Now that I have been to over one hundred countries I start to look for off-the-beaten-track destinations. And I know many of you are casting your eyes far and wide too. You look for places you can feel you have discovered before everyone else did.
Here then is part five in our series of Secret Travel Destinations.
Machu Picchu may draw the crowds, but the Vilcabamba’s best kept secret, the lost Inca city of Choquequirao, will awe you in its secluded splendour. If you like being off the beaten path, are intrigued by rich history and crave dramatic landscapes dominated by lofty, snow-capped peaks, then hike up steep paths through dense cloud forest, over spectacular scenic passes and along ancient Inca paths to Choquequirao.
An isolated region of huge forests, close to the Ukrainian border in northern Romania, Maramureş's landscape is dominated by beautiful wooden churches. The area is regarded as Romania's most traditional region; indeed you may at times feel you have travelled back several centuries in to a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Take me to Maramureș
Wedged between Romania and Ukraine, Moldova is one of Europe's newest and least-known countries. Yet the country oozes with charm - from the bustling capital Chisinau to the largest wine cellars in the world at Mileștii Mici and from unspoilt landscapes to the cave monastery at Orhei Vechi, to the breakaway republic of Transnistria, Moldova is a place that is waiting to be discovered. Take me to Moldova.
Montenegro: Bay of Kotor
The Bay of Kotor, the deepest natural inlet in the Mediterranean, is simply spectacular. Hemmed in between high cliffs and with constantly changing moods, lined by colourful medieval towns the bright-blue waters of Kotor are something to behold. Visit an island monastery, engage in adventure sports or while the hours away at one of the many great seaside restaurants. Cruise the Bay of Kotor.
Albania is such a fantastic destination you may wonder why it took 20 years since the fall of communism for the word to get out. A country of ancient traditions, splendid historical sites and timeless villages, Albania is a destination unique in Eastern Europe. The capital Tirana is one thriving city, the beaches easily rival any of those in the Mediterranean and the mountain scenery is simply stunning. I want to visit Albania on a sightseeing tour, on foot or by bike.
Portugal - Alentejo
Covering a third of Portugal's land mass but with just 4% of its population, the Alentejo is an area of wild beauty, where tourists rarely visit despite golden plains and rolling hillsides with a sprinkling of traditional whitewashed villages. History is everywhere, from Palaeolithic carvings to Roman ruins, Visigoth churches and Moorish castles. Along it's dramatic coast wildflowers and butterflies keep company with just a handful of hikers. I want to walk the Fishermen's Trail along the Alentejo Coast.
Oman: Musandam Peninsula
The Musandam region of Oman is found at the eastern end of the Persian Gulf and on the far north of the Arabian Peninsula. This remote part of the country is characterized by rugged, inhospitable mountains dropping steeply into the sea, lagoons clear like crystal, and pristine blue ocean inlets. In this wild part of Arabia you will find Khasab's impressive fort and spectacular marine life (including plenty of dolphins playing in the wake of your dhow), while fishermen cast nets below the cliffs. Oh man! Take me to the Musandam!
India, Bangladesh: Sundarbans
The mysterious Sundarbans, not far from Kolkata, is home to one of the largest mangrove forests on the planet. Bleak and haunting, set amongst a vast delta of interconnected waterways fed by the waters of three rivers, the area is a haven for Bengal tigers, crocodiles and a remarkable diversity of birds. Ask us about visiting the Sundarbans.
Akagera NP, Rwanda
Akagera National Park is Rwanda's success story. Once depleted of wildlife it is now one of the few parks in East Africa where you can see the Big Five. Elephants, buffalo, giraffe and plenty of antelope are easily spotted while lion and leopard are more elusive. One of Africa’s prettiest national parks - think lakes, papyrus swamps, savanna and rolling hills - it has rhino as well. Take me to Rwanda.
Namibia: Skeleton Coast
The coast of the world's oldest desert was known to early mariners as "The Sands of Hell" - once a ship was wrecked, the fate of its crew was sealed in this waterless expanse. About as remote as one can get on our planet, the Skeleton Coast is an otherworldly desert, extremely scenic and remote. Inquire about our tailor-made journeys to the Skeleton Coast.