Many backpackers have a travel “bucket list”, and to an extent I’m the same. The only thing is: my bucket list is virtually every country I haven’t been to yet (and includes seeing more of countries Ihave already been to!) I think that every part of the world has something to offer travellers – even if there is significant risk to your health and safety by travelling there.
That said, here are five countries I want to visit sooner rather than later – the first to cross of my bucket list, so to speak.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Not renowned as a tourist destination unless you’re big into scuba diving. This Melanesian paradise has had it’s fare share of strife over the years, and is home to many WWII-era wrecks (both ships and aircraft) that have turned into amazing reefs. The home of over 800 indigenous languages spread across more than 600 islands, there are many parts that have barely been seen by European eyes.
What appeals to me (along with the diving) is the range of cultures to experience, as well as the isolation of the place. There are no through-roads so most travel has to be via aircraft, pushing the cost up, but I hope to try and do PNG on a budget soon.
The home of Mayan ruins, unspoilt jungle, and coffee plantations. I have wanted to travel to Guatemala for a long time. Having read about the Easter celebrations in Antigua and the combination of Roman Catholicism and indigenous religions (as seen via the folk saint Maximón), I’m looking forward to experiencing this Central American country.
I would be lying if I said that coffee didn’t have a part to play in my desire to visit too. I’m a big fan of coffee grown in Huehuetenango and have heard of the lauded fair-trade agreements New Zealand coffee roasters have in place with the Guatemalan farmers. I want to see for myself exactly what this means, without the coffee company spin.
There’s also the fact that Central America is an ideal budget travel destination, offering prices that can be on par with South East Asia.
Another coffee growing centre (Ethiopia is actually where coffee originated), but this isn’t the only reason that I want to journey to the birthplace of human civilization. Ethiopia is home to the city of Gondar and it’s castles, and the town of Lalibela which is renowned for it’s churches and monasteries carved out of rock. The architecture and historical significance of these churches fascinate me, and I’d love the opportunity to see one of the holiest sites for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
My fascination with Cuba began as it has for many Wellingtonians through Cuba Street in the CBD. Even though Cuba Street was named after a ship used by early settlers to Wellington (the ship in turn being named after the island itself), the arty centre for Wellington has appropriated a romanticised Cuban culture. Having spent many hours (and dollars) in Fidel’s cafe and Havana Bar drinking mojitos and listening to salsa, I want to see what Cuba is really like, rather than a watered down, rose-tinted view of it. It also ticks the boxes for my fascination with history and Latin America, so is high on my list.
“Hang on, you want to travel to a despotic, isolated, Stalinist state that is technically still at war with it’s neighbour and has continued to conduct inflammatory nuclear testing and fiery rhetoric despite international outcry?”
You’re damned right I do. North Korea is on my list because I’m intrigued by the propaganda and the isolation. It’s also one of the few truly irrational actors in the international community, and I’d like to experience the just what an all-encompassing cult of personality is like. Whilst most Westerners view North Korea as crazy, I’d like to see the place with my own eyes before I lay down my final judgement.
As all tours must be accompanied by government officials and follow a strict tour schedule, I’m not sure how I’ll do this on a budget, but I’m always up for a challenge.
Where are the five destinations you can’t wait to travel to? Are you like me and want to see as much of the world as possible, or are there places you’d never travel to? Comment with your answer below.