To honour the new year, I thought I’d start with an aspirational post on the countries I’m most keen and excited to visit. I’ve had the good fortune to visit some seriously fascinating and fun countries the last few years but that doesn’t mean I’m not hungry for more. While it would be fantastic if I could manage to visit some of these this year, there’s no certainty of that happening. If and when that happens, I’ll come back and revise this list but for now here are the countries at the top of my wishlist, in no particular order.
Few countries I’ve read about seem to offer as many diverse and quintessentially African experiences as Tanzania. This east African country has so much going for it. For starters there’s the opportunity to go on safari and attempt to see the ‘Big 5’ in places like Ngorongoro Crater. Next there’s the country’s coast and island of Zanzibar, which conjures up images of pirates but also the restaurant on the rock. Lastly, who can ignore the beck and call of hiking Kilimanjaro on the country’s border with Kenya. Tanzania seems like the perfect place to get multiple unforgettable experiences.
I’m cheating here a little, but at this stage I can’t decide which of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan I’m most interested in. To me because of their geographic closeness they’re a package deal. Only until I go will I know which of the countries I most like. The Caucasus intrigue me as they’re on the fringe of Europe and are bound to show me a new perspective on the continent of which I’ve grown quite fond. As for major sights, I don’t know many but am keen to see the Flame Towers of Baku, the church in Yerevan and the wineries of Tbilisi.
For a long while Jordan was on my list for a single reason, Petra. The countless photos I’ve seen of the treasury at Petra (not to mention repeat viewings of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) had me enthralled. However, my parents had the chance to visit Jordan last year and I learned that it also had plenty more to offer. From other major archaeological sites to the Dead Sea to camping out in the desert of Wadi Rum; it all sounds like awesome fun and a chance to explore Middle Eastern culture in one of the safest and secure countries in the region. And again, Petra!
There’s a combination of influences that have me sweet on the idea of visiting Myanmar. The most obvious and likely has to be photos I’ve seen of the temples of Bagan at sunrise. The lamest is probably the Top Gear episode that went there. What really clinched it for me was talking to a few other travel addicts who shared with me how much they enjoyed it. Ultimately, the idea that Myanmar is still developing into a tourist destination greatly appeals to me compared to known quantities like Thailand.
These days there aren’t too many European countries I haven’t been to yet, but Malta hasn’t managed to fit into my plans so far. That’s a major pity as this Mediterranean archipelago seems right up my alley. The country has a fascinating history with chivalric knight orders and a succession of different rulers through the years. It also is said to boast some picturesque seaside spots and geological landmarks. Malta is most definitely on the cards as I continue to work out how to best get there.
When I learned that there was a Middle eastern country with fjords, it took me a moment to process that. Try as may, I still have terribly stereotypical ideas of what the Middle East looks like. And yet Oman is supposedly meant to challenge many of these with diverse climates and landscapes, not to mention a deep sense of history compared to its neighbours the UAE. That sailing the coast is meant to be a great way to see the country was the final piece of the puzzle telling me to get my butt to Oman – once I can afford to.
South America is a big place made up of few countries and yet it’s hard to find much information on a place like Guyana. As someone who likes to flick through photos of places, the only spot I’ve ever really seen is the Kaieteur Falls and even those photos are rare. That either means there is nothing else worth photographing in Guyana or there’s plenty of exploring to be done. I’m going with the latter. That it also has strong Caribbean ties means it likely has a culture unlike almost any other in South America. Consider my curiosity piqued.
When I talk to people who have visited Southern Africa, there’s consistently one country they all rave about – Namibia. I always take that as a good sign but the photos I have seen clinched the coastal country as one of my most anticipated destinations to visit. From its Skeleton Coast of shipwrecks, to the breathtaking Dune 45, to the surrealist dream that is Deadvlei, I honestly can’t wait to see to see this country with my two eyes. One day!
Out of all the destinations on this list, I’ve probably read the most travel blogs on Sri Lanka. I take that as a strong endorsement of a country that I knew a modest about before hand. There are some aspects of Sri Lanka that are immediately appealing, like its island nature and a distinct culture from its more popular and well-known neighbour India. It’s been from travel blogs however that I’ve learnt about the epic train journeys you can take through the country, the country’s vast tea plantations, plus cool sights like the rock of Sigiriya or the fisherman above. All that I’ve read about Sri Lanka has drawn me in and I look forward to one day sharing with you my tips and experiences from there as well.
Ethiopia’s tourism market truly seems to have been blossoming of late and I’ve definitely been taking notice. This country in East Africa seems to have turned a corner and is starting to get its name out there. The region still appears to have a rough edge to it but that’s often half the appeal. The other half is not lacking either: dramatic landscapes like the Simien Mountains; plenty of rare wildlife spotting opportunities; cultural experiences with various local tribes; and even mighty ruins like the fortress of Gondar. I’m curious about just about everything relating to Ethiopia and know that only by going there can I scratch that itch.
While technically not a country, I just had to include the Faroe Islands as it has been near the top of my list for so long now. I almost managed to visit back in 2014 as part of my trip to Iceland but couldn’t figure out the logistics or where to switch it in for. These isolated islands in the North Atlantic are meant to be home to some staggering natural beauty rivalling even Iceland plus there’s just something about visiting a remote destination such as this. I’m a big fan of the Scandinavian/Nordic countries and would love to see how things have developed in this secluded corner of the Danish Kingdom.
I know a handful of people who have been to Iran and it’s always the same story: It was nothing like what they expected and everyone is super friendly and welcoming. Iran tends to be portrayed very narrowly in western media, so I always find it fascinating when they say things like that Tehran is a fairly cosmopolitan city. This is of course on top of all the historic Persian historic sights like Persepolis that the country is home to and a broad range of climates from the mountains in the north to the southern coast. And still a big part is the idea of getting to know the people and learn more about the true Iranian culture that we just don’t get to see overseas.
Which countries are on your wishlist? Where are you most excited about visiting in the future? Please share in the comments below.
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