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5 Great Eco Adventures Off the Beaten Path to Do in 2019
At the beginning of each year, we are inundated of lists of the most popular things to do in the next 12 months: the hippest this, the trending that, the upcoming what… Well at Wayaj, we like to be ahead of curve, so we put together our list of the best eco adventures that will be popular not this year, but next or maybe the following, or … whenever! They are just beautiful natural locations still off the radar, untouched by the major tourist waves, and therefore they allow Wayajers to enjoy authentic and uncontaminated experiences worth bragging about!
If you like to be one step ahead of the crowds of hipsters and aspiring travel bloggers, these are 5 unique destinations you should visit in 2019.
Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
Ideal for: altitude hikers, archeology buffs, lovers of Andean native cultures, modern shamans
When most people visit The Andes, they head to Peru, Chile, or Argentina with Bolivia getting short shrift. However, the country offers several spectacular experiences like exploring the Royal Andes Range and Lake Titicaca, a region renowned for the unique ecosystem.
Legends say that Lake Titicaca was the birthplace of the Inca people, and to this day this extensive body of water maintains that legendary quality thanks to the numerous archeological sites along its shores. The magic of the ancient times also survives in the unique traditions and crafts still practiced by the native peoples like the floating islands and the distinctive boats built with reefs.
Where to stay
Located on Isla del Sol, also known as the Isla Sagrada, Sacred Island, on the South-Eastern shore, Ecolodge La Estancia boasts fantastic views of Lake Titicaca and the Andes. The rooms and suites are built on restored agricultural terraces (tacanas), from the pre-Incan era and designed and decorated in a sustainable, eco-friendly manner by the local Aymara community, an indigenous nation of the Andes.
The lodge offers tours and activities that give a fascinating glimpse of the lifestyle, culture and heritage of the local Aymaras, including boat tours, archeological sites, shamanic ceremonies and visits to the local villages.
In the nearby town of Challampa it is possible to visit the Golden Museum of the Sunken City which features a great collection of artifacts and treasures discovered underwater in the area.
Myall Lakes National Park, Australia
ideal for: koala spotters, eco-surfers, tree-huggers
Myall Lakes National Park in New South Wales, Australia has one of the largest coastal lake systems with 25 miles (40 kilometers) of beaches and rolling sand dunes. Depending on the shifting sands, it is possible to find stone tools, bones, and shell deposits that have been hidden for thousands of years.
Bushwalking through the park, you can spy the unique fauna that calls this place home: sea eagles, pelicans and egrets, as well as wallabies, kangaroos, bandicoots (small marsupials), goannas (Australian monitor lizards) and even the occasional koala.
On the way from Myall Lakes National Park to the quaint town of Seal Rocks be sure to stop at New South Wales’ tallest tree, the Eucalyptus Grandis.
Seal Rocks is known for its many surfing beaches and its peaceful resistance to developers attempting to commercialize the small, picturesque fishing village. The slogan “Save Seal Rocks The Last Frontier” has been painted repeatedly on the road into town for the last 30 years.
(Photo credit Chad Ajamian – Flickr)
Where to Stay
The perfect spot for your base to explore this part of the world are the Bombah Point Eco Cottages, offering a stylish combination of modern comfort and wilderness.
The property forms a buffer zone for the national park as it actively restores the land restoration and promotes bush regeneration, so the vegetation can be a natural pollution filter for the fragile lakes ecosystem.
Gunjur, The Gambia
ideal for: safari, hippo lovers, heritage travel
In case you haven’t heard it yet, Africa is the hottest destination in 2019, so if you want to get on the trend and still enjoy a unique experience of this continent away from the crowds, head for The Gambia, or, officially, the Republic of The Gambia, the smallest country within mainland Africa, Thanks to its unique geographical location, snaking around both sides of the majestic Gambia River, there will be plenty of opportunities to discover the wildlife and culture of this region.
The Kiang West National Park and Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve are home to monkeys, hippos, and leopards, just to name a few.
In the Gambia River National Park the main attractions are the five island rainforests and the chimp rehab center; while in Niumi, a coastal preserve visitors can spot endangered species like humpback dolphins and green turtles.
For cultural and heritage travelers, the Kunta Kinteh Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the first outposts of the Europeans in this part of the world, is a prominent historical site of the Western African slave trade.
Another UNESCO site, or better sites, in this country are the Senegambian stone circles which constitute the largest concentration of megalithic stone circles in the world. Scattered on an area of 30,000 kmq across Senegal and The Gambia, they are evidence of a flourishing civilization that occupied this lands between the third century B.C. and the sixteenth century AD.
Where to stay
The Footsteps Eco Lodge located on the Atlantic shore just south of the mouth of the river Gambia, strives to offer a first class experience to its guests while minimizing the impact on the magnificent environment around them. Upon arrival, all guests receive a chilled-reusable stainless steel drinking bottle of purified water.
Feel free to enjoy the fruit off the trees while you wander the property!
From the lodge you can join bird-watching excursions, go for walks and bike rides on nature trails, or meet the locals at the thriving market and fish market in the nearby village of Gunjur.
Cabo de Gata - Nijar Natural Park, Spain
ideal for: nature lovers, movie buffs, slow travel
With more than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, landscapes of cliffs, beaches, bubbling creeks and salt flats, the Natural Park of Cabo de Gata is a hidden jewel on the Eastern end of the Andalusia in Spain.
Spot flamingoes at Las Salinas, discover the thriving marine life in the Posidonia Oceanica meadows or hike to secluded coves with golden sands like the Cala Enmedio, where you’ll enjoy views of the Mesa Roldán (Roldán Table). This coastal area with a lighthouse and the remains of a watchtower was part of the land of Mereen in season 6 of “Game of Thrones”. Actually, several famous movies have been filmed in this region: “Lawrence of Arabia”, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, guided tours to the locations are available for the happiness of all the traveling movie buffs.
Photo credit: AtlasofWonders.com
Where to Stay
Nearby to the park is La Joya de Cabo de Gata, an ecological retreat with cozy cottages, as well as a “Haymah” (Bedouin tent) for those looking for a unique experience. Wander through the fig trees and pick off some fruit as you walk to the beach or explore the surroundings on horseback. What’s really unique about the property is that La Joya de Cabo de Gata encourages people to join the “slow option,” a global movement that embraces slowing down. Staying at the hotel allows you to take advantage of “slow travel,” “slow cooking,” and a slower lifestyle!
Sian Ka’an Biosphere, Mexico
ideal for: nature lovers, bird watching, water cave explorers, Indiana Jones types
Yes Riviera Maya has been popular for a few decades, yet Sian Ka’an natural preserve remains one of those rare destinations that offers both top cultural and natural attractions and is not overcrowded yet.
One of the most ecologically diverse places on earth, Sian Ka’an is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, which is why the region, a 1.6 million acres site, became a designated “Biosphere Reserve” in 1986. A year later Sian Ka’an was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean.
Located two hours south of Cancun and near Tulum, a feature of the area are the cenote caves with crystal waters and amazing flora to explore,. The reserve is particularly famous for bird-watching, and for the spectacular Meso American reef is filled with fish rays, manaties, turtles and dolphins.
Archeology lovers can explore numerous ruins of Mayan towns scattered along ancient canals, and, of course, visit the world renowned Tulum site.
Where to stay
Set amidst the lush palm trees of Sian Ka’an, Mukan Resort, is the only self-sustaining luxury resort in the reserve. Sustainability is key to every aspect of the property, from generating energy to water purification, to the construction materials used to build the rooms and bungalows on the 600 feet of white-sand shore. Mukan also offers gastronomy classes like how to cut a coconut, how to make tamales, and tequila tasting sessions!