A summary of my top ten countries of 2014!
With 49 new countries across 5 continents visited in 2014, I had a serious year of travel with some wonderful and crazy experiences. I’ll post the complete list soon, but until then, here is my pick for the top 10 new countries visited based on the uniqueness and quality of their sights, the county’s current situation, and the overall experience.
Often passed up for its popular neighbor, Morocco, Tunisia offers a wealth of historic sites, Mediterranean beaches, cultural cities, desert excursions, and even the filming location of the original Star Wars.
The country has recovered surprisingly quickly after its horrific genocide claiming up to a million lives. The majority of Kigali’s tourist sights revolve around the genocide and provide a powerful and unforgettable look into humanity at its worst.
Though similar Montenegro won out ahead of its neighbor, Croatia, mainly because it was less popular. As it is not yet a member of the EU and does not use the Euro, tourist seem to avoid this small country which means less crowds and expense. Small coastal towns, where scenes from Game of Thrones were shot, and a quiet capital allow the country to maintain an undiscovered charm.
With the largest salt flat in the world, historic colonial towns, a scary silver mine and beautiful landscapes Bolivia has a lot to offer minus the crowds of some other South American countries.
The largest and most unique island of the Caribbean offers a glimpse into the past partially due to its government and the US embargo. The exotic culture, cuisine, history and natural surroundings provide the setting for an ultimate vacation.
With several travel advisories and a slew of unfortunate incidences within the last year, Ukraine is now avoided if possible. However, the western side of the country is still functioning much like before just much quieter and without the crowds, making it a perfect adventure. Check out the resort town of Odessa, the incredible capital of Kiev, with its memorials from the revolution of less than a year ago, and the nuclear disaster zone of Chernobyl.
Currently experiencing some difficulties due to the conflict in Syria, Lebanon nevertheless maintains incredible sights such as the Baalbek and Anjar ruins. Beirut, the capital, still offers some of the world’s best nightlife.
With Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti, several other popular national parks, and Zanzibar, Tanzania has established itself as a prime international tourist destination.
Peru really needs no introduction as Machu Picchu is a well known attraction and rightfully so. As one of the 7 New World Wonders, it is certainly a sight that needs to be experienced in the first person to take in its grandeur. The country has a lot more to offer such as the pristine Lake Titicaca, the massive Colca Canyon, the ancient Nazca Lines and colonial towns like Cusco and Arequipa.
Jordan topped the list with its incredible ruins of Petra (an Indiana Jones fans’ must see), sprawling deserts and mountains of Wadi Rum, awesome Dead Sea resorts and spas, up-and-coming Aqaba on the Red Sea, and the Amman area with ancient Islamic and Roman ruins.
These countries came close to making the list.
With the 2014 World Cup and the impending Olympics Games, Brazil has been busy getting the city up to speed including focusing on crime and other concerns. As the largest country in South America, there are plenty of sights to visit such as the Amazon, the major cities, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, as well as the Iguacu Falls.
Steadily recovering from the Bosnian War in the 90s, the country is still very raw and authentic. Buildings are still riddled with bullet holes as a reminder of the recent past. The youthful capital Sarajevo was full of activity and had some interesting sights. We also happened to visit during the film festival which added to the excitement.
This Baltic country is a mix of Russian, Scandinavian and EU influences. With a beautiful old town surrounded by water, Tallinn offers plenty of sightseeing. The soviet past is seen in Hotel Viru while an eerie prison is basically unaltered and open to explore.
What’s on your travel list for 2015?