According to Booking.com research polling 10,000 respondents across 10 markets, we are all striving to get more diversity in our travel. Two thirds (66%) of global travellers said they wanted to add a completely new travel experience next year to what they’d done last year.*
Given our adventurous appetite, why not start by building a better bucket list? One that’s a notch or two higher on the intrepid scale with destinations that have just as much wow factor as, say, the Inca trail, but far fewer tourists.
To help you tap into your adventurous side, Booking.com used traveller recommendation data to compile this list of places you may never have heard of or are pretty far off the beaten track, that you need to visit. All of these destinations have been highly approved by Booking.com customers, 95% of whom recommended them to other travellers.
Here’s the list for nature-lovers, laying out the best but lesser-known gems for those with a passion for outdoor charms.
Though little-known outside of Brazil, Bonito is an ecotourism paradise whose name translates simply as ‘beautiful’. A manifestation of nature at its most splendid, the area has a network of mesmerizing deep blue rivers full of exotic fish. Macaws perch in the lush greenery lining the water and many cascades, while naturally stunning caves provide unparalleled snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities.
The sheer size of this mighty Norwegian fjord will make you want to bow down to Mother Nature. Steep rugged cliffs plummet from snow-capped peaks almost straight down to the smooth surface of the water. Visitors can take the scenic ferry ride along the length of the fjord, ogling the many waterfalls and magnificent panoramas en route.
Though less of a household name than its Slovenian sibling, Lake Bled, there are several reasons Lake Bohinj deserves to be on your new bucket list. Less crowded and less touristy, it still offers a picture-perfect Alpen landscape with great walking and cycling trails and swimming in the lake.
Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
Tasmania’s rugged wilderness feels otherworldly, so remote is the landscape and so fresh the air. Cradle Mountain is one of its most treasured spots, rising above Dove Lake, the mountain is composed of dolerite columns and surrounded by ancient rainforest and alpine heathlands, containing trees such as deciduous beech and Tasmanian snow gum. The view from the top is fantastic but be prepared for a strenuous hike.
Yakushima is a relatively undiscovered gem, a secluded island of hot springs and cedar trees that will delight nature-lovers. Mountainous and cloaked in ancient forest, it is known for its Japanese cedar, some of which are at least 2,000 years old. Its subtropical climate lends its forests a bright green hue, with moss-covered rocks amid twisting tree roots making it appear somewhat surreal. Look out for the Yakushima macaque and the Yaku deer, which can both be easily spotted on a hike.
Saint Lucia, Caribbean
Most of us have heard of Saint Lucia but while we know it’s idyllic, it’s not necessarily a common bucket list contender. However, if you’re a nature enthusiast, it most certainly should be. Its quiet volcanic beaches are of course blissful but head inland and you’ll find a host of other natural assets. The south of the island is seen as more tranquil and also boasts the striking sight of the looming lush green peaks of the Petit Piton and Gros Piton.
Addo, South Africa
For a once-in-a-lifetime nature experience, Addo Elephant National Park offers viewing and outdoor activities in the Bushveld of the Sundays River in the Eastern Cape. The park was established to save 11 elephants from extinction and is now home to over 350, as well as Cape buffalo, black rhino and antelope.
Alpe di Siusi, Italy
Being the largest high altitude Alpine meadow in Europe, Alpe di Siusi has quite the view. Overlooking the Dolomites, it’s a spectacular setting sitting high above the clouds. Come summer, brightly-coloured wildflowers speckle the bright green grass and walking and cycling around the area is popular. But by ski or snowboard with blue skies overhead during winter is equally great.
Nyaung Shwe, Burma
The township of Nyaung Shwe lies just north of Inle Lake, a mystically beautiful inland fresh water lake with floating gardens and leg-rowers. Emerging from over 50 years of military dictatorship, Burma still holds a certain old Asian charm. Life is slow here and remote villages sit in the middle of vast plains. Golden pagodas gleam in the orange sunsets and misty jungle stretches as far as the eye can see.
*This data was taken from a global survey of 34,000 nationally representative respondents across 17 markets. Respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have travelled at least once in 2015 and be planning at least one trip for 2016. All respondents had to be at least part of the decision-making process when planning most of their trips. Data was collected in October 2015.