Travel and tourism has turned from being a luxury to almost a necessity, especially since the millennial generation has entered the work force. Focus has shifted from being a homeowner, for instance, to being a globetrotter with “wanderlust” tattoos crowding Pinterest, and skin, alike. There are few places on the planet that haven’t been hit by this maelstrom of travellers, but they do exist. So, if you want to take your wanderlust just a little further, these places might just be perfect for you.
Marble Caves, Patagonia, Chile
Cuevas de Mármol—or marble caves—in the Patagonian Andes can change the way you view their usually damp and dark counterparts. The white, green and blue swirls decorating these caves were formed by thousands of years of a glacial lake's—General Carrera—water crashing against the calcium carbonate rocks. The colours of the caves change with the changing seasons and water levels to create the illusion of living art. The enchanting hues of the water here in Chile Chico, on the border of Chile and Argentina, are perfect for kayaking expeditions, and you can also spend a night by the turquoise waters. If this doesn’t sound like a dream, we don’t know what does.
São Tomé and Príncipe
When thinking of travelling to Africa, make sure to add this two-island nation—the continent’s second smallest—to your bucket list for some peace and quiet in nature’s surreal beauty. Set on the Gulf of Guinea in west Africa, this almost equatorial country’s natural bounty of endemic flora and fauna surpasses most others. The once-expansive coffee plantations have been overrun by orchids, begonias, and other plant species and lots of colourful birds, making it a must-visit for all birding enthusiasts. The small, volcanic island of Príncipe has been deemed a Unesco Biosphere Reserve and boasts new discoveries of fauna and flora pretty much on a regular basis.
Anegada, British Virgin Islands
This barely-above sea level island is probably as close as you can go without actually going underwater. The “drowned island”—in Spanish—has a population of about 300 people and you’d be hard-pressed to find tourists cluttering its pristine beaches. The island is perfect for snorkeling expeditions, surrounded by coral reefs, and the third largest Caribbean barrier reef. This sleepy town is largely untouched by crowds—although not for long, be warned—and the interiors mostly comprise of salt marshes. Embrace nature here in the midst of sea turtles and rosy flamingos, and leave the hustle-bustle of everyday life behind to gorge on local seafood in Anegada’s spiritual lull.
Asia’s newest country, Timor Leste, has put on offer everything you’d wish for in a quiet escape. Still unknown to most tourists, this nation gives you the opportunity to deep dive into untouched coral reefs, spot whale-tailed dugongs, or hike up mountains through village markets and jungle caves to see exactly what it feels like to be in the midst of nature’s best. Also known as East Timor, Timor Leste was established in 2002 and is rapidly gaining popularity among fitness junkies to test how far they can go. The hills and mountain roads make for the perfect training ground for mountain biker stage races and dirt track adventures through the wilderness with little to no traffic.
Ever heard of a place with absolutely no traffic lights? Welcome to Nunavut, in Canada. The country’s newest territory, Nunavut is also the largest making up about a fifth of Canada’s total land mass. Not surprising that it’s also the world’s northernmost permanently inhabited place. The territory has hardly 32 kilometres of paved roads and inhabitants use planes, boats and snowmobiles to get by. The arctic Baffin Island—the world’s largest—is one of the biggest draws for Nunavut, as it a stomping ground for stark fjords, crystal clear lakes, polar bears, and narwhals. During certain days of the year, the sun rises in Nunavut as late as 9.25am and sets as early as 1.40pm. And of course, winter nights are often lit up by the aurora borealis, in case you were wondering.
Coober Pedy, Australia
There is a town in southern Australia where nearly 80 per cent of the inhabitants live underground. No, we are not talking about running from the cops. We mean they actually under the ground. Coober Pedy is an early and fascinating glimpse into what a post-apocalyptic wasteland could look like. The scorching temperatures have led to the residents of this subterranean community living in “holes” or “dugouts” under the sandstone where the temperature remains cool even during the hottest days. Interestingly, nearly 70 per cent of opals mined anywhere in the world are around Coober Pedy.