The true wonder of travel inherently lies in coming face to face with the unknown and getting lost in the beauty of a place on the very brink of discovery. There is no more rewarding feeling than being among the first few to reach and explore a destination that others haven’t yet had the pleasure of witnessing. From remote islands to unexplored deserts and jungles teeming with wildlife, this glorious planet is constantly at the ready with new untapped destinations to make even the most intrepid traveler swoon in awe-struck delight. For the true adventurers out there, get out and discover this latest trove of unspoiled global treasures and find inspiration all your own.
1. Puglia, Italy
Puglia, the heel of Italy’s stylish boot, has a wonderfully distinct allure stemming from its rural landscape and patchwork past of Norman, Spanish, Greek, and Byzantine influences. The region is quickly rivaling Tuscany’s gourmet title, offering a glimpse into true Italian traditions and values.
With miles of bountiful coastline, replete with verdant landscapes of olive groves and vineyards, this pristine region produces some of the country’s best, oft undiscovered wines and olive oils. Treat yourself to sensory overload and savor Puglia’s famed Cucina povera, a stripped-back, authentic style of Italian cooking focusing on simple, fresh ingredients and traditional cooking methods–it’s the slow-food movement at its best.
The region is also home to distinctly luxurious lodgings like the fabulous hideaway, Borgo Egnazia, a stone-carved haven set amongst Puglia’s shady olive groves. The creation of one of the most inspired hoteliers, Aldo Melpignano, and his family, Borgo Egnazia is modeled on a traditional local Apulian borgo (village). Here, the cream-hued estate features romantic suites and villas that are decked out in calming tones and elegantly equipped to meet every creature comfort. While in town, check out their gorgeous sister boutique property, Masseria Torre Maizza, which reopened May 2019 under the estimable Rocco Forte banner and is setting the stage to be a very chic oasis, indeed.
For those seeking a “still relatively off the radar” escape, look no further than wild and virtually unexplored Madagascar. This thriving hotspot of biodiversity is a dream for naturalists and adventurers alike; the island is teeming with endemic wildlife, 80% of which can be found nowhere else on Earth.
Unknown to most, Madagascar has some of the best beaches in the Indian Ocean. Check out Nosy Be, Madagascar’s most scenic coastal spot, where guests can spot humpback whales and lemurs on the shoreline. Located on the north-eastern coast of the island, Miavana is the perfect private escape. With only 14 private villas, staying at this luxurious eco-lodge will feel as though you’ve stumbled upon your own Robinson Crusoe haven. Think days exploring lush tropical rainforests and watching turtles nest on the deserted white sand beaches.
The Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakh is one of the few places on Earth that remains virtually untouched and unexplored. Situated at an average altitude of 11,500 feet, Ladakh is crisscrossed by four mountain ranges, The Great Himalaya, The Ladakh, The Zanskar, and The Karakoram. Boasting mesmerizing views at every turn, it’s one of India’s best-kept secrets. Enjoy the calm serenity of the fresh mountain air, incredible views, and rich Buddhist heritage throughout the region. Guests in Ladakh can opt to stay in beautiful homestays like the Shakti Village Houses in unknown villages of the Indus Valley and remote luxury tented camps. Tour the city of Leh with local royalty, meet local monks, stargaze to your heart’s content and even catch a game of Ladakhi polo, all while enjoying the ultimate escapist’s dream.
4. Salta, Argentina
In contrast to the Italo-Spanish metropolis of Buenos Aires and the surrounding grassy Pampas, Argentina’s north-west boasts a strong Andean and spiritual heritage as a meeting point for South America’s indigenous communities. The region is famed for its spectacular scenery and richly colored landscapes–think red rock valleys, multi-colored and monochromatic hills and terra-cotta peaks magically set against stark blue skies. The diversity of this area makes it a haven for trekking, horseback riding, rafting, driving 4x4s and a plethora of other adventure activities.
The city of Salta boasts some of the best-preserved colonial architecture, attractive plazas and regional cuisine in all of Argentina, making it an off-the-beaten-track cultural gem. Feel like you’re being let in on a local secret as you step inside La Merced del Alto, in the heart of the Calchaquí Valley. Built as a traditional manor house with wide interior patios and tall galleries, La Merced del Alto is a beautiful reflection of its rustic surroundings in the heart of the Argentinian countryside.
5. Faroe Islands, Denmark
Located in the chilly waters between Scotland and Iceland, the Faroe Islands are a real retreat. The dramatic landscapes completely redefine the notion of an ‘untouched archipelago,’ giving travelers access to a wilder side of the Danish Kingdom.
Rugged coastlines once considered Viking territory are home to natural wonders best explored via old fishing boats for a mystical effect. But the Faroes are also beginning to take their first steps towards modernization, with chic shops and the island’s 2 Michelin-star restaurant, KOKS, serving up inspired Faroese delicacies.
Stay at the new boutique Hotel Havgrim Seaside Hotel, a beautifully restored historic home right on the water, full of Nordic charm. The design here is inspired by the calming seas, featuring large glass windows and private balconies with mesmerizing views. The property possesses a palpable sense of peace to remind you this is exactly where you should be. With good reason, the Faroe Islands are limiting tourism to preserve the ecosystem and authentic culture, so plan ahead (far in advance) if this adventure piques your interest.
With the renewed fervor surrounding this country and its importance in the history of the Silk Road, now is the time to head to Georgia while it’s still very ‘in the know.’ Underneath the surface of this mostly rural country lies a unique European culture most travelers have little knowledge of, where hospitality and warmth shine as travelers and guests are considered ‘gifts from God’.
Rich in history, unique culinary traditions, green hilltops, snow-capped mountains, and spring waters, Georgia will easily capture your attention. The birthplace of wine, Georgia’s Signagi, has a history of producing wine as far back as the fifth millennium BC and many vintners still employ the traditional methods of their ancestors. Oenophiles will be enchanted with the rare opportunity to stay at Chateau Svanidze, owned by its namesake family of winemakers, a truly captivating way to discover the importance of wine (and even bring back a bespoke bottle yourself).
Georgia’s indulgent culinary specialties, which include cheese-filled khachapuri and mtsvadi skewers cooked on the aged grapevine, only leave the room after for a glass of chacha, a local whiskey regularly on the menu for Georgians, so hit up the local watering holes.
The art-deco Stamba Hotel in Tbilisi, a converted Soviet printing house headquarters, now serves as a testament to the growing art and design interests of modern Georgia and is an inspiring backdrop to the historic churches, iconic statues, and 11th-century castles scattered throughout the city.
7. Stockholm Archipelago
Located east of Stockholm, the Stockholm Archipelago is the discreet spot where Sweden’s well-heeled flock for the summer. Known by locals as skärgården, setting sail is the best way to see all of the skerries and rocks in this Swedish gem.
Untapped by tourists and preserved by locals, the Stockholm Archipelago is a cluster of 3,000 islands that offer incredible views and access to Stockholm’s scenic soft sand beaches, historic castles, lush forests, and stunning coastlines. Locals and visitors alike can cruise like royalty as you split your time between land and sea, with mornings sailing through the untouched, scenic waters and afternoons exploring storybook villages and Stockholm’s Old Town.
From the calm waters of Grinda to the charm of Wardhaus, the Stockholm Archipelago’s magnificent views from the seas, and cobblestoned streets from the land, are simply enchanting. Post up in the stylish and charming Rival Hotel, perfect for Swedish culture lovers as this property is owned by ABBA’s own Benny Andersson.
8. Guacalito De La Isla, Nicaragua
Perched on the Emerald Coast of Nicaragua, home to 30 miles of untouched beaches, Guacalito De La Isla is an under the radar Central American haven. Be sure to stay at the Mukul Resort, the brainchild of local entrepreneur Don Carlos Pellas, whose family poured their heart and soul into the region in an effort to preserve its beauty and share it with like-minded travelers. The property’s name translates from the Mayan word for ‘secret,’ and it lives up to its status as a hidden gem, comprised of fairy-tale beach villas and ‘bohios’ nestled on the stunning, mile-long Manzanillo beach awash with light powdery sand and glorious Pacific sunsets.
From surfing and ash boarding down volcanos, to nature and bike paths through pristine jungles where monkeys, iguanas, and tropical birds abound, the chances for adventure here are endless. Here, the infinite pleasures of doing nothing are also not be underestimated; simply lie back, relax, and take in those panoramic views of the Pacific.
9. Sao Tome and Principe
In the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of West Africa, the nation of Principe is an intimate, discreet island oasis enveloped by enchanting flora and fauna, ocean breezes, and lush tropical forests.
Ecologically-savvy travelers will relish the pristine, well-protected environment as a remarkable base to explore this lost world of beaches, bays, and jungles. Sunday Praia’s luxe tented accommodations at the wild northwest tip of the island of Principe will help in losing all sense of time and place while searching for turtles, whales, birds, and dolphins. True explorers will enjoy discovering historical churches on biosphere trails hidden throughout the island.
Between September and April, you can check out the incredible hatching of the sea turtles, while year-round you can spot any of the 29 endemic species of birds on the island. When you’re not lounging in a private tented villa or on a four-wheel drive through the local plantations, dine at Sundy Praia’s terrific restaurant that has adapted local traditions and flavors including tuna, wahoo, passion fruit, and pineapple. A dinner (or two) here is a must.
For travelers looking to get off the beaten track and go where few tourists have been before, there are few destinations that rival the Congo. A whole new kind of safari destination, the Congo offers luscious forests, rare and exotic wildlife, and safe cities in between.
The Congolese capital, Brazzaville, is known as ‘The Paris of Africa’; it’s a must-see, boasting some of the safest and cleanest streets in Africa. Trek, kayak, and cruise through the heart of the Odzala-Kokua National Park and track endangered Western Lowland Gorillas before you wade through the Lango bais in search of Forest Elephants and Buffalo.
Stay at Odzala Discovery Camps and unearth a leafy green paradise where you can get closer to nature than ever before. These three gorgeous camps in North-West Congo are all about stripped back luxury and unleashing your inner explorer. For the true globetrotter, this is really adventure at its purest.