National Geographic recently published an article about the “destinations that want your attention” vs. the many other destinations that are swamped and suffering from over-tourism. Last year saw a number of destinations finally put the brakes on over-tourism. Venice announced payments for entry, Bruges cut the number of cruise ships and Paris declared intentions to ban tourist buses from its city center.
On the flip side, less frequented destinations are positioning themselves as an alternative by saying “hey, come here! We’re not as crowded as the neighbor. Visit us and you won’t have to queue for your Instagram shots.” Here are some great examples.
Like Machu Picchu? Try Kuelap: With 400 stone houses perched on the mountaintop and a new cable car to get you there, now’s the time to see this dramatic Incan site, which, in fact, is older than Machu Picchu.
Like Phuket? Try Kep: As Cambodia’s southern coastline proves more and more popular, Kep – backed by jungle, fronted by clear seas and crab shacks – has retained its laidback, non-party town vibe.
Like Lisbon? Try Guimarães: Northeast of Porto, this small, beautiful city was the cradle of Portugal – the country’s first king, Afonso I, was born here in the early-12th century. Today there’s an unspoiled old town, an 11th-century castle, and gilded churches aplenty.
As for Latin America, here’s our suggestion for you. Like Costa Rica? Try Nicaragua. Costa Rica doesn’t quite have an over-tourism problem yet (more on that here), but there are certain times of the year and a handful of destinations in the country that can get busy.
In contrast, Nicaragua feels blissfully undiscovered. The political turmoil that broke out about a year and a half ago and made international news has since calmed, meaning Nicaragua is safe and open to visitors. At some point in time it was hailed as the “New Costa Rica” just like Santa Teresa was hailed as the “new Tulum”.
But we don’t like those comparisons at all. Nicaragua is a very different and unique destination. Many of our Cayuga Collection guests in Costa Rica have gone on to visit our National Geographic Unique Lodge in Lake Nicaragua, Jicaro Island Lodge, and were fascinated with the experience.