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Avoid the Crowds: Alternative Destinations for Adventure Travelers

If, after months of following stay-at-home orders, the call of the outdoors is getting louder and harder for you to ignore, you’re not alone. According to a survey by Forbes and YouGov, almost 9 out of 10 Americans have plans to travel in the next six months.

Overtourism, or when everyone goes to the same popular destinations, is predicted to become even more of a problem now that travel restrictions have begun to loosen. For this reason, many destinations aren’t focusing on marketing or paying for PR agency services to attract visitors. Instead, owners and operators of these destinations try to find a balance between having no tourists and too many tourists.

Traveling to popular destinations means longer-than-usual queues, lots of people, and very little social distancing, whether it’s at the site itself or car rental counters, toll booths, and even highway rest stops on the way. If jostling elbows with strangers isn’t your idea of an ideal vacation, it’s best to go elsewhere on your next adventure holiday. What was true before the pandemic holds true today: the best way to avoid the madding crowd is to go off the beaten path.

Here are some little-known locations around the world where you can get your fill of fun and adventure without dealing with throngs of tourists.

Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia

This sparsely populated chain of 1,500 islands boasts pristine white sand beaches, unspoiled jungles, mysterious caves, majestic waterfalls, and crystal-clear waters. You’ll need days, if not weeks, to fully experience what the area has to offer.

The surrounding waters’ incredible biodiversity makes it perfect for diving and snorkeling. In fact, the area has more than 50 dive spots. Meanwhile, climbers will enjoy taking a day trip to the Wayag Islands, where the reward for climbing up one of its very steep peaks is a 36- degree view of the surrounding sea and the mushroom-shaped Karst islets that dot it.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, Alaska

America’s largest national park spans an incredible 13.2 million acres—at four times the size of Yellowstone, there’s more than enough space in this park to make avoiding tourists easy as pie. There’s also plenty to do for adrenaline junkies.

For a bird’s eye view of the park, go on a flightseeing tour. Wrangell Mountain Air or and Tok Air Service both offer guided flightseeing tours that allow you to see places like Mount Wrangell Volcano and Badgley Ice Field as well as a variety of landscapes, from mountains and forests to rivers and tundras. Depending on your flightseeing package, you can have your pilot land on a glacier!

Other activities you can try are hiking on Root Glacier, river rafting, and ice climbing. You can also uniquely explore the park: in the winter, the park allows snowmachine/snowmobile use anywhere on public land.

Teide National Park, Canary Islands

Located within this park is Teide Volcano, the highest volcano in Spain. To reach the peak, there are two choices: by cable car or on foot.

The cable car allows you to take in panoramic views of Tenerife’s neighboring islands. A special permit will allow you to access the crater. Meanwhile, making the journey on foot via the Montaña Blanca trail takes you up pumice stone and lava paths through areas of stark beauty. You’ll see wild volcanic vegetation, unusual insects, reptiles like the Tenerife lizard and the Tenerife skink, as well as Teide blue finches, wild canaries, and kestrels.

Keep in mind that the trail is challenging, and it takes about five and a half hours to make the ascent. Be sure to hire a guide and pack snacks!

Crested Butte, Colorado

This small, peaceful town in the Rocky Mountains is actually a top destination for extreme skiers. Despite this fact, few crowds descend on Crested Butte in the winter and even fewer in the off-season.

During the summer months, biking enthusiasts should prioritize visiting Crested Butte Mountain Bike Park. It has more than 30 miles of trails, most of them fairly easy and suitable for beginners. More experienced cyclists will enjoy the challenge of navigating the park’s Psycho Rocks trail. True to its name, the very difficult trail has many gigantic boulders and ramp features and bridges.

Winter activities at Crested Butte include Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and fat biking.

Preparing for Your Adventure Trip

While preparing for the unexpected might seem antithetical to adventure travel, it pays to do your homework.

Before you book your trip, keep in mind that many places require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before allowing you to enter. Avoid the stress of a last-minute cancellation or change of plans by checking your destination’s hotel and local policies as well as air/land travel restrictions. Preparing in advance helps ensure you enjoy your travel adventure to the fullest.

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