For the seasoned traveler, it can sometimes feel like the world is ever shrinking; like you’ve been to, or heard of, all the most interesting places to go. In a way, that realization carries with it a certain sadness, as if some amount of adventure has been removed from your possible travel. But fear not, there are still places, whole countries even, that you’ve never even heard of.
Let’s get the bad out first. Nauru is a tiny phosphate rock. Its bright resume includes: being a stepping stone for various military efforts, mining, detaining prisoners, and laundering money. If you wanted to run a marathon in the island of Nauru, you would have to run its perimeter more than once. Now for the good. Nauru is near Micronesia. It is the definition of a remote, tropical oasis. It’s as if a few thousand people got stranded there and decided to make a country. It’s Lord of the Flies, but with more scuba diving.
Squeezed between Spain and France like a zit on prom night, Andorra is the sort of mountain Shangri-la that usually only exists in books and movies. There are no airports and only two roads in, one from France and one from Spain. In the winter, expect to find quaint ski runs and hot chocolate aplenty. In the summer you’ll get hiking trails and the distinct possibility of gnomes.
Imagine all the desolate, once were logging, mining and otherwise industrial towns scattered across America, the sorts of places where movies like Red Dawn were filmed. Benin is Africa’s version of those towns, only instead of a closed down Sears, you’ll find hidden temples, palaces and archaeological sites of great importance. Just as our own forgotten towns maintain a sense of nostalgia and charm, so does Benin.
It’s hot, it’s expensive and it’s free of alcohol. So far, not so good. Brunei, on the coast of Malaysia is one of the smallest countries in the world, but luckily enough for them, it is essentially a solid ball of gas and oil, which makes it very valuable. What many tourists don’t realize is that all the reasons that you shouldn’t go to Brunei make it a very attractive place to go. Southeast Asia is one of the most popular backpacking destinations in the world, which makes it very overrun. Brunei is comparable unpopular, which means it’s one of the last unspoiled areas in the region.
For all the backpackers that make it to Africa, only a small proportion reach Madagascar and of that elite group, almost none manage to find their way to the Comoros. At the northern end of the strip of sea that divides Africa proper from Madagascar, this tiny collection of four islands is one of the most quintessential tropical destinations in the world. Palm trees, turquoise water and arguably the most active volcano in the world make Comoros beautiful and exciting.