Bonne Année! This new year, resolve to go off-the-beaten path and collect passport stamps in these underrated destinations. The slow stream of tourists make these some of the best places to travel in January.
A string of more than 300 islands scattered across the Pacific, Palau beckons adventurous travelers with its untouched beauty and expansive barrier reef. All who travel to the far-flung archipelago are asked to sign the Palau Pledge, promising to respect and protect the natural and cultural heritage for future generations to enjoy. In return, visitors are treated to deserted beaches and a wealth of indigenous culture.
An often overlooked treasure of Latin America, Uruguay’s amiable charm permeates through its family-owned wineries, never-ending coastlines and chilled-out capital of Montevideo. Over the past decade, the South American underdog has risen to become one of the region’s most peaceful, stable and progressive countries that runs on 95% clean energy. Come in January for the Uruguayan Carnival, a more authentic, grassroots celebration compared to its Brazilian counterpart.
Isolated in the lap of the Himalayas, the Dragon Kingdom is a rare place where traditional culture endures. Bhutan is the only country in the world to measure “gross national happiness” as an indicator of prosperity, and the government takes great measures to protect its spiritual identity rooted in ancient Buddhism. With 72% of its landscape blanketed in forest, the country is also the first in the world to become carbon negative.
Deemed the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills,’ Rwanda’s endless mountain landscape teems with breathtaking vistas, friendly locals and rare wildlife. Volcanoes National Park in the northwest draws curious travelers for the once-in-a-life-time chance to meet some of the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
To ensure that tourism does not harm these gentle giants, the park limits the number of daily visitors, with permit fees directly benefiting the surrounding community.
-Shannon Valdes Leiderman