A review of my top ten countries visited in 2015!
With a total of 54 new countries visited in 2015 I’ve had a wealth of new adventures and many eye-opening experiences.
Here is my pick for the top 10 new countries visited based primarily on my overall experience and secondarily on the quality of the adventure, enjoyment, uniqueness, and memorability.
This large island is difficult to visit due to the poor infrastructure and limited flights both internationally and domestically. However, the natural beauty of the baobab trees, pristine beaches, endemic wildlife, and undeveloped jungles make it a special and worthwhile destination.
Malawi is a small country often overlooked by tourists but holds full of surprises. With the unique Lake Malawi, Liwonde National Park, a peaceful capital, and unspoiled villages, the country is the perfect off-the-beaten-track destination.
Its paradise reputation precedes the Seychelles and deservedly so. These islands are perfect for a relaxing or adventurous holiday. The country has a great infrastructure to support tourism and purposely offers a range of options on different islands from exciting adventurous ecotours to ultra luxurious resort vacations.
Even though it is going through an economic crisis and political issues, which is hurting its international image, the natural beauty and friendliness of the population supersedes this. Avoid the capital and head to the unblemished rainforests of Canaima, home of Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall.
Though still battling with terrorism in the far north, Cameroon is a diverse country with both French and British colonial roots. It offers a peaceful capital, beaches, and Western Africa’s highest mountain.
Andean mountains and volcanos, Amazonian jungle, a large coastal area, and the Galapagos Islands create one of the most diverse geographical offerings of South America. Add in culture, history, and a developed tourism industry and you’ll find Ecuador, a country well worth exploring.
This Nordic island in the middle of Atlantic is a must-see. A drive around the picturesque country leads to quaint towns, glaciers, geysers, hot springs, lakes, a continental rift, and plentiful wildlife watching.
The greatest surprise of my year was Iran. My expectations were low, most likely from Western media conditioning, but I found a modern country with extremely friendly people and some impressive sites to explore. Though I only visited Tehran, I hope to return soon to explore the rest of this vast country.
With landscapes out of this world, abandoned mining towns swallowed up by the desert, a coastline littered with shipwrecks, and massive dunes meeting the ocean, Namibia was one of my favorite discoveries in Africa.
The only country that was not colonized during the European land grab, Ethiopia maintains a civilization and culture unlike the rest of Africa. The chaotic capital contrasts the exceptional sites around the country such as Harar’s walled city, Gondar’s castles, Bahir Dar’s lake monasteries, Lalibela’s magnificent carved churches, Axum’s obelisks and the unworldly Danakil Depression. With so much to see, one yearns to return to this mysterious land.
These countries came close to making the list.
Sao Tome and Principe
Paradise islands with deserted stretches of white sandy beaches and pristine jungles not blemished by tourism or crime is Africa’s best kept secret.
Nestled in the mountain range of the Pyrenees, Andorra is a relatively undiscovered country great for skiing, incredible views, and ancient castle towns.
A known but not overly developed safari destination, Botswana has wildlife without the crowds. Explore the national parks around the Okavango Delta or Chobe River that lead to the Victoria Falls.
What were your favorite destinations of 2015? Let me know in a comment below!