Top 13 Undiscovered Countries 2018
Welcome to the inaugural list of the top 13 Undiscovered Countries for 2018. Often these are countries that are overlooked by multiple publications in favour of some of the world’s foremost hotspots like New Zealand and Thailand.
All of these nations deserve honorary mentions as places that not only contain incredible natural and historical features, but also could use a little TLC towards their economies through a few tourist dollars. All of these nations have shown growth and are going to be only hidden treasures for a short time – so before they become the next big thing, we’re giving you the chance to explore them before the hordes of tourists do. Without further ado, welcome to the Top 13 Undiscovered Countries for 2018.
While the world saw Ethiopia as hopeless and destitute throughout the 1980’s after it succumbed to a brutal dictatorship. As the only country in Africa not to be colonized, the cradle of civilization spent much of the past two decades reestablishing itself as the powerhouse of the continent.
Ethiopia is a nation deeply entrenched in its roots. Landscapes of indulgent ruby-colored rock, and meadows of sweeping lime greens contrast with the richness of the sapphire blue lakes to bring about a paysage oozing in charm offensive. From the depths of the Danakil Depression, one of the lowest places on earth at under 100 meters, to the heights of the eagle-soaring Simian Mountain range, there is something for all outdoor enthusiasts.
Architecturally, a bastion of civilizations dating back milleniums, Ethiopia strives to protect its abundant resources of historical artifacts including the mesmerizing Lalibela churches and the inescapable historic towns of Dire Dawa with its Islam-influenced houses or the historic fort town of Gondar with its sublime fortress.
Ethiopia is one of Africa’s central flight hubs, through its state-owned airline, Ethiopian Airlines multiple flights pass through the nation, making it accessible. Since 2017, Ethiopia has offered e-visa options as well as for a multitude of countries, visa on-arrival.
Often overlooked in places of its more popular neighbors, Colombia and Brazil, Guyana is a Latin-American country holding its own as an adventurers paradise and buzzing with charm.
Although technically on the continent of South America, Guyana along with its neighbors, Surinam and French Guiana are classed as Caribbean nations. Although it’s clear that this sparsely populated country has more in tune with its continental origins, as vast sweeping vistas of untouched jungle spread across the landscape with an abundance of life.
Guyana has a unique network of rivers which act as highways in a nation with only one main road that cuts along the coast. The central Essequibo River connects many isolated villages with the outside world, giving this a unique expeditional feeling.
While Guyana is economically poor, its rich in wildlife and scenery that will indulge any true explorer for years to come. It is home to part of Mount Roraima which it shares with its western neighbor Venezuela, as well as the single drop waterfall Kaietaur Falls, which it is most well-known for.
Flights connect via the US, Canada and the UK. For a select few nations, including EU, USA, Australia, NZ, and the UK it’s visa-free otherwise visas cost 50 USD for one month.
While this tiny scattering of islands in the South-West Pacific could cater to your resort needs, that’s not why you should visit. Vanuatu is one of the best places on earth to get up close and personal with native Pacific Tribal Communities without adversely affecting their way of lives, such has the concept of sustainability being set on these islands that micro-tourism has blended well with the natural elements.
Speaking of natural elements, there are more than enough to satisfy you here across the course of over 100 islands. From Tanna and Anietyum, with their active volcanoes (Tanna’s is one of the world’s most accessible and closer to the action), while the country’s north island of Espiritu Santo takes you on an odyssey of self-discovery through the vine-rich jungles and crinkle-cut valleys of the island’s interior, past villages of self-sufficient millenium-old tribes, Vanuatu is as unique as it is vibrant.
For something cultural, why not head across to Pentecost to witness the annual rope diving ritual that inspired the adrenalin sport of Bunjee Jumping where boys coming of age leap from a tower built from local timber with vines attached to their legs.
Flights to Vanuatu depart from New Zealand, Australia and New Caledonia directly. Visa-free for either 30 or 90 days.
For something a little different to your usual beach destination, try Palau. A micro-Melanesian archipelego in the West Pacific, bordered by the Phillipines. Palau is a divers paradise with an endless sea of tiny coral and sandy islets circled by a myriad of marine fauna.
While the islands were an important outpost for American soldiers during WWII and the encroaching invasion of Japanese soldiers, the islands still maintain relics from that era including tanks and underwater artillery.
Palau is sparsely populated with its newly annoited capital, Melekoek containing a population of only 380 people. With over 250 islets and 8 islands, Palau offers travelers multiple options to escape the grind and find your own private paradise. Due to its strict marine conversation laws, the country has built a formiddable marine reserve which houses some of the world’s most unique aquatic life unseen in such abundance.
Flights to Palau are via Guam or seasonally Korea and Japan. Visas are free to most nations, while a 50 dollar departure tax exists with 30 dollars of that going to preserve the archipalego’s environmental reserves.
One of Central Africa’s more prosperous and stable nations, Cameroon offers a soft blend of Franco and Anglo culture intermixed with a rich and vibrant tribal heritage. From the golden sands of the Atlantic to the highlands of the East, Cameroon is diverse in its landscapes to.
While most tourists flock to Rwanda or Uganda to see the gorilla parks, Cameroon offers an affordable and less touristy alternative. This Central African country has a plethora of rainforested regions to explore where tourism is kept minimal and tours are affordable. Some of the highlights of Cameroon include: Visiting Lake Chad, Waza National Park, as well as hiking Mount Cameroon.
Known as Africa-in-one, Cameroon is a nation with its foot in all doors. While many places thrive and apply pressure to natural habitats, it’s possible that here you’ll be able to discover higher quantities of wildlife then you would in many parts of the more popular regions. The emphasis on sustainability is kept to a high level as the nation embraces its mark on Africa.
Flights to Cameroon are available via Europe and other African nations. Visas are required prior to arrival at local embassies.
Technically, considered an autonomous region, rather than a separate state, Somaliland is the offcut of a bitter division by colonial powers Italy and England to divide up the nation of Somalia in 1960. While Somaliland declared itself independent from its union with Somalia in 1991. Unfortunately, being unrecognized by the outside world has left this region with a poor reputation that is generally associated with Somalia.
Somaliland is a peaceful East African region that straddles the horn of Africa while enjoying the benefits of calm, empty beaches and illuminscent rolling hills. Highlights of Somaliland include the 5,000 year old rock carvings outside the capital, Hageisa at Laas Geel. The Naasa Hablood hills are a remarkable pair of hills that are located near the capital and are natural wonders. While the nomadic lifestyle of Somaliland shepherds is sure to draw crowd.
Flights are available via Addis Ababa and Dubai. Visas are available at the Missions Abroad office in Addis Ababa, or online. An entry and exit fee applies if entering or departing via the airport. Please note: Somalian visas are not accepted. Somaliland uses its own currency which is only exchangable inside Somaliland.
Prepare your eyes for a feast of exotic Middle Eastern flavors and delights as Oman welcomes you with open arms. From fragrant frankincense to the warmth of traditional Omani hospitality, Oman is one Middle Eastern country waiting for you to explore.
From the white marble architecture of Muscat to the breathtaking desert landscape of the Wahiba Sands, Oman offers a range of activities for any outdoor or urban explorer. The country’s excellent network of desert highways and marine transportation makes getting around the country a breeze. The nation is one of the Middle East’s last remaining truly intrepid destinations as you explore ancient castles and medieval islamic fortresses without the hordes of tourists that you may find across the border in the UAE.
Tours consist of Bedouin camps and Camel Desert Treks while an astounding array of water sports including diving and snorkelling are also available at half the price of other destinations within the region.
Flights to Oman arrive in Muscat from Europe and other Middle Eastern Destinations, and onward to Africa. Visa-free access is available to a host of European countries, Australia, and a few others for 30 days. New Zealanders can get visa-free access for 90 days, plus extend for a further 90 days for a fee.
While its neighbor, Kyrgyzstan garners a lot of attention, Tajikistan quietly sits idly by as the next big thing on tour maps. With 700o meter peaks, and ice-blue alpine lakes, it’s a trekkers paradise while the Pamir Highway is one of the foremost highlights of any adventurers tour.
The Wakhan Corridor weaves its way between the Hindu Kush range and the Pamir Range where some of the world’s most isolated tribes have co-habitated since the times of Marco Polo and Genghis Khan. While the ultimate highlights of visiting the country lie in its stunning alpine landscapes, Tajikistan should also be noted for having some of the most hospitable citizens on earth. It should not come as a surprise to many foreigners that if you are wandering through the streets of villages, you may be approached and offered a warm meal and accommodation.
Tajikistan’s Ferghana Valley is a semi-autonomous region of the country which straddles the borderlands of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and is home to ancient nomadic cultures that have roamed the valley for thousands of years. While more recent efforts have seen local NGO organizations develop a series of overland camping and bed and homestay accommodation options.
Flights to Dushanbe are via Istanbul, Frankfurt, and Dubai. Visas are available online for 45 days.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Hervegovina is the geographic heart of the Balkans with sweeping panoramic mountains, and idyllic blue streams of water, this small nation has had a tragic past few decades as it builds itself a new legacy, it does so as one of the regions best kept secrets.
With organic farms and medieval towns, Bosnia and Herzegovina is predominantly rural with a smattering of urbanism. At the heart of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian invasion of the region, the country has a unique multi-denominational society of Catholics, Orthodox and Islam cultures. The town of Mostar is a divided and turbulent town fostered by a river border and an old Ottoman bridge. It is a popular tourist attraction in summer.
While the north of the country has some of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most stunning landscapes including in and around Banja Luka and across the Serbian border where the Tara river lies. The battle scars of the war lie in a memorial at Srebenica, home of one of the worst conflict zones of the war.
Sarajevo and Tuzla’s airports offer regular flights across the continent. Visa free access is 90 days for most countries, including Russia.
While the war has placed a stigma on Ukraine, this nations is thriving as a potential tourist destination with many hidden attractions waiting to be discovered and with one of the lowest cost of living in the world, it’s a backpackers paradise.
From the medieval capital of Kiev, to the thrilling port city of Odessa with its ancient catacombs whom cover a total of 5000 kilometers underground as well as architectural wonders that date back to its Ottoman conquest, however its buildings resemble something more renaissance with influences from French and Italian architects. Visit the Western part of the country to discover how Ukrainians live traditional lives in the Carpathians. The historic town of Lviv was once part of the Prussian empire with its unique buildings and historic center.
In 1986, Chernobyl became synonymous as the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. Today, guided tours take brave souls to visit the empty streets of Pryp’yat, a once bustling city of workers. Meanwhile Ukraine also has some stunning natural features to. The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve is a unique conservation zone devoted to the ecology of Ukraine’s saline-influenced environment. Bird species such as Pelicans habitate here and it includes a variety of native trees as well as Canadian Poplars.
Flights to Kiev are avaiable across Europe. Passport holders of EU and US passports have visa-free access for 90 days, while Australian and New Zealand passport holders can receive visa-on-arrival for 15 days.
Ghana is one of Africa’s true success stories as a stable nation with a modern progressive government. While tourism is still in its infancy here, its unique climate for exploring lush rainforests and seductive beaches, makes Ghana a popular first choice for new arrivals to the continent.
Visit the Kakum National Park where visitors can explore the heart of the jungle through an overhanging forest canopy walkway, or visit the savannah at Mole where introduced wild stocks of buffalo and antelope roam with lions and elephants. For something a bit more quirky, visit Nzulezo where an entire village is built on stilts. Indulge in a rustic river cruise on the world’s largest manmade lake, the Volta which covers a mindboggling 8,500 square km’s.
Ghana is home to over 40 different dialects and one of West Africa’s only English-speaking nations. While their is a Christian majority with deep-seeded roots in that culture, there are a small minority of Muslims in the North of the country.
Flights to Accra are available via JFK in New York, and a select few airports throughout Europe. Ghanian visas are available at embassies abroad for $60 for 3-months, or a 1-year multiple entry visa for $100.
Armenia is the only country existing on maps dating back 3,000 years ago, while it was the first country to adopt Christianity 1,700 years ago, leading to some impressive historical architecture and artifacts.
Armenia has some of the region’s most gorgeous mountainous landscapes with jaw-dropping canyons and vast massifs that straddle this Euroasian nation of 3 million. Yerevan, the nation’s capital sits at the doorstep to the majestic Mt Ararat, a hikers dream up a dormant volcano. Cruise on the pristine waters of the 2000m high Lake Sevan which lies close to Azerbaijan.
History buffs can explore the multiple range of Monasteries or wander through the hauntingly beautiful ruins of the Garni Temple. In summer it is possible to camp overnight in the mountains and have the place to yourself. Other unforgettable highlights of Armenia include: Debed Canyon with its blissful scattering of villages featuring centuries-old churches and forts; Echmiadzin, the Vatican of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the capital of the nation when Christianity was founded here, and the breathtaking Yeghegis Valley, a formiddable natural abyss of tiny villages circumnavigated by towering jagged peaks.
Flights to Yerevan are available from Europe. Visa-Free Access exists for EU, UK, and US citizens as well as a select few other nations for 180 days. Australian and NZ citizens can get a visa on-arrival for 120 days for $30US.
Central America is open for business, and what better place to start your adventure then in Guatemala. Sample the many vibrant faces of Guatemala from its colorful historic monuments devoted to Mayan culture, to the glittering beaches of the Pacific and the lime green landscapes of its jungles that border neighboring Mexico to the north.
El Mirador is Guatemala’s true hidden treasure with ancient ruins devoted to Mayan Gods and testaments to the once thriving culture lying in wait. The hike up to the ruins and beyond is an adventurers playground. Nebaj and the Ixil Triange embraces the signficant role that indigeneous culture has played on Guatemala while rustic and charming Tikal is the true heart of the nation’s historic roots, covering 16 kilometers with over 3000 thousand structures, at the height of its reign, it was the capital of the ancient Mayan city of Yax Mutal.
Guatemala is home to a plethora of volcanoes, some still active that host guided tours of peaks such as Pacaya, including a $6 entrance fee, while others offer explorers an opportunity to travel around the volcanoes to explore some of the many diverse landscapes that this small country has to offer.
Flights are available via Mexico and the US. Visa free for 90 days for EU, US, Australian, NZ, and Latin American residents.
Get Exploring With the Top 13 Undiscovered Countries
There are so many wonderful places to visit in this world. Our Top 13 Undiscovered Countries in the World list allows you to see outside the sphere of nations that usually take out the top spots. We hope that we’ve enrichened you to take the opportunity to explore somewhere unique and new this year.
We’ve enjoyed bringing you this list for the year. If you want some more inspiration be sure to read our articles and blogs to learn more about our nations and cities that we’ve visited so far. Maybe we can inspire you to see beyond the path of well-trodden locations and to see below the surface. See you back in 2019 with our list of the World’s Top 13 Undiscovered Countries.