Heading off on your gap year in the New Year? Wondering where to go or need a little bit of inspiration? To help you decide and plan your adventures for next year, we’ve come up with a list of where we think are going to be hot gap year destinations in 2012.
Uganda - And no it’s not just because Lonely Planet named the country best in travel for 2012 (although we do think Lonely Planet do have a lot of influence and have chosen some great destinations), it’s because Uganda is a fascinating country that doesn’t get recognised enough and one that we’ve been endorsing for a long time. In fact, our lead writer lived there for four years and knows exactly what a great gap year destination Uganda really is. There are plenty of great travel opportunities to be had in Uganda, such as trekking to see the mountain gorillas, going on safari, white water rafting on the Nile and volunteering in local communities, doing work such as house building or teaching in orphanages.
Burma - A country that has remained on the peripheral of travel for many years and one that is still virtually unexplored, Burma is a destination that has been ruled by oppressive leaders for many years and boycotted by the International community. However, this year, tourism to the country was given the seal of approval by pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy party, finally giving travellers the opportunity to discover its wonders. Burma is the place that time forgot, the real South East Asia where you won’t be treading in the footsteps of thousands of backpackers that have before you. Burma is a country waiting to be explored; there are mysterious temples to discover, ancient cities to marvel at and captivating cultures to investigate.
Colombia - For years Colombia has been tormented by drugs, crime and violence and until recently it was not visited by many foreigners due to these threats, however things are improving and travellers are just beginning to discover what they’ve been missing all this time. If you’re backpacking around South America, you’ll often here other travellers talking about what a great destination Colombia is and there are many reasons why. Spend your time here exploring charming crumbling colonial cities such as Cartagena, relaxing on its beautiful beaches, trekking through the rainforest or discovering ancient archaeological ruins.
Ghana - As one of Africa’s safest and most stable countries, Ghana provides backpackers with a great introduction to Africa and gap years in the region are becoming increasingly popular. Ghana offers many gap year activities such as volunteering in communities, coaching sports, exploring national parks and relaxing on its beautiful beaches.
China - China has been an up and coming travel destination for a while now and while business travellers, expats and TEFL teachers have all been exploring parts of this enormous country, backpackers have still really yet to discover it. China provides you with opportunities to really get off the tourist trail, undertake conservation projects, explore ancient civilisations and teach English.
Bolivia - Bolivia is a favourite among travellers to South America and word is beginning to spread on this fascinating and beautiful country. Although Bolivia may be South America’s poorest country, it makes up for it in its rich and diverse landscapes. It is a country of extremes, of soaring mountains, vast and never ending salt flats, warm tropical lowlands and freezing cities at some of the highest altitudes in the world. Here you can discover indigenous cultures, explore fascinating colonial cities and have a myriad of wild adventures in the country’s stunning landscapes.
We hope this list has inspired you to visit some of the world’s hottest and up and coming gap year destinations and to start planning your adventures for 2012.