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12 lesser-known destinations to visit in 2019

From surreal landscapes in Bolivia to a secret foodie mecca in Japan, these travel destinations are worth the flight.

We all know that getting away from it all is becoming harder to do. There was a time when travel to faraway lands meant taking the road less journeyed; now, that road is apt to include a restroom stop just after the Tour Bus from Hell has passed through – it just isn’t the same anymore. A week or two on a desert island is still plausible – especially if you own it – and remote mountaintop hideaways are always available to those in the know (or on the run). But unless you know Jho Low’s travel planner, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to ski Hokkaido, visit Machu Picchu, trek Lanzarote or explore the fabled ruins at Petra without running into someone you know, or from your dialect group.

The options are still out there for people who place a premium on privacy: a quiet sojourn in French Polynesia, a wellness retreat in Iceland or a luxury jungle lodge in Belize, perhaps. But wandering even further offpiste to visit a remote archaeological site or go trekking with only Mother Nature for company may require help from a bespoke travel operator. Nonetheless, here are BT Weekend’s suggestions for under-the-radar travel in 2019:

(RELATED: How luxury operators are catering to the rising number of solo travellers)

  • Ethiopia

    JAN

    ETHIOPIA

    “Ethiopia will be the next Peru,” says Jose Cortes, co-founder of luxury tour operator A2A Safaris (www.a2asafaris.com), which specialises in African safaris and countries throughout Latin America. This landlocked country in the Horn of Africa, mostly unspoiled by mass tourism, is home to ancient cultures, archaeological sites dating back millions of years, endangered wildlife and diverse landscapes. Mr Cortes adds, “In 2019 we will be pushing luxury tented camps and fly camping in remote areas in the Omo Valley (in the country’s southwestern corner, where several ancient tribes coexist), where our clients see no other tourists, just seven-to-eight tribes in a week.” Five nights at a luxury tented camp start at US$6,000 per person, including local flights and transfers.

    The Bale Mountains in Ethiopia’s Highlands - about 400 km southeast of the capital Addis Ababa - have been compared to Switzerland and is the best place to see Ethiopian wolves, the most endangered carnivores on the planet. There are said to be fewer than 500 left in the wild, most of them in this region. Finally, the Danakil Depression in the north is a vast plain featuring alien landscapes and known for its active volcanoes, lava lakes, salt flats, acid and sulphur pools and camel caravans. It’s been called the hottest place on earth, with temperatures in January ranging between 24 C and 29 C (and 40 C or more in July).

(RELATED: The pampered traveller’s guide to Bolivia)

This article was originally published in The Business Times.

Photos: Jose Cortes/A2A Safari, Geoffrey Eu/BT, Helsinki Marketing, KC Kan, Eli O Messi & Aracari Travel