This is a slightly special post as I have been kindly nominated by Marta and Chris at A Travel Around the World to contribute to Tripbase’s 3 Best Kept Travel Secrets project. If you haven’t heard about it then you must have had your head in the sand (a distinct possibility for the beach bound travel community) but the general idea is that you share your 3 favourite travel gems and then nominate 5 more travel bloggers to do the same.
Anyway, enough of the admin, let’s get to the good stuff:
Puerto Lopez, Ecuador
Puerto Lopez isn’t too much too shout about as a place. It’s a small, coastal town with an only ok beach and a couple of nice restaurants (and one particularly nice pizza place!). Fishing boats are strewn along the beach and bob on the water’s edge and it’s all very nice without being incredible. You can easily arrive there one morning and leave the following evening and do everything there is to do. So why is it a travel gem then I hear you cry…
Puerto Lopez has a secret. Between the months of June and October Humpback Whales head there for mating season and they’re not shy. Backpackers can take a boat out with one of the many local fishermen and get a front row seat of all the action. The whales put on quite a show; jumping out of the water, slapping their fins and generally having a merry old time. The best bit is you’re almost guaranteed to get a sighting as there are so many tours out on the water and they all communicate to ensure they all get a piece of the action. And the even better bit is it will only cost you about 5 English sterling for a once in a lifetime experience. If that’s not a gem I don’t know what is.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Eastern Europe has become more and more popular as a place to go travelling so this probably isn’t as much of a secret as it once was, but Lake Bled is a must visit for any traveller worth their salt. It has all the benefits of any Eastern European destination; easily accessible, great value and good beer! But Bled has even more on top of this.
Set around the stunning emerald lake, the town oozes charm and you’d be happy just to kick back and soak it all up forever. But there’s too much else on offer to just laze around. You can rent a boat and row your way out to Bled Island, a tiny piece of land set it in the middle of the lake with just a church and a few trees to keep you company. Or if you’re feeling especially active there’s incredible hiking, rafting and skiing in the surrounding mountains which provide a jaw dropping backdrop to the beauty of the lake.
One thing’s for sure, Bled is less of a secret than it once was. Get yourself there before the hoards ruin it.
La Mosquitia, Honduras
La Mosquitia is an inhospitable place. It covers 32,500 square miles and to get there you have to get on a tiny plane which lands on a strip of grass in the middle of nowhere. From there the only way to travel into its bowels is on a cayuco (a dugout canoe) and you can do this for days on end without seeing anyone at all. It is the ultimate jungle trip.
It’s obviously nowhere near as well known as the Amazon and this makes it far less visited and much more authentic. The indigenous people you find in the tiny villages dotted along the riverbanks are not set up to receive tourists, they are simply friends of the cayuco owners who transport you from one end to the other. This makes for an incredible journey which exposes you to real indigenous people going about their daily life as well as an amazing amount of wildlife and environments. One minute you’re in your canoe in the pitch black of night crocodile spotting, the next you’re drinking pure water out of a tree branch.
There’s no other experience like it and, whilst it’s not an easy ride, it’s certainly worth the effort.
So there you have it, my 3 best kept travel secrets. And, in the spirit of the game, here are the five people I’m nominating to contribute their three gems. Can’t wait to read them!