These places haven’t only been highlighted as great destinations at which to unwind and get away from it all – Culture Trip has also highlighted some of the experiences that make the most of the wilderness we’ve all been craving. Sit back, relax and get planning.
Bahrain is one of the smallest nations in the world. The sovereign state is actually made up of 33 natural islands and 51 artificial ones, making it ideal for seafaring explorers. Jarada is one of the most beautiful islands on offer, but is unique in that it “disappears” as the tides ebb and flow. It has become popular with tourists as the sandy beaches are great for relaxing on and the sparkling waters that encircle it are perfect for snorkellers.
The vast open spaces of Alaska are home to the most photogenic flora and fauna in the world. If you want to feel as if you have truly escaped the rat race and connected to nature, Katmai National Park and Preserve, south of Anchorage, are hard to beat. Not only are there acres of pristine wilderness to explore, but there is also a high probability that you’ll see a bear, as the park is home to the world’s largest population of grizzlies.
Puerto Rico’s El Yunque tropical rainforest has a wonderfully diverse ecosystem thanks to an average annual rainfall of 120 inches. It’s a popular hiking route as there are a number of natural pools and ponds in which to cool down. For the more adventurous traveller, head to the El Angelito trail where you can take a rope swing into a lagoon.
There are a number of road trips you can take in the western part of America, but the most incredible leads you into the magnificently dramatic wilds of the Grand Canyon. Arizona has wide-open spectacular roads and plenty of well-marked routes that are easy for even novice drivers to experience. Approaching Phoenix you can see more of the red rocks that protrude from the desert landscape in the picturesque town of Sedona. Driving along the sand-swept roads in an open-top car is top of most people’s bucket list, and there’s nowhere better to do this than Arizona.
South of the capital – Doha – is Qatar’s Khor Al Adaid (the Inland Sea) Nature Reserve. This inlet of the Persian Gulf creates the very real illusion of a sea in the desert. The phenomenon has helped cultivate a diverse ecosystem of birds, migrant waterfowl and even turtles. To reach this tranquil paradise you have to hire a 4×4, although local tours can also be arranged by camel or quad bike. Once you arrive at the reserve you can enjoy a tasty Bedouin-style meal before sleeping under the stars (in a luxury tent with modern fittings). We still need some creature comforts, after all.
If you really want to switch off from the outside world, Canada’s oldest provincial park Algonquin is the place for you. A three-hour drive from Toronto, the park is an outdoor playground for young and old with lakes and rocky climbs serving as the backdrop. As you can imagine, this wilderness also allows for activities such as mountain biking, fishing, canoeing and hiking. To complete the off-the-grid experience, head to the Arowhon Pines Resort, which has not only banned TVs, but has also gone into full digital-detox mode by banning mobile phones, too.
Hakone sits within view of Mount Fuji and Lake Ashinoko, and is surprisingly only an hour away from the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo. If the thought of staying in the most-populated city in the world fills you dread, then fear not, Hakone is an idyllic retreat bursting with natural hot springs, cascading waterfalls and green spaces. If you want to stay outdoors and take in some culture at the same time, then you’re in luck as Hakone is also home to Japan’s first open-air museum. Be sure to sample the relaxing properties of the secluded hotels in the region, too, where you can experience a traditional onsen.
Mauritius is well known as a holiday destination, but not many people venture beyond their hotels to get under the skin of the island. The western peninsula is a great place to start, and it’s hard to miss, given that it is dominated by the spectacular Le Morne, a mountain overlooking a beautiful lagoon. Black River Gorges National Park lies just south of the peak, and gives visitors the chance to experience a slice of wild Mauritius. This protected reserve is reminiscent of what the island was like before it became a popular holiday getaway, and somewhere locals also visit when they want to escape the bigger cities.
In the heart of Canada’s Manitoba Province is Churchill, a small town that is known as the polar bear capital of the world. This remote wonderland gives visitors the chance to see these giant beasts in their natural habitat, where the Boreal Forest is your back garden and the Arctic Ocean acts as your own pool. As well as polar bears, the area has black bears, moose and wolves roaming in the wild. The best way to experience this is to stay at one of the many remote lodges dotted along the coastline.
Located deep in the Southern Pacific is the US territory of American Samoa. The remote paradise looks like the picture-perfect desert island and the clear waters around it are a dream for divers. The tropical escape has an area known as the Marine Sanctuary, where you can swim the coastal areas and explore the underwater reefs and other natural splendours. On land there are a number of WWII historical sites, as well as high peaks from which you can look out for migrating whales.
The mountainous Dolomites are known for their spectacular roads winding through the Trentino region, and there’s now a new attraction to help you stay off the grid in comfort. The Treehouse in Val di Fassa proudly boasts no wifi or TV and instead lets nature provide the entertainment. The comfy rooms of the treehouse sit on the edge of a forest and the location serves as base camp for the 200km (124-mile) Dolimiti Panorama Trek. If that sounds like too much effort, you can always hang back and catch a view of the mountains from the jacuzzi instead.
Namibia is one of the least densely populated countries in the world, and the ideal destination for remote travellers. The landscape is dominated by undulating sand dunes that clash with rugged coastlines, and nowhere captures this better than a stretch of land between the Kunene and Ugab Rivers known as Skeleton Coast. Photographers are known to frequent the area in search of eerie shipwrecks and marauding black rhino, but otherwise you’ll be pretty much alone here. Making the most of the backdrop, there are a collection of lodges appropriately constructed to look like shipwrecks in which you can stay.