The following activities will steer you way clear of the tourist hotspots, providing the opportunity for more personal encounters with local people, wildlife and untouched natural scenery.
If you want to be treated like a traveler not a tourist, step away from the herds and try out our top picks for off the beaten path travel:
Camping in a Cave in Vietnam
Deep within the Phong Nha National Park of Vietnam you’ll find an experience unlike any other. Newly opened to the public, visitors now have the opportunity to trek through an extensive network of 300 limestone caves and grottoes, which includes the third largest cave in the world – Hang En. The journey to Hang En cave takes travelers into jungle, across rivers, and through traditional villages, until finally arriving at the massive entrance of the mysterious subterranean maze. Experience one of Vietnam’s most beautiful natural wonders by camping overnight inside the cave, adjacent to a lazy underground river.
Audley Travel’s Vietnam UNESCO discovery itinerary that includes this overnight cave experience was named one of National Geographic Traveler’s 50 Tours of a Lifetime of 2015.
Sleeping Outdoors in the Australia Outback
There’s nowhere further off the beaten path than the Australian Outback. Away from the big cities and the bustling beaches, the Outback stands vast, remote, and awaiting exploration. Amplify the feeling of total seclusion with a stay at Longitude 131, the wilderness camp overlooking one of Australia’s most well-known natural icons, Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock.
With only 15 safari-style tents, the experience of camping under the infinite Australia sky is reserved for privileged few. Uninterrupted views of the dazzling sunrise and sunset over Ayers Rock will leave a precious imprint on your memory, and you’ll also have the option to further explore the bush with knowledgeable guides during the early morning hours.
Cruising a Jungle-Lined River on a Klotok Boat in Indonesia
A visit to the jungle of Tanjung Puting National Park is a unique experience in and of itself, but doing so from the cozy confines of a traditional Klotok River Boat, where you’ll cruise beneath the stars in the middle of the remote jungle, makes for an unforgettable journey.
When the sun goes down, your transportation doubles as hotel, and with your wooden roof and deck-side accommodation, you’ll nearly become a part of the jungle. Fall asleep to the sounds of jungle creatures playing around you, and wake up in the morning to the noises of splashing animals below and birds calling from above. Be prepared to encounter all walks of wildlife including the region’s iconic wild orangutans.
Trekking along the Dragon’s Backbone in China
Exploring the rice paddies of Longji in China’s Guangxi province is a great scenic excursion on many traveler’s bucket list. However, most visitors will plan for the brief 30 to 40-minute walk from the bottom of the village of Pingan up to a designated lookout point. For those wishing to get off the beaten track and away from the touristy feel of Pingan, there is a longer, more strenuous hike through some of the quieter areas of the rice terraces over a ridge known as the “Dragon’s Backbone.”
The 4 to 5-hour hike, beginning in the local village of Dazhai and ending in Pingan, allows for a deeper and uninterrupted encounter with the people of Longji. In Dazhai, you’ll find a much more serene and far less crowded atmosphere without the distractions of the hotels and shops that now exist in Pingan. The walk through Dazhai will allow you to truly appreciate the beauty of the terraces, and as you walk you’ll witness local farmers planting and tending to their rice crops. You may even have to step aside a few times for villagers leading donkeys and horses up the pathway with goods. You’ll walk for miles without spotting any tourists, and when you finally end at your hotel in Pingan, you’ll go to bed with the feeling of having truly experienced a more authentic glimpse into the daily lives of the Longji locals.
Exploring a Mystical Island in Chile
Located in the middle of the Pacific, a visit to the volcanic rock that is Easter Island is well worth the 5-hour flight from Chile. Only 16 miles long, Easter Island is best known for the volcanic stone statues of giant faces that litter the fertile green landscape, which are known as the moai. The statues can be seen from all corners of the island and hundreds of legends have been passed down through the ages as to where they came from and why.
At the Rano Raraku quarry, 397 statues can still be found of the 900 that are believed to have once existed at the site. At the Ahu Tongariki there are 15 restored statues standing all in a row, the largest on the island. An entire day can be spent learning the history of the island and contemplating the origins of the maoi. Aside from the fascinating statues, the island is also home to three volcanoes that are crisscrossed with hiking trails, great surf, warm beaches and small towns where you can learn more about local food and culture.
Snorkeling in a Giant Fresh Water Lake in Africa
Lake Malawi, located between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania, is the ninth largest lake in the world and the second deepest lake in Africa. The lake, sometimes referred to as the “Lake of Stars” because of the constellation-like shapes formed by fishing boats at night, covers nearly one-fifth of Malawi, and is home to more species of fish than any other lake. This breathtaking body of water is ideal for those seeking outdoor activities away from the crowds. Scuba diving in the deeper pools, snorkeling amid tropical colored fish in the Caribbean-esque emerald waters and kayaking are all great ways to enjoy this hidden paradise.
There are a handful of islands that offer wonderful hideaways for those seeking an even more remote getaway. Likoma Island, home to just 9,000 inhabitants, houses the Kaya Mawa Lodge – a great eco-escape with access to all of the lake’s activities and a peak into the local fishing culture.
Getting up Close with Nature in Jordan
In a country blessed with a number of magnificent historical sites, a visit to one of Jordan’s nature reserves is often overlooked by first time visitors. A hike along the Siq trail through the Wadi Mujib canyon offers the ideal respite from the crowds of the Dead Sea resorts.
The adventure begins at the visitor center near the Mujib Bridge where you take the walkway over the dam and follow the river upstream between the lofty sandstone cliffs to the base of a large waterfall. Subject to the most rainfall, the gorge can contain pools that are deep enough to swim in. It is an idyllic route to take in the hotter summer months as you enjoy the cool water and shade, and the photo opportunities are plentiful as the sun’s rays sneak through the main gorge of the Mujib River. As one of Jordan’s best kept natural secrets, a walk through Wadi Mujib provides a truly remarkable journey.
To learn more about these unique excursions or Audley Travel, visit our website at www.audleytravel.com or contact a country specialist today at 1-855-838-8300.
Audley Travel is a full service tour operator with offices in Boston, MA as well as England. Our Country Specialists have either lived, worked, or traveled extensively in their region of expertise, and they have the knowledge and passion to craft tailor-made itineraries from start to finish. With Audley, no two trips are the same, and our specialists will use their local knowledge to give you experiences based entirely on your interests, desires, and budget.