If you really want to experience a fantastic holiday filled with wildlife, nature and breath-taking views, then look no further. Whilst package holidays with sunshine and swimming pools are an easy go-to for a relaxing holiday, sometimes you need to immerse yourself in an experience that will make your holiday one to remember. Whether you seek adventure, stunning views or to be enthralled by culture, this list has you covered:
The Galápagos Islands
The Galápagos Islands are part of the province of Ecuador and are well known for inspiring the English naturalist and biologist Charles Darwin, and his theory of evolution. Located in the Pacific Ocean, this volcanic archipelago is home to a diversity of plant and animal species, some of which can be found nowhere else! The perfect place for avid wildlife watchers, this national park is home to such an array of species, including the Galápagos tortoise, Marine iguanas, and the Galápagos penguins – the only penguins that can be seen in their natural habitat in the northern hemisphere. You can expect relatively warm weather all year round as the Galápagos Islands lie directly on the Equator, with the cool and dry season between June and November and the warm and wet season between December and June.
Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia, a very underrated holiday destination and unknown to most. Georgia, which is actually called Sakartvelo by Georgians, is a charming place to visit that has been noticeably changed and influenced by restoration and different eras of both Persian and Russian rule. If you are an architect or have an interest in architecture then you are more likely to have heard of Georgia, as the noticeable diversity of the architecture includes Eastern Orthodox churches, ornate Art Nouveau buildings, Soviet Modernist structure, and even futuristic architecture like the Georgian Parliament Building in Kutaisi.
Tbilisi is a charming city known for great hospitality and remains relatively un-spoilt due to a low frequency of tourism. If you do choose to visit Georgia, don’t expect to master the ancient language that Georgians speak. Georgian is a Kartvelian language and has its own writing script that does not include capital letters, so you will often see names without any capitals. It also features a large amount of clustered consonants, which can make it a very tricky language for outsiders to speak, just try pronouncing the word gvprtskvnic! This is definitely one that requires a little more than a quick glance at a phrasebook, but don’t be put off, as younger generations are usually fluent in English too.
As the popular family-film of the same name captured so well, Madagascar is the only home for many species of Lemurs, which means “spirits of the night” in Latin! The Lemurs of Madagascar aren’t the only creatures you will find here, as it is also home to the Fossa, the Panther Chameleon, and the largest nocturnal primate in the world – the Aye-Aye. Madagascar has such a unique eco-system, with approximately 90 percent of all plant and animal species found in Madagascar endemic.
Madagascar is actually the world’s fourth largest island, at over 200,000 square miles, and has a population of 26.2 million people. You can also find several world heritage sites here, including the 500-year-old burial site Royal Hill of Ambohimanga; The rainforests of the Atsinanana, and the Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, an amazing limestone labyrinth full of canyons and caves, some of which remain unexplored.
Ruaha National Park, Tanzania
As the largest national park in Tanzania, with over 13,000km2, this protected area is home to many of East Africa’s favorite animals. This wild landscape is a superb location for a safari trip so you can experience the beauty and excitement of animals in their natural habitat. Expect to see herds of Elephant and Buffalo, as well as the beloved predators. Lions, Cheetahs, and Leopards. Ruaha is a great place in supporting the ever-decreasing population of African lions, as well as providing a home for the third largest population of endangered African wild dogs. It is an incredibly important conservationist location, so tourism helps support the conservation and protection of a number of endangered species.
The Cloud Forests of Ecuador
Several wildlife reserves including the Mindo Nambillo, Intag Cloud Forest Reserve, the Mashpi Reserve, and others, offer the chance to experience nature in its purest form. Free from enclosures and the confines of zoos, these protected areas offer the diverse species of animals to roam free and thrive, giving you the chance to view them in their natural habitat. Any bird-watchers’ dream, The Cloud Forests are home to over 500 different bird species, which is more than 20% of the entire world’s bird species. The canopies and vibrant flora and fauna provide the perfect home to Hummingbirds and Toucans alike, as well as other animals, including Jaguars, Sloths, Howler Monkeys, and the iconic Spectacled Bear. With eco-lodges dotted around the reserves, this travel company, as well as others, offer trips to these Cloud-Forest dwellings, so that you can experience the wondrous sights and scenery for yourself.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is postcard-perfect and warrants fantastic photographs, it is also the perfect location to get that llama selfie that some of you really want. On the high peaks of the Andean mountains of Peru, this Incan citadel looks over the Urubamba River valley and was built way back in the 15th century, only to be later abandoned. Aside from the panoramic views, it comes as no surprise that this amazing ancient city is a popular tourist spot. The remarkable layout and beautiful walls of this heavily excavated site has brought in countless tourists, and yes, it is worth the hype. If you are athletic and adventurous enough, you can save yourselves lots of money by walking up and down the scenic trail for free! Considered an important world heritage site, Machu Picchu is one of the more recent additions to The 7 Wonders of The World. It is an iconic archaeological site and a perfect example of an Incan citadel. With history, culture, and mystery all captured in the ruins, Machu Picchu is well worth the visit.
Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia
If you want to experience another wonder of the world, though this one isn’t actually on the magic list of 7, then a visit to the world’s largest salt flat should be added to your to-do list. This prehistoric lake ran dry and left over 4,000 square miles (over 10,000km) of glistening white salt, a remarkable vast expanse that can be compared to a desert.
More adventurous types may wish to spend the night in this unique location, with brave people choosing to camp out in sleeping bags, whilst others experience the renowned ‘salt hotels’. Whilst the dry season is still a surreal experience, the wet season takes the Salar De Uyuni to a whole new level. With the magic of rainfall, all it takes is a thin sheet of water to turn this salt flat into a giant mirror. The incredible reflectivity makes it impossible to tell where the sky and earth meet, making it an out-of-this-world experience. As such a large expanse of space and one of the flattest sites on Earth, it also makes a great spot for satellite calibration too!
The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is an amazing place. The reef has suffered in recent years from excessive amounts of pollution in the water, but you can still see a wide variety of marine life living in and around the reef. Take a boat trip out to Green Island and go snorkeling. Or stay on Hamilton Island and charter a trip in a glass bottom boat so you can see the world beneath the waves. This is perfect for anyone who isn’t that confident about swimming in the ocean or has a phobia about sharks!
Don’t forget to take a waterproof camera, so you can capture all the amazing fish and creatures you see under the water. Look out for a Finding Nemo Clown Fish! They are one of the more colorful fishes in the ocean.
Make the Right Decision
There are some truly amazing places around the world, so it can be hard to select the right one. Use the internet to do some research and start learning about possible destinations that inspire you. Many extremely remote places are not well-known by tourists, so you really will be traveling off the beaten track. This is all part of the fun, but do consider your personal safety.
Have an itinerary so you know exactly where you intend on visiting, and when. Hand your itinerary to someone before you disappear into the wild blue yonder. That way, if something goes wrong or you are caught up in a bad situation, someone, somewhere will go looking for you and alert the authorities. This is particularly the case if you travel around parts of India and Southeast Asia.