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Eight Diamond in the Rough Destinations for 2016

Eight Diamond in the Rough Destinations for 2016

In celebration of Wildland Adventures 30th (diamond!) anniversary we’ve selected 8 of our hidden, and occasionally overlooked, gems. Some of these are trips that go further, to more remote areas or require a bit more of an adventurous spirit to get to. Others are ones that experienced travelers seek out and relish for their unique opportunity to see a long-established destination in a very different light. Still others are oft-overlooked destinations that really shouldn’t be.

Below, we highlight misconceptions that might put some travelers off and what really makes the trip or destination really sparkle and shine.

8) Ethiopia: Land of Legends

Ethiopia is steeped in history and a crossroads of Africa and the Middle-East. This is an adventure traveler’s dream trip. The island monasteries of Bahir Dar, stone churches of Lallibella, the African Castles of Gondar, the Simien Mountains, Axum (the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant and St Mary of Zion complex) and a tour of Addis Ababa complete with a traditional espresso (this is, after all, where coffee originated). This trip includes a private guide who flies with you the entire trip. Can’t get enough and want to see even more? Customized extensions to the Bale Mountains, Harar, and the Omo Valley are available upon request.

What some of our travelers have had to say:

“My time in Ethiopia was enlightening, exciting, tiring and remarkable. I'd ventured into some of the most remote areas in Africa, and possibly the world, and I felt like it! Ethiopia is a destination that leaves images imprinted in your mind--vibrant and impossible to erase. It is also beautifully lonely, in a way that true adventure travelers seek. The traditions are rich, the cultures intact and the people friendly, diverse and captivating. I hope I can return soon, and again and again for years to come.”

“ …beauty is commonplace in Ethiopia. It leaves you breathless.”

Our trips to Ethiopia are sure to be a true adventure.

7) Undiscovered Caribbean Costa Rica Adventure 

What makes the Caribbean part of eastern Costa Rica special? “The off-the-beaten-path experience, the cultural interaction and the support this trip gives to community-based rural tourism,” according to Grettel Calderon, Wildland’s Central America Program Director. Getting away from the background noise of our daily lives is what every soul seeks in order to recharge. With no electricity and sunset at 6:00 p.m. it’s easy to get 10 hours of sleep at night, a welcome change from home! The feeling of being in the middle of nowhere, surrounded only by the forest and its incredible sounds is amazing. With less “touristy” infrastructure and influence, this is an area of Costa Rica where the pace of life is slower and where travelers can relax at a deeper level while adapting to the “laid back” Caribbean culture, lush tropical surroundings and simple, honest interaction with locals.

 Accommodation is intimate, low-key, with a lot of charm and ambiance. For example, our accommodation at Selva Bananito is located in the southeast corner of Costa Rica which is still “undiscovered” by popular ecotourism and adventure travel.  The lodge is built on a private, biological reserve aimed at preserving the habitat and way of life. Selva Bananito also created the Limon Watershed Foundation, a nonprofit foundation which has become a regional leader in watershed protection and educational programs. It gives a sense of unity and joy knowing that you are a part of an environmentally friendly vacation that strengthens local organizations and contributes to the economic well-being of the community families which preserves their culture, traditions and the environment.

“We are not content with just taking guests off the beaten path.On this trip our guests go deep inside a part of Costa Rica where traditional life prevails and we can interact meaningfully with local people and indigenous cultures:  learning about medicinal plants and their use (they get to taste the different plants and see many they just get processed at supermarkets, for example cinnamon, vanilla, etc), learn about organic cacao plantations and how to prepare chocolate, BriBri people teach how they weave the roofs on their houses (and guests can participate doing their own weaving), be part of the daily life of a farmer, etc.”

Named one of the Best New Trips for 2010 by National Geographic Adventure and featured in The New York Times.

Check out our Undiscovered Caribbean Costa Rica Adventure for a taste of an untouched side of Costa Rica.

6) Sri Lanka

“I was just recently in Sri Lanka for 12 days and in the entire time I was traveling I did not meet or see a single other American. After spending 12 days there and falling in love with the country and its people all I could ask was, why not?” –Wildland Adventures SE Asia Program Director, Kelsey Wenger

If Americans are avoiding traveling to Sri Lanka because they’re scared, they shouldn’t be! Sri Lanka has enjoyed a peaceful existence in the decade-plus since political unrest and a civil war in the 1990’s. Sri Lanka has the highest literacy rate in the region, high health standards, vast natural resources, and substantial conservation policies. A nation the size of West Virginia, its size is actually its greatest asset; there is so much in so little!

For sand and surf, Sri Lanka has over twenty dazzling white beaches that ring the island. Wildlife in Sri Lanka is nothing short of impressive with more than 440 species of birds, 33 of which are endemic to the island. Sri Lankan forests have the highest density of leopards in the world and home to the largest herd of wild elephants! 2,000 years of history mean that ancient cities and temples abound with Sri Lanka boasting eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. Sri Lanka is a captivating and unique country that has emerged from a time of civil strife more beautiful and stronger than before – much like coal transforming into a diamond. 

If you're ready for one our adventures in Sri Lanka, take a peek at our Wild Sri Lanka Adventure.

5) Mountains, Caves and Coast: Brazil Trekking Adventure

How about a through-trek in one of South America’s most beautiful and well-kept secret hiking areas in the world: Chapada Diamantina National Park? This park, once a mining area for diamonds, as its name suggests, is now an oasis in the ancient tabletop mountains in the heart of Brazil’s state of Bahia.  This is THE adventure capital of Brazil and anything adventure-based is possible here: trekking, rock climbing, rafting, swimming in waterfalls and electric blue lagoons, exploring caves, etc. Stay with families in rustic villages that evoke thoughts of small, Mediterranean towns tucked away and forgotten by time, or, if you prefer, stay in small, rustic, boutique hotels. Finish up the trip on the sun soaked beach of Copacabana in Rio.  Trip length is flexible so if you require a shorter stay we can easily adjust the itinerary to include in-country flights rather than drives and shorter departure dates. Of course, if you’d like to stay longer there’s plenty of Brazil left to explore too! 

Interested in travel to Brazil? Our Mountains, Caves and Coast: Brazil Trekking Adventure is the way to go.

4) Traversing the Northern Highlands of SE Asia

Sure, there are easy flights between countries in SE Asia but for the intrepid traveler, there’s no better way to get to know this region of the world than by traveling overland! Our itinerary does just that by wandering through the far north, exploring the mountainous highlands of Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam where some of SE Asia’s most vibrant cultures are still intact and the natural beauty is unparalleled. Cruise the mighty Mekong, lifeblood of SE Asia, in a traditional slow boat from Thailand to Luang Prabang; board a luxury overnight train and wind your way through the mountains of Northern Vietnam to Sapa, a region famous for its Hmong culture, hiking, and spectacular vistas; and explore the UNESCO city of Luang Prabang with its fascinating mix of Laotian and French influences. This itinerary offers a truly unique slice of SE Asia that will take you beyond the usual and into the undiscovered.

Our SE Asia Expert, Kelsy Wenger, is happy to help you plan your Traverse of the Northern Highlands of Indochina.

3) Exploring Wild Chile: Off the Beaten Path in Patagonia

This is Wildland's ultimate outdoor adventure in Chile! From exploring the Aysen region and Patagonia Park “Chile’s Yellowstone” (Doug Tompkin’s most recent national park project) to kayaking in areas around Torres del Paine that are unreachable on foot. Paddle past the remote Tyndall and Balmaceda glaciers, imposing mountains and secret fjords that most travelers to Torres del Paine never encounter. This trip is exceptional!

If the trip seems too long, too rustic or too strenuous, fear not! This trip can easily be customized with fewer segments, upgraded accommodation and alternatives to kayaking such as a visit remote glaciers or side trips to see whales, penguins, and other aquatic wildlife of Patagonia. No matter how you cut it, this trip gleams!

Find your Patagonia adventure.

2) The Jordan Explorer

"The quiet house in a noisy neighborhood," Jordan is a spectacular example of a true crossroads of history and culture. Vestiges of Nabataean, Roman, Bedouin societies are layered in iconic sites such as Petra and Jerash, while ancient Crusader Castles command ridges throughout the land. The vast red dunes and sheer mountainscapes of Wadi Rum invite adventure as well as contemplation, and brilliant sandstone canyonlands lead to hidden waterfalls and refreshing pools. The Jordan Explorer introduces you to the highlights of this hidden gem, an experience like no other.  

Discover your own adventure in Jordan.

Wildland's #1 brightest diamond in the rough: Safaris in Namibia

First-time travelers to Africa often overlook Namibia as a country to visit in favor of more popular destinations in east and southern Africa. It really shouldn’t be! Namibia has amazing wildlife safari opportunities (elephant, rhino, leopard, lion and buffalo) and exceptional natural beauty from the Kalahari desert to Etosha National Park to the Skeleton Coast. Due to its sparse population and vast open areas, Namibian night skies are nearly free of light pollution creating unparalleled stargazing (some would say “like diamonds in the sky”). Namibia is also one of the world’s leading diamond producers! This is an easy choice for Wildland’s “Diamonds In the Rough List”!

Don’t believe me?  See what CNN recently had to say about Namibia.

Whether you're a first timer or a seasoned safari veteran, you have to experience one of our safaris in Namibia if you want the ultimate safari adventure. 

For three decades, Wildland Adventures has led the way in designing specialized itineraries that match you with your personal interests and style of travel. Our team looks forward to working with you. 

Your friendly adventure travel expert,


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