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A couple years ago, I wrote out this wishlist to honour the new year, as an aspirational post on the countries I’m most keen and excited to visit. Since then, I’ve had the good fortune to visit some of the countries that were first on my list. Places like Malta, Myanmar and Georgia have all been extraordinary and justified their inclusions 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. As I continue to travel the world and get the opportunity to visit the below, I’ll keep coming back to revise this list. For now here are the countries at the top of my wishlist, in no particular order.
Somewhere that really has only appeared on my radar the last few years is the small country of Kyrgyzstan in central Asia. I’ve always been most interested in Uzbekistan from that corner of the globe, but this small country has shot up to take that spot. The reason behind that is the exposure that Kyrgyzstan has received from other bloggers like Nomadasaurus, who have shown me what makes this place special. Having seen photos of the beautiful scenery, I can’t wait to one day go hiking here and experience the nomadic culture up close.
There are still a handful of countries in Europe that I’ve yet to visit, but right now Ukraine is the one I’m most excited to see. I almost visited the Ukraine this year while travelling through the nearby Baltic states but alas, wasn’t to be. I’m keen to continue exploring eastern Europe and this complex country is the next logical step. Although there are troubles in parts of the country, I constantly hear how safe places like Kiev and Lviv are. Everything about the Ukraine has me intrigued, from the food and architecture to just life in general. It also seems a great place to go further afield with lesser known cities like Kharkiv and Odessa ripe for exploration.
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.
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!
After visiting Georgia this year, my desire to explore the rest of the Caucasus has only intensified. Both Armenia and and Azerbaijan now have an even greater allure to them and once I visit all three, only then will I know which of the countries I most like. The Caucasus intrigue me as they’re on the fringe of Europe and as I found in Georgia, are quite unlike anywhere I’ve been. Armenia and Azerbaijan are bound to show me again a new perspective on this region 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 and the church in Yerevan.
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 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. For a better idea of what you can see in Oman, check out the Bonds’ guide to their weekend in Muscat. I can’t wait to see it for myself.
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 travel wishlist? Where are you most excited about visiting in the future? Please share in the comments below.
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