The pandemic has certainly given us all a renewed appreciation for travel. Here is a list of three unique places you must plan to visit as soon as it’s safe to travel again. Since these places are fairly uncommon tourist destinations, we give you advice on how to get there, what to do and most importantly a couple of must-try dishes!
Mongolia is a landlocked country sandwiched between Russia and China. About 30% of the population is nomadic. A traditional saying in Mongolia is "a Mongol without a horse is like a bird without wings." In fact, the horse population in the country is larger than the human population!
How to get there
Fly to Hong Kong and get a connecting flight to the Buyant-Ukhaa International Airport, Ulaanbaatar.
What to do
Explore the capital city of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar: Ensure you stop by Genghis Khan Statue Complex, the National History Museum, and the Gantangdegchenling Monastery.
Spend a night in a yurt: Many Mongolians still live in gers (also known as yurts), a visit to Mongolia must include a night in a Yurt! Many eco-resorts are offering the option to stay in a Ger.
Horseback riding: As horses are such a vital part of the Mongolian way of life, we highly recommend at least one horseback riding trip!
Ride a camel in the Gobi Desert: Spend time wandering the beautiful sand dunes of the third largest desert in the world. With plenty of wildlife, rock formations and colourful cliffs, you will have an incredible experience travelling through the dunes in the most traditional way - camelback.
Khuushuur: A deep-fried pastry filled with ground mutton and onions.
Bantan: A traditional Mongolian clear broth with meat, dough crumbs and chopped spring onions.
Buuz: A Mongolian steamed dumpling filled with seasoned meat.
Mongolian Barbecue: Popular world over, this dish which involves cooking food on a giant iron circular grill was surprisingly invented in Taiwan, not Mongolia. However, if you are craving Mongolian Barbecue in Mongolia, we recommend a visit to BD’s Grill, in Ulaanbaatar.
Greenland is the world's largest island, an autonomous territory that is a part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Though it is technically a part of the North American continent, it is politically and culturally more associated with Denmark and Norway. The local people in Greenland are called Innuit, and interestingly enough they will be offended if you call them ‘Eskimos’- the name you might popularly know them by.
How to get there
Only two airlines (Air Greenland and Air Iceland) offer flight options to Greenland. You must first fly to Copenhagen or Reykjavik and then take a flight to Greenland.
The easiest and biggest airport to fly into is the Kangerlussuaq Airport. There are flights available to Kangerlussuaq from Copenhagen year-round.
What to do
The Northern Lights: Visit Greenland from September to April to experience one of the most magical sights our world has to offer. Be aware that this is the Arctic winter, however, it will be extremely cold and the daylight hours are very short during this time.
Explore the Icecap: With difficult terrain and harsh conditions, most of the activities in Greenland include an element of adventure! Options to explore the icecap include dog sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and skiing. You can also take scenic flights over the icecap if you prefer to do something less active.
Ocean Adventures: You can explore the coast of Greenland while kayaking or scuba diving.
Wildlife cruises and boat tours are a great option for those who want sightings of seals, whales and seabirds.
Suaasat: This is the national dish of Greenland - a traditional Greenlandic soup. It is often made from seal, whale, reindeer, or seabirds.
Seafood: The majority of Greenland is covered with permanent glaciers, and hence most of the food you get is from the sea. Dishes that you can try include fish such as Ammassat or capelin(often smoked), mussels, and shrimp.
Uncommon Meats: The harsh terrain in Greenland means you will have the opportunity to taste some of the most uncommon meat! Including whale meat which can be eaten raw, smoked, or cured (Arfeq Nikkui). Other meats that are a part of traditional Greenlandic cuisine includes that of musk ox, Eider sea ducks, seal, and narwhal blubber.
Ecuador is a small beautiful country in South America. It is known to have the most biodiversity per square kilometre than any other country and has an incredibly diverse terrain. From pristine beaches to the cloud rainforest, Ecuador has the most incredible natural beauty and wildlife sightings!
How to get there
Getting to Ecuador is quite a long journey from India! You can get direct flights from Madrid or Amsterdam and fly to the International airport at Guayaquil or Quito in Ecuador.
Alternatively, you can catch flights from Miami, Houston or Atlanta in the US.
What to do
Visit the Galapagos Islands: The islands are home to some of the most unique species on our planet. Swim with giant sea lions and sea turtles, dive with manta rays and spot flamingoes! If wildlife is not your thing, you can always just relax on the beautiful beaches.
Float Through the Amazon Jungle: Fish for piranhas, look for pink river dolphins and if you’re brave - go on and search for the anaconda!
Explore the streets of Quito: Ecuador's capital city is a UNESCO listed world heritage site. Walking down the cobbled streets of the city will make you feel like you are in a different era altogether.
Empanada de Viento: These delicious giant fluffy empanadas are stuffed with cheese and have a light sprinkling of powdered sugar on top.
Horando: As you walk through the Quito or Otavalo markets, you will be sure to see locals roasting giant pigs! While it might be an ungainly sight, be sure to try it. It is extremely flavourful.
Exciting fruit: Ecuador has a variety of fruit that you may have never heard of before! Be sure to try the granadillas (a type of passionfruit), naranjillas (delicious citrus fruits ) and uvilla (small bright orange fruits which taste like cherry tomatoes)
If there is one thing the pandemic has given us, it's a renewed appreciation for travel. We hope this list inspires you to move beyond the traditional holidays and explore the many unique places our planet has to offer! Happy Planning!