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To help get you inspired for one of the most memorable trips of your life, we’ve put together a collection of Not In The Guidebooks’ most inspirational itineraries, from exploring Costa Rica’s North Pacific coast to discovering the beautiful Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, so that you can start dreaming of those adventures in new, exciting parts of the world.
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There’s more to Portugal than golden-sand beaches and blazing hot weather. On this 10 excursion of this varied, fascinating corner of the Iberian peninsula, you’ll not just experience Portugal’s highlights and best bits, but also the unvisited, authentic, local side of the country’s culture, cuisine and lifestyle.
Whether it’s visiting the atmospheric cellars of generations-old Port producers, cruising along the river Douro between dramatically rising valley walls cut with vineyard terraces, or eating freshly caught grilled fish in a buzzing harbour restaurant, this itinerary is packed with unique experiences that give you a true flavour of Northern Portugal.
From Braga to Douro, Porto to Lisbon, you’ll stay in total comfort in carefully selected, boutique hotels, all independently run, and all guaranteeing you a high quality, characterful base for your incredible mix of activities with your local, expert guide.
Lush jungles, steaming volcanoes, white-sand beaches – these are probably some of the things that spring to mind when you conjure up an image of Costa Rica. And you can expect all this and more when you embark on this unique, immersive adventure of this beautiful sliver of Central America.
Make the most of the natural landscape with surfing experiences on the palm-fringed Pacific coast, zip-wiring over the forest canopies, and swimming in lagoons deep in the jungle. Spot monkeys and crocodiles as you cruise through mangrove forests, and stay in beautiful eco-lodges glamping tents as you discover untouched corners of Costa Rica.
Above all, get to know the local people, visit small, family-run eco-farms and meet fishermen going about their daily island life, try local dishes not often served up to tourists, and come away feeling as though you have really got under the skin of a culture all too often overlooked by travellers in this part of the world.
Mauritius’ position in the middle of the Indian Ocean makes it not only a compelling, off the beaten track destination that combines incredible scenery with a rich variety of wildlife, it also makes it a weave of African, Creole, Asian, and European cultures that together create in an entirely unique way of life and an incredible food scene.
On this 10 day excursion on the island, you’ll get to know Mauritius as an adventure playground, as a place for hiking, e-biking and horse riding in the rugged mountains, for world-class snorkelling, sailing and kayaking in the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean, and for simply swimming or sunbathing in on the magical beaches that line the coast.
But you’ll also dig a little deeper and learn about local life upon the island, enjoying fish barbecues on tiny islets as the sun sets, wandering the vibrant capital and soaking up the buzz of the local markets, getting to know Mauritanian cuisine on a cooking workshop, and visiting off the beaten track wineries in the lush hillsides on an adventure you’ll never forget.
There’s a reason so many travellers have a yearning to return to Vietnam. Once you do a little digging to uncover the local side of the country, you’ll discover endless hospitality: a refreshing tea on the balcony of a stilt house overlooking lazily turning waterwheels and shimmering rice paddies, a cold beer in a mountaintop cafe, an incredible roadside meal as a sea of motorbikes buzz past.
On these immersive ten days in Northern Vietnam, you’ll be getting closer to the local side of Vietnam than ever before. You’ll stay in local homestays run by families in rural villages so that you can get a true taste for Vietnamese life, as well as in a luxurious eco-lodge in the mountains that offers both extreme comfort and sustainable living.
You’ll discover hectic cities and markets, sleepy villages and panoramic mountain views, stunning cuisine and local hiking trails winding through the hills, and a local population that will make your stay truly memorable thanks to their generous hospitality and enthusiasm for showing off the very best of their homes.
Puglia, the heel of the boot of Italy, is one of the lesser-explored regions of Italy, and that makes it one of the most authentic, compelling travel destinations in the country. On this all-encompassing tour of the region, you’ll experience the very best that Puglia has to offer: shady medieval cities, delicious pasta and seafood, world-class wine, and crystal clear seas.
Whether it’s a picturesque coastal city, with ancient streets leading to white sand beaches and fishermen lining the old harbour, or a jaw-dropping hilltop city of houses stacked almost directly upon each other, the man-made scenery in Puglia is almost as beguiling as the natural landscape of limestone plateaus, shady olive groves and brooding mountains.
As with any good trip to Italy, you’ll find yourself trying some of the best food and wine on earth. discovering traditional classics and local favourites at places as varied as top-class restaurants and family-run farms, so that by the time you leave, you’ll be dreaming of returning to relive hundreds of moments where you wish you could just press the pause button on life.
The ultimate off the beaten track tour of southern Morocco. Setting off from Marrakech, your road (and off-road) trip will take you up stunning mountain passes, along rugged livestock tracks, and into vast, golden sand seas as you explore the parts of Morocco many tourists miss. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to get truly of authentic Moroccan culture by eating home-cooked meals with local families, visiting social cooperatives and staying in authentic riads.
Explore abandoned fortresses, sleep under the stars in the Sahara Desert, explore the bustling Medina in Marrakech, and hike through dramatic gorges and in soaring mountains on an exploration that takes in all the highlights of Morocco whilst allowing you a glimpse of the country that only the locals see.
Along the way, you’ll stay in stunning riads and in luxurious desert camps, where you can sit around a campfire in the desert and watch the sunrise of the Sahara, a sight that will stay with you forever.
Escape to the beautiful winter wonderland of Lapland, and discover one of the last true wildernesses in Europe on this 4-day retreat in a glass-roofed cabin, perfect for drinking in nature’s most spectacular light show. From the warmth of your cosy cabin, you can sit and marvel at the Aurora Borealis flickering above the pine trees, and feel a million miles from civilisation.
By day, head out on reindeer rides and learn everything there is to know about these gentle giants, and get up close and personal with gorgeous huskies on husky safaris out onto the rolling fells and into the snow-covered forests.
After a day out in the refreshing cold, head back to your warm cabin and go for a delicious meal made with local Lappish ingredients next to a roaring fire – the perfect way to relax and unwind before crunching your way through the snow back to your home for the night.
Journey to the land of fire and ice, and discover Iceland on this definitive tour that takes in some of the island’s highlights, and also helps you discover a few hidden gems further off the tourist trail. The tour crosses glaciers, snakes through lava tubes, spans volcanic beaches and ducks under the Northern Lights, and gets you off the beaten track into some genuine wilderness.
Set off on Northern Lights cruises from the characterful city of Reykjavik, and tour the Golden Circle to discover rushing waterfalls, bursting geysers and the dramatic landscape that results from two continents being pulled apart.
You’ll also did a little deeper into Icelandic culture and cuisine, heading out on food tours to local eateries and small, family-run restaurants, the next day finding yourself on the alien landscape of a glacier, a black sand beach, or an ice cave. By the time you’re heading back to Keflavik airport, you’ll already be looking back with real fondness on all the memories you’ve managed to pack into this incredible itinerary.