It’s a huge world out there! We’ve all got our favourite places to take a holiday, but it’s always worth taking yourself out of your comfort zone and exploring somewhere new. Take a look at the Flexicover team’s top picks for some exciting new destinations.
You probably spend most of the year thinking of where to go and what to do. But will those plans involve a mix of short breaks and a couple of week-long holidays? Or are you itching to get away over a much longer period?
Whether it’s backpacking, a gap year or a sabbatical, taking a leave of absence over several months is a great way to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and culture of a place, while creating life long memories.
While not necessarily seen as a traditional backpacking destination, Estonia has such a diverse landscape and rich culture you need an extended break to experience all that’s on offer. There’s hiking in Lakemaa National Park, canoeing in Soomaa National Park, while Matsalu National Park is a bird watchers paradise. Also why not try something different - a bog hike in Koitjarve Bog. For fabulous views stretching as far as Latvia and Russia take a trip up Suur Munamagi (the Great Egg Mountain) or travel to the Estonian Island of Saaremaa to marvel at the Kaali Meteorite Crater formed between 4,000 and 7,500 years ago. Just as picturesque is the UNESCO-protected medieval beauty of the old town in the capital city Tallinn. And while there’s much on offer in Estonia, it also provides a great starting point from which to explore the whole of the Baltic region.
New Mexico, USA
If there’s one word that perfectly describes New Mexico it’s vibrant. From its friendly people, to its art, cuisine and culture it’s the perfect place to take some time out to explore. The 47th state of the United States offers breathtaking natural backdrops including the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks but to really get away from it all then there’s Gila Wilderness (the world’s first wilderness, designated in 1924). Here no vehicles are allowed, including bikes, but you can try horseback riding and with the proper permit you can camp and fish too. There’s a great choice of hiking trails including the ‘Catwalk’, a one mile suspended path set into the walls of the canyon above a rushing stream. You can also admire the high peaks of the Mogollan Mountains and take in the ancient and awe-inspiring cliff dwellings which show how people lived in this rugged landscape many centuries ago.
This Caribbean country is perfect for those backpackers on a short timeframe as its compact size means you can still explore its varied landscapes and delve deep into its culture. Affectionately called ‘La Isla del Encanto’ (Island of Enchantment) a trip here shouldn’t blow a huge hole in your savings either due to the ready availability of both cheap hotels and affordable delicious food. When on the island, be sure to visit the capital San Juan and the historic fort El Morro which dates back to the early 1500s. If you fancy spending time somewhere a bit more tranquil head into the hills to take a tour of one of the island’s coffee plantations or journey underground at the dramatic Rio Camuy Cave Park. With many beautiful beaches to choose from make sure you take some time to hire a board and go surfing, don a snorkel to explore the underwater treasures on display or simply hang out in a hammock and watch the world go by.
The Kingdom of Tonga is a hidden treasure of 170 islands spread across 740,000 square miles just waiting to be explored. From its pristine white beaches and varied coral reefs to tropical rainforests and active volcanoes, the Tongan archipelago is the perfect destination for backpackers wishing to escape the daily grind and get lost in nature. Visit the main island of Tongatapu to explore its lagoons and plantations. Be sure to also take a trip to see the Ha'amonga ‘a Maui, an iconic coral limestone trilithon built at the start of the 13th century. Plus if you plan to visit between June and November don’t miss the opportunity to swim with migrating humpback whales. You are also guaranteed to receive a genuinely warm welcome from this nation dubbed ‘the friendly isles’.
Nicaragua is the perfect package for any backpacker thanks to the incredible variety of stunning backdrops and myriad activities on offer. A ‘must see’ is the Parque Nacional Volcan Masaya, with its incredible volcanic landscape, which is home to the country’s most heavily venting volcano and its residents - thousands of parakeets. Also don’t miss the chance to take a truly unique swim in the 200 metre deep crater lake in the Reserva Natural Laguna de Apoyo. To surf some of the best waves in the world head south to San Juan del Sur where you can also enjoy the town’s party atmosphere. And for an urban fix you can experience the country’s rich culture by visiting its capital Managua or take in the colonial architecture as you walk down the elegant streets of Granada.
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