Around the world... mysterious destinations
Do you want to explore the path less trodden? Here, we introduce you to three destinations imbued with a real air of mystery.
Some places seem perpetually surrounded by a certain atmosphere of mystery. This does not always correlate to how well known they are; indeed, it's perfectly possible for a destination to somehow retain an air of the unknown – even if it is becoming better known.
This mysticism has different roots depending on the individual country – a testament to the fact that whether 'mystery' is technically the right word or not, what these places have in common is a certain distinctiveness. It is exactly this, combined with this idea of the unfamiliar, that makes the below such wonderful travel destinations.
With a reputation for being one of the world's most secretive countries, North Korea is not somewhere that most travellers would consider going – perhaps because they believe it isn't possible to visit. However, while the country certainly keeps a close watch on visitor numbers, it is very possible to go – though be aware that you will be accompanied by government representatives, and told a very one-sided version of events. Regardless of this, you can still expect a truly fascinating journey into what may feel like another world.
Its capital city, Pyongyang, is the focal point of any visit to the country. This is where you will find a wealth of impressive monuments, museums and, perhaps most fascinatingly of all, North Koreans living their daily lives – a side of the nation the rest of the world is not often shown.
Among the best places to visit during your stay is Kim II-sung Square. The capital's central square, it is named after the nation's former leader and is home to some of the city's grandest buildings.
Another highlight is the Tower of the Juche Idea, which is particularly interesting because it stands as a monument to the nation's Juche philosophy. According to this ideal, which flies the flag for self-reliance, the masses are the driving force behind construction and change. At 170 metres tall, it is impossible to miss – and you can even take trips to the top for spectacular views across the skyline.
View Cox & Kings' tour to North Korea >
For some, Bermuda's mystery may be tied to the tales surrounding the Bermuda Triangle, an area of the Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda, Florida and Puerto Rico that has been linked to the disappearance of planes and boats, with tales of vessels and crews vanishing without a trace. However, Bermuda itself is far from mysterious and is a stunning place to visit if you want to make the most of sun, sea and sand.
A year-round destination, Bermuda is virtually guaranteed to provide balmy climes and soft sands – and at seven hours flight from London (not over the aforementioned ‘triangle’), is easier to reach than Caribbean destinations such as St Lucia and Barbados. The weather is perhaps at its finest from May to October, but throughout the year it has the advantage of providing sunshine without the stifling heat of the tropics. Its delightful pink sand beaches and warm waters, gently heated by the Gulf Stream, make it a veritable paradise for relaxation.
However, there is far more to Bermuda than the promise of relaxation alone. Indeed, there are some fascinating historic sites and museums that provide plenty of opportunities for unravelling its past and tasting its culture. Among the must-see sights is the Royal Naval Dockyard, which was used by the British Royal Navy. As well as perusing the scenic stone buildings, you can delve into the past with a visit to the Bermuda Maritime Museum, and enjoy a delicious lunch at one of the dockyard's many restaurants.
See where to stay in Bermuda >
Republic of the Congo
Home to just four million people, the Republic of the Congo is a fascinating place. Its sparse population paired with its extensive rainforest make it an incredible destination for wildlife lovers, as well as those who truly want to get off the beaten track.
The focal point of trips here is Odzala-Kokoua National Park. Lying within a rainforest that, remarkably, covers half the country, this reserve combines rainforest and savannah landscapes to make for some marvellous wildlife-spotting opportunities. Here, you can track western lowland gorillas, feel dwarfed by lumbering forest elephants and watch primates swing through the trees.
Tracking western lowland gorillas is, of course, a real highlight. To do so, you will make your way through Ndzehi Forest (part of the park) in groups of up to four, to find the animals in their natural habitat – an unforgettable experience.
While gorillas may occupy the limelight, there is much more to see in this expansive park. A walk around Lango Bai, for instance, is likely to introduce to herds of forest buffalo, while the park is also home to leopards, putty-nosed monkeys and almost 450 species of bird.
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- Tags: Adventure, Africa, Bermuda, Caribbean, Cox & Kings Staff, Far East, North Korea, Republic of the Congo