Travel websites abound with their best-of lists and favorite things to do in virtually every country globally. However, some people prefer to avoid this trodden path and the herd of list-ticking tourists. A recent online question asks these adventure disciples to step forward and share their favorite off-the-map destinations with us. Here are ten of the most incredible responses.
As much as I don’t like seeing this on any tourism list, there is no stopping the influx of adventurers who need to tick the South Polar ice cap off their list. “Antarctica,” jokes one commenter. “When the wildlife doesn’t fear you, you have gone far enough.”
2. Norilsk, Siberia
“Hell on Earth,” spews someone with grim memories of this location up in the north of Russia. “Was there for work,” he adds. “You couldn’t pay me enough to return.” The largest city built on permafrost in the Arctic, Norilsk is a closed industrial city where metal ore smelting is the main economy. “I horked up black phlegm for ages afterward,” comments another critic.
3. Son Doong Caves, Vietnam
Getting to the world’s largest cave isn’t for the faint-hearted — it takes a couple of gut-wrenching days through grueling terrain. During this time, you must scale 90m calcite walls, swim underground rivers, and trek through 9km of caves to reach Son Doong’s magical vistas and natural secrets. The cave is so large you can parachute into it.
4. Svalbard, Norway
“Did part of my honeymoon on Svalbard,” boast one intrepid commenter. With many bear attack incidents each year, this adventurer’s paradise comes with risks. Getting to the Norwegian archipelago is only possible by plane unless you are part of an expedition and have permission to sail there. One can only imagine that journey!
Hidden away within the borders of its huge neighbor, South Africa, Lesotho gets mentioned throughout the thread. Famous for its mythical Maletsunyane Falls, some people rave about visiting this lesser-known kingdom nation in eastern South Africa. “I had to walk barefoot through 3km of mud and water, but it was worth it!” recalls a fan who braved the falls.
6. The Great Wall of China
This choice only applies to the nether regions of the world-famous Unesco site — if you hit the tourist-heavy sections nearer Beijing, it can be chaotic. Commenting on a hike at an old, unrestored section, one contributor says, “Two of us gave up and went back. It was so windy any misstep meant death.”
7. East Timor
This tropical outpost at the eastern end of Indonesia is more famous for its political unrest than being a paradise. Nowadays, it is stable and makes a good spot for more adventurous types. “My friends and I drove motorcycles through the whole country,” shares an advocate. “There were so many hiking trails as well.”
8. Socotra, Yemen
Few people realize Yemen has its own tropical island tucked away in the Indian Ocean. Being asked how their trip to Socotra was, a discussion member replies: “Transcendental. No hyperbole.” Photos of Socotra show aquamarine waters, white sand beaches, and all the wild traits of an unspoiled paradise.
Tanzania has a tourist trade, of course. Mount Kilimanjaro draws thousands of hardened height lovers yearly, and the country’s safaris are legendary. One responder broke their silence with a story about volunteering at a remote monastery. “Bats were hanging from one corner of my room,” they recall, “and they flew in and out of my room all night.”
10. Pitcairn Islands
“It’s 50 people living on an island 2500km from nowhere,” says our final narrator. “No dock, no airport, no scheduled transportation.” The only way to get to this South Pacific British territory is by “whaleboat if your sea permits.” It takes a week to arrive from Tahiti and sounds like a journey for those who love solitude — a lot.
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