July 2007 (All Over) – Somewhere beyond “away from it all” and “off the beaten path” lie destinations so remote and exclusive it might take some work getting there. But, as sophisticated travelers have discovered going “off the radar” is worth the trip. No more “been there, done that.” Instead, their myriad rewards include peace and quiet, exotic culture, spectacular scenery, blessed privacy, and the divine option of having nothing to do – and doing it. So tell the office that the Blackberry is off, because they won’t be able to reach you where you’re headed.
Where to lose yourself “off the radar”? Read on:
Western Cape, South Africa: They don’t make expanses much wider than those that surround Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape of South Africa. Situated along the popular Garden Route and the banks of the Grobbelaars River, the capital of Klein Karoo rests in the shadows of the Swartberg and Outeniqua Mountains with much to experience during warm dry summers and sunny winter days. Visitors can tour the Cango Ostrich Farm and Cango Caves, or view endangered species at the Cango Wildlife Ranch.
Where to Stay: A spread of first-class addresses awaits, including Foster’s Manor (fostersmanor.co.za) and Hlangana Lodge (hlangana.co.za). www.southafrica.net.
Gobi Desert, Mongolia: While moving rapidly into the 21st century, land-locked Mongolia is remote enough to earn a place off the radar. Discover the rugged Altai Mountains in the west, the stunning Lake Hovsgol in the north, the fertile grasslands of the heartland to the untamed expanse of the Gobi Desert. Along the way, enjoy unique opportunities to interact with the nomadic people, often in their own traditional gers.
How to Get There: Nomadic Expeditions, the pioneer of travel to Mongolia and beyond, offers more than two-dozen tours. www.nomadicexpeditions.com.
The Arctic: Let ‘em look high. Let ‘em look low. They’ll never, ever find you where you’re headed – off the radar to the top of the world. Exploratory voyages into the bays and islands of the Canadian Easter High Arctic and Northwest Greenland promise beauty and extreme wilderness of glacier-covered mountains, Arctic tundra carpeted in flowering beauty, and ice in every imaginable form. The region is renowned for rare and spectacular wildlife, including seabirds, seals, narwhal, walrus and polar bear.
How to Get There: NEW High Arctic Explorer adventure from Mountain Travel Sobek. The 12-day Two departures in 2007: 8/1 and 8/12, with more Arctic adventures available. www.mtsobek.com.
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico: Embrace both sea and jungle in a serene retreat, just 40 miles from bustling Cancun. Explore the tropical forest and enjoy seven miles of white sand beach while indulging in an array of activities such as cenote diving, seawater fishing, and jungle tours. Venture to the numerous landmarks and ancient cities that reside nearby and are begging for exploration: Xcaret, Coba, Sian-Khan, Chichen-Itza, and Uxmal.
Where to Stay: Indulge a secluded villa at Tides Riviera Maya –set in the jungle with private plunge pools and outdoor moon showers. www.tidesrivieramaya.com.
Myanmar (Burma): Appreciate the kaleidoscope of colors and culture waiting in Myanmar. Step off the radar and experience a realm rich in history, culture and natural beauty that only recently opened to western tourism. Previously known as Burma, and still called the “Golden Land” for its glittering pagodas, it’s an unmatched destination rich in beauty and culture.
How to Get There: Country Walkers, offers a 10-day walking adventure. Two departures in 2007: 12/7 and 12/28; $3898 per person. www.countrywalkers.com.
The Cotswolds, England: All too many travelers to England never make it any further than London. Pity for them, because the beautiful, rolling Cotswolds lay just 90-or-so minutes outside the city and are completely off most travelers’ radar. The pretty village of Chipping Campden ready access to a world of rural delights. From Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon to Winston Churchill’s birthplace at Blenheim Palace, as well as antique shopping, walking tours and Hidcote Gardens, a nearby National Trust site, there is much to experience that most travelers never see or do.
Where to Stay: Cotswold House, in Chipping Campden provides some of the UK’s most stylish guestrooms. www.cotswoldhouse.com.