When was the last time you drove a Jeep 30 miles down a dirt road to find a spectacular hiking trail to a spectacular view only a handful of intrepid travelers ever see? And when was the last time you visited a remote country where you didn’t speak the language and no one spoke yours?
Don’t think you’re brave enough? Here are 10 reasons you should be…and what you need to do to get out there:
- Theth, Albania
Getting there: Fly into Tirana, Albanai, hire or rent a car to Shkoder, and then take a rocking 4WD road to Theth, OR take a ferry to the town of Valbona, and hike eight hours over the Albanian Alps via the Valbona Pass.
2. Bunting Trail, Kanab, Utah, United States
Getting there: Drive to the small town of Kanab (once upon a time the most isolated town in the United States), travel through an unlikely local neighborhood to the trailhead, and take an often poorly marked two-mile trek and semi-rock scramble 1,000 feet up the Vermilion Cliffs.
3. Jackson Lake, Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming, United States
Getting there: Take the turbulent, heart-in-your-throat flight over the Grand Tetons into Jackson Hole, arrange a kayaking trip with a local outfitter, and spend several days paddling around the lake and camping with the elk and grizzly bears.
4. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia
Getting there: Fly into Cairns, Australia, and arrange a boat trip out to one of many diving and snorkeling areas on the Great Barrier Reef, which is anywhere from 16 to 160 km off the coast of Queensland.
5. Routeburn Track, South Island, New Zealand
Getting there: Fly into Queenstown, and find your entrance to this one of many Great Walks at Glenorchy. It’s a 32-km hike, and you’ll need to arrange for a permit many months in advance to camp overnight.
6. Espanola Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Getting there: Fly into Guayquil, Ecuador, and then arrange for a flight of 800 miles from the mainland to Isla San Cristobal. The best way to see the islands is to arrange a charter boat or take a small yacht cruise. Espanola Island is the southernmost and most isolated of the Galapagos Islands and home to a dizzying array of endemic fauna.
7. Rattlesnake Canyon, McInnis Canyons National Recreation Area, Colorado, United States
Getting there: Fly into Grand Junction, Colorado, rent a high-clearance 4WD vehicle, and then hit the poorly maintained back roads into McInnis Canyons. Be sure to stop by the Bureau of Land Management office in Grand Junction first for maps, however. It’s easy to get lost!
8. Blue Grass, Virginia, United States
Getting there: Drive 60 miles west of Staunton, Virginia, on historic Route 250 (the old Staunton to Parkersburg Turnpike), and experience the county with the highest mean elevation east of the Mississippi River and the smallest population in Virginia.
9. Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
Getting there: If coming from the United States or Europe, expect a 17–18 hour flight to Sydney. It’s well worth it. All the planes coming into the city fly right over Sydney Harbor with views of both the iconic Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
10. Mt. Burns Tarns Track, Fjordland, New Zealand
Getting there: The best spot to get away from the crowds of Fjordland National Park, Mt. Burns is accessible via the little-traveled Southern Scenic Route and an hour or so drive on a dirt road through the Southern Alps outside the village of Monowai.
Deborah Huso is founding partner of WWM, a niche strategic communications and content marketing firm based in Charlottesville, Virginia. She is also an award-winning, internationally published journalist and hopeless globetrotter.