No doubt that I’m passionate about traveling to far-flung places. This year I ticked Bhutan and Myanmar off my bucket list, both must-sees for anyone with a taste for the exotic. So you can imagine my intrigue on Friday night when I was watching the Olympic Parade of Nations and saw a few countries make their entrance that have not yet made it on my radar. Guess there’s off-the-grid travel and then there’s off-the-grid travel, Olympic style.
In an effort to shed light on some of these lesser-known destinations, I polled my hospitality friends to uncover the best — and the basics! — of the world’s most curious and remote. Let’s start with Djibouti, my most favorite to pronounce.
Djibouti (“ja-BOO-tee”), I’m told, is one of the tiniest, and most secretive, of African nations — but also one of the most politically stable. Nature-wise, it packs a big punch, with out-of-this-world sights and hikes to Lac Abbe or the expansive salt lake, Lac Assal, as well as the lush Goda Mountains and serene, white-sanded beaches of Tadjoura. East Africa is one of the best places in the world to sample meat dishes, and I’m intrigued to try Djibouti’s signature spiced vegetable and meat stews seasoned with fragrant saffron and cinnamon.
Tuvalu is a small, unspoiled Polynesian nation in the Pacific — or as they say in the Olympics, “Oceania” — halfway between Hawaii and my native Australia. It’s naturally stunning and as most island nations are, extremely slow-paced. This is the real-life version of The Blue Lagoon, complete with coconut palms and uninhabited beaches. I’m dying to check it out for its elusiveness alone — not to mention vibrant folk arts scene.
Suriname borders Brazil and Guyana, and is most famous for being the “beating heart of the Amazon.” Over the years this now sovereign country has been colonized by every empire from the Dutch to the British, and today boasts an extremely diverse (although relatively small) populace. It’s intriguing for its mix of untamed wilderness and impressive art & culture offerings, especially in the culinary realm. Amazonian duck curry, anyone?
San Marino is located on the Italian Peninsula and boasts the smallest population of any of the Continental European nations. It’s known as the “Most Serene Republic,” although with its medieval tower-fortresses and 10th-century torture chambers straight out of Game of Thrones, it’s difficult to see why. I’m no history buff, but I’m always up for a good clifftop museum…
For my take on more well-known destinations, make sure to check out the Curated Travel Guides on The Travel Curator.