Getting off the tourist trail is a point of pride among some travellers, and these unusual options are as off-trail as can be.
Adventure travel operators Undiscovered Destinations used Google data to determine which nations were attracting least interest online, in terms of people searching for holidays or vacations to those places.
These are the least searched-for holiday destinations in the world. Some, you can see why; others are waiting for your booking…
1. Democratic Republic of Congo
Perhaps among the least surprising entries on this list, it’s fair to say it’s clear from the news and history books why the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) isn’t top of the tourism agenda. An appalling colonial legacy gave way to a succession of brutal civil wars, and even one of the world’s largest UN peacekeeping missions has struggled to maintain order.
The country claims vast tracts of Africa’s tropical heartland, and in a more stable climate, a tourism industry could thrive. Primates are the flagship attraction, from gorillas in the volcanic Virunga National Park, to a bonobo sanctuary not far from the capital, Kinshasa.
The youngest nation in Europe (born in 2008), it may be that Kosovo simply hasn’t had time to put itself on the tourist map yet. One of the last off-the-beaten-track destinations in an otherwise well-trodden continent, Kosovo charms its few visitors with rickety mountain towns, alpine flora and fauna, and crumbling medieval monasteries.
Two decades have passed since the wars of the 1990s, and visible signs of conflict are steadily fading from view. Today’s Kosovo is awash with natural and man-made beauty, from the UNESCO-listed Novo Brdo Fortress in the east, to the vistas of the Rugova Valley in the west.
Heavily overshadowed (and geographically surrounded) by neighbouring South Africa, Lesotho is famed for its friendly populace, extremely altitudinous scenery, and for part-inspiring the fictional nation of Wakanda. Pronounced ‘leh-soo-too’, it’s the only country in the world entirely above 1,000 metres, and has as much in common with Nepal as Cape Town.
Landscape is the order of the day, from the stunning Maletsunyane Falls – a 192-metre-high single-drop plunge – to the panoramas of the Sani Pass. As far as breathtaking scenery is concerned, Lesotho may well be one of the world’s last true hidden gems.
Among the most sparsely populated countries on Earth, Mauritania rewards intrepid visitors with brightly-coloured Moorish architecture, plodding camel caravans, and staggeringly grand desert scenery. Though not quite in DRC’s league, the social and political situation puts it on the do-not-advise list for many Western governments, and parts of the vast Saharan hinterlands are deemed unsafe.
There is one straightforward reason Nauru remains outside the tourist consciousness – it’s absolutely minuscule. A teeny-tiny atoll deep in the South Pacific, Nauru measures just eight square miles, has a population of around 12,500, and boasts a GDP that couldn’t buy you some footballers.
Visa applications are also notoriously cumbersome but otherwise it’s a postcard-perfect paradise – complete with swaying palms, sparkling sands and laid-back vibes. We hope it remains relatively undisturbed, as too many visitors might cause it to sink.