Los Angeles, CA (17 December 2013) The travel website WorldsGreatestTravelers.com has published their 11th annual travelers Christmas wish list and 2014 New Year resolutions. The 2014 Travelers GO/no-GO List is created for "serious travelers" looking for something a bit different in 2014.
"We tally all the publications and examine all the trends. We found that serious travelers want authentic, challenging and participatory adventures," says the website spokesperson Pamela Finmark, "They want to visit places offering them authentic experiences, destinations that offer them participatory experiences, and travel experiences that take them outside their comfort zones. People like to be challenged."
The 11th annual WorldsGreatestTravelers.com 2014Travelers GO/no-GO List is a tad fresher, offering serious travelers who continue their 21st century search for new utopias—think Paris in the 20s, Bali in the 70s, and Prague circa 1990—the 2014 list does offer some rather fresh and exciting takes on travel destinations:
1. Uganda...Isn't it finally time to see those gorillas? Congo is out of the question, but things in Uganda remain calm and the old English colonial infrastructure remains intact. A small and stunning African destination: the Nile source, Mountains of the Moon and the gorilla haunt of Bwindi National Park.
2. Burning Man...Who hasn't wanted to see for themselves what this annual gathering of tribes is all about. 2014 might be the perfect year to do. Mark the dates Aug 25-Sept 1, 2014 off limits...and start working on your alter-ego costume.
3. The FIFA World Cup...There is a reason it is called "the greatest show on earth" and this year it is in Brazil where you can multitask and visit natural wonders that are Iguazu Falls, the Amazon and world's largest wetlands ecosystem Pantanal too! Clear your calendar for 30 days between June 12-July 13, 2014.
4. Scotland...Over 27 million Americans have Scottish ancestry and 2014 is the official Scot Year of Homecoming. And why not too, the Scottish independence referendum is slated for September, the Commonwealth Games (July 23-Aug 3) and the Ryder Cup (Sept 26-28). Show your colors and go on a family roots pilgrimage.
5. The Global Scavenger Hunt...Like Burning Man, a travelers-in-the-know cult-like institution celebrating their 10th anniversary. It's a daring adventure for one, A Blind Date with the World for two, a real-life around the world Amazing Race-like competition for three, and philanthropic opportunities abound for four—where’s the bad? The 10th annual three-week travel adventure event is scheduled between Apr 11-May 3, 2014. (GlobalScavengerHunt.com)
6. Morocco...A North African treasure trove of culture, color, architecture and natural beauty. From the coastline to the High Atlas Mountains to the never-ending Sahara, Morocco is all things to all adventurous travelers. Take the Marrakesh Express from Casablanca and be transported back in time to ancient souks, towering minarets, the gathering of tribes, colorful gardens and plush relaxing riads.
2014 Travelers GO/no-GO List honorable mentions include: Nicaragua, Croatia, Bhutan and the Maldives.
Now for the always entertaining no-GO portion of the list. Forget all those hyper-sensitive (and highly-politicalized) State Department travel advisories, warnings and bulletins. And remember, those annual insurance company risk assessment lists are only trying to save them payouts on K&R (kidnapping & ransom) insurance policies. Heck, the world is a 95% conflict free zone. So, aside from the middle seat on a long-haul flight, here is the 2014 Travelers no-GO List
Obvious you got: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Central African Republic, Sudan, Congo, and Somalia.
1. Mauritania...The slave capital of the world. Yea, slavery! An estimated 4% of the population are bona fide slaves. Then there is the sand, the nasty nomads, land mines, the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Adrar "red zone" region and indiscriminate attacks on everything foreign. Other than that it's beautiful!
Sadly, the whole Sahel region stretching from west Africa to east Africa has become the world's last remaining lawless pocket of resistance: Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia. You could say they are in transition between modernity and medieval times, between the Arab/Berber Muslim north and black African/Christian south. Terrorism, arms trafficking, khat smuggling, slavery, and a "nasty, brutish, and short" life awaits the 50 million people living here in what maybe the poorest place on the planet!
2. Saudi Arabia...Not that you could actually get in as a tourists—no spiritual pollution here allowed in this modern-day medieval kingdom. It is a country rich in potentially amazing heritage sites, but when you have what maybe the most restrictive travel policies in the world (even worse than USA's), they don't want you to see any of it. As the great unifier King Abdul Aziz bin Saud once said "My Kingdom will survive only insofar as it remains a country difficult to access, where the foreigner will have no other aim, with his task fulfilled, but to get out." Nuff said. So, I guess we all miss out on their lethal driving and sexual harassment.
3. Russia...We usually promote the Olympic spirit...but not this year for the Putin Games at Sochi (Which is a Black Sea resort area with actually very little snow!). This $50+ billion boondoggle of corruption (Putin's Palace nearby is estimated at upwards of $350 million—not bad on a life time civil servant salary!) will be no fun for a lot of reasons: extensive paranoid security, meaningless bureaucracy, $140 visas, lack of amenities, probably lack of snow, bad food, bad service...and worse, there will be good parties because Russia has a law against homosexuals! They won't even let Gandalf in the country!
4. Turkmenistan...This tightly controlled police state has some of the most arduous tourist visa requirements on the planet. And they have succeeded too—only 7,000 tourists visited the place in 2012. Aside from the 11PM curfew in this not so party central country, it is not a good place to get into a political discussion or walk with a woman on the street. Trust me, stay away!
5. Venezuela...We thought it might make it off this annual no-GO list after Chavez died. It is such an amazing country to visit. But, nope. It only got worse! Caracas is the closest thing to modern day dystopia that Kurt Russell could make a movie called "Escape from Caracas" not set in the future, but now! It is the murder capital of the world, and other violent crime like kidnappings, car-jacking (of taxis!), the spiking of drinks, and daylight muggings are a constant—kind of like New York City in the 70s! Just stay away.
6. Nigeria...Speaking of modern-day the dystopias, Nigeria maybe be one of Dante's original rings of hell! Overcrowding, corruption, clogged sewers, traffic beyond belief, sectarian violence, etc... They make it easy enough to enter their country—although touts will start badgering you as the aircraft door opens; but leaving is another thing. In what maybe be, no is, the world's most corrupt country, you will be repeatedly asked to pay bribes to get to the airport to leave...many bribes. And you will happily pay them too!
7-10. Galapagos Islands...Leave it alone, it needs a rest. There are just too many eco-tourists wrecking havoc on the environment. In fact, let's round out this last spot with a few other tourist destinations that we are clearing ruining (aka Loving it to Death Syndrome) with our industrial-strength tourism, including: Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, Petra and Venice. We are indeed short-sightedly killing the goose that lays the golden egg. They all should begin a limited daily visitor policies via a lottery system. They, and many other global sites are in dire need of hardcore sustainable tourism polices and aggressive protection/preservation management techniques. Heed this warning.