Where 'overtourists' elbow for selfie space at honeypot destinations, 'undertourists' (we may have just made these words up) break away from the masses and discover beautiful but lesser-visited places that they can have all to themselves. Why visit The Beach in Thailand (which has had to close so the ecosystem can repair itself from the deluge of daytrippers) when the country is full of equally beautiful - and empty - bays?
We like to think we know a thing or two about alternative destinations that offer similar (and often better) experiences to the tourist hotspots. And if you are visiting one of the world's most iconic sites, we have the local contacts and know-how to make sure you can see it without the crowds, from enjoying the Taj Mahal across the river from the moonlit gardens to securing after-hours access to the likes of the Vatican and the Louvre.
The ‘Other’ Great Migration
Along with the millions of wildebeest that pass through the Serengeti and the Masai Mara each year, come millions of tourists. So instead, head to Botswana to witness the lesser-known zebra migration, which takes place annually from the Okavango Delta to the Makgadikgadi Pans. The migration starts in early December, when the rainfalls begin in the Makgadikgadi Pans and around 25,000 zebra travel here in search of fresh pastures.
The Florence of the South
One of the most commonly mentioned destinations in the overtourism debate is Italy's floating city of Venice. A great alternative to this Italian gem is Lecce in Puglia. Often referred to as the 'Florence of the South', this city is filled with beautiful baroque architecture and plenty of narrow winding streets to explore, all without the crowds of some of Italy's more popular cities. The architecture here is so distinct that it even has its own name, barocco leccese (Lecce baroque). The food in Puglia also gives the rest of Italy a run for its money (for a lot less money too).
Uxmal over Chichen Itza
With Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula continually growing in popularity, the major sites are inevitably becoming overrun with visitors. So rather than heading to Mexico's most famous ruins, Chichen Itza, instead opt for the ruins of the ancient Mayan city of Uxmal, which cover 150 acres. Among the ruins is the Magician's Pyramid, which has unusually rounded sides that are very tall and steep, unique among Mayan structures.
Vietnam’s Rice Terraces
Sapa, in northern Vietnam, is famous for the stunning views of rice terraces and hilltribe communities in colourful traditional dress, however, the town is also overrun with tourists. So, to avoid the crowds, head further east to Ha Giang, home to some of the most impressive rice fields in Vietnam, and much more off the beaten track. Meet the local Dzao people and hike around the valley to take in the incredible views.
Greek Island Solitude
Escape the crowds of perennial honeymoon favourite Santorini by visiting some of the quieter Cycladic Islands such as Paros, Naxos or Folegandros. You won't miss out on the classic Cycladic whitewashed buildings or the beautiful azure waters, and can also enjoy some fantastic secluded beaches, explore some of the islands' rural villages and plenty more, all without the crowds.
Victoria Falls by Moonlight
The incredible natural wonder of the Victoria Falls is unsurprisingly busy by day, but on full moon nights, we can arrange a privately guided tour to witness 'the smoke that thunders' by moonlight, with only a handful of others for company. This is also one of only a few places on earth where you can see a 'lunar rainbow' during a full moon, which appears when the moonlight is refracted by the water in the air from the spray of the falls.
The Temples of Angkor in Cambodia saw 2.6 million international tourists in 2018, many of whom follow the same route and timings to visit the temples. But spend a little longer, and travel a little further, to visit the more remote temples, such as Beng Mealea and Koh Ker, to avoid the crowds. For those still keen to see the most famous Angkorian temples, we can design itineraries outside of peak times to escape the masses.
The Lares Trek
The Inca Trail is undoubtedly the most popular trek through Peru's Sacred Valley, but it's not the only way to explore the region. Instead opt for the Lares Trek, which is a slightly shorter and easier alternative, and with far fewer people. The trek begins in Lares, north of Cusco, and ends in Ollantaytambo, passing through the Sacred Valley and visiting local villages along the way. There is then the option to journey up to Machu Picchu at the end of the trek.