Imagine touching down somewhere that few people have ever been, discovering a remote world that you didn’t know existed. Travelers are becoming more interested in places that offer more remoteness, that often take a journey to get to. Luckily the call for these types of places have been answered and throughout the world, remote hotels are popping up in places you didn’t even know existed. From a beachfront hotel in Iceland to a surfing getaway in Samoa, these 8 remote hotels all have a few things in common- exceptional accommodations, stunning scenery, delicious cuisine and an air of privacy.
8. Hotel Budir, Iceland
The only real beachfront hotel in Iceland lies next to a lava field with views over the Snaefellsnes glacier. The accommodations here are simple, chic and unpretentious offering a variety of rooms including eight rooms in the attic, one suite, nine deluxe rooms and ten standard rooms. In the wintertime, guests cozy up by the fireplace in the lobby while staring out the large windows at the breathtaking surroundings.
Summertime brings bonfire parties on the beach and swimming during the day. Guests here will be treated to exceptional service, an exquisite restaurant and one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. The possibilities for activities here are endless and hotel staff is delighted to help guests plan whatever their heart desires, whether they want to take a tour by helicopter, go horseback riding, fishing and more.
7. Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland, Canada
Fogo Island is a remote island off the coast of Newfoundland, halfway between the North Pole and the Equator and home to the simple yet charming Fogo Island Inn. Open all year round, guests here are treated to the floor to ceiling views of the North Atlantic Ocean in one of 29 guest suites. Every piece of furniture and textile in the rooms are handcrafted, from the quilts to the chairs to the wallpaper.
Three meals a day are catered to suit your personal preferences along with snacks and focuses on fresh seasonal ingredients. In wintertime watch, as winter storms crash through, try your hand at cross-country skiing or ice fishing. In the spring the gigantic icebergs float by, bonfires are lit and wildlife viewing is at its finest. To get here, visitors have to take a ferry from Farewell Harbor or arrive in style in a helicopter.
6. Ultima Thule Lodge, Alaska
Deep in the Alaskan wilderness, hundreds of miles from paved roads sits this incredible remote lodge, taking people to places where nobody has gone before. It is a six-hour drive from Anchorage and then a 90-minute flight into the Wrangell Mountains to reach this lodge, set amongst the largest protected wilderness on earth. Visitors here should expect luxurious like bearskin rugs, floor-to-ceiling windows, a wood-fired sauna, freshly baked goods and stunning scenery.
There are no set itineraries at this lodge; every day is customized depending on the time of year, flying conditions and interests. Activities range from kayaking in a glacier-fed river, flying over the largest vertical rock face on earth, driving over glacier fields, and hiking across arctic tundra. Every experience at this lodge is unique and unforgettable and entirely worth the journey.
5. Aganoa Lodge, Samoa
Surfing is the main draw at this ultra-remote lodge, located on Savai’i, the more remote of the two main islands of Samoa. This lodge offers fully guided surfing experiences for a maximum of eight guests while catering to non-surfers and families who want an active travel experience. Eight open-air bungalows set the stage for this beautiful experience, each one constructed of reclaimed timber and lava rocks that were collected on site.
Beautiful white sand and crystal clear water beckon guests to swim, snorkel, surf, kayak and more; with the included equipment from the lodge. Dinner is served nightly in the open lounge and features the fresh catch of the day, along with other incredible seasonal ingredients. Whether you are looking to surf, dine or relax; this remote lodge will appeal to you.
4. Lyngen Lodge, Norway
The ultimate remote getaway for winter sports enthusiasts is Lyngen Lodge, a remote lodge offering luxury accommodation, top quality cuisine and epic adventures in the world’s most beautiful and undisturbed arctic regions on earth. The lodge only caters to 18 guests at a time so expect a personalized retreat with incredible cuisine and exceptional customer service. Relax in the center of the lodge where large panoramic windows offer spectacular views of the Lyngen Alps and a crackling fireplace keeps you warm.
Activities here include dog sledding, snowmobiling, skiing, Northern Lights viewing, boat tours, water sports, and Heli-hiking. Whether you choose to come in the winter for the unforgettable skiing or the summer for the abundance of activities, chances are, the experience will be unforgettable.
3. Yemaya Island Hideaway, Little Corn Island, Nicaragua
Little Corn Island is literally a speck in the in Caribbean Ocean, 43 miles off the east coast of Nicaragua. Getting here requires multiple forms of transportation including flight, taxi, panga boat and your own two feet. The reward is well worth it though, 16 private cabanas nestled among swaying coco palms with views of the crystal clear ocean. Private outdoor verandahs, a rainforest shower, and beautiful handcrafted furnishings await you.
Dining is done in the open-air restaurant that serves up local and organic ingredients grown on site along with fresh seafood. Guests here can enjoy activities such as daily yoga, sailing, kayaking, snorkeling, paddle boarding and incredible spa treatments. This hideaway offers the chance to reconnect, explore nature and live carefree, if only for a few short days.
2. The Oberoi Vanyavilas, India
Situated just ten minutes from Ranthambhore National Park, this is a chance for visitors to get up close and personal with the incredible Royal Bengal Tigers in the wild, while staying at an amazing remote hotel. Accommodations are in luxury tents, complete with a four-poster bed, a claw-footed tub, personal stocked bar, silk bathrobes and more.
Dining is done in the main hall of the restaurant in the winter time in front of an open wood fireplace while the outside courtyard becomes transformed into a restaurant in the summer complete with bonfires, candles and folk musicians. Explore the national park with its incredible ruins, elephants; hundreds of species of birds and of course the majestic tigers. Pamper yourself at the beautiful spa, have a private candlelit dinner or learn how to cook with Indian Spices; whatever your heart desires, you will find it here.
1. Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador
Perched at 3,116 feet above sea level in between rainforest and cloud forests sits an incredible lodge, surrounded by plants, orchids and a staggering 500 species of birds; along with monkeys, pumas and an abundance of waterfalls. Luxury and nature merge here at this five-star lodge where rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows and glass walls that look out into the lush forest.
The towering two-story dining room features fully panoramic views and seasonal menu items that are prepared fresh by fine dining chefs. Top naturalist guides are on hand to take you through the surrounding trails and explain the flora and fauna that surrounds you. Voted as one of the most unique lodges in the world by National Geographic; this remote hotel is not to be missed.
Caribbean cuisine has plenty of influences to thank for their amazing culinary creations, including cuisines such as African, East Indian and European. In spite of all these influences though the Caribbean has brought its own gastronomy to the table and produces dishes that are both simple and satisfying. They cook with the seasons and with the freshest of ingredients, delighting visitors from all over the world. There are hundreds of dishes to try when visiting the Caribbean but here are 10 of our favorite foods from this part of the world.
10. Conch Fritters
Considered a delicacy around the world, there is no better place to try Conch Fritters than the Caribbean, especially in the Bahamas. These fritters are small ball so conch snail meat that have been friend in batter with a number of seasonings. Conch is readily available in the Caribbean which makes this the freshest place to taste this delicious local treat. Many chefs put their own spin on this dish and often use ingredients such as onion, peppers and celery along with a variety of spices. Make sure to try this dish at numerous restaurants including the Poop Deck in Easy Bay, Nassau and Head Over to Conch Fritters.
9. Jerk Chicken
It one of the spiciest and well-known and well-loved dishes that originates from Jamaica. The jerk part of the dish is actually a special mixture of spices and can include soy sauce, brown sugar, whole cloves, bonnet peppers, jalapenos and more. The jerk is laced onto the chicken which is than grilled. The grilling process is of most importance when it comes to perfecting this dish and true jerk chicken is actually cooked over coals as well as fresh green wood, most traditionally the wood from the pimento tree. This tree also happens to produce allspice berries which is another component of the jerk marinade. Other meat can also be cooked in the same process and the jerk spice will work its magic by soaking the meat in its flavours.
8. Aloo Pie
You will find this variant of the samosa on the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago. This soft friend pastry is made from flour and water and filled with boiled and spiced mashed potatoes. Other vegetables inside accompany the potatoes such as green peas or split chickpeas without their seedcoat. A little larger than a typical samosa it looks more like a calzone and is ordered with a sweet and sour type dipping sauce known as imli ki chutney.
This Caribbean dish actually originated in West Africa and was brought to the Caribbean by slaves. This green soup is typically made with amaranth leaves; taro leaves or water spinach. In the Caribbean this dish is often served as a side dish and calls for such ingredients as coconut milk and okra. Callaloo tends to be different from island to island, for example in Jamaica they only use the callaloo leaf, salt, onions and scallions simply steaming the vegetables while in Trinidad they use the okra and coconut milk. Wherever you decide to try it, it is definitely a must and although the dark green soup may not look appetizing at first, it is absolutely delicious.
6. Coconut Shrimp
This easy to make and even easier to eat dish tastes that much better in the Caribbean due to the freshness of the ingredients. Soft shrimp is dipped in eggs and coated with shredded coconut, making the sweetness of the shrimp and the crispiness of the coconut come together in one delectable treat. If you are a health conscious individual, you can opt to have this delicious snack baked instead of fried. Try these shrimps out in multiples islands, each offering its own unique twist of spices and coatings.
5. Ackee and Saltfish
Ackee happens to be the national fruit of Jamaica and thus its fitting that Ackee and Saltfish is the national dish. Parts of the Ackee fruit are actually toxic and therefore much caution must be had when preparing this dish. Salt cod is soaked overnight before sautéing it with boiled ackee, onions, Scotch Bonnet peppers, tomatoes and spices. It is often garnished with bacon and tomatoes and can be served as breakfast or dinner. It can be served alongside breadfruit, dumplings, fried plantain or eaten with rice and peas.
4. Keshi Yena
Laying at the extreme south of the Caribbean is the island of Curacao and it happens to offer one heck of a local main course dish. Keshi Yena is essentially one giant stuffed cheese ball and although it is prepared differently all over the island, the end result is the same, absolute deliciousness. Essentially a round bowl is lined with Gouda or Edam cheese slices, topped with meaty filling (mostly chicken) and than covered with more slices of cheese. Sometimes the cheese ball is smothered in a Creole sauce with plenty of tomatoes and peppers. Other ingredients are olives, prunes or raisons.
3. Jamaican Patty
Although it is most notably found in Jamaica, the Jamaican patty is also commonly found in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. This pastry is stuffed full of various fillings and spices, baked inside its flaky shell that is often tinted yellow with an egg yolk mixture or turmeric. The filling is typically seasoned ground beef but sometimes can be chicken, pork or lamb. In Jamaica the patty is often eaten as a full meal when accompanied by coco bread. This beef patty came to be shortly after the Cornish pastry was introduced in the Caribbean and using the cumin and curry spices along with the Scotch Bonnet, a hot pepper indigenous to Jamaica allowed them to make it their own.
2. Flying Fish
One of the most popular foods in Barbados is flying fish and one can expect to have one land on their plate at some point on this island, which is a good thing considering how delicious they are. Flying fish and cou-cou is actually the islands national dish, featuring the fish steamed and served with cornmeal cooked with okra and water. Many visitors choose to have fish cutters, battered, crispy and fried flying fish that is served on salt bread, normally accompanied by lettuce, tomato, ketchup and mustard. However, which way you choose to eat this meal, you certainly won’t regret it.
1. Boca Chica Style Fried Fish
The Dominican Republic boasts plenty of colorful and lively dishes but the most loved may just be Boca Chica Fried Fish. One of the most flavorful dishes in the Dominican, this fried fish- normally red snapper- is marinated in a mix of garlic, onions, bell peppers and paprika. Coated with flour and fried twice, the fish vendors in this part of the Island tell visitors it’s the love that goes into the recipe that makes it so good. Often served alongside a heap of friend green plantains, this dish is big on flavor.
Many of the peoples of Central America were prolific builders and empire-makers; when the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they found bustling metropolises and impressive monuments. Today, the ruins of cities built by the Mayans, Toltecs, Zapotecs and others serve as a testament to their civilizations, and many of them are preserved as World Heritage Sites scattered throughout the countries of Central America. A great way to begin learning about these ancient cultures is to visit 1 of these 7 sites; if you’re lucky, you’ll get to meet some of the descendants of these amazing builders.
7. Caracol, Belize
Long thought to be a relatively unimportant Mayan city, Caracol has revealed itself to be one of the most influential political centers in the Maya Lowlands during the Classical Period of the Mayan civilization. The complex was larger than Belize’s capital city today and supported a population twice as large. The site was rediscovered in 1937 and archaeological work has been ongoing since 1985. Caracol was a dense city, with approximately 270 structures per square kilometer, which is denser than Tikal at its height. Caracol weathered the initial collapse of the Mayan empire, but was fully abandoned by 1050. When Europeans arrived, the site had already been disused for 500 years. The largest building at the site is Caana, the Sky Palace; the ruin is, in fact, one of the largest buildings in Belize.
6. Las Mercedes, Costa Rica
Las Mercedes was an important political center for the Indigenous peoples of Costa Rica. Associated with the Huetar, a Chibchan-speaking people, Las Mercedes was rediscovered in the late 19th century, when a railway connecting the capital city to Puerto Limon was built. The site has been excavated several times, although the earliest “excavations” were unscientific and many artifacts were removed. Las Mercedes was inhabited from around 1500 BC until 1500 AD, when the Spanish arrived. Glass beads at the site indicate the Indigenous peoples may have traded with the Spaniards. Spanning 25 hectares, the site has 3 large complexes, with a total of 15 platforms and many plazas, retaining walls and causeways. The causeways, which are paved, are a particular testament to the skill of the people that built them.
5. Joya de Ceren, El Salvador
Popularly known as the “Pompeii of the Americas,” Joya de Ceren is remarkably well preserved. Much like its ancient Roman counterpart in Italy, this Mayan farming village was covered in volcanic ash when the nearby Loma Caldera erupted, dumping between 4 and 8 feet of ash over the town. The inhabitants fled, but they left behind utensils, ceramics, furniture and even half-eaten food when they escaped the town. Excavations have uncovered about 70 buildings since the site’s 1976 discovery, all of which give us remarkable insight into day-to-day life and Mayan civilization in the late 6th century. Even the farm fields, which had been planted just hours before the eruption, have been preserved. Joya de Ceren was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and archaeological work has been ongoing since the late 1980s.
4. Copan, Honduras
The ancient city of Copan lies in western Honduras, in the far reaches of the Mayan cultural region; in fact, Copan would have been almost surrounded by peoples from the Isthmo-Colombian cultural region. Nonetheless, the city was occupied for more than 2,000 years and, between the 5th and 9th centuries AD, became an important center of Mayan culture. The site contains multiple temples and the royal Acropolis, as well as a court for playing the Mesoamerican ballgame ōllamaliztli. Copan is famous for a series of stelae depicting rulers and Altar Q is the most famous monument in the entire complex. During the 8th and 9th centuries, the population of Copan declined, as did its influence. Today, Copan is the best-known Mayan site in Honduras, as well as a World Heritage Site.
3. Canta Gallo, Nicaragua
Nicaragua’s Indigenous peoples are most closely related to the Choco-speaking peoples of Panama and Colombia. Most of these groups weren’t prolific builders, unlike the Aztecs and Maya further north. That’s part of what makes Canta Gallo so special; it’s one of the few sites in Nicaragua where you can see the ruins of ancient pyramids built by some of the country’s Indigenous peoples. To get there, you’ll need to travel deep into the jungle of Indio Maiz in southwestern Nicaragua. The site is sacred to the Rama Indians, descendants of the Chibcha. Relatively little is known about Canta Gallo, but some believe it is a lost city. Since the area is remote, the ruins have yet to attract mobs of tourists, meaning that this is a site where you’ll actually be able to get up close to the ruins.
2. Teotihuacán, Mexico
Is it possible to write about Central America’s ancient ruins without addressing Mexico? Although not usually classed as part of Central America proper, Mexico’s Indigenous peoples were drivers of empire and modern Mexico is littered with the ruins of civilizations like the Maya, Zapotecs, Aztecs and Toltecs. The inhabitants of Mexico’s most famous ruins, however, remain unknown; the Aztecs claimed common ancestry with the Teotihuacans, but the ethnicity of the inhabitants is the subject of debate. Perhaps a multi-ethnic center, Teotihuacan was at one time the largest city in pre-Columbian America and its influence was felt throughout Mesoamerica, from Tikal to Copan. Today, it is is famous for its pyramids, including the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, as well as the Avenue of the Dead and its multi-family residences.
1. Tikal, Guatemala
The ruins of Tikal are instantly recognizable from the famous Tikal Temple I, a 47-meter tall limestone step pyramid with a Mayan roof comb. The temple is also known as the Temple of the Great Jaguar. Of course, Temple I isn’t the only building at Tikal; there are many more buildings. Given that Tikal was once the most powerful city in the Mayan empire, the complex of temples, altars, palaces and pyramids only makes sense. The site is divided into several groups, including the Great Plaza located at the core of the site, the Central Acropolis to its south, the North and South Acropolises and the Plaza of the Seven Temples. Located in the Peten rainforest in northern Guatemala, this World Heritage Site is perhaps one of the best-known in Central America.
Technically we are all in places that are about to change drastically. There are many remote idyllic, places being threatened by climate change that face melting glaciers or catastrophic flooding. But then so does Miami. Whether it’s rising sea levels, desertification, torrential monsoons, melting glaciers or ocean acidification, climate change is rapidly altering the landscape of our planet and perhaps about to destroy some of the world’s legendary vacation spots. Then there is the traditional destruction inflicted by human error and downright imbecility. More hotel rooms, spas and golf courses are part of the inherent contradictions of tourism increasing accessibility means increasing degradation. There seems to be no solution to that equation. We will be one of the last generations to see some of the Earth’s most cherished places. Here’s our list of 20 places to see before they vanish to climate change, over development and encroachment. It’s a survey of various sources from CNN to MNN (as in Mother Nature Network), at the same time being quite conscious of the other contradiction that advising more people to visit already vulnerable sites is farther contributing to the degradation. Perhaps you can solve that moral quandary by designing am environmentally sensitive visit. Or contribute to conservancy groups that are fighting to save them.
20. Gozo, Malta
CNN has this theory that once a foreign city is featured in a blockbuster movie, it takes a hit from an influx of curious tourists. Gozo, population 37,000 is a short ferry ride from Malta. Its website proudly proclaims its natural beauty, its “tortoise-like pace” and amazing history. Gozo means ‘joy’ in Castilian, so named at its founding in 1282. Last year Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt shot their latest film “By the Sea” there. Directed by Jolie, it appears to be a drama about an artistic couple’s fading marriage with Gozo subbing for France. CNN warns that “There are few better advertisements for a destination than a good movie,” and expects hordes of Brangelina fans to disturb the tranquility in search of the places the couple tried to rekindle their romance.
19. St. Kitts
With its neighbor and sidekick Nevis known as the decadent playground of the idle rich, St. Kitts is passing under the spell of the Evil Trinity of tourism; Big name hotel chains, golf course designers and marina builders. It is being done in the name of sustainability which may be easier to do environmentally that in preserving the spirit of a place heading to over development. When they open the world’s first edible golf course, you know the gimmicks have just begun.
18. The Seychelles
National Geographic rates the beach at Anse Source d’Argent as the best in the world. One of nature’s most convincing versions of paradise. The beauty of the pink sand, the coral reef sheltered by massive granite boulders brings many beach lovers to this archipelago of more than a hundred islands in the Indian Ocean but the water rises relentlessly, the perfect beaches are eroding and its coral reef, like others around the world is being degraded. Barring some miraculous engineering innovation or divine intervention, many of the islands could be lost in the next 50 years.
17. The Athabasca Glacier, Canada
With its relatively convenient location in mid-Alberta between Banff and Jasper National Parks, The Athabasca Glacier attracts more tourists than any other on the continent. It is also the largest ice field between the poles. It’s a kind of frozen tributary of the massive Columbia Ice Fields. But with ice fields north of 90, as old hands call the Arctic, the Athabasca at 52 degrees north latitude is in for The Big Melt. Parks Canada estimates it’s receding up to ten feet a year. At this rate maybe too far gone for the next generation to experience.
16. St. Helena
In its own way, St. Helena is an exotic destination. A volcanic speck of 50 square miles in the middle of the south Atlantic, it is the definition of remote, 4,000 miles east of Rio de Janeiro. Let’s face it, after Waterloo, the British were not about to exile Napoleon in Paradise. Part of its cache is that getting there is a challenge, by the Royal Mail ship St. Helena from Cape Town, Walvis Bay or Ascension Island. It’s somewhat for bird watching and its rugged terrain protects well preserved Georgian buildings. After Longwood, Napoleon’s home after 1815 (now a museum), the island’s biggest celebrity draw is Jonathon the tortoise, age 180 and going strong. The British have sunk the better part of half a billion dollars into an airport for the tiny island to open early in 2016. For that chunk of change, expect more than the usual 3,000 or so visitors soon.
15. Taj Mahal, India
Even the great frescoes of the Sistine Chapel dulled with age and the emission from centuries of candle smoke and neglect. But they were inside the walls of a building in the First World, whereas the Taj Mahal is neither. The whole point of the spectacular tribute to an Emperor’s late wife, is its pristine whiteness indicative of the purity of their love. But the air quality in India’s major cities is worse than the horrific pollution levels of Beijing. Fading to yellow or rust is not just a cosmetic downgrade it degrades its very meaning. An ornate mausoleum of white marble, The Taj Mahal is the sparkling jewel of Muslim art in India. Built in the 17th century by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his favorite wife, The Taj currently has more than 3 million visitors a year and the heat, foot traffic and toxic air are beginning to undermine the building’s structural integrity. It’s not hard to see a lengthy shutdown for restoration in the near future, not to mention banning people from going inside.
14. Dead Sea
There is the old joke that someone says he’s so old he remembers when the Dead Sea was only sick. Sadly that’s no longer just a joke. It is being sucked dry by the water-desperate countries around it who are helping themselves to the water in the River Jordan, the sea’s main source. It has shrunk by a third in size and scientists fear if the rate of attrition continues, the intensely salted water some claim has medicinal qualities, has maybe 50 years of life left.
13. The Galapagos Islands
Truth be told Europeans have been abusing the Galapagos since the late 19th century when pirates used it as a base to launch their raids. Darwin didn’t arrive until 1835 to begin on what would become The Origin of the Species 25 years later. Now there are pages of tours echoing the name of his ship The Beagle. The islands are threatened by too many people. Too many insensitive people acting reprehensibly to degrade this natural treasure to take the greatest selfies and poach plants and animals (not necessarily at the same time.) The prognosis is much better than many other sites however because the ecosystem, while delicate, can still be saved by limiting if not stopping altogether, the onslaught of tourists. So if it’s on your bucket list…tread lightly.
12. Glacier National Park Montana
In fact, anything with the word “Glacier’ in its name or title may be at risk, barring some miraculous reversal in climate change, the effects are well documented. They are living on borrowed time, the more temperate the climate the more critical the patient. The number of glaciers in the stunningly beautiful Glacier National Park on the Montana-Canada border has shrunk by 75% in the last century. Pessimistic estimates say the glaciers and the ecosystem that depends on them could be gone by 2030. The good news if you’re into dark humor; the surfing in Montana is about to improve dramatically.
11. South Australia
One of those areas facing the climate change double whammy, coastal flooding and interior desertification the Australian government has studied and published many daunting studies on the effects. Rising sea levels will threaten hundreds of miles of beaches and the lovely city of Adelaide will be put at risk. The soaring temperatures and absence of rain in the interior will challenge some of the most renowned wine growing regions in the world, including the Barossa and Clare Valleys. While the region accounts for only 7% of Australia’s population, it is also responsible for half of the $1.3 billion in wine exports. Unless you are entertained somehow by catastrophic flooding and drought, best to go soon.
10. Greek Islands
There are 6,000 islands from Aegina to Zaforas in the Ionian and Aegean seas off the Greek coast. Only 227 are inhabited and only 50 have airports. Traveling between them has always been a question of taking leisurely ferries with shall we say occasionally regular schedules. Until now after a Greek airline has announced to connect another 100 by seaplane. As always accessibility is a mixed blessing. The islands of Crete, Skyros and Pelion are first on the list with more to come as early as year’s end. Book accordingly. Unless you like crowded beaches, then this is your lucky year.
9. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe/Zambia
The famous falls are twice the height of Niagara with a fraction of the tourists. At least until the new Victoria Falls International Airport, on the Zimbabwe/Zambia, border opens in the fall of 2015. It’s being built to handle what pilots call “Heavy Metal”, wide body A340’s and Boeing 777’s and their human cargo. It will be a huge boost for the tourism sector in the long-suffering country. The five regional airlines that used the old airport will be joined by British British Airways, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Emirates, and Kenya Airways, just to start.
8. St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Caribbean
An idyllic place. Everything you wish for in a Caribbean destination. And less, without the crowds, partiers and such. Beaches rank among the best in the world, coral reefs provide diving that’s to die for, it’s care free relaxation in a setting almost too beautiful to be true. But it’s always been a bit of a schlep to get there by connecting flight. The new $250,000,000 Argyle International Airport , will come with direct flights to North American and European cities increasing capacity by at least 400%. Plus it is upgrading its port infrastructure to bring in more cruise ships whose environmental record has been somewhere between bad and wretched. The good news for would-be visitors is that the airport is behind schedule for those who would like to have the island experience before it gets paved and up go the condos.
Lake Nicaragua is a scenic, unspoiled place with coastal towns lost to time and lots of fishing spots locals love. It has been fast-tracked to the environmental critical list by a crazy ambitious $50 billion Chinese-backed project to build a canal three times the length of the Panama Canal from the Pacific to the Caribbean Sea and hence the Atlantic, in the process trampling through prized lakes, wetlands, coral reefs and any number of delicate ecosystems in Central America and the Caribbean. The Nicaraguan Academy of Sciences warns “this canal would create an environmental disaster in Nicaragua and beyond. Tourist visits have soared since the construction started.
6. Papua New Guinea
There is an automatic exoticism to the south Pacific and in the case of Papua New Guinea, it’s enhanced by its status as one of the last truly unexplored places on earth. The government has expressed a “wish” to maintain the rarely seen villages as the basis for its society. It’s a nice gesture, but at the same time they’re expanding the almost non-existent tourism infrastructure starting with cruise ships and with them a fading chance to experience a land not far removed from first contact.
5. The Alps, Europe
The mighty Alps are facing an uphill battle they can’t win. The evidence is incremental but unmistakable. The temperature, even on peaks over 10,000 feet has been steadily rising. The elevation at which snow falls and accumulates is falling. Towns and cities dependent on skiing for their livelihoods are taking strong measures to lower local CO2 emissions, but climate change scientists say the effects of climate change could hit hard by 2040. So maybe the problem will be solved by then, it still leaves you at least 25 years to book, but after that forget the skies and take hiking boots and sunblock.
4. Venice, Italy
Like the famous writer Mark Twain, reports of the death of Venice have been greatly exaggerated. The magical kingdom of canals and Renaissance masterpieces has been written off many times before. But the severe flooding it has long suffered has become deeper and more chronic. When you can stop on your way to St. Mark’s and, bend down and catch fish with your bare hands, the fat lady may not be singing but is definitely warming up. The prognosis: the only people to see Venice past the 22nd century are likely scuba divers and snorkelers. However, the city has miraculously hung tough before. It may not be clear just how just yet, but surely no expense will be spared to save one of the greatest treasures on the planet.
3. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Another long running natural disaster that could have been easily mitigated by sustainable practices. The fabulous reef has been assaulted not only by climate change but by human stupidity. Higher water temperatures and its older foes of pollution and acidification from ever rising carbon dioxide emissions are killing off the corals at an alarming rate. More recent threats are damage caused by the development of Australian ports to export coal to China, thereby contributing to more CO2, hence more damage to the reef and its $4 billion in tourist income. A whole new enemy has emerged as well in industrial overfishing which doesn’t directly damage reefs around the world, but destroys the fish stocks that are part of its ecosystem. The wonderful reef in Belize is facing the same threat of death by coral bleaching.
Oh the irony. According to CNN, the son of Che Guevara, the iconic Marxist guerrilla leader, has turned out to be quite the entrepreneur, launching a motorcycle tour company for the biking crowd to see the island from behind their choppers. With the easing of American travel restrictions, the fabric of the island is in for rapid change for the less impoverished though not necessarily better. Not to revel in other’s poverty but the anachronism of the island frozen in a time warp by antiquated Communist central planning was part of the charm, like the famous 1950’s vintage vehicles constantly repaired and rebuilt out of economic necessity. The wonderful beaches are already popular and if there are bikers, the massive cruise ships won’t be far behind. Hemingway’s Havana is already on borrowed time.
Expect to see more headlines like this one from the BBC: “Should tourists be banned from Antarctica?” It’s feared that Antarctica is shedding up to 160 billion tons of ice annually and rising. The biggest threat to the ice cap is warming temperatures, not humans. Less than 40,000 people visit every year and only a quarter of them actually go ashore. Tour companies abide by strict international guidelines to limit human impact but those guidelines are voluntary. That human impact may be minimal, but any additional pressure on an increasingly vulnerable ecosystem is critical. There will be many more calls for restrictions to follow the BBC’s warnings. It won’t disappear in a century but trips to see it may be extinct long before.
With more people traveling around the world, countries are getting even more expensive to visit. Despite popular beliefs, it is possible to pick the right place where you can stretch your dollar for days, even weeks. Doing your research, opting for public transportation, and eating in local spots will all go a long way to helping you stick to your budget.
Despite its popularity, Thailand has remained one of the cheapest countries to visit over the years. The north side of the country is definitely cheaper than Bangkok and the islands but you will be hard-pressed to spend more than $50 a day. Rooms go for about $6-10 per day and a meal from a local restaurant will run you $5. The picture-perfect islands are even a bargain here, provided you don’t want to stay in a luxury resort. Local buses are cheap, beers are cheap and activities and sightseeing rarely runs you over $15. It is no wonder Thailand remains a hugely popular destination for budget travelers and although many continue to flock here, there is still plenty to explore without being engulfed in the crowds.
Greece has always been a bit of a budget traveler’s paradise when it comes to Europe. The fall of the economy in Greece has only made it more affordable to visit. Whether you are choosing to visit one of the islands or the mainland, there are bargains to be found. In the past few years, tourism has actually been on the decline of this beautiful country and has dragged the low prices even lower. Street vendors will sell you fresh delicious gyros for under $3 where a huge lamb meal complete with local alcohol might run you $10. Hotels and rooms can be as cheap as $20 a night and take local buses to save even more. Stay away from the touristy islands to save on accommodations and meals and choose to visit the roads less traveled.
Peru is one of South America’s liveliest and friendliest countries and it just so happens to be one of the cheapest to travel in. Although most travelers come here for the Inca trail, Peru is absolutely loaded with other things to see and do. Stay in a hostel for around $10 or splurge for a guesthouse that will run you $25 a night. Sit down meals are rarely over $5 and the local intracity buses cost around $1. What costs the most in this country are the activities you do. Book last minute specials when you arrive in Peru to visit Machu Picchu at half price or explore other ruins of Inca destinations for less. Hit the deserted white sand beaches, sail the Amazon and explore a beautiful country full of happy and funny people.
Romania is the perfect country to experience old-world charm at half the price. Although many people associate this country as a decrepit ex-Communist nation, Romania is actually full of awesome things to discover. This Eastern European country offers medieval villages, castles and beautiful countryside. The time to travel here is holiday season which is the low season where you can stay for even cheaper. Expect to pay around $10 for a room and $5 for most meals. Entrance to the museums and galleries are quite cheap at $5-10 and makes for a perfect way to explore the cities. Try to stick to the smaller towns here as the touristy ones can charge double or triple for rooms and meals. If you have always wanted to explore Europe but found the price point to be high, try hitting up Romania for the ultimate European adventure.
The cheapest place to visit in Western Europe is the beautiful and lively country of Portugal. Beaches, wine country, historical cities, and towering cliffs make it an exciting place to discover. Dorm beds can be found for about $20 a night and an even cheaper option is to camp as this country is home to spotless campgrounds located right on the beach. Meals can be a bit pricey and the bigger cities such as Lisbon often offer the most affordable food choices. Lisbon also happens to be one of the most affordable cities to stay in a five-star hotel, just in case you feel like splurging for a night. Take advantage of the free admission days that most cities offer with access to museums and galleries, ride the cheap and efficient public transit systems and enjoy this wonderful country at an extremely low price.
Cambodia is one of the cheapest countries on this list to visit and much like its neighboring country of Thailand it offers rich history, great cuisine, and a good nightlife. This country is also less developed and less explored and therefore comes in even cheaper than Thailand. A fully private room in a typical hostel with air conditioning will only cost you about $8 a night where a typical hotel room with A/C will only run you $15-20. Food is even cheaper, most costing $2 for local food and $6-8 for a more typical Western meal. Even exploring the jungles, the cities, and the ruins won’t cost you a lot. With some of the nicest people around and raw rugged beauty at every turn, it is easy to understand why travelers often call this country their favorite. You will be hard-pressed to spend $50 a day here unless you want to live like a king.
It’s the largest country in Central America but one of the least discovered and therefore extremely cheap to travel in. That is until it becomes more popular like neighboring Costa Rica. For now, though it is easy to make your way through the country experiencing the lively people, colorful towns, surfing, wildlife and volcano trekking that will keep you entertained for weeks and all for the cost of less than $50 a day. Sleep in a hammock for $5 or splurge for a room with a bathroom for $20. Food costs just mere dollars whether you are eating from a street vendor or local restaurant. Getting around is cheap and easy, either by using local buses or hopping in the back of a local truck, an ever-popular choice with locals and visitors alike. Stay away from the touristy area of San Juan del Sur as prices tend to be inflated and there are more beautiful beaches and jungles to the north.
This beautiful chain of islands looks to be expensive with its stunning blue waters and silky sands. But don’t let the pictures fool you. If you can get away from the more touristy places it is actually quite affordable to travel within the country. In fact, it’s the plane ticket to get here that costs so much. The touristy south near Ubud and Kuta are where visitors will want to avoid, as they are full of dirty beaches and overpriced resorts. Head to the rather unexplored areas instead and it is easy to find a room in a hostel or guest house for less than $4 a night. Street food will only cost you a couple of dollars where a restaurant meal may run you $6. For well under $50 a day you will find rice terraces, black and white sand beaches, volcanoes, food markets, and jungles.
India is extremely cheap to travel to and instead of asking how one should survive on $50 a day most people ask how they can do it on $20 a day. Yes, it is possible. Local Indian vegetarian food is the way to stick on budget with the occasional splurge on meat and you can bank on spending no more than $10 a day total on food. Rooms can be found for about $5 a night. Take rickshaws instead of taxis and local buses. The flight to India is definitely the most expensive part about traveling here but once you have arrived, everything else is truly a bargain. With the exchange rate being as it is, changing dollars into rupees is advantageous for the traveler and they are seeing 50% more money to travel with, thus making India one of the best bargain countries on this list.
Turkey is a unique mix of eastern and western culture which visitors should plan on spending at least a few weeks discovering. Luckily it is easy to live on much less than $50 a day here and despite popular beliefs, it’s actually not that expensive to reach. Istanbul happens to be one of the handfuls of cities around the world where airfare bargains are the norm. Hostels will be your most expensive part costing about $20 a night but the quality is high and often includes a wonderful breakfast. Typical food such as kebabs and shawarmas will only cost you about $2. The good news is the buses run frequently and are cheap, offering the chance to explore a lot of this country. Turkey offers spectacular landscapes, delicious food, fantastic sights and plenty of things to do all for the mere price of $50 a day.
With so many reports and studies on the world’s most expensive or most livable cities, we have a refreshing new take on the subject with the least expensive places to live in, housing costs and all. This list is intriguing for adventure travelers and expatriates looking for a nice place to spend a year abroad or even for a warm, safe place to retire. Some places are cheap and nice through circumstances beyond their control, others are inexpensive because they are lousy places to change planes on a layover, let alone spend time living in. But some of the following are diamonds in the rough that you may not have heard of and you’ll definitely want to find out more about. So here is the Dollarama edition of travel destinations.
10. Tbilisi, Georgia
Tbilisi is an obscure place off the beaten path, but not for much longer. It’s said to be the next must-see wine destination. The winemaking tradition here goes back about 4000 years. Strikingly set on cliffs, bisected by a river, the architecture and cuisine of Tbilisi is a crazy, critically-acclaimed fusion of East, West, Russian and Near Eastern. The old city is a beautiful rabbit-warren of narrow streets and alleys. Instead of Starbucks coffee shops, there are wine bars on every corner. The beautiful wine route through stunning scenery is largely unknown – for now. A little apartment just outside town is barely $200 a month. It is a shockingly poor country. Sixty per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. There are signs of better days ahead but still, Tbilisi will remain a memorable place to visit or live at any price.
9. Managua, Nicaragua
Managua is one of those old, down at the heels, completely charming Latin American cities that resembles that past as if time simply stopped moving back in 1962. According to Numbeo, three bedroom apartments downtown can still be had for $466 a month. Or as the legendary Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians sang in a 1946 recording, “Managua, Nicaragua is a beautiful town/You buy a hacienda for a few pesos down”. Actually real estate prices are on the rise as it becomes more popular as a retirement destination and a place for expats to chill for a spell. Always warm, a cultural and financial center and a university town, it has cheap fine-dining, crazy markets, insane traffic, occasional garbage collection, and proximity to some impressive natural beauty. Guidebooks warn about wearing flashy jewelry at night, but the same be said of Cleveland.
8. Cape Town, South Africa
A heavenly alignment of the economic planets for expats as the South African Rand is hitting fifteen year lows with no letup in sight, making one of the world’s great destinations ridiculously affordable. It’s no accident that more people visit Cape Town than the Great Pyramids. The one-bedroom downtown apartment is $600 and a meal at McDonald’s is $3.80. That’s not to suggest you should eat there all the time or even at all, but it is an uncannily accurate reflection of the cost of living. Yes there is crime and the tragic sadness of the Apartheid townships. But they should remind you how far this country has come and that you are truly blessed to see Table Top Mountain as you leave your flat every day. It’s also a great treat to be able to make a quick drive to some of the world’s best vineyards and feel the presence of greatness in Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island.
7. Minsk, Belarus
Poor Minsk needs a little travel lovin’. Its battered economy sinks deeper every day with that of its biggest customer while Russia disintegrates with the effects of sanctions for invading Ukraine and the disappearing price of oil. But even 40 years ago, in his 1975 comedy Love and Death, Woody Allen uses Minsk as the setting for The Village Idiots Convention. It does have its cosmopolitan side but still, it is a virtual police state run by Alexander Lukashenko, a poor man’s Vladimir Putin whose views seem locked in a Cold War era time warp. They make great beer but seriously, when one of the 10 Best Tourist Attractions is the one time home of convicted Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, it makes you think twice about hanging here for long.
6. Banjul, Gambia
Banjul is a little jewel on an island in the Gambia River in The Gambia of which it is the capital. It has a wonderful market, a charming if decrepit old town and only 43,000 people. Stunning beaches. The languorous pace of life that agrarian societies have. Lonely Planet calls it “urban Africa at its best”. Its main economic staple is the growing and processing of peanuts, which is apt since that’s what its currency is worth. The annual per capita Gross Domestic Product is $1700 USD which puts it down there with the likes of North Korea and South Sudan. It can be a nice place, maybe even idyllic, but sometimes abject poverty and the persecution of innocent minorities can take the shine away. A small cost can sometimes come at a high price which might be why the expat community is on the small side here.
5. Skopje, Macedonia
Skopje is a cheap place to live looking at all the comparisons. A pound of chicken is $2.31 and the three-bedroom downtown apartment is $422. Walmart can’t match these prices. Plus it’s just been given a modern facelift though it still has an ancient fortress dating back to the fifth century, a fantastic old bazaar second only to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and breathtaking mountain lakes and canyons nearby. Lonely Planet says it has some of the most affordable dining in Europe. It is two hours and 47 minutes by car to the renowned beaches and nightlife of Thessaloniki in Greece. It does have an unemployment rate of 27%, but this is a travel site you won’t find advertised online. Talk about a hidden gem!
4. Tunis, Tunisia
Recent terrorist attacks, responsibility for which has been claimed by Islamic State militants will wreak havoc on the country’s already fragile economy. At least half a million jobs depend on a tourism sector worth over $20 billion and that should be in past tense. The wonderful beaches and the sublime combination of Arab, French and African influences will be cheaper to experience but expats, especially Westerners, will need an amazing reason to settle there. The U.S. State Department advises “U.S. citizens in Tunisia maintain a high level of vigilance, as terrorism remains a significant concern”. It doesn’t really sound like now is the time or place to look for bargains here, now does it?
3. Karachi, Pakistan
It sounds fantastic with a wealthy industrial, commercial, artistic and financial hub, one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Called the City of Lights for its nonstop nightlife. Close to fabulous beaches on the Arabian Sea. Less than $400 for a three bedroom place in the city. What’s not to like? You can’t help but wonder why it is so cheap. Unfortunately, it is not ideal in terms of deadly heat waves, unsustainable power accessibility and high rates of crime. So, if you can look past these headlines, it’s one of the cheapest places to travel in the world.
2. Windhoek, Namibia
Windhoek is the capital of Namibia and largest city in the country. It has a westernized appearance and wouldn’t look out of place anywhere in North America. Well, except for north of the Tree Line. It is clean, relatively safe, with a stable and occasionally corrupt government it is magically placed in one of the world’s most biodiverse and scenic nations. Numbeo.com says a one-bedroom apartment is $491 a month. Most expats can find work in the booming tourism business or the uranium and diamond mining companies. Main courses at the best African cuisine restaurants start at $8. Talk about a cheap date! Those who have traveled here rave about the ecotourism and safaris throughout gorgeous orange deserts. The New York Times put it at #6 of world’s destinations to see. Decent wine at $4.83? What are we waiting for -grab a wine glass and go!
1. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
At 63 Kyrgyzstani Som to the dollar, a gin and tonic sets you back about a buck and a half while dinner will be five to 10 dollars. If you must, Marlboro’s are 86 cents a pack. According to the Expatistan cost of living chart, the rent for a two bedroom apartment in the expensive part of town is $763 USD. That’s about one-ninth the cost for a similar place in the survey’s most expensive city, Luanda, Angola. Many of the expats who travel here work the gold mines or teach English to students. It’s not the safest place to travel, but when visiting here be sure to take a tour along the legendary Silk Road.
What does it take to climb a volcano? In some cases it takes permits purchased months in advance, technical climbing skills and a paid guide. In other cases one can simply drive right into the volcano, or spend an hour hiking up a moderate hill to reach the top. How about the best volcanoes to hike, how do you determine that? We looked at hundreds of volcanoes and determined the 15 best hikes to take based on a number of factors including ease of access, views from the top, lava activity and the reward factor. From around the world, here are our top 15 choices for the best volcano hikes in the world.
15. Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland
This long but challenging hike takes trekkers through scenic landscapes including snow, ice and ash from the most recent eruptions. The trek starts at sea level and goes all the way to the top through a crevasse riddled glacier and finally to the summit where you can view an enormous crater that was left by past eruptions. Glacier equipment such as crampons are required as you literally will be climbing on ice. If you happen to reach the top on a clear day, expect unbelievable views of half the entire island including glaciers, more volcanoes and the Vestmannaeyjar islands. April to September is the time to go and if you are feeling extra adventurous it is possible to ski back down. The climb can take eight to 10 hours and although challenging, you will certainly feel on top of the world on this glacier volcano.
14. Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
Arenal was one of the most active volcanoes from about 1968 to 2010 and since then has slowed down but this volcano still is known to spit out ash and sometimes even lava. It is classic in shape, being tall and symmetrical and there is no worry about being cold up here. Climbing to the summit of this volcano is actually both illegal and very dangerous, but luckily there are a few worthwhile hikes that are totally legal and still get you up on the mountain. The main trial inside the park is about 5 km in length and takes you through the rain forest with several opportunities to view the peak. Expect lots of wildlife including toucans and monkeys along with explosions from the peak. Expect to hike over old lava flows and hit many viewing areas where you can actually hear the volcano breathing, which is really quite impressive.
13. Mount Fuji, Japan
It is the highest volcano and highest peak in Japan where tourists and locals’ alike swarm to climb this volcano, known as one of the three Holy Mountains. More than 200,000 people a year to be exact. The last eruption of Mount Fuji occurred in 1707 and spread ash as far as what is now Tokyo forming a new crater on the east flank. July to September is the official climbing season where trails and mountain facilities are open. The most popular way to climb this volcano is to climb halfway up to one of the huts, take a break and set off again in the night, reaching the summit for sunrise. Worshipping the sun from the top of Japan’s highest peak creates something of a spiritual experience, no matter if you are religious or not. Avoiding the crowds is not possible on this mountain and some trekkers believe that climbing amongst so many like minded people just adds to the overall experience.
12. Mount Etna, Sicily
The largest active volcano in Europe, Etna soars into the sky often surrounded by mist and steam. Mount Etna is special in that it has this unique relationship with the people that live as the foot of it. They believe that Etna gives them fertile ground by spitting out lava and respect must be granted as it can also take away life. This volcano can be climbed year round and does not require any sort of permit or guide, but it is recommended to be informed about the activity status as it sometimes shuts down to hikers. It has recently come to the attention of many trekkers that the actual summit is unavailable to anyone who doesn’t have a guide, but that fact is up for debate. Plan on seeing solidified rivers of lava, views of the sea and the mainland, provided the top isn’t covered in clouds.
11. Pacaya, Guatemala
You aren’t allowed quite to the top of this volcano but it should be on your list of things to climb for a number of reasons. First up, this trek can be done in half a day, which makes it perfect for someone on a time crunch. Secondly, not only are you climbing on an active volcano but you can actually see a second active volcano nearby and a third that is now a crater lake. The trek begins through lush green foliage and views are of surrounding fields and hills. The trail eventually turns into lava rock and dust, becoming really slippery. This is when it pays to have a walking stick. At the “top” the lava is literally running underneath you and it becomes clear as to why you need shoes with really good soles, they will literally melt. Marshmallows and hot dogs are routinely busted out and cooked over the lava.
10. Mount Vesuvius, Italy
This volcano is known worldwide as being responsible for covering the city of Pompeii with a blanket of ash in 79 A.D., which in turn preserved it until the re-discovery of it in the 1700’s. Since that time this volcano has blew its top more than 30 times throughout history and most recently in 1944. The climb to the summit is the easiest climb on this list and only takes about 30 minutes. It is best done in hiking shoes or running shoes and there is no need to carry any gear with you. What awaits visitors at the top is a stunning panorama of the city, islands and part of the Apennine Mountains. Admission to the volcano actually includes a guided tour of the crater at the top which many climbers are unaware of. You won’t find any spewing lava here but steam is often seen coming out of the crater. On a sunny day expect to see views out to the bay of Naples. If you are wanting to climb a famous volcano and don’t want to worry about tackling snow, steep ridges or carrying gear; this is the one for you.
9. Pinatubo, Philippines
This active volcano is actually located on the island of Luzon in the Philippines and last erupted in 1991, producing one of the most violent eruptions of the 20th century. As of now the volcano is quite quiet and it is the perfect time to summit and enjoy the blue green crater lake that didn’t exist 30 years ago. January is the best time to go as temperatures are at the coolest and the lake color at its finest. The one day trek is actually quite easy as a 4X4 will take you part of the way. The trek is done within a few hours at a moderate incline. If one desires it is actually possible to pitch a tent at the summit and spend the night, an outhouse is even provided at the top. Hikers will make their way up the path, passing sandy cliffs along the way as well as small tribes of indigenous people.
8. Kilauea, Hawaii
Located on the Big Island, Kilauea is the world’s most active volcano and one of the most easily accessible. In the 20th century alone this volcano has erupted on 45 separate occasions with the most recent eruption beginning in 1983. To date this eruption continues and has spewed over 32 billion cubic yards of lava, forever changing the landscape. You can actually drive into this volcano, but hiking throughout is most recommended as it’s one of the only places on earth you can literally walk through an active volcano. Walking around Crater Rim Drive is one of the most popular activities as you can witness lava oozing out of it, witness steam vents and walk across the land that is only a few days old. There are numerous hiking trails throughout and although one can’t plan a visit around when and where to see the lava, helpful guides at the visitors center will point you in the right direction.
7. Mount Stromboli, Aeolian Islands
Hiking up this volcano is only permitted with a guide and there is a strict limit on how many people are allowed to visit the crater each day, thus make sure to book your trip in advance. The trip to the top isn’t for the faint of heart and will take anywhere from two to four hours to reach the summit. The most popular time to reach the top is at nighttime and thus more tours leave around 4 pm. A gentle incline awaits hikers at first, taking you through lush vegetation. It quickly becomes steeper and one should expect to walk through volcanic sand that is strewn with black rocks. There are actually three craters at the top that billow out steam and smoke, making strange gurgling sounds. The light show at the top is what everyone waits for though as the craters explode with red fiery sparks, shooting high into the air.
6. Mount Bromo, Indonesia
Indonesia is home to over 100 active volcanoes and daily earthquakes, making it a popular place for adrenaline junkies and hikers alike. Although Mount Bromo isn’t the tallest of the active volcanoes in Indonesia, it is the most visited and is quite easily accessible. The volcano has a constant stream of white smoke coming out of it, reminding visitors that it could explode at any time. Getting to the summit is easy without a guide and is best done in time to see the sunrise, meaning a 3 am wake up call is necessary. The well-defined path up should only take you an hour or so. An interesting fact about this volcano is that the Tengger people believe that in order to appease the Gods here they must offer food and money to them by throwing it into the crater of the volcano during the annual Kasada festival.
5. Cotopaxi, Ecuador
It is the second highest peak in Ecuador, lovely looking with its white snow and cone shape. This trek is not for inexperienced hikers though as it is more of a mountain climb than just a hike up the side. In the 18th and 19th century this volcano had a violent spell but now it is mostly just a plume of steam that comes out the top and melts its glacier surroundings. To get here most climbers take a 4X4 up to the border of the national park. They then climb with their guide up to a mountain hut and spend the night, summiting the next morning. It is currently illegal to climb to the summit without a guide and recent signs of eruption have limited the climbing that is allowed. If you have the chance though, summiting the world’s third highest active volcano is certainly something to put on the bucket list.
4. Mont Pelee, Martinique
In 1902 this dramatic volcano erupted and destroyed the entire town of St. Pierre killing about 30,000 people. Luckily since then you can climb this volcano without worries and without tourists at every bend in the trail. Being an integral part of France, visitors climbing here face no red tape or fees but will need some French to get by as English is not widely spoken. Because of the immense vegetation on the island there are three established routes that trekkers can take. The most popular of these is the Aileron Route as it is a well-constructed and wonderfully varied trail. Climbing before dawn is recommended as the clouds roll in day after day just after dawn and prohibit hikers from the magical views that await. Gorgeous lush green vegetation, flowering plants and jagged peaks surprise visitors along the way of this volcano that really looks nothing like the grey, lava strewn volcanoes you are used to.
3. Telica Volcano, Nicaragua
Nicaragua is full of volcanoes, both dormant and active and it can be hard to choose which one to climb but we highly suggest heading to Telica. The majority of the way up tends to be flat, through farm lands and over dirt roads. It is only the last hour or two where you finally start to hike to the top. The best season for climbing this mountain is up for debate as the dry season tends to be hot whereas the rainy season can make the lava harder to witness. Camping at the top of Telica is one of the most popular trips to do as seeing the lava at night is something special and the sunrise in the morning is truly spectacular. The lava is below the crater rim at a depth of about 120 meters and visitors should expect to have to lie down on their stomachs to look into the crater.
2. Mount Aso, Japan
It is Japan’s largest active volcano and climbing it is certainly an adventure that should be on the top of your bucket list. There are three trails you can use to get up to the summit, with one of them not actually leading up to the volcano (hint: do not take the left trail). The hike itself can take anywhere from an hour or three depending on which trail and how many stops you take along the way. There are actually five separate volcanic peaks here and Mt. Nakadake is the most active spewing a constant stream of sulfuric gas from its peak. If you are feeling really lazy and still want to get to the top of the volcano, there is a choice of two cable cars that will get you there.
1. Mount St Helens, United States
It is mandatory to have a permit to hike this active volcano, no matter what time of year and there are only a number of permits that are handed out each year if you want to make it to the top of the crater. Although it is not a technical climb it is strenuous and presents hazards such as ice, loose boulders and fast-changing weather. The scene at the top is what people climb for an it has been described as ‘surreal, unbelievable and awe-inspiring’. A huge crater with a dome that grows in size each year and has a horseshoe glacier around it, not to mention incredible views of Mount Adams, Mount Hood and Mount Rainier, as well as the blue green hills that surround them are all sights to take in from the top. This is truly one of the best volcano hikes in the world and must be at the top of your list to climb.
Nicaragua is just recently becoming one of the hottest new destinations for tourists in Central America. It has been kept under the radar in the past, shadowed by the more developed country of Costa Rica. Fortunately for visitors looking to give Nicaragua a chance, it will not disappoint in terms of things to see and do. From the amazing Caribbean waters of the Corn Islands to the nesting sea turtles to the lush jungles and towering volcanoes; there is no shortage of incredible natural wonders to explore. Whether you are looking for an adrenaline packed vacation or something a little more relaxing, here are 10 incredible things to see and do in Nicaragua.
10. Explore Granada
Many travelers love to use this colonial city as their home base when exploring the country. The city is breathtaking with pastel colored buildings, historic churches and cobblestone streets. Its interesting history and the fact that it is relatively safe draws a lot of tourists here. There are multiple forms of transportation to get around town, including horse drawn carriages, but luckily most attractions here can be reached by foot. Mombacho Volcano is located just outside of town and offers activities such as canopy tours, hikes and a few hot springs. Other visitors here like to take a boat out to the Granada Islets, horseback ride around the farms at the base of the volcano or visit one of the cigar lounges. Making this city your home base ensures there is enough to do within footing, yet still gives you access to many day trips, it’s the perfect combination for your trip.
9. Visit the Turtles
There are several beaches in this country where the sea turtles arrive to lay their eggs, sometimes in droves of hundreds. It occurs several times throughout the year and Nicaragua is one of the few places in the world where visitors can witness this amazing event. On the pacific side, the two beaches to see this incredible event are La Flor and Chacocente. They are both dedicated wildlife refuges and under constant supervision. These beaches can be reached by both public transportation or guided tour. On the Caribbean side there is no particular beach to seek out as the turtles here live and feed all year round and therefore can be seen along the entire coast. If you choose to visit the turtles in nesting season or hatching season please respect them by keeping your distance and following all guidelines and rules set out by the guides.
8. Go Volcano Boarding
Volcano boarding is a fairly new sport for the adrenaline seeking junkies that visit this country. Cerro Negro, the small active volcano is the perfect spot to try this sport. Many tour operators out of Leon offer this thrilling experience where you strap a board or sled onto your back and head up the volcano. Hiking to the top takes less than an hour and then the fun begins. The companies provide protective gear such as knee and elbow pads, as well as goggles and jumpsuits. With the choice of boarding down like a snowboard or sitting and sledding down, visitors will fly down the black rocks and try this once in a lifetime opportunity. It is up to you how fast you want to go but we suggest giving it your all as you only get one shot at it. Nowhere else in the world can you experience the thrill of sliding down an active volcano.
7. Experience Miraflor National Park
This unique national reserve features three different climates and a variety of flora and fauna spread throughout. One of the most impressive features of this reserve is the variety of orchids; there are over 200 species throughout the park. These orchids not only grow in their typical flowering plants, but also on the ground and between the rocks. Nine communities are housed on the reserve and offer visitors a unique way to stay. Farmers open their doors to tourists and invite you to stay with a family, learning about life in the Miraflor National Park and the landscape that surrounds them. Wander through cloud forests, rivers and waterfalls during your excursion to this incredible diverse park. Whether you go for just a day or stay a few with a local family, the park will not disappoint.
6. Explore Leon
Leon is a colonial city full of breathtaking churches, incredible art collections, happening nightlife and colorful colonial architecture. A lot of visitors come here just to experience Volcano boarding, but end up loving the actual city itself. Walking is the transit of choice to get around town and plan on stopping in to check out one of the 13 churches. Leon is not as well preserved as Granada and tends to be less touristy, perhaps even more authentic with bullet holes still present in many of the buildings. There are a ton of volunteer opportunities in this city as well as many non-profit organizations that lead tours and treks to the nearby natural wonders; giving back to the community.
5. Visit the Granada Islets
Located in Lake Nicaragua are 365 islands scattered off the coast of Granada, the result of Mombacho Volcano blowing its lid years ago. The islands are covered in lush green vegetation and many are occupied by private individuals with vacation homes. Taking a boat tour around the islands is perhaps the best way to explore them and many tours are available from Granada. The bird population here includes cormorants, herons, parrots, hawks and vultures. The monkey island is one of the most popular islands here as the boat can pull up close enough for visitors to reach out and feed them. The monkeys happen to be gentle and love to interact with people. Most of the guides are well informed and will talk to you about the history of the islands, the different architecture and the lake itself.
4. Surf in San Juan del Sur
Surfers from all over the world are learning about this incredible surfing location yet it still remains largely less crowded than its neighbor Costa Rica. With over 300 days of offshore winds, there are plenty of swells year round for both beginners and experts. The beach town of San Juan del Sur is the perfect place to call home while you explore the surrounding beaches as it is loaded with restaurants, accommodations and other travelers. One of the most popular beaches for surfing is Playa Maderas, it features a consistent sand bottom beach break and is only 15 minutes from the town. Surf camps are plentiful on this beach and beginners will have no problem finding someone to give them lessons. If you are looking to head out on a boat and find the ultimate wave, join a group going to Colorado where the river mouth beach break provides some of the most incredible barreling rights.
3. Hike a Volcano
This country is often referred to as the country of Lakes and Volcanoes and it would be a shame to visit here without summiting on one of the many volcanoes. There is an impressive line of volcanoes that run north to south and offer everything from crater lakes on top of the volcano, active lava and bellowing smoke that pours out. San Cristóbal Volcano is the highest most active volcano in the country and exhibits some of the characteristics we most associate with volcanoes, cone-shape, smoking and a gigantic stature that towers over the landscape. It is one of the hardest but most rewarding climbs in the country. For something a little easier, head to Masaya Volcano, the most accessible one in the country. Here visitors can drive up to the smoking Santiago Crater where white gas pours out of the top. A national park has been erected around this volcano and visitors can hike to numerous summits and even visit a bat cave.
2. Escape to the Corn Islands
If you are looking for a laid back island complete with palm trees, soft silky white sand and stunningly clear water teeming with marine life; the Corn Islands is where you will want to head. Big Corn and Little Corn are named respectively for their size and for those looking for the ultimate peace and quiet, Little Corn is perfect. With no cars allowed on the island, a handful of restaurants, accommodations and two dive shops; this is the perfect home base for snorkelers and scuba divers. Big Corn on the other hand offers a plentiful variety of restaurants, accommodations, nightlife and more amenities. A short plane ride from the capital city of Managua or a ferry from Blue Corn will get you out to these incredible islands in no time. Eat, relax, swim and dive – these are the four major ways to pass the time here.
1. Visit Ometepe Island
This island in Lake Nicaragua never fails to impress visitors with its towering volcanoes that rise dramatically out of the lake. This island has been largely untouched by tourism, offering pristine wildlife, wide beaches, clean waters, a handful of archeological sites and may just be a traveler’s paradise. It is often thought of as the “oasis of peace” and is considered one of the great rock areas of the world due to the number of petroglyphs and stone carvings that have been carved into its boulders. Visitors here can wander the many beaches, stay in adorable B&B’s, climb one of its two volcanoes, bike around the island, take a dip in the natural springs and much more. Visiting Ometepe should be on the top of your list for an unforgettable destination in this wonderful country.
Owning your own private island is the ultimate dream for many people. Lucky for them, it no longer has to be just a dream. If you happen to have a few million sitting around in the bank it is actually quite easy to buy an island. Don’t despair if you don’t have quite a million dollars though, there are actually some affordable islands for sale across the globe. What are you waiting for? Empty out the bank account and go buy one of these 10 private islands that are for sale right now!
10. Pink Pearl Island -Nicaragua
If you have ever wanted to own an island and make money doing it, Pink Pearl Island may be for you. Located just 3 miles off Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast, the area is known for its excellent diving and sport fishing. The island is currently operating as a tourism business but can be turned into your own private residence easily. It features a cylinder main house, three cabanas, a fisherman style shack and a bar/restaurant. The best part about this island may just be the absence of mosquitoes and sand flies. Throw in a heart shaped swimming pool with a fresh water pump, stunning ocean views, a pier to dock your boat and its own well to supply water and you have yourself a pretty amazing slice of paradise. Did we happen to mention that the owners of this island are also throwing in their 25 foot, 150 horsepower speedboat in?
9. Mccaffrey Island -Oregon, USA
If you would prefer to purchase an island a little closer to home, Mccaffrey Island may be just what you are looking for. Listed at $1.25 million this island comes complete with a gorgeous five bedroom house, sandy beach and its own well. It is located on the Yaquina River only 6 miles by boat to the open ocean. The island features apple trees which the deer frequently visit, a covered deck, complete with a fire pit and the most gorgeous scenery and sunsets. The island was truly built to be enjoyed by people who love nature and are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but with the conveniences making it feel like home.
8. Nukudrau Island -Fiji
This island is located in the largest bay in the Southern Hemisphere, Natewa Bay and surrounded by crystal clear waters of the South Pacific. It is an undeveloped island currently separated into 25 individual lots, letting buyers decide whether to keep the island to themselves or develop into a resort. What surrounds this island is simply magical; amazing snorkeling, diving, fishing and a resident pod of dolphins that will delight you. This blank canvas allows your imagination to run wild and if you have big enough pockets, you could build your dream home. The seven peaks that rise up out of the sea on this island are the perfect spot to build on. The island is a total of 46 acres and the price unfortunately is not listed, so if you are serious about owning this island it is best to contact the seller.
7. Pate Island -Ontario, Canada
All you will need to bring to this island is your groceries as the home; all its furnishing and appliances are being sold along with the island. Located on Georgian Bay in Ontario this island is 4.5 acres and offers some of the best sunset views in the whole country. The house is a three bedroom, two bathroom cottage style, complete with a stone fireplace, open concept kitchen and cedar wraparound porch. The far end of the island boasts a sheltered harbor that features a boathouse and ‘U” shaped docking pier. All the docks lead to deep clean water and the scenery surrounding this island makes it easy to understand why people love the area. The price tag is currently at $1.3 million and once you see this island, you will understand why.
6. Pumpkin Key -Florida, USA
If you want to go all out and spend a hundred million dollars; this would be the island to buy. Pumpkin Key is located in the Florida Keys and just a short boat ride away from Key Largo or helicopter ride to Miami. This private island is a total of 26 acres and includes one main house, a dock masters cabin and two caretaker cottages. It also happens to have tennis courts and golf cart paths throughout. This island is surrounded with ocean that is teeming with marine life such as dolphins, sport fish and lobsters. World renowned snorkeling, scuba diving and sport fishing is just outside the doors. Buying this island also means access to Ocean Reef, a private and prestigious club that offers dining, shopping and its own private airstrip.
5. Mowgli Island -British Columbia, Canada
If you aren’t keen about hurricane season, tropical weather and too much sunshine; there is still an island for you. Located within the Southern Gulf Islands sits Mowgli Island; a nine acre gem that will quickly get snatched up. This island features sandy beaches, an ‘L’ shaped dock for year round mooring of vessels and an incredible house. The house features four impressive bedrooms and a separate bunkhouse for guests, as well as 1,000 square feet of deck that surrounds the house. It is nestled right into the trees and features many windows allowing for the most natural light to shine through. A pier extends into the water and many different shorelines can be explored. Impressive scenery, an award winning house and a beautiful country; what more could you ask for.
4. Temple Island -Queensland, Australia
Coming in just shy of a million dollars, this property was reduced for quick sale and is expected to be swiped any day now. Situated about two miles off the coast of Queensland, this island offers everything you need. A private airstrip making it easy to get to, a four bedroom home set on top the highest vantage point on the island and white sand beaches. Temple Island is home to sea turtles during nesting season, plenty of orchids, rainforest and a slew of oyster whales. They will even throw in the 1986 Range Rover that is on the island; although we cannot be sure if it still works or not. One of the best deals in Australia is Temple Island coming in at $850,000. Scoop this island up before it’s too late.
3. Isla Paloma -Panama
For just $400,000 dollars you can be the owner of the quarter acre Isla Paloma, located just off the northern shore of Panama. The island is located in calm waters, surrounded by barrier islands and comes complete with a house already on it. It features a white sandy beach, and is surrounded by a shallow lagoon. Views are of the mountains, oceans and incredible sunsets. The house is completely furnished and features two bedrooms plus a loft and is move-in ready. Did we mention this island also features a party shack, boathouse and swim dock. It also boasts that it is spider and snake free due to its size and proximity to other islands. The only things you will find here are colorful exotic birds and a couple of local geckos. The only question here is why hasn’t someone snatched up this amazing island already?
2. Jewel Caye -Belize
This 2+ acre private island is currently on the market for $3.15 million. This pristine islands sits smack down in the midst of the azure waters of the Cockney Range Area. It is home to two master houses, one on each side of the island and each over 2,000 square feet. Both have lofts and tons of balcony space; perfect for family and friends. Two more duplexes and a total of three homes for crew are also located on this island. But that is not all. Along with plenty of space for visitors this island is home to a 120 foot pier that stretches out over the water and opens up to the main kitchen, bar and convening area. Step off the ladder into the clear waters that are loaded with visible coral, a snorkeler’s paradise. The island is also equipped with WiFi, satellite TV and electrical systems powered by solar panels. This island truly leaves no stone unturned.
1. Johnny’s Cay -Bahamas
This island paradise is 4.46 acres and can be yours for the price of just $5.95 million. It is also located just a seven minute boat ride away from all the conveniences of Hope Town. There are two houses already on this island, a main house that boasts an open concept layout with high ceilings, large windows and two bedrooms alongside a guest house with an extra two bedrooms for visitors. Two white sandy beaches provide ample room to stretch out and relax and enjoy the calm, deep and protected waters. A man built marina is already on-site, perfect for parking your boat. Ocean views, water sports and a private island to yourself, what more could anyone need.
As 2014 has started to wind down, no doubt many of us are already looking ahead and planning those vacations for the coming year. If you’ve been having trouble deciding just where you want to cross off your travel bucket list next, check out this list of the top countries to visit in 2015 as per Lonely Planet’s new guidebook; ‘Best in Travel 2015’. All countries were reportedly chosen for their “topicality, unique experiences and ‘wow’ factor”.
Lonely Planet describes Morocco as one of the most diverse countries in Africa and we agree with this choice given the countries array of ancient cities, vast dessert landscapes and rough coastline. With 9 UNESCO World Heritage listings, the history in this country is rich and opportunities for exploration are endless.
9. St Lucia
While most noted for its abundance of luxury beach resorts, St Lucia has so much more to offer outside the obvious (not that being waited on hand and foot in paradise is a bad thing). While beaches are definitely the top attraction of this Caribbean island, there’s also amazing rainforest adventures to be had along with unique markets, bazaars and tiny beach towns to be explored.
8. The Philippines
Lonely Planet states that the placement of The Philippines in this list is long overdue. With beautiful white sand beaches, picturesque coastlines and enchanting coral reefs it’s much more of a vacation destination that you might think. The country is also known for its love of food, music and street festivals creating an almost carnival like atmosphere.
While many European destinations are notoriously pricey, Serbia makes the top 10 for its amazing value for money and was called one of “Europe’s best kept secrets” by the travel guide. The countries ‘Exit Festival’ was also just named ‘Best Major European Festival’ at the European Festival Awards. The nightclubs in Belgrade are also said to rival those of major party meccas like Ibiza and Berlin. Now is this time to check out this value destination because now that word is out, the crowds will be coming.
6. Republic of Congo
Quite possibly the biggest surprise on this list, the Republic of Congo comes in 6th place, ahead of some clear vacation favorites like St. Lucia. Along the reasons for this are improved tourism infrastructure, better roads and new safari attractions with chances to see gorillas and elephants in the wild. This country is also packed with dense barely touched rainforest making it a nature lover’s dream destination.
Coming in 5th in this group, Ireland can almost certainly look forward to a boost in tourism in 2015 as a result of this ranking. The influential guidebook calls Ireland “stunningly scenic” and “the real deal”. It’s true, as the traditions of music, dance, beer, whiskey and food are firmly rooted and just waiting for enthusiastic travelers to come experience.
With a resurgence of travel to Central America in recent years it’s no surprise to see one of these Latin American Gems on this list. Nicaragua, once best known for its political turmoil and civil unrest has come a long way to become a recognized tourist destination. Along with wild jungle landscapes, you’ll find vibrant cities and some amazing food. The country has also become a premier destination for eco-tourism, one of the hottest trends in the industry.
Another one of Europe’s hidden gems, Lithuania comes in number 3 on the Lonely Planet rankings for being a “rebellious, quirky and vibrant” country. Located on the majestic Baltic Sea the country is full of history, scenery, and mystery. With other popular European tourist destinations becoming increasingly more crowded, you can be sure you’re going to start hearing about Lithuania a lot more.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary of independence in 2015, Namibia is the second African country to make this year’s list. While the Congo was recognized for its rugged wilderness, Namibia is being included for its progress in sustainable development. The country is even the first in Africa to include environmental protection in its constitution. With loss of habitat being a global theme, now is the time to support a country who takes the opposite stance.
Landing in first place and making its debut in the top 10 list, Singapore is clearly a travel destination on the rise. Influential factors for this choice were reportedly the many new developments within the country like a number of new luxury hotels, and attractions like the Singapore Sports Hub and the soon to open National Art Gallery. Increasing in popularity are also the countries high fashion scene and wide array of high end shopping centers. Couple these with the fact that in 2015 the country celebrates its 50th anniversary of independence and we agree that Singapore is a must visit for the coming year.