OFF THE TOURIST TRAIL: 11 WEIRD AND WONDERFUL TRAVEL ADVENTURES
Secret Compass lead expeditions to the most exciting locations on the planet and embrace the ‘off the beaten track’ ethos. We asked them to put together some of the world’s most remote and intriguing destinations that will take you off the tourist trail to experience something truly unique. So go on, awaken your adventurous spirit and feel the wanderlust…
Where: Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor
Why: It’s a remote and inaccessible finger of land in one of the world’s most notorious countries, yet its rugged landscape is as beautiful as it is unforgiving.
What: Travel between nomadic yurt villages by yak or on foot and enjoy the warm hospitality of the Wakhi and Kyrgyz people, perhaps enjoying a game of Buzkashi on the plains.
Where: Kamchatka, Siberia
Why: Russia’s wildest and most remote peninsula is home to bears, active volcanoes, secret military bases, dawn summits and searing Siberian sunsets.
What: With limited infrastructure, trekking is the only way to witness the wild beauty of Kamchatka and to experience all it has to offer.
Where: Kyrgyzstan’s Talas Range
Why: Steeped in history and home to semi-nomadic shepherding communities, the Talas Range is a truly isolated wilderness scattered with pine forests, pristine mountain lakes and high mountain passes.
What: A mixture of footpaths, jeep tracks and virgin terrain makes the Talas an exciting and truly exploratory trekking or mountain biking destination.
Where: Egypt’s Sinai desert
Why: The rugged mountains of the Sinai are made up of different mineral layers that contrast spectacularly with golden sand and blue skies. Trees and lush oases provide a beautiful surprise in a region dotted with local Bedouin tribes.
What: Immerse yourself in the solitude of the Sinai on a nomadic desert crossing. Navigate by the stars, eat what nature lays in your path and wear the traditional clothes of the nomads met en route.
Where: Namibia’s Kalahari desert
Why: One of Africa’s lesser-known safari destinations, the relatively high levels of rainfall in Namibia’s second desert (the first being the Namib) make the landscape one of small red dunes, grasslands and abundant animal and plant life.
What: Join a foraging expedition with the San Bushmen and learn how to read the land, identify the flora and fauna around you and understand, track and move around big game.
Why: Home to the ancient city of Erbil, Kurdistan is packed with exquisite mosques and hectic bazaars. It also boasts incredible landscapes filled with stone age caves, lush valleys and a culture of friendship and nobility untouched touched by decades of persecution.
What: Go trekking in the sacred Zagros Mountains and climb Mount Halgurd, the highest peak within Iraq. Stay with local families to experience their generous hospitality and traditional way of life.
Where: Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains
Why: Massive erosion on the Ethiopian plateau has created one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, with jagged mountain peaks and deep valleys to rival Arizona’s Grand Canyon. With a unique ecosystem, the Simiens are currently a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What: A network of paths hewn by centuries of travel connects the villages dotted throughout the mountains. These offer fantastic and challenging trekking and mountain biking opportunities.
Where: Panama’s Darien Gap
Why: The only break in the 30,000 mile Pan-American highway, the notorious Darien Gap is a 50-mile wide stretch of rainforest and swampland that separates North and South America. Its impenetrable jungle evokes a sense of Indiana Jones-styled adventure like nowhere else.
What: Uncover 5,000 year-old petroglyphs (stone carvings), spot exotic wildlife and meet the elusive Embera Indians on an expedition deep into the jungle.
Where: Burma’s Sagaing region
Why: The Sagaing region of northwest Burma – renowned for its head hunting practices until the 1960s – is a remote region in a country that has in the past been off-limits to visitors. Sagaing remains isolated from the rest of the country and is considered a secret garden of incredible beauty.
What: Support the area’s fledgling tourist economy by exploring forests, valleys and villages with local tribes and climbing Mount Saramati: South East Asia’s highest mountain.
Where: Iran’s Lut desert / Dasht-e-Lut
Why: Kaluts, star dunes, meteorites and salt plains – this vast wilderness is home to a plethora of magnificent geological phenomena as well as a rich and ancient history.
What: Follow in the footsteps of Thesiger and Marco Polo on a desert traverse that transects the Great Silk Road on the way to Kerman, one of Iran’s oldest cities and once the staging point for traders passing between Persia and the Indian Subcontinent.
Where: Armenia’s Southern Highlands
Why: The monastery-pocked highlands of Armenia hold much significance in the country’s turbulent history, hosting UNESCO protected monasteries dating back nearly 2,000 years and abandoned Soviet infrastructure nestled amid forests and plateaux.
What: Join a trek to reach the magical Tatev Monastery, teetering high on the side of the Vorotan gorge, or summit one of Armenia’s rarely climbed peaks: Mount Khustup (3206m) and Mount Aramazd (3392m).
Imogen Prince, Secret Compass
Imogen has driven a tuk-tuk in India, kayaked with dolphins in New Zealand, and mountain biked down a volcano in Peru. Back in the UK she spends her time at Secret Compass, a pioneering expedition company that creates unique experiences for adventurers around the world (those listed above to name a few). To find out more about our partnership and its benefits visit Secret Compass.