If you’re itching for a fresh new destination to visit this winter, browse our top picks for an unforgettable far-flung escape.
From traversing the rolling red-hued sand dunes of the Gobi desert on camelback and sleeping under the stars in a luxurious yurt tent, to experiencing pristine alpine forests, ancient monasteries and enlightening museums, you will discover that Mongolia’s secrets are well worth investigating. This country is not just a step off the tourist path; it’s a leap back in time to a destination far from the trappings of the Western world. A place where spectacular Naadam festivals showcase amazing feats of horsemanship, dancers spin in a flash of vividly colored garb, and throat singers croon just as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. No visit is complete without a stay in a traditional yurt, which come in a surprising range of styles to make the most nomadic traveler feel right at home.
By definition, a remote destination is not easy to get to. That’s why for spellbinding scenery unrivaled by the most exotic destinations, the extra time spent traveling to the more remote areas of the Alaskan outback—oftentimes requiring a combination of shuttles, chartered flights and float plane transfers—is well worth the journey. The wild corners of Alaska can be daunting to explore. Layers of steep mountains, razor-toothed pines and rushing rivers dominate the expansive landscape, making it simply too vast to conquer on foot. From the air, though, the possibilities are endless. To access the state’s numerous remote refuges, take a flight safari deep into the Alaska Range for a private backcountry ski trip, or settle onto a sandbar to explore land that scant few have ever stepped foot on. It doesn’t get more remote than that.
While most tourists enjoy the view from their bus tour of Ireland’s famed Ring of Kerry, others sneak off to the peninsula’s western shore in search of one of the most isolated and historic places in the world: the Skellig Islands. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the two rocky peaks of Skellig Michael and Little Skellig rise majestically from the sea, boasting sweeping panoramic views of the Atlantic horizon. Over 600 hand-carved steps ascend the peak of Skellig Michael, towering nearly 750 feet above the crashing waters below. At the summit sits an oratory surrounded by a curious cluster of beehive huts. Ferries depart Portmagee Marina from May to September, anchoring briefly on the rocky shores where barking grey seals welcome the adventurous as they begin their ascent.
What are You Reading?
Looking for something new to download on your e-reader for your next big trip? Browse our favorite travel-themed titles for a healthy dose of wanderlust.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – An Andalusian shepherd boy sets off on a journey from Spain to Morocco and finally, Egypt. What he experiences is not just an incredible adventure, but symbolic of the nature of life itself.
The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton – This philosophical examination of why and how we travel goes around the world and throughout history to describe, in poetic detail, the pleasure of anticipating a journey, the magnetic allure of the exotic and the value of observation.
Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah Macdonald – A woman who vowed never to return to India again returns to India again. The resulting story is one of discovery and adventure in this land of beauty and chaos.
Travel as a Political Act by Rick Steeves – Nearly every day we’re hearing of another disaster in a far-off land. But is this really an accurate depiction of the world’s destinations? One of the most renowned and experienced travel guides debunks the myths of “dangerous” destinations.
Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts – This is more than a how-to manual on independent travel (which needs good travel agent advice just like any other form of travel!). It’s also an essay on experiencing the world in your own unique way.
Tips for Being a Responsible Traveler
As a certified Good Travels Advisor, I'd like to take some time as we head into the holiday season to share some tips we can all follow to become more responsible travelers.
During my time in the Peace Corps, I learned quickly how even a short time in a foreign land can affect the lives of the people you meet. I lived in Bratsigovo, Bulgaria, a small town near the Rhodope Mountains in Eastern Europe for two years. While I spent a considerable amount of time integrating into the community and local way of life, I saw other volunteers visit for as short as a week. They still left a very indelible impact on the people they met, especially the children they encountered. I spent much of my time helping children translate letters to these volunteers so they could continue to keep in touch.
So no matter how long or short your stay, click here and consider these 4 tips.
Part one last week featured a three day trip recap exploring Machu Picchu. Part two is even more exciting, a little wild and of course culinarily adventurous.
What animals will you see?
What is "bush meat"?
What snake will you annoy? How do you know if that snake can eat you?
Is it safe to swim in the Amazon?
How many types of water are there in the Amazon?
You will just have to listen to find out!
Travel Radio Podcast: Part 1 - Machu Picchu Three Day Trip Prior To Amazon River Cruise
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to take an incredible journey to Machu Picchu and explore the Amazon on a river cruise. I spoke with Megan about the trip in this two-part podcast. We talk transit to Peru through Panama on a regional carrier, some wild cuisine (possibly your pets), a bus trip to the top and an abandoned city 9,000 ft above sea level.
Click here to view the detailed itinerary and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Click play below to hear all about it. Be sure to listen next week for Part 2 and find out what is considered a "small" Anaconda...
Sharing my travel experiences and insights