5 Lesser-Travelled Destinations to Explore in the Americas

Huacachina, Peru
Huacachina, Peru

With Intrepid Travel’s Not Hot List leading the way, here are five destinations in the Americas off the tourist trail

The subject of over-tourism is gaining more and more traction in the media, and for good reason. 1.8 billion international tourist arrivals will be clocked by the end of 2030, putting immense pressure not only the natural environment, but on local infrastructure and residents.

Intrepid Travel, the world’s largest adventure travel company, recently released its annual ‘Not Hot List’, with the 2020 line-up shining a light on less-travelled areas of the Americas, in aid of this very issue.

From the ‘Canadian Galapagos’ to a fresh take on Louisiana’s Mardi Gras celebrations and an oasis alternative to Machu Picchu, Intrepid Travel Managing Director of Asia Pacific, Brett Mitchell says the Americas offered a wealth of travel experiences and some of the most memorable were beyond the big cities and well-known sights.

“In our annual ‘Not Hot List’ we are encouraging travellers to consider less-visited destinations across the Americas to experience a new side to the continent, beyond the usual hot-spots,” Mitchell says. “Travellers who venture off the traditional tourist trail will find a continent brimming with fascinating people and places. At Intrepid Travel, we’re all about going off-the-beaten-track to uncover new gems and offer sustainable tourism practices that support local communities. With Australian tourists spending more than $8 billion during trips to America alone annually it would be great to see all those valuable tourism dollars dispersed to undertouristed places and communities that would truly benefit from an increase in travellers.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Love the Galapagos? Try Haida

Galapagos = approximately 225,000 annual visitors
Haida = approximately 13,000 annual visitors

Known as the Canadian Galapagos, the Haida Gwaii Islands are a pristine wilderness that Canada’s Haida First Nations people call home. Intrepid’s first trip to this edge-of-the-world archipelago located beneath the Alaska panhandle just off British Columbia’s northern coast, will be hosted by a local. The adventure will offer an insider’s perspective of the Haida culture during visits to traditional villages, a Grizzly Bear Sanctuary where few humans are permitted, shared conversations with the Haida watchmen and a lunch of fresh-caught salmon and venison.

Stretch Mardi Gras celebrations across Louisiana

New Orleans Mardi Gras = approximately 1.4 million attendees
Lafayette Mardi Gras = approximately 50,000 attendees

While most Australians will be familiar with the New Orleans Mardi Gras, they might not be aware that the whole state of Louisiana swings into party mode in the lead up to the parade. From Lafayette to Lake Charles, travellers can learn the traditions of Mardi Gras and see how small towns put on a parade during a tour of Louisiana, which finishes in New Orleans for the big Mardi Gras parade. Highlights include a hat and mask class with a Lafayette local, the chance to learn about the rich history of Cajun and Zydeco music and see the largest Mardi Gras costume display in the world.

Swap Sea World for the Wildcoast

Sea World Orlando = 4.5 million annual visitors
Quadra Island = approximately 85,000 annual visitors

In June, Canada passed legislation banning whales, dolphins and porpoises from being bred or held in captivity, and to celebrate this win for animals, Intrepid is offering a new trip to view Orcas at their majestic best, in the wild. During an eight-day expedition, travellers can embark on a picturesque kayaking expedition in Canada’s Wildcoast wilderness including an adventure into Orca territory in the glacial waters of Johnstone Strait. Plus, there are plenty of opportunities to relax  at Wildcoast’s Orca Camp on Quadra Island with safari-style tents, hot tubs and a native sauna.

Travel to Huacachina, Peru’s real-life mirage

Machu Picchu = 1.5 million annual visitors
Huacachina = tens of thousands of annual visitors

As Peru’s most popular tourist attraction, most people have heard of Machu Picchu, but it’s Peru’s relatively unknown Huacachina that is set to be on everyone’s lips once they discover this oasis in the desert. A palm-fringed lagoon surrounded by dramatic dunes, it’s like a real-life mirage. The small sand city offers lively waterfront bars and hours of sand-boarding fun, with the lagoon itself said to have magical healing powers.

Leave LA traffic and head for Brazil’s car-free island

Venice Beach = approximately 10 million visitors annually
Morro de Sao Paulo = approximately 400,000 annual visitors

Los Angeles is known as the birthplace of palm trees, but with more than 48 million annual visitors why not swap that trip to Venice Beach – Southern California’s second largest tourist attraction after Disneyland – for the palm-fringed beaches of Morro de Sao Paulo. During an eight-day adventure around Northern Brazil, travellers can discover the pristine car-free island paradise of Morro de Sao Paulo and chase cascading waterfalls in Bahia’s Chapada Diamantina National Park. Also on the cards are Brazilian must-dos such as Capoeira and the chance to try firewater at a local bar that distills its own range of Cachaca.

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