Adventurous travellers love to escape the well trodden path to visit unknown travel destinations. With that in mind we have put together this article about 15 of the best undiscovered adventure holidays.
After all adventure travel should be just that, an adventure. If you’re surrounded by busy tour buses and every other person you see is a fellow ‘adventurer’, it can be hard to feel as if you’re experiencing anything special. So if you want to really get away from it all, you need to go ‘undiscovered’.
What constitutes ‘undiscovered’ needs defining, as let’s face it most places around the world are known about. While there are still a few corners of the planet to be explored we are not talking about discovering the ‘literally’ unknown.
We are talking about destinations that not many people visit. That as yet are thin on tourists but are thick with adventure. So while the top 15 unknown travel destinations are all known about – otherwise we would not be writing about them – they are generally unspoilt and off the tourist radar.
It is not about exploring somewhere undiscovered, it is about discovering somewhere other people don’t visit. Of course this kind of travel is always an adventure, but AWE365 is all about action sports, so we’ve included places with activities you can do too.
The best undiscovered adventure holidays below are about the remoteness of the destination and the lack of tourism. Each of the destinations will take you away from the well-trodden tourist path and satisfy your urge to experience a life less ordinary.
Greenland is an incredible destination, but often overlooked in favour of other Arctic regions. Its vast wilderness lends itself to adventure travel like few others: sea kayaking, trekking, climbing, touring/splitboarding, heli-skiing and diving are all on the menu.
Visit Greenland in winter for snow-sports and a glittering landscape of ice, and in summer for fjords and flowers. Stay in Ittoqqortoormiit, the most isolated town, for a really remote experience.
Not the tropical Indian Ocean islands you might be imagining. These sub-Antarctic islands are also known as the ‘Desolation Islands’ and are only inhabited only by researchers.
Just a handful of month long tourist trips visit each year. Leaving from Reunion Island it takes a week to get there and a week to return, leaving you two weeks to explore this exclusive and unknown travel destination. Visit for hiking and wildlife watching.
Tajikistan is a destination that you will have heard of, but probably have never considered visiting. Known as the roof of the world, 90% of Tajikistan is mountainous – which is good for adventures!
The Fann mountains are remote and untouched. In the summer there is trekking and mountaineering to try. In the winter there is plenty of snow so it is great for ski touring or splitboarding. As Huw Kingston said “you’re more likely to spy untouched glaciers than you are any other travelers. Because there are none.”
Australia is home to many isolated spots, none more so than this dirt track from Wiluna to Halls Creek in Western Australia. Look at a map of this area and you’ll see nothing but desert, and very, very few place names.
The route was developed by cattlemen in the early twentieth century who needed to move their stock safely across this dangerous terrain. Today, most tackle it in a four-wheel-drive due to the huge distances. Although with the right support it can be trekked on foot, or even cycled on a mountain bike.
There is much isolated terrain in the Himalayas, but the Zanskar Valley stands out. This beautiful feature in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir has no road access during the long winter from November to May. However, it is possible to trek the frozen, and stunning, Zanskar River during that time.
After the thaw, 4x4s can get in and more extensive treks and climbs are possible. It takes about a week to trek the whole valley. It’s isolation makes it one of the best undiscovered adventure holidays. There are also many other excellent adventure sports in India to try
A tiny nation of coral atolls that span an incredible 3.5 million square kilometres. Life on the more central islands is beginning to modernise, but the outer islands offer a slice of life in the very slow lane.
Diving and snorkelling are the big draws, and can be arranged from the main island of Tarawa. As you’d expect there are some good surf spots to explore, plus we are sure there is some good kiteboarding and windsurfing to be found. Other activities include fishing, kayaking, sailing and exploring this little corner of paradise.
In the Tibetan Autonomous Region, mysterious Motuo is the only area of China not accessible by road. To reach it you trek from the village of Pai. It can only be undertaken in October, as either snow and ice or heavy rainfall makes it too dangerous the rest of the time.
The effort is rewarded with stunning mountain views of Tibet, its wildflower meadows and tiny Buddhist villages. As unknown travel destinations go they don’t get much better. Find out more about Tibet trekking holidays here.
Back in 2001 I spent nearly a week in Mae Sot, Thailand waiting for the Myanmar (Burma) border to open so I could visit this elusive country for just one day. These days Myanmar is easier to enter, but it still offers one of the best undiscovered adventure holidays.
The Irrawaddy (or officially Ayeyarwady) River runs north to south through Myanmar. Sections flow through remote wilderness that are perfect for kayaking and wildlife spotting. For an easier adventure join an Irrawaddy river trip with a company like Rainforest Cruises to explore this elusive country.
Most people have no idea there is a 3,445m high mountain range in the centre of the Sahara desert let alone travel there. But the remote Tibesti Mountains in Chad provide one of the best undiscovered adventure holidays.
You can’t visit without spending time among the Tuba people who inhabit some of the most isolated settlements on earth. This is a good destination for trekking with breathtaking volcanic peaks, stunning views and a unique culture to experience.
East Nusa Tenggara is the eastern arc of Indonesia’s many thousands of islands that lay beyond the (certainly not unknown travel destinations) of Bali and Lombok. You can kayak Komodo National Park where you can see its famous dragons and visit the islands of Rinca, Sumba, East Timor and Flores. There are also many remote, uninhabited islands that are an adventurer’s dream.
The best (and often only) way to discover islands in Indonesia is on a chartered boat. You can make stops for diving and snorkeling, surfing and paddle boarding, volcano trekking, and of course, a spot of sunbathing. Easily one of the best undiscovered adventure holidays as you won’t be sharing it with other tourists.
Most of the Andes are pretty remote, but the area to the north of the Bolivian capital La Paz is among the least explored. It is a largely uninhabited area, home to huge herds of vicuna (a close relative of the llama), and a handful of Kallawaya people.
The Kallawaya are traditional healers whose skills are in demand throughout South America. But many also work as trek guides, and will show you the Bolivian Andes, its soaring 6000m peaks and ‘tropical’ glaciers.
While it is tough to find unknown travel destinations in Europe, Foula in the Shetland Islands is the UK’s most remote inhabited Island. Conquered by Norsemen in around 800 AD the 30 inhabitants maintain Norse folklore and live according to the old Julian calendar.
With five dramatic peaks this rugged Island is great for hiking. You’ll be sharing the peaks with birds rather than people as it is a great place for wildlife watching. Wild camp among the seabirds, spot seals and even killer whales.
Few travellers make it to Guyana, but those that do don’t want to leave. Treks through the untouched rainforest and Ibini mountain ranges are the main draw, and can include some climbing and kayaking. The Kaieteur Falls is a must-see, it is one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world five times higher than Niagara.
The Aleutian archipelago is a swathe of volcanic Islands in the Bering Sea of the North Pacific. They are mostly part of Alaska but a few of the Islands are actually in Russia. The islands are rugged and remote with peaks up to 2,800m. As with most of Alaska the main draw is wilderness.
There is plenty of wildlife to spot, trails to follow and exploring to be done. Kayaking the Aleutians would be amazing but very challenging due to difficult weather – it rains a lot and the seas can very rough. But what an adventure it would be to kayak the entire 1200 mile long chain.
While the tourist crowds flock to Serengeti and trekkers to Kilimanjaro, the Mahale Mountains are relatively unknown travel destinations. This mountain range has no road access but can be reached by plane, or by a combination steam ship and local fishing boat.
At the heart of Mahale is Lake Tanganyika, with its clear blue water and sandy coves.The mountain peaks are covered in dense jungle, which is home to one of the world’s largest wild chimpanzee populations. Most visitors to Mahale spend their time trekking, wildlife spotting and snorkelling in the lake.
Getting to some of the destinations on this list of the best undiscovered adventure holidays won’t be easy. It will be a case of plane, train and automobile plus a few other forms of transport.
Most of these trips are a once in a lifetime adventure and will require long haul flights. So why not use a flight consolidator to try to get good rates on a business class flight, you can make a saving of up to 70%. This way you can start your trip in style, fully rested before hitting the more difficult local transport.
If you want to do this on a budget a great option is to fit some of these unknown travel destinations into a round the world trip. Spend a year, or more, travelling the world and visiting spots in each continent that most people have never heard of. What an adventure that would be!
We hope this list of the best undiscovered adventure holidays has inspired you to go exploring. If you want to visit some of these unknown travel destinations check out our adventure holidays from all over the world.