Don’t you just love it when you find a hidden gem? That magical moment when you stumble across something so special and unique, a remote destination that hasn’t yet been discovered by the masses? When you form a powerful and special bond with something that is genuinely authentic?
Usually we attribute these feelings of exclusiveness to a new and charismatic coffee shop down the road; or a band that hasn’t yet hit the radio airwaves. What if you could have that moment with a destination though? An isolated town, far-off trails or places of spectacular natural beauty where customs of a bygone era still endure?
We’ve gathered a top 9 remote destinations that will deliver something truly authentic yet to be discovered by the crowds. Almost exclusive to travellers and adventurers, these countries will inspire with authentic cultural experiences, untouched nature and epic adventure opportunities.
Check out why they should be at the top of your list
Mongolia. Photo credit: Cam Cope
Mongolia is synonymous with remoteness. From the vast steppe, great desert expanses high mountain passes, shimmering alpine lakes and deep gorges, your interactions will vary between genuine encounters with the humble and generous Mongolian people and the nomadic settlements scattered throughout the land. Whether you’re trekking between the deserts to high mountain passes, or following remote migratory routes of the Khoton families along the Harhiraa River gorge, there’s no doubt you will leave a piece of your heart in this unforgettable country.
Top 4 Mongolia Adventures:
Mongolia in the Footsteps of the Nomad with Tim Cope
Trans Siberian Adventure & Naadam Festival
Gobi Desert Explorer
Gobi Altai Nomad Trek and Naadam Festival with Tim Cope
Image Credit: Mark Watson on the Cycle South Korea Trip
The tantalizingly unexplored country of South Korea offers the inquisitive traveller endless opportunities to take a step away from the hordes of tourists and get lost in the pine-clad mountains, misty archipelagos, emerald rice paddies and marvellous urban cities. Even two weeks exploring the dazzling landscape will make you wonder why the country isn’t a popular stop on the international travel circuit.
Top South Korean Adventure:
South Korea by Bike
In Bhutan, you can trek to some of the most remote regions of the world. Dramatic scenery, winding mountain passes, snow-capped peaks, fluttering prayer flags and vibrant rhododendrons define the trails. With the Minimum Daily Package, adhering to the government policy of High Value – Low Impact, the Himalayan kingdom is not accessible to everyone and therefore a relatively quiet destination. You will encounter few other travellers when you hike through stunning valleys and across rugged high passes, visit isolated villages and explore the countless dzongs (fortresses) and tiny Buddhist monasteries that dot the landscape.
Top 4 Bhutan Adventures:
Bhutan Hike & Bike
Bhutan Snowman Trek
Bhutan Cultural Journey
Bhutan High Trails via Laya
The landlocked country of Tajikistan may be far away from almost any other highly visited country; but the remoteness of this spectacular country has kept the sanctity of the country authentic and natural. What this country lacks in popularity it makes up in its people, nature, history and traditions and trekking in the Pamirs is certainly one to put on your bucket list. It may sound impossible, but the breathtaking landscapes come second to the overwhelming kindness of the Tajikistan people who will always invite you in for a cup of mountain tea. Though the independent republic of Tajikistan dates a young 24 years, the Tajik civilisation dates back over 3,000 years, and the traditions of the culture which derive from a plethora of peoples who have occupied these lands between Russia and Asia, strongly resonate till this day. With the addition of endless mountains to walk, trek or climb, Tajikistan is a must for the adventurous traveller.
Top 4 Tajikistan Adventures:
Trekking in the Gissar, Fann and Pamir Mountains Tajikistan
Peak Lenin with Simon Yates
Pamirs Fann Mountains Trek
In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great
This island has the world’s second largest ice sheet after Antarctica, so it’s no surprise the climate in Greenland is akin to polar conditions. Located a fair way away from ordinary traveller destinations, Greenland offers unique adventure experiences, from cruising among icebergs to marvelling the Aurora Borealis, to spotting wildlife and majestic landscapes in one of the worlds’s harshest living environments. Make no mistake, Greenland has endless appeal for travellers dreaming of remote destinations with a lot to offer by way of sights, experiences and adventure.
Top 3 Greenland Adventures:
East Greenland Aurora Borealis Adventure
Jewels of the Arctic
You may wonder how Kenya got on this list of remote destinations to travel to; after all nearby Mount Kilimanjaro, often reached via Nairobi, is such a world-known and much-trekked African peak. But did you know there is more to Kenya, famous for its ancient human cultures, abundant flora and iconic wildlife traversing sweeping landscapes? With only a tenth of the number of hikers that visit Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya offers truly stunning alpine scenery away from it all. The Kenyan mountain is regarded as the most visually stunning of the African ice-capped peaks and hides a great diversity of wildlife, lakes and dramatic viewpoints.
Top 4 Kenya Adventures:
Mount Kenya Ascent
Kenya & Tanzania Migration Safari
Kenya and Tanzania Raft, Bike and Hike
The island of Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world yet one of the most diverse in topography and cultures. The roads are poor and many of the must-see places are without airports, which are the two very traits that ensure mainstream tourism is still years away. What does this mean for you? Certainly a real adventure! You'll enjoy remote beaches, striking escarpments, river communities, deserts, rain forests and isolated island archipelagos linked by coral reefs and clear turquoise waters.... with barely a tourist in sight – what more could you want?
If you’ve seen the movie with the same name, you’ll know Madagascar’s animals are a peculiar bunch with the world’s smallest and largest chameleons, carnivorous pitcher plants and enormous baobab tree’s. See them for yourself, but please, keep this hidden island a secret.
Top 3 Madagascar Adventures:
Madagascar Reef and Rainforests
Ethiopia is one of Africa’s best kept secrets; and for good reason. The spectacular landscape that is also home to some of the highest peaks of the Simien Mountains is a perfect haven for hikers who get off on dramatic landscapes and exploring far-flung destinations. Passing through remote villages that sit within the fertile highland plateau of these mountains reveals a fascinating insight into a traditional and unique ancient culture. Couple this with the rock-hewn churches and castles in the old cities to ensure an uber-adventure. You don’t explore Ethiopia for a relaxing getaway, you venture here to be moved. And transported you shall be!
Top 3 Ethiopia Adventures:
Hidden Tribes of Ethiopia
Highlands of Ethiopia
With its lush rainforests, pristine waterfalls, active volcanoes and exotic wildlife, Costa Rica is a hive for tropical adventures. Featuring mountain ranges (four to be exact), as well as active, dormant and extinct volcanos, biological reserves and national parks, the ecological zones in Costa Rica are a highlight for any nature lover keen on seeing the flora and fauna of Central America.
Top 3 Costa Rica Adventures:
Best of Costa Rica
Costa Rica Family Adventure
Costa Rica Traverse