15 places you never thought to visit (but really should)
With more and more cheap flights it becomes easier to explore places you never thought to visit before. From Botswana to Chile and Greece, there are some hidden gems you have to visit at least once in your life. I wanted to write about these places for a while already, but found it too hard to make a selection. However, when one of you asked me about unique destinations I decided to write down the 15 places I would recommend everyone to go:
1. Rainbow Mountain, Peru
One of the most impressive places I’ve ever been is Rainbow Mountain in Peru. Not only because its a rare place (there are only three like it in the world) but because the whole hike up there is just stunning. You walk past beautiful villages, bump into tons of alpacas and get magnificent views of the Ausangate Glacier. Tours to hike Rainbow Mountain leave daily from Cusco, for more information check my Peru in 10 highlights blog.
2. Kubu Island, Botswana
Everyone knows the salt desert in Bolivia, but did you know there’s one in Botswana too? The Makgadikgadi Pans are the remains of what was once a massive inland ocean. The best thing is, in the middle of it you’ll find Kubu Island, an island full of Baobab Trees. You can only visit the island by 4×4 and if you want it’s possible to spend the night there camping under one of the trees. I did it and it’s truly amazing. Read more about it on my how to organize a roadtrip to Botswana blog.
3. Burano, Italy
Right next to the touristy hotspots in Venice lies Burano, a little island that is more colourful than any place in Italy. Especially if you get lost in the small alleys you won’t find any other tourists and you get to discover an authentic place. It’s only one hour by ferry from Venice. Read more about how to get there and what to do here.
4. Sahara Desert, Morocco
Maybe you’ve thought of going to the Sahara desert but did you know you can also camp there? You can even ride a camel for sunset and sleep under the stars in a traditional Berber tent. It’s one of the most fun things I’ve done even though I was a bit scared of the crazy camel behind me, (Peter). There are possibilities to visit the Sahara from several cities in Morocco, I did a 3-day tour from Marrakech and wrote a blog on how to arrange it on the ultimate citytrip to Marrakech.
5. Seitan Limania, Greece
One of the most magical places on the Greek islands is Seitan Limania. The beach looks even more beautiful in real life when you see the sun shining on the rocks and you get to jump into the milky blue waves. Even though it looks remote, the beach is only 20km from the city center of Chania, one of the cutest towns in Crete. The beach is one of the
6. Vulcano Lascar, Chile
A very difficult but rewarding hike up to Vulcano Lascar (5592 m) in Northern Chile makes you feel like you’re on another planet. I’d never seen a landscape like this before and up until today it’s the most challenging hike I’ve done. If you want to do it (which you really should) make sure to go early, put on some really warm clothes, wear good hiking boots and bring water and coca leaves (or altitude sickness pills). Though it’s better to do it with a guide, we just rented a car in San Perdo de Atacama and hiked up to the active crater ourself!
7. Deadvlei, Namibia
Deadvlei is a very interesting (and beautiful) spot in the middle of the Namib Desert. The trees you see on the picture actually died 600-700 years ago when they no longer had water to survive. I visited the Deadvlei in the early morning after camping in Sossuvlei. When you stay at the NWR campsite you get to enter the National Park one hour before sunrise and stay until one hour after sunset. It was my favourite spot on my trip through Namibia.
8. Zaanse Schans, the Netherlands
Zaanse Schans is an area in the Netherlands (only 20 minutes from Amsterdam) where you’ll find traditional Dutch houses made of wood. You can wander around the most stunning windmills and try local delights. It’s a must visit on your trip to the Netherlands and one of the places I always take my travel friends when they visit me in Amsterdam (and they love it). If you’re interested in more fun things to do in and around Amsterdam make sure to read the worst tourist traps in Amsterdam – and where to go instead.
9. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
One of the places I never thought to visit is the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. The Falls are one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World and are so IMPRESSIVE! Even though I was there in the wet season and didn’t get the best overview of the falls, it’s crazy how you can just get soaking wet standing so far away from them. On the way there, elephants were crossing the roads and monkeys were running around. It’s a true African experience and a place you have to visit at least once in a lifetime. If you have some extra cash make sure to fly over the falls in a little plane or bungee jump in the gorge!
10. Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland is often called a geological wonder and you can see why. Right next to the sea you can find over 40.000 balast columns that fit perfectly into each other. Though there are many very creative myths and stories on how the rock formation was created, it’s probably the result of an ancient volcanic eruption 60 million(!) years ago, but it could also have been built by a giant… Make sure to do the coastal drive as well when you’re visiting! It’s breathtaking!
11. Blyde River Canyon, South Africa
One of the most beautiful places in South Africa is Blyde River Canyon! This massive canyon offers some amazing hiking opportunities and is close to famous waterfalls and rock formations, with the Three Rondavels as most famous one (see picture). Blyde River Canyon is part of the Panorama Route. You can stay there for a couple of days or visit on a day trip – either way, make sure to be there for sunset.
12. Paracas National Reserve, Peru
Red beaches, yellow cliffs, flamigos and even pinguins! You get to see everything at Paracas National Reserve in Peru. You can visit the reserve by car/taxi or rent a quad and explore it yourself. It’s located only a couple of minutes from Paracas at the Peruvian coast.
13. Top of Europe, Switzerland
In Switzerland, high up in the Alps, you can find this magical place called the Top of Europe. It’s a place surrounded by glaciers and eternal snow. You can take a train up there which will honestly be the most beautiful train ride of your life! The train goes through snow, along fairytale villages with waterfalls in the background and ends at the top of the glacier at Europe’s highest train station (3454 m). I visited the Top of Europe from Interlaken where I stayed at Balmer’s Hostel. This hostel is right in the center of the Swiss outdoor heaven and the place to plan all your activities!
14. Kawasan Falls, Philippines
Even though the Philippines are known for amazing white beaches and world class diving spots my favourite place was the Kawasan Falls. You can find the falls on the island of Cebu, close to the town of Moalboal. At these stunning falls you can swim in the milky blue water and can even go canyoning. However, I did hear it got a lot more touristy since I was there so maybe you won’t have the place to yourself anymore. We were lucky to be the only ones there!
15. Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
Rurrenabaque is a little town in the Bolivian Amazon. It’s known as the gateway to explore the Pampas or go on a trek through the rainforest. I went into the pampas on a little boat for three days and learned a lot about the jungle, swam in a river full crocodiles and fished for piranhas. It’s an amazing experience as you can forget everything and disconnect for a while. In Rurrenabaque I also joined an Ayahuasca ceremony and wrote a very personal blog about my experience: Ayahuasca in the Bolivian jungle.