Off the beaten path travel experiences
Off the beaten path travel experiences
By Damien Martin
So you’ve been up to Machu Picchu, seen all of the big five on safari. You’ve marveled at the beauty of Lake Louise and split a week between London and Paris. You’ve lived out all your Hobbit-related fantasies in New Zealand and been to every cat café in Japan. Yet, you still can’t shake this wanderlust. You need a new adventure, but where haven’t you been yet? Consider these off-the-beaten path destinations for each continent (except Antarctica; you should probably stick to the beaten path there).
North America: Fogo Island, Canada
One of the easternmost spots in North America, Fogo Island in the province Newfoundland and Labrador has fewer than 3,000 inhabitants and is a great destination in each of the seven seasons. Yes, seven. They are: summer (July-August), berry (September-October), late fall (November), winter (December-February), pack ice (March), spring (April-May) and trap berth (June). Each is unique and offers a glimpse of life in a place so remote and mysterious, the flat Earth Society considers it to be one of the four corners of the Earth. Where can you possibly stay in a place like this? Virtuoso-preferred Fogo Island Inn, of course. Its 29 suites feature floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the power North Atlantic Ocean, and activities range from jam-jarring to snowshoeing.
South America: Uruguay
Tucked between much larger neighbors Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is a haven of estancias keeping gaucho culture alive and long-stretching beaches around Punta del Este, where the Atlantic and the Rio de la Plata meet. Uruguayans consume more meat per capita than the Argentines and produce plenty of wine to pair with it. Montevideo is the southernmost capital in the Americas -- just edging out Buenos Aires -- and juxtaposes colonial architecture with modern nightlife, offering you an opportunity to get familiar with the unique Uruguayan take on the tango. The three Virtuoso-preferred hotels -- Carmelo Resort & Spa, Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco & Spa, and Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio -- are in different areas, forming the perfect trio to explore the country.
Budapest, Vienna and Prague have long made for a popular itinerary thanks to their proximity and richness of history. With experienced Europhiles venturing farther east, Krakow and Warsaw make for a logical addition. About half of the world’s Jewish population has roots in Poland, so heritage tours abound. In and around Krakow, Schindler’s Factory Museum and Auschwitz serve as stark reminders of the horrors of the Holocaust, and the Wieliczka Salt Mine is a UNESCO world heritage site. Stay at Virtuoso-preferred Hotel Bristol in Warsaw and witness the contrasts of a city that was founded around 1300 and nearly leveled during World War II before spending half a century under Soviet control.
For those who have seen all there is to see on safari, Uganda offers something new: gorilla trekking. Journey into the ominously named Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and spot these massive creatures in their natural habitat. The wonders of the animal kingdom continue in Kibale National Park, where chimpanzees roam from tree to tree, and Queen Elizabeth National Park, where it’s lions that are climbing the trees. Birders can spot more than 400 unique species. The Nile, the world’s longest river, has its source near Jinja, flowing north out of Lake Victoria.
Captivatingly beautiful, Myanmar is best experienced on a cruise along the Irrawaddy River. Itineraries begin and end in the capital, Yangon, where Virtuoso-preferred Belmond Governor’s Residence and The Strand Yangon are wonderful places to spend extra time before or after your cruise. Virtuoso-preferred cruise line Avalon Waterways embarks in Bagan, where you can watch the sunrise over thousands of temples and pagodas or take a hot-air balloon ride over them. You’ll continue upriver through experience local life in places such as Amarapura and Mandalay before debarking in Bhamo, where you’ll have a trishaw tour before flying back to Yangon.
Being isolated from the rest of the world gave rise to Australia’s unique wildlife, landscapes and indigenous cultures. So imagine how different Tasmania, separated from the Australian mainland for thousands of years, is from what you’re used to. Tasmanian devils, glow worms and echidnas, oh my! Virtuoso-preferred Islington Hotel is a great base for exploring the capital, Hobart, home to the Museum of Old and New Art, described by owner David Walsh as a “subversive adult Disneyland.” Soak up the natural beauty at your own pace during a stay at Virtuoso-preferred Saffire Freycinet on the island’s east coast with an oyster breakfast knee-deep in an estuary or canoeing with a guide at the mouth of the Moulting Lagoon.