Take the Road Less Travelled Through South America

South America is a dream travel destination for many, and its name alone conjures images of impressive Incan ruins, exotic jungle terrain and bustling Latin cities. This guide will outline some of the exciting lesser-known destinations away from the heaving crowds to visit in between all of the main attractions, to make your trip more meaningful and memorable.

Huacachina, Peru

The only dessert oasis in South America, Huacachina is located 5 hours south of Lima and is easily accessible by bus. You could stop off here on your way to Machu Picchu for a more authentic experience, but come quick because every year more and more tourists are becoming aware of this beauty.

It’s the perfect destination for thrill-seekers – you can go sandboarding and hire a dune buggy before relaxing around the lagoon which is said to have healing properties. There are also a number of wineries and pisco (the national drink) distilleries close by, and day trips to the legendary Nazca Lines running from Huacachina too.

Otavalo, Ecuador

Otavalo hosts one of the most important markets in the Andes, which dates back to pre-Incan times and specialises in exquisite weavings and textiles from the Otaveleños. Traders still wear traditional dress and it really is a must-see market for tourists so don’t let its popularity put you off — it’s the real deal, authenticity dripping from every market stall. It’s not the prettiest city architecturally but the stunning mountain backdrop of Otavalo and the surrounding hidden lakes and mountainside villages will mesmerise you after you’ve stocked up on beautiful local crafts.

Three Great Train Journeys Through Asia

Live like a Maharajah on the aptly-named Palace on Wheels through some of India’s most spectacular destinations. Essentially a five-star hotel on wheels rolling through some of the most beautiful vistas in the world, this train offers luxury, comfort and exciting adventure all at once.

Wonder at the Taj Mahal, visit beautiful walled cities and partake in some amazing tiger spotting in Ranthambore National Park. This route also includes the famous cities of Jaipur and Jodhpur and some of the most delicious food you will eat in your life. You can journey into the Himalayas onboard, and get direct return flights from London for convenience at the end of this exciting trip.

Singapore to Bangkok on the Eastern and Oriental

How does being transported back to the Colonial era, but with all of the creature comforts of the twenty-first century sound? Part of the Orient-Express group, this week-long train trip could be the adventure for you. The ‘Classic’ journey is from Singapore to Bangkok, covering 1,255 miles of beautiful landscapes which you can appreciate while enjoying good wine, food and conversation, with smartly-uniformed attendants on hand to help make your trip as pleasant and comfortable as possible.

You can see Kuala Lumpur’s impressive night time cityscape, the River Kwai Bridge, the island of Penang and George Town from the train, or you can take a closer look on organised excursions. The train boasts an observation tower which offers splendid views (and is a great place to enjoy some cocktails), a dining car serving gourmet cuisine for all tastes (for when you tire of the Oriental flavours) and an exquisitely designed bar car, complete with live pianist and evening entertainment.

Although the cabins are a bit on the ‘cosy’ side (5.7 square metres as standard), the experience overshadows this – and that’s what you’re here for at the end of the day.

Hit the Heights of Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world, and is Africa’s highest peak. A dormant volcano located in Northern Tanzania, its summit Uhuru Peak stands at 5,895m or 19,341 ft. Trekkers on fast routes can conquer Kili within 4-5 days, with other routes lasting around 8 days. The success rate for reaching the peak is around 67%, and you could easily be one of the 50,000 thrill-seekers who climb this beauty each year.

Routes to the Summit

With six different options, it can be slightly overwhelming to decide which to go for. Around two thirds of climbers opt for the Machame or Marangu routes, with the latter being arguably the most luxurious as it’s the only route with sleeping huts rather than tents. It can be hiked in only 5 days, which can also make it the cheapest because of its short length. The Machame is the most successful route for summiting, and it’s recommended that you take 7 days on this trek to acclimatise properly for the best chance of reaching the peak.

If you want to get off the beaten track and miss the crowds, you’d be better going for a combination of existing routes by using the little-known detour known as the Northern Circuit. This links part of Lemosho to a section of Rongai, thus avoiding the busiest areas on the mountain and making for an even more memorable adventure away from the hordes of people.

The Shira route is arguably the most scenic, but is only open to those who have been acclimatised at 4,000m by hiking either Mt Kenya or Mt Meru a few days before attempting to summit Kilimanjaro.