Covid-19 has given us pause and let us really evaluate the damage of mass tourism. We’re big fans of travelling in more sustainable ways, and looking for more intimate, immersive travel experiences that whisk us away from the crowds, and into natural environments and local communities. If you want to avoid the hordes of tourists that will no doubt sweep across the continents when normal travel resumes, check out these off the beaten path destinations.
There’s more to the White Continent than just snow, rocks and ice. It is also home to beautiful wildlife (lots of penguins!) and surprisingly fun activities to do. When you visit Antarctica, it’s just you, your shipmates, the scientists you come across, and fellow travellers. You’re essentially somewhere where there is no government or indigenous population! There is also no cellphone reception in Antarctica, which means that you are truly in the wilderness. Honestly, you can’t go any further off the beaten path than Antarctica.
2. Faroe Islands
The self-governing cluster of 18 volcanic lands is where you don’t have to worry about crowds (yet). In fact, there are more sheeps here than humans! With windswept mountains, jagged coastlines and Pinterest-worthy waterfalls, the beauty of the region is unrivalled. Although the islands are considered off the beaten path destinations, it is easier to travel around than one might expect, thanks to subterranean tunnels and paved roads cutting through mountains.
3. East Timor
East Timor often flies under the radar and is ignored by those seeking a beach and island vacation. This is because East Timor is neither very affordable, nor is it the most accessible with flights only from Bali, Singapore and Darwin. With only about 5,000 tourists a year, it is one of the least visited countries in the world. But the lack of tourism means untouched nature, and the region has some of the best kept reefs that are unspoiled by tourists and pollution. Atauro Island offers some of the best deep-sea diving experiences, and the locals are incredibly friendly.
The Buddhist kingdom on the Himalayas’ eastern edge is known for its monasteries, fortresses (or dzongs) and dramatic landscapes. Even though it is open for tourism, the kingdom feels remote and out of reach. This is partly because the government is aware of the environmental impacts mass tourism can have on its unique landscape and culture. Thus, the level of tourist activity is restricted, and the focus is on high quality tourism. This means that visitors have to travel with a tour, be it in a small group, private or individual. Visiting Bhutan is also a costly affair. In order to filter out budget travelers and minimize high volume tourism, there is a ‘minimum daily package’ that applies to visitors. With these policies in place, you are unlikely to come across big tour groups and travelers even during the high season.
Micronesia is one of the most isolated regions in the world, so it’s no surprise that it doesn’t attract millions of tourists each year. The country can be divided into four states: Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and the island of Yap. Due to a small population and low tourist numbers, flights are limited and getting to Micronesia can be a little complicated. However, if you do get in, you will be blown away by its scenic and diverse nature, exotic wildlife, and incredible marine environment. The fact that you can explore the islands in peace is a memorable experience, and well worth the effort it takes to get here.
6. Pitcairn Island
How remote is Pitcairn Island? So remote that no plane or helicopter has ever landed there, and getting there requires a 32-hour yacht ride. And even after that arduous ride, landings can be difficult with waves that break violently on the shore. It’s not unheard of to travel all the way there, and then be unable to set foot on the island! There are only 47 permanent inhabitants, and more people climb Mount Everest in a year than visit Pitcairn Island. Those who successfully set foot on the island are rewarded with lots to see, including ancient petroglyphs. For adventurous travellers seeking truly off the beaten path destinations, Pitcairn Island is a must see.