Have you visited these... lesser-known destinations?

| August 22, 2018

Our regional experts have shared their most memorable holiday destinations that venture off the well-trodden path. Whether it’s spotting grizzly bears in the wild, uncovering Buddhist traditions in rural Japan or seeing lakes aglow with bioluminescent plankton, each of the below destinations offers spectacular experiences.

View over Kruger National Park

Rosario Islands, Colombia – Sasha Selkirk

The idyllic Rosario Islands are a collection of 27 small islands off the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Those who visit tend to be on a whistle-stop tour from Cartagena and barely skim the surface; I recommend at least two or three nights on Isla Grande to soak up the Afro-Caribbean culture and slow down to the island’s pace of life. I indulged in delicious Creole cuisine and fresh fish barbecues, relaxed on pure white sands and swam in the crystal-clear waters that are teeming with marine life and colourful corals. You can also take a short boat ride to famed drug lord Pablo Escobar’s former holiday home and kayak through the mangrove forests. By night, don’t miss Laguna Encantada, where the water glows with bioluminescent plankton.     

Rosario Islands, Colombia

Rosario Islands, Colombia

Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada – James Noyes

If you are travelling to British Columbia in October, there’s a good chance you’ll see bears. My advice would be to head north to the Great Bear Rainforest in Bella Coola, which is best reached by a small plane from Vancouver – one leaves each day. Spanning a huge area of temperate rainforest, it is home to grizzly and black bears, as well as lesser-known Kermode bears, also known as spirit bears due to their near-white fur. They can be seen catching salmon and stocking up on food for the long winter slumber. I recommend Tweedsmuir Park Lodge, which has a number of experienced and dedicated guides. Bears often come to the lawn, so you can watch them from your balcony.

Grizzly bear in the Great Bear Rainforest

Grizzly bear in the Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia

San Fruttuoso di Camogli, Italy – Nick Field

San Fruttuoso is a beautiful, secluded bay on the Italian Riviera that I visited purely by accident. Hidden amid the verdant mountains of Liguria’s coast, it is only accessible by foot or the Golfo Paradiso ferry between Genoa and Portofino. The Romanesque monastery dates back to the 10th century and was renovated in the 17th after falling into decline, and again in 1933 and 1985 in an attempt to retain its beauty. There is also an underwater bronze statue, Christ of the Abyss, that was installed off the shore of San Fruttuoso in 1954. Found at a depth of 17 metres, it is a popular spot for divers.

San Fruttuoso di Camogli

San Fruttuoso di Camogli, Liguria

Pafuri Camp, northern Kruger, South Africa – Jacqui Cranko

In South Africa’s north-eastern corner of the Kruger is this wild and remote safari camp, a 7-hour drive from Johannesburg. There are fantastic opportunities to view wildlife, a variety of vegetation and some of the Kruger’s finest birdwatching. The camp’s guides are extremely knowledgeable and after an early-morning bush walk where we saw towering baobab trees and a number of endemic birds, we had a memorable champagne breakfast in the fever tree forest. Sundowners and evening bomas – South African barbecues – while listening to the sound of the bush were magical, too. To make the most of the serenity and the stunning surroundings, I would recommend staying for at least three nights.

Pafuri Camp, South Africa

Pafuri Camp, northern Kruger

Koya-San, Japan – Phil Hammond

Mount Koya is approximately two hours south of Osaka and is the spiritual home of Japanese Buddhism, after being founded there in the 1800s. To the Japanese, this town has a spiritual significance and is known as a place of enlightenment. One of my favourite things about this village in the mountains is that time has stood still for more than 100 years in a country where modernisation and technology are at the forefront of society. There are no hotels and visitors tend to stay in small monasteries, where they receive great warmth and hospitality. Each morning there is a traditional goma fire ceremony to show appreciation for Buddhist saints. The fire symbolises the wisdom of the Buddha and the wooden sticks are human desires. Walks through the forest are serene and peaceful and the local Buddhist cuisine consists of healthy, vegetarian dishes.

Kongobuji, Koyasan

Kongobuji Temple, Koyasan

Flinders Ranges, Australia – Nick Coy

Four hours north of Adelaide, Flinders Ranges in South Australia has to be one of my favourite places. I’d recommend breaking up the journey with a stop in Clare Valley where you can taste the region’s wine. The outback is perfect for walking through the bush, seeing the varied geology and spotting wildlife. Don’t miss the iconic Wilpena Pound, a natural amphitheatre among the mountains. I loved waking up to birdcall and sharing my breakfast with kangaroos before a day of exploring. In the evenings, the sunset against the ochre outback is beautiful, which was followed by the stars illuminating the clear, night sky.

Flinders Ranges

Flinders Ranges, South Australia

Sasan Gir National Park, Gujarat, India – Roop Kumar

In the western Indian state of Gujarat is the Sasan Gir National Park, home to more than 300 Asiatic lions. The park’s dry, deciduous forest is the last natural home for these majestic, endangered big cats. I was fortunate enough to see a mother keeping an eye on her four cubs while they played together. On our third and final drive, we saw a pride of 17 lions, some walking towards us, others posing arrogantly on nearby rocks, which was amazing. The Maldhari tribe work as rangers in the park and know nearly all the lions individually, where to find them and, surprisingly, can call them, too! The park also has 250 species of birds, leopards, hyenas, wild boar, jackals and crocodiles.

Asiatic lion, Sasan Gir National Park

Asiatic lion, Sasan Gir National Park

Cox & Kings’ regional experts can organise any of these destinations as part of a tailor-made holiday.

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