In a world made seemingly small by the internet, there are still some great travel secrets to be discovered. Places that do not show up on people's radars, often overlooked by neighbouring destinations with bigger marketing budgets.
Here is our first list of ten secret travel destinations that should be on your list.
Procida - Italy's best kept secret
Mercifully off the mass-tourist radar, the island's perfect blend of sun-bleached streets, lemon groves and pastel-coloured houses makes it a real joy to the eye and soul. This island is so lovely, Lonely Planet calls it "bring-out-your-paintbox-perfect". Visit it on Island Hopping in the Bay of Naples.
Portuguese Camino - quiet serenity
The Portuguese Road is considered by many as the most spiritually connected pilgrimage route. Often overlooked, and hence much quieter, the Portuguese path offers a wealth of history and delightful landscapes to discover. Walk in four weeks from Lisbon to Santiago, through vineyards, woodlands and villages. Visit the lively city of Porto, rest in small hamlets, feast your eyes on eucalyptus and pine woods, and cross over ancient bridges and through market towns dating back to Roman times. As Stephen from Toronto put it: "I could have walked weeks more. I didn't want to stop such was the enjoyment of the walk. I felt like Forrest Gump and just wanted to keep on going!" 11 days Lisbon to Coimbra, 8 days Coimbra to Porto and 14 days Porto to Santiago.
Southern Islands Cambodia - a tropical Shangri-La
Untouched and without the large resorts of Southern Thailand, the islands of Southern Cambodia are a true tropical Shangri-La. Endless sugary soft sand, hammocks swinging in the breeze, photogenic villages on stilts and the most amazing sunsets. This is paradise for the true adventure seeker. Visit them on a tailor-made journey.
Sapa - a cascade of rice terraces
Years ago I dragged my wife kicking and screaming to the north-eastern corner of Vietnam. It was a long way to travel but it was worth every minute on the road. Rice paddies cascade down steep mountains, draping the hillsides in technicolor green. Wake up and open your bedroom window as the mist rises up from the hillsides, revealing a scene unmatched in the world. Trek through hilltribe villages or stay in an eco-retreat.
Philippines - The Emerald Isles
Comprising more than 7000 islands scattered gracefully along the westernmost rim of the Pacific Ocean, the Philippines is a country known for its boundless hospitality, and the friendly smiles of its people. A wealth of possibilities of discovery and adventure await visitors to these islands with their blend of picture postcard beaches, historic sites, natural attractions and the most important asset of all, the Filipino people. Embrace the big city excitement of Manila, the breath-taking rice terraces of Banaue, and the atmospheric cobbled streets of Vigan. Sample life on the island of Palawan, with the opportunity to marvel at the stunning Underground River, and enjoy the crystal clear waters and beaches of the beautiful neighbouring islands. Visit the Philippines on Emerald Terraces of the Cordillera.
Ghana - vibrant and energetic
Stretching from the dusty borderlands of the north to the tropical coast in the south, Ghana encapsulates all that is special about West Africa, with great scenery and wildlife complemented by a joyous and exuberant people who will make you feel welcome from the moment you arrive. Ghana is vibrant and seductive, and it’s no wonder that it’s many people’s introduction to West Africa. Ghana is the sort of place that remains in your soul long after you have visited. Experience is all on Ghana in Depth.
Panama - Costa Rica for those in the know
Panama has been a destination on the cusp of the mainstream for ages, but somehow still remains a secret. Often overlooked for neighbouring Costa Rica, this is a gem of a country, giving travellers the chance to hike cloud forests, raft a river or visit the archipelago of Bocas del Toro, covered in rainforest and with spectacular beaches. Best of Panama or the ever-popular Cycle Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama or Cruising Costa Rica and Panama - Costa Rica to Panama
Pantanal - land of the jaguar
The Pantanal straddles the borders of Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia and is the world's largest wetland region. Its plains and low scrubby forests are home to over 1000 species of bird and 300 different mammals, including tapirs, anteaters, jaguars, Jabiru storks and the striking Hyacinth macaw. Explore it on Land of the Jaguar
South Georgia - Serengeti of the Southern Ocean
Stunning mountainous South Georgia has abundant wildlife and is a destination all in its own right. Get up close to nesting albatross and witness massive rookeries of king penguins (by the hundreds of thousands). Late October marks the beginning of the breeding cycle for many species and you may see male elephant seals battling for control of the beaches and harems. Is it a wonder polar explorer Shackleton requested to be buried here? Come travel along on South Georgia in Depth (Photography Symposium)
Marquesas Islands - Undiscovered paradise of the South Pacific
Beyond the beaches, lagoons and overwater bungalows of the South Pacific, the Marquesas Islands offer true immersion into a well-preserved culture. With fascinating history and still strong traditions, the Marquesas Islands are an invitation to step back in time. Visit the six inhabited islands and reach villages and communities where way of life is in harmony with their environment. Cruise along on the passenger/freighter vessel Aranui 5.