If novelty is what you seek this year, we suggest you steer clear of the usual suspects and hit these five underdogs that offer the perfect climate to explore stunning landscapes, vibrant cities and fun-filled activities, not to forget moments of quiet self-introspection.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
✔ For passionate road-trippers
, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s undulating countryside is the ideal playground, generously smattered with towering hills, serpentine rivers, formidable milky-white waterfalls and rolling planes. We highly recommend the Balkan road trip, which also takes you through parts of Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro.
✔ Coffee lovers are sure to find the traditional Bosnian coffee to be not only one of the strongest in flavour, but also elaborate in its preparation. Served in a small metal cup known as fildžan along with the rahat lokum (sugar cube-like Turkish confections), it guarantees to be a true-blue Bosnian experience.
✔ Are you a war-film buff? If last year’s Clint Eastwood film American Sniper piqued your interest in snipers, a visit to Sniper’s Nest in Mostar—a decrepit building strewn with bullet casings, rubble, books and diaries used by snipers during the Balkan wars—will give you an authentic peek into the life of one.
✔ For the compulsive party animal, Peru offers everything from never-ending beach parties belting out the best of EDM
to colourful Andean carnivals—all of which rage till the wee hours of morning. Cusco and Lima are easily Peru’s most happening party destinations.
✔ We know that this doesn’t qualify as an offbeat activity, but Machu Picchu, which houses the hauntingly beautiful remains of the lost city of the Incas, is one of the most compelling reasons to visit this South American gem.
✔ Fancy a sojourn in the wild? Summer happens to be the best time to explore the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, which is home to the most diverse flora and fauna in the world. We recommend a stay at the picturesque Sandoval Lake Lodge, which also provides customised tours of the Tambopata National Reserve.
✔ You probably think we’ve lost our marbles recommending a trip to India during the summer. However, if stealing time away from civilisation and retreating to the hills sounds enticing enough, there’s no better place than India’s hill stations
, with weather so fine and beauty so immaculate that they seem like slices of heaven. We recommend you ditch usual suspects like Manali and Srinagar and head to lesser-known gems like Sangla valley (known for flower-carpeted valleys and glaciers) Spiti valley (quaint hamlets and Yak safaris) and Munsiyari (for treks and adventure sports like mountaineering and rafting).
✔ Bored of being land-bound? India’s bounty of waterbodies has just the solution for you. Set sail on one of the many river cruises
that afford you the opportunity to experience the most unique aspects the country has to offer while nestling in the lap of luxury. The Sunderban and Brahmaputra river cruises (that take you through beaches and islands rich in flora and fauna) and the Alappuzha-Kochi Backwater cruise are our picks.
✔ Who doesn’t fantasise about taking to the skies and soaring above the rest of the world? The Indian summer happens to provide some of the best conditions for paragliding, apart from expert coaches and state-of-the-art equipment. Billing in Himachal Pradesh, Naukuchiatal in Uttarakhand and Yelagiri in Tamil Nadu are some of the best paragliding spots in the country.
✔ In the months of June and July, the gushing and foamy waters of the torrential Zambezi river cascading down the iconic Victoria Falls transform into the perfect haven for rafting enthusiasts, with calm waters, dramatic rapids and picturesque surroundings.
✔ If your idea of a fulfilling vacation is being one with nature, Zimbabwe’s national parks promise to be an experience of a lifetime. The dry climate of the mid-year months bathes the sprawling grasslands of Zimbabwe into a stunning golden hue, while the pleasantly warm days lend the perfect setting for a wildlife safari
. We recommend the Hwange National Park, the largest in the country, with a wide variety of wildlife such as elephants, impalas, lions and more.
✔ Want to take home the perfect souvenir of a great vacation? Head to the Patrick Mavros’ Studio in Harare to shop for exquisite silverware from the world-famous designer. Quirky animal sculptures, chunky silver jewellery and artefacts inspired by traditional African handicrafts are laid out in a splendid setting exuding old-world charm, overlooking a beautiful valley—an experience that’s guaranteed to leave you awestruck.
✔ If you often find yourself smitten by the charm of old cities, Gdańsk has the perfect summer climate for a stroll down streets flanked by imposing structures boasting Romanesque
and Gothic styles, museums, cathedrals and other monuments. We recommend the Oliwa Cathedral, the world’s longest church, and the historically significant Crane monument for at least one look.
✔ Partake in the fervour of Poland’s numerous summertime festivals such as Wianki, which follows the pagan summer solstice tradition of floating handmade wreaths down the rivers, the students’ festival of Juwenalia, and musical performances dedicated to Chopin at Warsaw’s Łazienki Park.
✔ Tired of the hustle-bustle of the cities? Seek adventure and respite in Poland’s countryside, which hosts several organised tours and excursions. The one to the 700-year-old Wieliczka Salt Mines, which, apart from the mines also house intriguing salt sculptures
(many of them made by the miners themselves), promises to be awe-inspiring and overwhelming.
So where are you headed this summer?
Written By : Neehar Mishra