Make every day your adventure!

Unique vacations: The best Off The Path adventure destinations 2016 

New year, new adventure! Thinking about where the next trip will take you and which adventures await you there is almost as nice as travelling itself. And how about some really unusual adventure countries for 2016, countries hardly anyone goes to or are worthwhile in a very special way? New Zealand, Canada and Finland were yesterday, it is time for real Off The Path places for unique vacations in 2016!

The best Off The Path adventure destinations 2016

8 adventure countries for unique vacations in 2016!

Uzbekistan

Only very few people find their way to Uzbekistan or the neighboring countries and there isn’t really much of a good infrastructure there. And that is precisely what makes this country a phenomenal destination for unique vacations, because improvisation is key here! You quickly find yourself in very remote regions and untouched nature and often have to rely on the help of locals. But all the better for that, you learn to approach foreign people this way and grow beyond yourself.

If you are interested in the history and culture of the Orient then you find loads of historical treasures, discover fascinating mosques and lonely oasis towns. On the great Silk Road, the old trade route that to this day connects Europe and China, you come across many places that are brimming with history and will amaze you.

For a city trip it is best to travel in May and June as well as September and November because it is mild and dry then. And for cool hikes and adventurous climbing tours you should go in July and August. In winter however, it can snow pretty hard in the mountains!

Adventures you can experience in Uzbekistan

– The most amazing hike in Uzbekistan takes you through the Tien Shan mountain range, past lakes, glaciers, meadows and high altitude passes. And in between there are several fixed rope routes and at the end of a day on your feet you can rest in a traditional yurt and gather new strength for the next day. Don’t miss out on this hike!

– Travel in the footsteps of the caravans and ride through the endless desert on camels! And far and wide there is nothing but nature and sand around you. The perfect adventure if you are looking for loneliness!

– Spend a few nights with a family in the Nuratu mountains and gain unique insights into the life of the locals! Learn how to cook a traditional meal and what day to day life is like for those families. You will have to give up most of the comfort we are used to but in exchange you get to dive really deep into Uzbekistan’s culture!

South Korea

For decades South Korea was more or less inaccessible. First the country suffered from the Japanese occupation, then the Korean War, which still is not really over, wrecked havoch on the country. The resulting conflict with North Korea is visible everywhere, the border between the two countries is one of the best guarded borders in the world.

Nowadays South Korea is a super modern country and the capital Seoul is just as cool as New York, Tokyo or Berlin. In Seoul you definitely have to do a streetfood tour and try your way through all the goodies of Korean cuisine! And apart from that the country has some beautiful areas, great nature and thus fantastic adventures for unique vacations waiting for you. Don’t miss the Hallasan national park with Korea’s highest mountain which is a volcano. It lies on South Korea’s largest island called Jejudo.

Theoretically you can go to South Korea all year round. The cherry blossom season from April to May is of course a special time to be there, but autumn is nice too, when it is still warm but doesn’t rain much and the leaves on the trees are already starting to change colours. In summer you have to anticipate rain and hot humid weather. But winters are ideal for skiing and snowboarding!

These adventures await you in South Korea:

– Hike to the peak of Mt. Bukhan, Seoul’s highest mountain, and take in the fantastic view of the city and the montains.

– Spend two days with Korean monchs in a 600 year old temple in Bukhansan national park. Eat together, meditate, work and learn more about their lives.

– If you like adventures in the water then the Naerincheon river is the perfect place for you! Here you can go rafting in a beautiful environment or kayak past forests and through mountain valleys.

Venezuela

Venezuela should be on the very top of your bucket list for 2016, because only few people come to this wonderful and diverse country! On the one side you have the Caribbean beaches to relax, on the other side there are the Andes or savannah where pure adventure waiting for you!

In the South of the country for instance you can go on daring hiking tours to the table mountains, in the Northeast you can explore Venezuela’s underwater world on a dive and in the West you can stroll through coffee, tobacco and fruit plantations. In the Sierra Nevada there are amazing landscapes such as high altitude swamps and icy glaciers waiting for you and in Mérida you find the highest cable car in the world which goes up the 4.765 meter high Pico Espejo to the glaciers of the Andes.

The best time to travel Venezuela is December through April, that is when it rains the least. But you can definitely go all year round, because when it rains it usually doesn’t rain long, it doesn’t pour all day.

Adventure highlights in Venezuela

– The Roraima hiking trail through the table mountains takes around 6 days and among other places will lead you to the hightest waterfall in the world, the almost 1,000 meter high Angel Fall. A spectacular sight!

– Canyoning in the Santa Catalina Canyon by Mérida is pure adrenaline! You lower yourself down through rapids and waterfalls, sometimes descending 35 meters and then rush along natural slides into refreshing pools of water. And all that in the midst of a tropical rainforest!

– You are more drawn to the sea? Then head to the Los Roques archipelago which is great for diving and kitesurfing. And the beaches are just as nice for relaxing as in the Caribbean.

Malaysia

When people think about going to Asia most tend to think of Thailand, Indonesia and maybe Vietnam and the Philippines. But how about Malaysia? This country’s culture is especially interesting as it merges traditions of the Malay, the Chinese and the Indians, it is like a miniature version of Asia itself.

You should take a few days for the capital alone, because here you will immediately be taken aback by Malaysia’s cultural diversity: mosque next to Catholic church, the super modern Petronas tower next to Chinatown, or ultra modern shopping malls next to traditional Islamic buildings. And in the Cameron Highlands you find peace and quiet and are surrounded by endless tea plantations. Perfect for unique vacations!

You can travel to the West of Malaysia all year round, for the East June through August is best because the at that time heavy monsun rains take a break. And if you want to travel to the world’s third largest island, Borneo, you should do so between March and September.

The best adventures in Malaysia

– At Mulu Caves national park you find the largest cave passage in the largest cave network in the world – millions of bats live here! Go on a climbing tour through the fantastic cave landscape, brachiate along cliffs and swim through the water!

– Follow the tracks of wild orangutans in the jungle of Borneo! You will spend several days in the rainforest, sleep in tents and get to know the indigenous inhabitants of the jungle over a glass of rice wine.

– Hights are not a problem for you? Then off to the Canopy Walkway in Taman Nagern national park! Here you hoist yourself from rope bridge to rope bridge and all that above the trees of the rainforest.

India

India is colourful, crowded and dirty – even the trip to India is an adventure! This country that for decades has been associated with poverty is becoming an economic super power. But still India follows other rules, most of the time no rules at all.

In my opinion India has the most contrasts you can find in a country and will definitely put you in a state of shock because it is so different from everything we know. But it also is a wonderful country for travelling: it is cheap, there are lots of architectural masterpieces like the Taj Mahal, there are national parks harboring lots of different species where you still find wild tigers roaming, or lonely beaches and of course super delicious food.

The best time to travel to almost all regions of India is between October and March. There is little rainfall and temperatures are nice. The rainy season is June through September, try to avoid that time. And April and Mai are unbearably hot!

The best India adventures

– Go on a tiger safari in the Sundarbans! Here you don’t sit in a jeep like you would in most national parks but close to nature in a canoe. Getting to the Sundarbans, the largest mongrove forests in the world, is an adventure in itself!

– A real adventure that will definitely challenge you: do a Vipassana in India! It is a week or 10 days of silence, no eye contact, meditation (often several minutes in the same position) and only two small meals a day. If you don’t find to yourself here…?

– For the ultimate India experience you should at least once ride a train all the way through the country. Yes, it is full and stuffy but cheap and you will see a bit of the country and are sure to get some cool Off The Path tips from locals!

Cuba

Cuba is something special, not only because of its political situation as one of the last Communist countries in the world, but because this island is so different from all the others in the Caribbean. It is a cultural paradise full of charming, relaxed, smiling people and lots of colours. But this special charme is in danger of disappearing, which is why you should head to Cuba soon!

There is Havana of course, a city full of contrasts, that looks different after every corner you turn. Best you sit yourself down by the sea in one of the beach bars with a cigar and a mohito and take it all in. Apart from Havana Trinidad with its beautiful market square and the town of Vinales are highlights. There is a great view point here from which you can look out over the entire valley.

The best time for a trip to Cuba is November through April when it is dry. There are frequent hurricanes in September and October, so definitely avoid those months. It is also possible to travel in the rainy season because that only means that it rains once in a while, there usually will not be rain all day.

Adventures not to miss on Cuba!

– There are two shipwrecks from the 19th century around Cuba that you can take a closer look at when diving. To make the whole thing even spookier you can go on a night dive, scary but also quite an adventure!

– Discovering Cuba by train really is special because you pass towns that are off the tourist routes and you get to experience Cuba in a very authentic way. The rail network is one of the oldest in the world and some of the trains are still from the last century. You have to bring along patience for this one.

– The Topes de Collantes national park offers great several-day trekking tours through tropical rainforest and past waterfalls with crystal clear water that you can refresh yourself in. The individual routes are short, usually a few hours only, and you can book a trip that goes for a few days including nights camped out in nature.

Iran

Iran promises pure adventure, the delicate politcal situation alone creates quite some excitement. Of course you should check the situation carefully before you decide to travel there but do go and get sense of what is going on! Iran is full of cultural and natural highlights and an adventurer’s paradise. Go visit the old Persian capital and the grand palaces of Persepolis or discover the breathtaking mountain landscapes – you will never get bored here!

The best time to travel Iran is mid April and early June or late September and early November, spring and fall are the nicest times to be there. Summers on the other hand are really hot and winters are cold.

The adventures Iran holds for you

– Definitely go explore the North of the country! Golestan national park is home to leopards and brown bears amongst others and the 2400 meter high Elbur mountain as well as thick ancient forests. Traditionally you can cover part of the way with sumpters or donkeys, the rest has to be done on foot.

– Leave civilization and embark on an expedition to the desert! Sand dunes over 400 meters high await you, meteorite debris, short hikes to especially beautiful places and loads of fun driving through rough terrain!

– On Kish island, which is only about 90 square kilometers big, there is a really cool activity for you: flyboarding! You stand on two planks in the ocean and are propelled up by pressure from the planks. If you can keep your balance then a great view awaits you up high!

Reading suggestion: My friend and author buddy Stephan Orth travelled Iran and stayed on locals’ couches there. Definitely read his book “Couchsurfing in Iran: My travel behind the closed dores”!

Zimbabwe

Africa in an incredibly fascinating and very diverse continent and not nearly as dangerous as the media make it look. Yes, it is advisable to be careful but don’t let yourself be intimidated or held back from travelling to this wonderful continent with great countries like Zimbabwe! Most visitors only vome here for the Victoria Falls wich pour down 108 meters along a 1700 meter edge. An impressive spectacle for sure but the rest of the country also has a lot to offer: savannah landscapes, soft mountain ranges and great nature reserves for safaris provide adventures for several weeks and unique vacations!

The best time to travel to Zimbabwe is the dry season between April and October. Conditions are ideal for safaris right before or just after the rainy season (April or September) because it is warm and dry. The Victoria Falls however are most impressive in the rainy season when they carry the most water.

Adventure highlights in Zimbabwe

– Get your adrenaline rush when rafting on the Zambezi! The canyon is more than 700 meters deep in the beginning, in the end more than 2,000. You really pick up speed and if you don’t pay attention, you will quickly find yourself in the water. So hold tight!

– In Zimbabwe’s Estern Highlands you find endless nature, beautiful mountain landscapes and countless waterfalls. Best to combine hiking, fishing and mountainbiking here and really enjoy this wonderfully remote area.

– Seeing the Victoria Falls and the incredibly beautiful landscape around from above in a microlight is spectacular! A microlight has an open top, it only fits two people and the flight is 15 or 30 minutes. A great adventure with an amazing view of the waterfalls!

Adventure is just waiting for you!

There really still are a few awesome and more or less undiscovered adventure destinations in this world. Go outside, leave your comfy sofa and grow beyond yourself! Be it in a canoe on a tiger safari through the Sundarbans in India, on a rafting tour of South Korea’s Naerincheon river or on an extreme severl-day hike through Venezuela’s table mountains with spectacular views all along. Make 2016 your adventure!

Which countries are you headed to in 2016?

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One comment on “Unique vacations: The best Off The Path adventure destinations 2016 

  1. Christina on

    Hallo Sebastian,
    ein paar wirklich schöne Ziele hast du da für 2016 zusammengefasst. Dieses Jahr wird das für mich wohl nichts werden, aber Länder wie Usbekistan sind jetzt defintiv mal auf der Reise-Bildfläche erschienen.
    Liebe Grüße
    Christina

    Reply