Now that we’ve apparently survived the end of the world on 21 December, it’s time to start planning for some adventure in 2013. Last year our list of best adventure destinations for 2012 saw the rising stars of several offbeat destinations like Cuba and Azerbaijan. With plenty of exciting events happening around the world, 2013 looks like another power-packed year of new discoveries. After rounds of researching, we’ve collected our own list of up-and-coming adventure destinations for 2013 and hope it helps shine new light to under-the-radar places.
As the host country for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Brazil is set to rock the tourism industry in the next few years. In 2012, Brazil has already seen a 7.8% increase in tourism (according to wttc.org), and it is predicted to increase even more in 2013 as the World Cup hype builds up. As a prelude, the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup will take place in six Brazilian cities this coming June. Home to long, wild stretches of beaches, isolated islands and the legendary Amazon Rainforest, Brazil packs in wilderness, culture and charm. The best time to visit is during the world famous Carnaval, celebrated this year from February 9 to 12. Although prices are exorbitant this time of the year, the atmosphere and spirit are undeniable.
Flickr photo by Digo_Souza
With a political shift in 2012, Malawi is now ruled by a forward-thinking female president, Joyce Banda, and the future for the country is shining brighter than ever. Over recent years, Malawi’s economy has also stabilized substantially and there’s no better to visit the East African country. For some reason, the neighboring countries Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia have long been a part of the well-trodden tourist trail; but Malawi has always stayed off the radar. It’s about time for Africa’s best kept secret to shine; join underwater safaris to view Lake Malawi’s diverse aquatic life, or go on big game safaris in Liwonde National Park or watch 200 species of orchids bloom in Nyika National Park – you’re in for a surprise!
Flickr photo by Michiel Van Balen
3 Papua New Guinea
2012 was a dramatic year for Papua New Guinea as it plunged into chaos for months when a political feud between its two rival prime ministers. In June, Peter O’Neill, the current prime minister, finally announced plans for a coalition government. Now that its political situation has stabilized, we predict that hordes of visitors will once again pour into this raw and undiscovered country. In fact, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall recently visited the country as part of their Diamond Jubilee Tour. As a unique far-flung archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, Papua New Guinea is made up of over 600 islands and 800 indigenous languages, creating a spectacular cultural mosaic. Adventure travel has really taken off in Papua New Guinea, with the Kokoda trek taking center stage and the opportunity to witness the flamboyant and extraordinary sing-sing on offer.
Flickr photo by ThePaperBoy
With the decade-long tourism boycott lifted in 2010, the National League of Democracy in Myanmar (NLD) is finally encouraging independent travel to their country. Despite the lift of the boycott, the State Department of U.S. still warns travelers that the authorities “have often prohibited entry or exit at most land border crossings, unless the traveler is part of a package-tour group that has received prior permission from the Burmese authorities.” Having made our list in 2012, Myanmar is making an appearance again on our 2013 list as government reforms now take shape to open up the country. We visited in 2012 and loved it: from biking through the mystical temples of Bagan, to calming boat rides on the Inle Lake, and getting to know the people of Myanmar, Myanmar offers the rare opportunity to travel through time.
With the World Games 2013 taking place in Cali in next summer, Colombia will be under the tourist limelight as travelers flock to its shores to explore its offerings. Home to colonial cities, coffee-plant valleys, and a gorgeous coast, Colombia has always drawn budget travelers to its shores; but these days, it is predicted to attract the attention of more extreme travelers who are keen to explore its undiscovered regions and seek out adventures such as rappelling and rainforest hikes. Cali, capital of Valle del Cauca state, is a historical city that dates back to over 470 years of age. Nature in Cali is a source of pride as majestic, leafy trees and beautiful gardens throughout the city attest to why the city received the honor of being given the title of Green Township in Colombia.
Flickr photo by Sandra Vallaure
Madagascar’s presidential elections are finally scheduled for 2013 (having been repeatedly delayed) – which could mean a step towards greater democracy. Although locals remain skeptical, they are more than eager to welcome tourists into their country. But for visitors, the time to go is now before Madagascar’s logging problems wipe out its unique endemic wildlife. We visited in 2011, and it remains a hot favorite at WildJunket. As the world’s fourth biggest island, Madagascar packs in an overwhelming species of flora and fauna, otherworldly landscapes, and animals that are unlike no other. Catch sunset over baobab trees, track down lemurs in jungles, climb the Bemaraha stone forest or float on a dugout canoe – Madagascar promises only the extraordinary.
Recreational travel is growing in Antarctica, and it is expected to increase further next year as more and more media coverage (let’s take BBC’s Frozen Planet for example) has drawn the attention of curious travelers. According to International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), the number of visitors to Antarctica who landed on the continent has increased from 12,248 in year 2000 to now 22,122 in 2012. Increase in tourism has raised concerns over our impact on the fragile environment, resulting in possible limitations of tourism in the future — so get there before it’s too late. This seventh continent truly captures the meaning of the word “adventure” – with nature’s erratic ways, each visit is unique. Kayak through ice, photograph glaciers and icebergs, and observe penguins, elephant seals, and minke whales – there is nowhere else like this in the world. (Look through our photos here)
Where are you planning to go in 2013? Any plans to visit the countries above?