Less is more: Gunnar Garfors, his favorite least visited country
Few tourists arrive in Kiribati, not because the land has no attractions - only to reach it. Kiribati is the only country in the world that is located in all four hemispheres. Its 33 atolls and islands in the central Pacific Ocean - about 4,000 km southwest of Hawaii and 4,700 km east of Australia - are distributed between the equator and the international date line in an area the size of India. There are few routes to the capital, South Tarawa, but that will change at the end of 2019, when national airline Air Kiribati expands its network to Fiji and Australia. The Tarawa Atoll hosts the state government and Betio, the largest city with decent restaurants, nightlife and hotels. The best attractions are the water: fishing, canoeing and swimming in the beautiful lagoon surrounded by small atolls covered with palm trees.
The most important birthday to celebrate is the first since infant mortality has historically been high. I was invited by Randall's party to his emigrated Welsh grandfather. About 200 guests enjoyed the dancers' performance in traditional costumes, speeches and blessings for the birthday nun. Then the dance floor opened and a local guy invited the nun to dance - they owned a dance floor. Four huge tables were covered with food, seven pigs were roasted on charcoal on large grills. At the end of the party, the hungry villagers themselves were called to their survivors.
Don't confuse this island with the much larger (and more touristy) Dominican Republic, 500 miles northwest. Dominica is a natural miracle that allegedly left Christopher Columbus missing when he was asked to describe the island to Queen Isabella of Spain. When I arrived in 2017, nine months after Hurricane Maria, the country's worst natural disaster, was cleaning up and rebuilding. Fallen trees were everywhere and many houses had visible damage, especially on the eastern side of the island.
A single operating airport cannot accommodate larger aircraft. I flew a propeller plane from St Lucia, though it is also possible to visit by ferry from Guadeloupe or Martinique. There is no public transport from the airport, so I chose a rental car (which had seen better days) and went all over the island. Walking through the rainforest was magical with its cucumbers, waterfalls, thermal springs and 195 bird species. The vibrant capital city of Roseau has seen an increase in tourists in recent years, leading to a small restaurant boom.
Biodiversity has also helped flourish on many of the island's eco-resorts and accommodations, but after Hurricane Maria, some hotels remain closed. I rented an apartment and fortunately my landlord continued to visit me at the emerald pool and Boiling Lake: the first is like paradise, the second is like hell, where volcanoes meet in water in sulfur mills.
South America's smallest and only Dutch-speaking country, Suriname, is England and Wales, but 80% of the country is covered with rainforest and has a population of just over half a million. This Atlantic coast has white sandy beaches, huge rivers and has its own Table Mountain (Tafelberg). I went kayaking, hiking on wooded trails and diving in the thaw (waterfall), but the sights invited local people to a legendary Sunday party on the river. The speedboat took us up from the capital, Paramaribo, and led us upstream into the shallow part of the Suriname River. We joined more than a hundred people who drank, danced and chatted on dozens of ships, craft and jet skis. Quite a few swim in lukewarm water; everyone was stapling beer and providing food on the boats. As a guest, I was not allowed to pay.
My hangover was a sister to Paramaribo's historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The people here have a mixed heritage with ancestors from Asia, Africa, Europe, and America, and there is a mutual respect between religions, symbolized by a synagogue bordering a mosque on Kaiser Street, just 800 meters from St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral. of the world's largest wooden buildings.
Cape Verde's westernmost island, and indeed all of Africa, Santo Antão is one of the most beautiful places I've ever explored. My girlfriend, Caroline, was surprised when the minibus took us up the valley to the wonders of nature, the wonders of nature and the gorges and basalt mountains, which were painted with small villages and isolated farmhouses. The two people we met told us this was their eighth visit to the island, the second largest in the Cape Verde archipelago.
Be sure to bring some sneakers: the narrow, difficult paths take you only half the island, twice the size of the Isle of Wight, but due to the many marked paths it is ideal for hiking. We walked down a steep road from Paúl to the main road that crosses the island and then took the car to the car. In the small bar, I enjoyed cold Portuguese beer and Caroline cleared several glasses of ponche cocktails consisting of Cape Verde grogue (sugar cane rum), molasses and lime.
There is no airport in Santo Antão, so use Mindelo from the capital of the country's cultural capital, São Vicente, twice a day for a lively nightlife and restaurants. Both islands show you "real" Cape Verde, not the all-inclusive destinations of Sal and Boa Vista.
I may be biased, but my country is blessed with such spectacular scenery that it is far from one of the least visited in the world. Longyearbyen (Long City), located in the Norwegian archipelago in Svalbard, Arctic, is the northernmost larger settlement in the world and thus attracts fewer visitors. It's as close as many of us ever get to the North Pole.
Polar nights on the Spitsbergen West Coast begin in mid-November, with 2½ months of total darkness, but limited light by the moon, stars and northern lights. Temperatures drop to -40 ° C, so outdoor ventilation is considered an extreme activity, but snowmobile safaris and dog sledding are popular for those on this long-distance trip. When I went with my sister Kjerst to draw a dog, we looked at the aurora borealis and it was so cold that icicles were forming on her eyelashes.
Not surprisingly, the return of the sun in early March will require a major celebration with Solfestveka (Solstice Week). Although Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world, there is no alcohol tax in Longyearbyen, so there is nothing to dampen the mood of the three-day party. Then, in the summer, the sun never sets on a tree-free landscape and people hike and inject around the clock.
Gunnar Garfors has traveled twice to every country in the world to partially research his forthcoming book, Somewhere, on the world's 20 least visited countries
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