As you are reading this today, I will be in the final hours of my Las Vegas Virtuoso Travel Week, about to get suited up in a tuxedo (a first for me!) and preparing to enjoy a spectacular Gala Dinner. I know I'll be exhausted but it will have all been worth it, and next week I expect to report on my most surprising and exciting travel discoveries from the best and largest luxury travel show on earth.
For this week, I want to take you to countries or areas that have paths less worn, where local traditions survive and tourism has not left an unwelcome footprint. It is possible to travel to the ends of the earth these days, so contemplate exploring regions that will spark your imagination and wanderlust, and don't just dream it. These trips are real, beyond exciting and will take you to a better place...literally and figuratively.
Top 5 Trips Off the Beaten Path
1. Easter Island (above)
It's well known, but very few travelers actually venture to Easter Island. It's some 2,300 miles from the nearest populated point which makes it a very remote UNESCO World Heritage site. There are hundreds of "Moai", the human shaped statues that have been in place for over 800 years. Abercrombie & Kent have a fascinating tour that will also encompass the Tapati Festival (below), where you can witness the vibrant contests of the local Rapa Nui culture along with performances of songs, body painting, and "Kai Kai" which is string figure storytelling. the local Rapa Nui culture.
2. Bhutan (above and below)
If you visit the mountain kingdom of Bhutan you can experience the pristine natural beauty of the Himalayas and the tranquillity of the traditional Buddhist way of life. Often called the Last Shangri-La, Bhutan was cocooned for years from foreign influences, and the country has preserved its ecology, culture and traditional way of life to an astonishing degree. With its doors opened only recently to foreign tourism, Bhutan is one of the most unique tourist destinations in the world today. It's fascinating philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH) places enormous importance on sustainable socio-economic development, spiritual growth and the preservation of cultural values.
3. Oman (above and below)
Oman stands in stark contrast to its neighbor the United Arab Emirates with its rich heritage, a strong sense of identity, a pride in the ancient, miles of pristine untouched nature and a chance to engage with the authentic Arab world without the distorting lens of excessive wealth.
A trip here feels like you have been transported back in time, when values such as hospitality, respect, kindness and generosity were still held dear. This, by many accounts, is the safest country in the world, and Omanis are simple people – religious, friendly and extremely hospitable. The country is replete with historical treasures from ancient times, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, magnificent landscapes, pristine waters and spectacular deserts.
4. Somerset Island, Nunavut, Canada
500 miles north of the Arctic Circle, nestled on the shores of the NorthWest Passage is Arctic Watch Wilderness Resort, the most Northerly lodge on earth.
Arctic Watch is a world-class wildlife observation site and an extraordinary wilderness resort. Once there you’ll marvel at beluga whales feeding their young (above) and dueling muskox on the open tundra. Once-in-a-lifetime adventures are all but guaranteed. Try fat biking over sea ice, but watch out for the seals. Hop on an ATV and whiz across the tundra, paddle board atop frigid waters (and alongside belugas!), fish for Arctic char, or visit 1,000 year old historical sites filled with remnants of the past. The wildlife here isn’t limited to beluga whales and muskox as you can also observe polar bears, Arctic fox, snow geese and sandpipers.
5. Itacaré, Brazil (above)
For probably the best beaches you've never heard of, we are taking a look at Itacaré, a town at the mouth of the Rio de Contas on eastern Brazil’s Cocoa Coast. Inland from the sandy, palm-lined Concha Beach are the wonderful restaurants and bars of Rua Pedro Longo. To the south, secluded Prainha is a surf beach accessed only via a forest trail. Farther down the coast, there are reefs and sea turtles off Itacarezinho Beach. And then there are also the nearby mountains, where Serra do Conduru State Park has waterfalls and wildlife. There's also a wonderful Virtuoso property here, the Txai Resort. Combine with Rio de Janeiro (admittedly not off the beaten path) for an incredible 2-center adventure.
If you'd like to tread off the beaten path but don't know where to start, let us know so we can help you plan a trip to amazing destinations you've never heard of.
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