For many travellers, the chance to venture off the beaten path is an exciting one. But in today’s world, it’s hard to find anything that’s left untouched and hasn’t made a massive debut on social media. This means that sites that were once considered secluded now see a high volume of visitors on a daily basis which begs the question; how can we find anywhere that’s off the map these days?
While it might be more difficult and require a little further research, it’s still possible to find places that are lesser known and retain the feeling of isolation that can make you feel like you’re the only one who’s ever discovered it. In some cases, you might have to settle just for the road less travelled and not the road completely unknown. A great way to make sure you get a sense of privacy to better explore and understand the beauty in these destinations is to visit during the off season when the number of visitors will be lower anyways. Lesser known also often means more expensive; if not many people are flying here at a given time then as a result the plane ticket will automatically cost more to compensate for the lower number of people paying for seats. It’s a trade off - is it worth the time and the money to uncover a destination that isn’t riddled with tourists and is a piece of the Earth still left untouched?
Many would say it is; certainly for these 25 experiences in lesser known locations across the globe, what you get out of it will far outweigh what you have to put in.
25 Fly Over The Skeleton Coast In Namibia
The Skeleton Coast in Namibia is unlike anywhere else on the planet, and it would be harder to find somewhere further off the map than this. A stretch of coastline running 500 kilometers in Africa, this surreal landscape is white sand, crashing waves, animal bones and wrecked ships.
Predators scavenge for marine wildlife on the shores while sharks lurk offshore in the unsettled waters. This is a true glimpse at nature untouched by humans, and the best way to see it is by taking a small plane or helicopter tour to get a view from above.
24 Sleep over At Kakslauttanen Igloo Village In Finland
This unique overnight experience in Finland is definitely worth the high price for the memories and the chance to get off grid away from the rest of the world. On a quiet night, under the stars here you might even be lucky enough to witness the Northern Lights.
Kakslauttanen Igloos come in a variety of types, with the choice to stay in a snow igloo, a glass igloo or a kelo-glass igloo which combines the glass igloo experience with that of a cozy, log chalet. One night in the glass igloo which includes the accommodation as well as breakfast the next morning costs roughly $575.00 USD. For a one night getaway, worth the price, but don’t plan to stay here long term if you’re on a budget.
23 Climb Mount Mangart In Slovenia
This mountain is located on the border of Slovenia and Italy and is the fourth highest peak in Slovenia. Certainly not a mainstream tourist attraction, a climb here will take you far off the beaten path for a view that’s worth the effort.
There are two routes up the mountain to the summit, with Slovenia’s route being significantly harder than the Italian one so be sure to choose your level of experience before planning out your path. This hike takes about two to four hours depending on your skill level.
22 Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda
The chance to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is truly unique, but it takes some leg work to achieve. Once in Rwanda, it’s a must to stay near the starting point of the park where your trek takes place because the tour may start as early as 7:00 AM. The trek itself should be booked with a guide, and they will take you into the rough terrain in search of the animals anywhere from half an hour to nine hours, while the viewing of the gorillas will last no more than an hour.
This is not a cheap trip at all; the cost of a permit alone (which is required for all trekkers, who must be aged 15+), is $1500.00 USD and can be acquired for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, or Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Then the cost of the actual trek itself with a guide can be as high as $1700.00 USD for the day. Better start saving for this one!
21 Explore Sagano Bamboo Forest In Japan
This stunning forest of bamboo creates a calm and serene destination that is extremely affordable to visit once you get over the cost of the plane ticket. Though a flight to Japan from North America isn’t exactly cheap (roughly $800.00 USD) the entrance to the Sagano Bamboo Forest itself is free.
Located in western Kyoto, this peaceful spot is best seen in the early mornings or late evenings to avoid other travellers and get the experience all to yourself. It’s located next to Tenryu-ji Temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so be sure to stop off there as well!
20 Visit The Temples Of Bagan, Myanmar
The Temples of Bagan hold the great history of Myanmar and its most religious, sacred sites. With over 2200 temples in this area there’s plenty to explore and one way to easily see them all is to rent a bike which costs as little as $1.27 USD per day.
The entry fee to the temples costs only roughly $16.00 USD so overall this day won’t hurt the budget too much, even though flights to Myanmar from the United States cost roughly $1900.00 USD return.
19 Step Back In Time At Abu Simbel, Egypt
This archaeological site from Nubia, now found in Aswan, Egypt, features two enormous rock temples that have a fascinating history. Originally situated on the banks of the Nile River, they were somehow moved and rebuilt after 3000 years in the 1960s.
This site won’t break the bank with the entrance fee costing only 200 Egyptian pounds ($11.18 USD). The flight here costs only around $1000.00 USD from North American, so while it’s not cheap, it certainly is worth the price for the incredible historical structures waiting to be explored.
18 Take In The View At Trolltunga, Norway
This stunning rock formation is 1100 meters above sea level in Norway, and features a single rock jutting out horizontally to create a massive overhang.
To make the hike to the top will take roughly 10 hours and takes you through rough mountain terrain; this hike is not for the faint of heart. The best time to go is mid June to mid September and you’ll want to start early in the day to avoid following the risky path and climbing so high up after dark.
17 Hike The Perito Moreno Glacier In Argentina
Located in Argentina and Chile, Perito Moreno Glacier is the third largest reserve of freshwater in the world (Atlasobscura.com) and as part of Argentina’s Austral Andes, it’s been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981.
Trekking this glacier will offer breathtaking views and a glimpse of the value of glaciers on our planet that we have taken for granted for so long. The entrance fee to the national park where you’d begin the trek is $29.50 USD, a reasonable amount for an unforgettable experience.
16 See The Sunrise At Bromo In East Java
It doesn’t get much further off the map than the wild experiences of East Java in Indonesia. Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park is located southeast of Surabaya, where you’d fly into, and is home to Mount Bromo.
A must-see in your world travels, Mount Bromo is an active volcano at 2329 meters above sea level. It’s a tough spot to reach and the best way is to hire a local to drive to the top for the best view, but making the trip up to see the sunrise should be on every traveller’s bucket list.
15 Riding The Trans Siberian Railway
The trans siberian railway is a journey that not all travellers are up for and the fact that you’ll be cut off from cell reception for a portion of the trip means it’s really taking you off the map for a length of time.
With the journey taking seven days between Moscow and Vladivostok (the longest route possible), this covers 9258 kilometers. There are options to ride in first or second class compartments - second class will cost travellers roughly $560 USD for the full journey.
14 Kayaking At Torres Del Paine In Chile
This national park is found in Chile’s Patagonia region and boasts crystal blue waters, soaring mountains and icebergs. The entry to the park is basically free for North Americans costing only 21 Chilean Pesos, which is less than five cents in USD.
Kayaking in Torres Del Paine is a once in a lifetime experience; you can touch an iceberg, camp in seclusion and enjoy the peaceful views. If you plan to hop on a tour though, this will stretch the purse strings for sure. A 5 day trek and kayak trip through the national park begins at $2448.00 USD.
13 Go Skiing In Antarctica
This is a bucket list trip for many world travellers, and it will take you WAY off the map to a place that few can put a pin in and claim they’ve seen. Skiing in Antarctica might seem surreal, as will the entire trip.
Tours range from cross country to downhill skiing and snowboarding, and with no commercial accommodation, you’ll be sleeping in a sturdy tent. Viewing wildlife like penguins and orcas off the shore is a highlight of the experience here; it’s possible to book an all inclusive 12 day ski tour for roughly $12 000 USD. The most difficult part may be making your way to the continent as you’ll likely have to take a boat from Ushuaia, Argentina.
12 Try Nasi Lemak In Malaysia
You can’t have off the map experiences without considering what food is lesser known but deserves the effort to get there and try it. Nasi Lemak of Malaysia falls into this category. While the long haul flight might seem like a lot for a meal, this is one for the books.
Nasi Lemak is a rice dish cooked in coconut milk and served on a banana leaf. It features sambal, fried anchovies, toasted peanuts and cucumber. Sambal is a hot relish made from vegetables, fruits and spices.
11 Go Dog Sledding In The Yukon, Canada
While some US folk may think all Canucks travel by dog sled, this experience is actually reserved for those who are willing to go to the far north. Yukon is the perfect place to try this one out and feel like the rest of the world has fallen away, that only you and the snow exist.
For a full eight day tour that includes accommodation, airport transfer, meals (except one on the last day), and comes with a mushing diploma, you can get this experience for $2914.00 CAD.
10 Go Fishing In Lofoten, Norway
There’s no better way to feel like you’ve escaped the hustle and bustle of everyday life than to find yourself on a fishing boat in Norway’s Lofoten Islands.
To head out on a fishing tour (renting your own boat would require a skipper certificate if you were born after 1979), costs roughly $80.00 USD and the trip will last for around 3 hours. Going with a tour boat provides good odds for catching fish as they know the best spots to go for a big catch.
9 Breath In The Lavender Fields’ Scent In Provence France
Get out of the busy city of Paris and instead make your way to Provence, France where the gorgeous purple fields of lavender can be found. Here your sights and nose will be dazzled by the scent of fresh flowers blooming as far as the eye can see.
The best time to visit is when the lavender is in full bloom from June through August, though the area you visit can affect the bloom. In Luberon and Verdon, flowers bloom in June and early July, whereas further North in Sault, the best time to go would be mid July to early August as the colder weather delays the full bloom.
8 Take On The Via Ferrata Dolomite In Italy
Via Ferrata means “iron road” and is called such because these protected climbing paths feature iron cables and ladders along the natural formations. Here in the hills of Italy, there is a climb for every age and skill level.
The cost is high with a single person trek of two days costing $900.00 USD, but if you’re willing to trek with a group, the cost goes down for each person added to the trek. For example, a group of four would only cost $ 563.00 USD for the same route.
7 Drive The Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland
The Reykjanes Peninsula cannot be missed by those travelling to the magical country of Iceland. While tours will take you to the golden circle, the blue lagoon and Skógafoss, the best way to see the Reykjanes is to rent a car and drive through the lava rock fields yourself.
You can rent a car for as little as 6000 ISK a day, which is roughly $50.00 USD, and then of course will need to add gas prices on top of that. The drive through the peninsula can be done in four hours but it’s best to give yourself a full day to allow time to get out and enjoy the various sites such as the Brimketill and the Bridge Between Continents. It’s even possible to go snorkelling between two tectonic plates here.
6 Get Lost In Sukko, Russia
Located in rural Russia, Sukko Lake takes travellers off the beaten path for a tranquil experience. The main attraction here is the gorgeous red cypress trees that grow right in the lake and offer a stark colour contrast to the rest of the lake’s surroundings.
The unique wood of the trees resists against decay from the environment and has been nicknamed “the eternal wood”. Spending a day here lost in nature will allow you to recharge and feel refreshed, breathing in this clean, untainted air.
5 Trek To Everest Base Camp In Nepal
Everest Base Camp in Nepal is located at 5364 meters above sea level. Getting here requires a significant effort as you have to fly one of the most dangerous routes in the world into Lukla airport. The conditions here are difficult due to the mountains and short runway, but it’s worth the adventure that awaits.
This trek takes about 12 days in total and the route provides amazing views of Sherpa Villages, forests and dramatic scenery. The cost of the trek can range from $1200 to $5000 USD depending on which company you book with, but this cost will usually include accommodations, meals and round trip flights from Kathmandu to Lukla.
4 Eat Poulet Yassa In Senegal
To fly from the USA to Senegal will cost roughly $1100.00 USD, but it’s worth it to try a dish that few can say they’ve had.
Yassa is a spicy Senegalese dish that has also made its way to parts of West Africa. Poulet Yassa or Chicken Yassa, is made with mustard and caramelized onions. A dish inspired by France (hence the name Poulet Yassa), it’s particularly popular in Casamance, a region south of The Gambia along the Casamance river in Senegal.
3 Take A Boat On The Ganges River In India
Taking a boat out on the Ganges River in Varanasi, India is a must do when visiting the country. While many travellers might stick to New Delhi or Mumbai and go for attractions like the Taj Mahal, this experience sets you apart.
The best time to do so is at sunrise for a beautiful view but you’ll sit in silence surrounded by a spiritual energy. What’s truly fascinating is that in addition to the hundreds bathing and washing clothes on the river’s edge, the Ganges is a site where cremation takes place on the banks and the ashes are released into the river. Do not enter into this one lightly - what you see here can change a person’s perspective on life forever.
2 Eat A Roach At Chiang Mai Sunday Market, Thailand
Travel to the northern city of Chiang Mai in Thailand for a cultural awakening. Full of delicious food, night markets and the esteemed elephant sanctuary, there’s a lot to love here.
What most people are not doing however, is eating bugs at the Sunday Night Market. This market takes place very Sunday night in the old city, and features hundreds of booths selling food, clothing and other souvenir items. Trying a roach might seem like a crazy idea, but it's a unique experience to have and if you can muster the courage to take a bite, you’ll really have a story to tell.
1 See The Sunset In Uluru, Australia
Australia is full of national parks and stunning landscapes that sometimes make it hard to believe it exists on this earth. Uluru’s Kata Tjuta National Park is no exception and if you want to disconnect for a few hours and reconnect with the beauty of nature, there’s no better place or time than Uluru at sunset.
The park features viewing platforms for visitors with perfect panoramic views to best enjoy the spectacle. While it might cost a small fortune to fly across the world to this continent, the entry fee to the park is very reasonable at $25.00 per person with the pass being valid for a full three days.
References: Cnn.com, Livescience.com, Habibitours.com, Nomadasaurus.com, Atlasobscura.com, Telegraph.co.uk, Northerntales.com, Farmstayplanet.com, Secure.budget.is, Thelongestwayhome.com