From beaches to mountains, lakes to rivers, and deserts to glaciers, the world is full of breathtaking landscapes. Many of us dream of visiting the top destinations on the planet and those that we see constantly on billboards, photo-sharing sites and travel shows. But you might also want to get off the typical tourist trail and explore destinations unknown and overlooked by others. If this sounds like you then we’ve selected three countries whose natural beauty doesn’t receive the credit that it deserves.
Slovenia, a small central European nation squeezed between Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Italy, is among the world’s lesser-known travel destinations. Yet, this is a paradise for outdoorsy types and nature lovers. Some two thirds of the country is swathed in forests, which makes it one the top three forested European countries. Complementing these forests is 29 miles of Adriatic Sea coastline, dramatic caves and picturesque lakes. Hundreds of miles of biking and hiking trails traverse Slovenia’s mountain ranges, namely the Julian Alps, Kamnik-Savinja Alps and Pohorje Hills.
Take a boat ride to Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria on the fairytale-like Lake Bled, set at the edge of Triglav National Park. Within the park is Kranjska Gora, where superb cycling, hiking and skiing awaits. Hike through the Vrata Valley to the summit of 9,396-feet-tall Mount Triglav. Explore a network of caves at Postojna Cave and follow a walkway along Soteska Vintgar gorge.
Malawi is the Warm Heart of Africa, an African nation whose people epitomize the cheerful and hospitable characteristics of the continent. Tourism is on the rise in Malawi but it’s still one of the undiscovered safari destinations of Africa, where diverse wildlife roams unspoiled countryside. Lush coffee, rubber, sugar and tea plantations sweep across this landlocked country and are towered over by 9,000-thousand-feet tall massifs. Magnificent Lake Malawi stretches along the eastern border and covers about two thirds of the entire length of the country.
Beguiled by shimmering water and a tropical island appearance, David Livingstone called Lake Malawi the Lake of Stars. Today it’s a place to enjoy everything from sailing, scuba diving and snorkeling to fishing and luxury beach resorts. Spot buffaloes, elephants, hippos, lions and over 650 bird species at nine national parks and wildlife reserves. Bike and hike in the Nyika Plateau, traverse mystical forests in the Zomba Plateau and feel on top of the world at Sapitwa Peak.
With only 1.9 people per square kilometer, Mongolia is one of the world’s least densely populated places. This small population means that the country’s natural beauty, much of which you are unlikely to see anywhere else, remains completely unblemished. If your idea of fun is discovering blue highland lakes set in the shadow of snow-capped mountain peaks, emerald green prairies, thick pine forests and undulating plateaus then Mongolia could be for you. The shifting landscapes of the Gobi Desert sweep across the south of the country.
Abundant adventures lure intrepid travelers to this landlocked Asian wilderness. Climb the singing Khongor Sand Dunes in Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park. Marvel at otherworldly landscapes while hiking in Gorkhi Terelj National Park. Spot fossils and petrified bones around the Flaming Red Cliffs and go horse-trekking around Khövsgöl Nuur lake.