Unusual vacation destinations


The travel media clamber every year to find the next destination. THE next place to vacation. What’s too cool when not at school. At Responsible Travel we always have our eye on countries, regions, islands and highlands which are new and unusual because they have made their mark in the responsible travel movement. They are different and unusual because they are putting a cap on the mass tourism maelstrom. Or they are starting out in a destination that is new to the ever growing world of tourism, and are striving to do so in a way that respects local culture, supports community income and offers exciting experiences like nowhere else.
Unusual vacation destinations all have a few things in common, however. They go off the tourist trail, beyond the mass tourism machine and into places that take us out of our comfort zones. Such as spending the nights in Indian homestays, pushing ourselves up mountains on bikes in order to have the most memorable lunch ever, or trekking through the Atlas Mountains with nomads as they lead their families and livestock up to higher pastures for the summer. Here are just three suggestions for unusual vacation destinations to whet your appetite.


It might be Outer Mongolia, but it is also out of this world. A trip to Mongolia represents the ultimate adventure and a chance to experience true wilderness. People sometimes misconceive Mongolia’s wilderness for desolate wasteland; it isn’t. Instead, it is an entire country of undiscovered beauty – a sea of rolling steppe, unimpeded but for the shadow of clouds for miles; a collision of mountains, forest and snow-capped peaks; and a vast golden desert of towering sand dunes and camps below the stars. There are more horses than people in Mongolia, and five times as many sheep and goats; it has almost nothing man-made to attract tourists and is an outdoor country with a strong personality. Where else can you go for Ghengis Khan warrior training? Says it all, really.


The unusual story behind Montenegro is that it is so much more about mountains than beaches. Yes, there are beaches, but in this tiny country, there are 63 peaks reaching heights of over 1,800m, all protected by five national parks. And with mountains come waterfalls, wine producers, white water rafting, and lakes. In particular, Lake Skadar, a 400km² natural playground for kayaking, wild swimming and wildlife watching.


None of us can forget the devastation of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake as many of us gave a token penny or pound to help the cause. Now, we can make a real difference, however, as Haitians have started to open up their doors again to tourists who want to discover their authentic Caribbean culture, their national parks, their whale and dolphin populations and their creole charisma.
Photo credits: [Top box: Valdiney Pimenta ] [Mongolia: Scott Presly] [Montenegro: Marcus Saul] [Haiti - people: Feed My Starving Children (FMSC)]
Written by Catherine Mack
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Photo credits: [Page banner: Paul Vinten]
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