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50th Birthday destination?

Travel Forums General Talk 50th Birthday destination?

1. Posted by baluba (Respected Member 407 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Next June is my long awaited (not!) 50th birthday and being obsessed with Africa I decided to spend it in its very heart, the Congo. Plans were going really well...until last month, and now the whole trip ( I intended to include Rwanda and Burundi and end up on Sesse island in Uganda) is looking decidedly dodgy even for me.

With around 6 months to go before my intended departure of 18th May I though perhaps I had better start looking for alternatives. But it is a bloody big world out there and for the life of me I cannot decide! Part of me says I should spend it in my beloved Africa but another part of me says get out and see something else.

So far I have come up with:-
Mali, Mauritania, Niger
Ghana, Burkino Faso and Togo
Carribean island hopping
Trip down the Amazon in Brazil
or Indonesia ( as I missed it off my trip last year and still want to see the Komodo Dragons).

So, can anyone suggest the most awesome place they have ever seen?

My preferences are as follows:-
Remote, as remote as possible, preferably somewhere most people have never heard of.
Adventurous, sitting next to a beach for days on end is not for me however..
Stunning empty beaches would be nice.
Wildlife, preferably with fur but anything other than human is desirable (there are still those Dragons..hmm)
Don't mind some rain as long as it doesn't involve getting soaked every day.
Not crazy about temples etc. unless it means hacking through a jungle to get to them.
I prefer to keep on the move, spending no more than a few days in any one place, unless it really is amazing.

I have already done most of east and southern Africa, Madagascar, Seychelles and Mauritius, Peru and Ecuador, so they are out.

Bear in mind weather and time. I have just 5 weeks and have to leave 18th May. My actual birthday is on 10th June and I would like to be either at the most amazing place in the world or having such an adventure I forget the date and miss it altogether!

Any suggestions welcomed. Thanks!

[ Edit: Edited on Nov 24, 2008, at 3:38 AM by baluba ]

2. Posted by Falukozi (Budding Member 56 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Have you considered Costa Rica. you can go white water rafting and there is plenty of jungles and Eco tourism if you are interested in that.

My other suggestion consists of taking a nice long hiking trip in the Canadian rockies they are really quite spectacular and far from heavily populated.

3. Posted by baluba (Respected Member 407 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Thanks Tracy, but I think I will do Costa Rica another time, at the risk of sounding snobbish, its too well known. Canada also I have earmarked for possibly later next year ( a friend has invited me to 'shoo' polar bears!).
As for white water rafting....nooooo! I have chucked myself out of a plane and off a very high bridge plus some other crazy things, but that is one thing I cannot bring myself to do..hate water! Only just built up the courage to go snorkling

[ Edit: Edited on Nov 24, 2008, at 2:25 PM by baluba ]

4. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3290 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

West Africa is going to be unbelievably hot in May, even more so in June. Tourist season there is from Nov- early April, which is also the time when you get cheap charter flights to Mali, Ghana and BF. I've been interested in going to Mali for quite some time and I am not sure that it is a good idea to go in May.

Know a place that is going to be perfect in May? Iran.

Your checklist

Remote, preferably somewhere most people have never heard of. - half a check, just like to most African countries very very few package tourists ever travel to Iran. Due to the reputation of the country people are shocked when you tell them that you intend to go there and are convinced you come home in a body bag. Yet it is very safe to travel in, especially for a single woman on her own. There are plenty of very remote places in Iran, problem is finding them. Your chances are best if you travel by bicycle or on a horse.
Adventurous, - see above
Stunning empty beaches would be nice - check, you got plenty of those in Iran, both at the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea
Wildlife - check, although it can be a bit difficult to find if you stick to the normal tourist routes of Bam-Yazd-Shiraz-Isfahan-Tehran. Your chances are best if you travel by bicycle or on a horse.
Hot - check, although it is going to be more warm than hot in May

I haven't been to Indonesia (yet, it is high on my list), but to me it looks the most interesting of your orginal choices. There is so much to see in this 1-billion-islands country. BTW, are you planning to see the Orang Utans too?

5. Posted by baluba (Respected Member 407 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Iran has always been one of the countries on my list, but a bit lower down.
When you mentioned wildlife I was surprised so looked it up and ...oh my goodness!!!! They have cheetahs, panthers, bears, all sorts! Plus of course the desert which I just love. I shall definately research this a bit further. My poor parents are going to be having kittens again!
Indonesia did start to become a favourite but I am a bit worried about the weather at that time of year. If I do go there then Oran Utangs are a must I think.
But Iran? Oh wow! I take it you have been, not checked yet to see if you have a blog. Do you think 5 weeks is sufficient time to cover wildlife, desert and beaches? I like the idea of travelling on horseback and even more, the lack of tourists

Thank you, thank you!!!

6. Posted by madpoet (Respected Member 415 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

You want remote? How about Lake Baikal, Siberia? It's the largest freshwater lake in the world, and has some unique wildlife, such as freshwater seals. Absolutely beautiful, and undeveloped. In June it would be warm enough, though certainly not hot. I'd recommend staying on Olkhon Island, in a homestay. You could take the Trans-Siberian, or fly, to Irkutsk, the nearest city.

7. Posted by joffre (Respected Member 157 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Hiya, good idea to celebrate the occasion with a trip... apart from the Orangutans & Komodos, Indonesia has something for most people... Kalimantan is a pretty remote jungle location for most travellers & a place I enjoyed, or Sumba & Sumbawa at the other end of Indonesia are much the same, but different... lol Good luck with your decision making!

8. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3290 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

No, I don't have a blog. I am the world's most laziest writer. I prefer to talk to people in person or failing that, write emails or phone. When I am on the road I only log on to the internet to email my mum and one or two friends telling them in one or two lines that I am alright and to add the addresses of the places where I intend to stay next. I got better things to do then to write a blog - and once I am at home again I cannot be bothered.

Iran is relatively safe to travel to for a single woman bc of the strict laws the Iranian government has. Unlike in other Middle Eastern countries (Egpyt, Morocco) you do not get hassled by Iranian men, even in the big tourist centers. They are careful to keep their distance to a level that is acceptable by European standards. You might get some natural curiosity by women and children though.

Note that there are some travel warnings for the border areas (Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, so practically every border) up to 300 kms inwards. In the past there have been incidents where people have been kidnapped and held for ransom by extremists. Most vulnerable for this are cyclists, walkers and other individual travellers with slow transport and a predictable route in a remote area. Tourists travelling the border areas (Turkey to India overland) usually move fast, arriving one day by bus/train and leaving the next also by bus or train. There hasn't been any trouble in years.

I've only been to Iran for one week, it was a mad dash from Shiraz to Isfahan and to the Turkish border due to visa reasons. The Iranian government makes a bit of a song and dance about getting an Iranian tourist visa. They frequently deny entry, and often grant only 1 or 2 weeks when you apply for 3 or 4 weeks.

5 weeks would be a great amount of time to cover Iran, but be prepared to get less time granted for your visa. You would not get to see everything (Iran is just that big!) even in 5 weeks, but it is a decent timeframe.

The idea of travelling on a horse I got from a book by an English woman. She travelled from Turkey to Pakistan and back to Turkey by horse in the mid-1980's. She bought the horse in Turkey and then sold it there before she flew home. She travelled with a sleeping bag, cooking gear and a tarp. (I forgot title and author, but I can try to find it again for you.)

There are plenty of reports from cyclists crossing Iran online, maybe you could pick up some tips for a Iran-by-horse trip there.

Cheapest way to get from the UK to Iran is to fly to Turkey (Antalya or Istanbul) and cross the border by bus or train.

BTW, something I have got to admit: There are plenty of tourists in Iran. It is on the overland route from Europe to India and gets plenty of other visitors. So it is not that remote. Public transport in Iran is excellent and prices are relatively low, so it makes it a choice destination for backpackers. But the number of tourists is manageable and the majority have a real interest in the country and the culture, so they don't embarrass you as they do in Egypt.

[ Edit: Edited on Nov 26, 2008, at 7:09 AM by t_maia ]

9. Posted by baluba (Respected Member 407 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Thanks Maria for all of that, but I have done some research and Indonesia keeps coming out tops. Thinking of heading over to East Timor. If I can take in the Orang Utans and some dragons along the way, I think I shall be pretty happy!
I have to say though, Iran is certainly looking good for a future trip!
Still not dismissing the Congo trip just yet though. We shall see!!