You beat the crowds and saw the Northern Lights in Iceland before it was cool. You’ve already walked the historic Camino de Santiago in Spain. Costa Rica’s rainforests? Been there, done that.
While others are just beginning to explore the world’s hottest destinations, you’ve already hit all of the most popular bucket list spots. So, what’s next? There’s a whole world of opportunity just waiting to be explored. From lesser-known Incan ruins in Peru (hint: it’s not Machu Picchu) to watching the Northern Lights in the far reaches of Greenland, we’ve got all your alternative destinations covered. You’ve never seen a bucket list like this before.
Instead of Iceland, Go to Greenland
The secret is officially out on Iceland’s incredible natural beauty and the crowds are moving in. Fear not! Just next door (okay, 700 miles away) is Greenland – one of the most unique destinations in the world. Offering vast stretches of untouched wilderness with a few colorful little villages sprinkled here and there, Greenland gives anyone willing to travel there the opportunity to experience a corner of the world not many people get to see. Kayak past giant icebergs, try your hand at rock climbing, hitch a ride on a dogsled, or simply stroll through the incredibly pristine wilderness.
Taking you there: West Greenland
Instead of Machu Picchu, Try Choquequirao
Machu Picchu is one of those destinations that you need to see once in your life. But, if you’re looking for something a little different, Peru’s lesser-known, more remote Choquequirao is a perfect bucket list alternative for the more adventurous traveler. Located in southern Peru, this lost Incan city is estimated to be about 3 times the size of Machu Picchu and sees far fewer visitors each day. It’s a 4-day trek to get to these remote ruins, but that means it sees just under 6,000 visitors per year, so you won’t be fighting to get the best view of the ruins. These numbers are likely to rise as the country has announced plans to make Choquequirao more accessible to tourists not wanting to make the trek out there by foot, so make your plans to visit now!
Taking you there: The Lost City of Choquequirao
Instead of the Wildebeest Migration, Head to Botswana’s Bird Migration
The wildebeest migration in Kenya and Tanzania draws in countless visitors each year, and for good reason, but Botswana’s bird migration deserves our love, too. With over 500 species of birds living in Botswana, you’re in for a treat no matter which part of the country you’re visiting. The best time of year for birdwatching depends greatly on what you’re hoping to spot, but in general November – March is when their migration takes place. Take to the waters in a dugout canoe and you’re in for an extra special safari experience. You’ll be able to spot crocodiles, hippos, and countless species of birds as you float lazily down the Okavango River.
Taking you there: Wildlife & Wilderness of Botswana
Instead of Angkor Wat, Watch the Sunrise at Borobudur
If you loved your early morning sunrise visit to Angkor Wat, then Indonesia’s Borobudur is for you. The massive Buddhist complex offers the same sunrise views, but in an even more peaceful environment (with smaller crowds, too). As the sun peaks up over the horizon, it shines light on the surrounding volcanoes, rice paddies, and lush vegetation, as well as the 72 beautiful stupas rising out of the rainforest. If the impressive location isn’t enough to draw you in, the complex is also UNESCO-listed and is the single biggest Buddhist structure in the world!
Taking you there: Primates & Dragons of Indonesia
Instead of the Camino de Santiago, Try the Walk to Rome
For over 1,000 years travelers have made their way across northern Spain to Santiago via one of the world’s oldest pilgrimage routes, the Camino de Santiago. If you’re looking for even more history, culture, and scenic vistas for your next walking holiday, then look no further than Italy’s Francigena Way. Though it stretches all the way from England into Italy, the last 150km are truly magical. This route which has been walked by thousands of pilgrims leads you through picturesque fields and olive groves dotted with volcanic lakes, past charming villages and historic abbeys, and brings you right to the Eternal City, Rome.
Instead of the traditional African Safari, Explore Madagascar
The African Safari: the ultimate bucket list adventure. Nothing compares to the first time you catch a glimpse of an elusive leopard in the bush, or a herd of elephants at the watering hole. That feeling never really goes away, no matter how many animals you spot on safari. If you’ve already driven the plains of the Serengeti and experienced South Africa and are looking for a more unique safari experience, set your sights on Madagascar. Kayak through scenic mangrove forests as playful lemurs hop right onto your boat, search for colorful chameleons on walking safaris, and be amazed by all the other alien-like creatures found nowhere else on earth.
Taking you there: Highlights of Madagascar
Instead of Costa Rica, Visit Nicaragua
Costa Rica will always be a fabulous tropical getaway with its sandy beaches, yoga retreats, natural wonder, and abundant wildlife, but it has gotten BUSY. With crowds come higher prices and suddenly your peaceful paradise is overrun with ziplines and other tourists. That’s where Nicaragua comes in. It has all the same volcanic landscapes, jungle treks, and world-class beaches for surfing and relaxing that you fell in love with in Costa Rica, with the added bonus of smaller crowds, lower prices, ancient ruins, and captivating history.