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Been there? Try this: The top 5 lesser-known destinations we’re excited about in 2020

Published: 02/11/2020   /   Updated: 10/06/2021

Boston, MA — With sustainability and authentic travel experiences at the forefront of their minds, Audley specialists always try and highlight those off-the-beaten-path destinations for their clients. These locations offer fewer crowds and unique experiences, thereby reducing human impact on highly traveled destinations.

Travel to: Donegal, Ireland, instead of: County Kerry

Traveling to the rugged northwestern coastline of Ireland is completely different than traveling to any other part of the country. While the famed ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ offers miles of coastline views and marked viewpoints along the whole coast as far north as Malin Head, the most northernly point in Ireland, it isn’t swarmed with large buses and hundreds of tourists like many other stops along the Wild Atlantic Way, in areas such as County Kerry. The pristine scenery is truly magnificent, and rather than looking out onto lines of buses and tourists with cameras, you look out onto stunning beaches, rugged cliffs, and pastures dotted with sheep and cows.

Ireland’s best kept secret won’t be a secret for long, as there the government recently confirmed a $5 million investment to boost tourism at the Sliab Liag cliffs in Donegal (three times the height of Cliffs of Moher) and the Donegal Airport also just received $1 million in funding for expansions of the runway. This ensures greater connectivity with Dublin, and overall easier access to this special place.

Travel to: Pangani, Tanzania, instead of: Zanzibar

Set along the mainland Tanzania coast between Dar es Salaam and the Kenyan border lies Pangani, a remote and relaxed coastal town with only a handful of small lodges. This is the East African coast as it used to be, before the islands of the Zanzibar Archipelago became the well-known and popular destination to relax after a safari trip. The beaches at Pangani are quiet and peaceful, and your time can be spent heading out to a sand bank by boat for a picnic lunch, snorkeling, deep sea and in-reef fishing, dhow sailing, kayaking, exploring historical Pangani and the surrounding villages by foot, bicycle or motorbike, scuba diving, cruising down the mangrove-lined river, and learning how to cook traditional Swahili cuisine.

Travel to: Sacromonte, Uruguay, instead of: Mendoza, Argentina

Tucked inland from the bustling and beautiful beaches of Uruguay and capital city of Montevideo lies South America’s newest up-and-coming wine regions. The tiny country of Uruguay is famous for its Tannat wine, which is in fact one of the healthiest red wines in the world thanks to its seeds and skins producing high levels of antioxidants. Uruguay’s small size offers closer proximity to cities, beaches, and vineyards, and cuts way down on extensive and costly domestic travel during your vacation. Unlike the popular wine region of Mendoza, Argentina, which must be reached by airplane, the wine regions of Uruguay can be visited as a day trip from Montevideo, Colonia, or beach towns like Punta del Este and José Ignacio.

Travel to: Arnhem Land, Australia instead of: Kakadu National Park, Australia.

Hiding in plain sight east of Australia’s Kakadu National park lies the Arnhem Land, a little-known expanse of aboriginal land accessible only by those who have the relevant permits (we can help arrange these). The Arnhem Land is bigger than Portugal, Hungary or Austria and yet is home to less than 16,000 people – it is visited by a tiny fraction of the numbers that swarm to the Kakadu every dry season meaning you’ll have the place to yourself rather than battling the crowds. Here the population is nearly 80% indigenous, so the aboriginal culture is as well preserved as it is anywhere in Australia – you can see rock art believed to be over 50,000 years old, learn about the didgeridoo (it was created here) or just marvel at the stunning scenery and wildlife.

Cruise the Irrawaddy in Myanmar, instead of the Mekong in Vietnam

Located in Myanmar, the Irrawaddy is the cultural, historic, and economic hub of the entire country. When choosing to cruise the Irrawaddy over the Mekong, you will find a wide variety of ships ranging from traditional to luxury, and you only need to arrange the visa for Myanmar. While you won’t quickly pass through many countries and cities like on the Mekong, the Irrawaddy allows you an immersive and enriching experience into the culture and tradition of Myanmar. There is less industry along the Irrawaddy, allowing for a relaxing and visually stunning journey along the river. An Audley trip to Myanmar is an especially eco-friendly and community-focused destination, with a number of low impact excursions including walking tours, working with family-run businesses, immersive cooking classes, and learning how to cast a fishing net to help in the conservation of the Irrawaddy dolphin.