico is no stranger to tourism, but, as sites like Bacalar show, there are still plenty of undiscovered jewels nestled away in the country for visitors looking further afield. With tropical forests bordering sandy beaches and clear blue waters, it’s no surprise that travel experts have tipped Bacalar to be the next Maldives. Opportunities for fantastic fishing and diving adventures abound, and further inland the Lake of Seven Colors plays host to some of the oldest organic lifeforms on Earth. Once a hiding spot for buccaneers and pirates in the 17th and 18th centuries, today it still has a treasure trove of natural beauty waiting to be discovered.
5. Ksamil, Albania
Beautiful clear waters and white sandy beaches might not be the first things that come to mind when you think of Albania, but the shoreline settlement of Ksamil will have you reconsidering in no time. This bucolic village is a popular destination for Albanians looking to enjoy the famous local hospitality, delicious fresh seafood, and opportunities for beach lounging, while the island formation just a stone’s throw from the shore offer further chances for exploration and relaxation.
6. Leeuwarden, Netherlands
One of last year’s European Capitals of Culture, Leeuwarden offers the quintessential laid-back charm of the Netherlands without the crowds and stress of more popular destinations like Amsterdam. Like any Dutch city, it’s best explored by bike and is the perfect spot for a relaxed city break where hours can be happily whiled away exploring the charming local architecture and food and drink hotspots. Plus, everyone in the Netherlands seems to speak perfect English, so you won’t have to spend time fumbling your newly-learned travel phrases with locals in cafes. You may even be interested in new casino no deposit bonus and this destination can assist you with that.
7. Nusa Penida, Indonesia
The islands of Indonesia aren’t necessarily the tourist world’s best-kept secret nowadays, with Bali alone attracting seven million visitors every year. However, dig deeper, and the little-known island of Nusa Penida is a far cry from the beachfront raving and hedonism on offer elsewhere. It’s quiet, tranquil and jaw-droppingly beautiful, and perfect for anyone looking for an enriching stay spent snorkeling, relaxing and hiking through jungles.
8. Wadi Rum, Jordan
The red-hued canyons, gorges, and deserts of Wadi Rum look like something from another planet, so much so that it’s been the frequent shooting location for science fiction blockbusters like The Martian and the more recent Star Wars movies. Visitors can discover this new world for themselves while enjoying breathtaking sunsets and fantastic opportunities for stargazing.
9. Palomino, Columbia
Columbia isn’t a country short of great beaches. That said, Palomino stands out by virtue of its exceptional natural beauty and lack of tourists crowding the area. Surfers and sunbathers will be in heaven, while nature enthusiasts can journey inland to explore wildlife reserves like the Sierra Nevada National Park, which has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Whether you’re after jungles, beaches, or mountains, Palomino has stunning examples of all three to provide adaptable travel in teeming abundance.
10. Samarkand, Uzbekistan
As one of the biggest stops on the historic Silk Road, Samarkand has been a meeting ground for cultures from across the globe for hundreds of years. East meets west in one of Central Asia’s oldest cities where Soviet Russian brutalism rubs up against centuries-old Islamic architecture. Traditions of local craftwork in fields such as embroidery, weaving, and copperwork have been carefully preserved over the years, so for history buffs, Samarkand will be an absolute must-see.
With the future of air travel looking cheaper and cheaper every year, there’s never been a better time to visit the most far-flung corners of the planet. So make 2019 the year you start turning over rocks and peeking round new corners to make memories you’ll be treasured forever.