1. Yukon, Canada
There’s nothing you know like your own backyard, and even if it’s 7000 km away from home it’s still more familiar than Mexico, which is closer. Canada’s Yukon, east of Alaska and north of British Columbia, has attracted independent types since frontier days. I like trekking in the mountains, which there are lots of (the last ice age missed this part of the continent) and the long light in the summertime. I don’t recommend getting treed by a grizzly as I did, nor being in a helicopter accident, but sometimes these things just happen. Once back from your stint in the woods, take in the carnivalesque goldrush ambiance of Dawson City.
2. Colca Canyon, Peru
This canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, and one of the few places that you will see the mighty condor. The canyon is great for the independent and intrepid hiker – it’s somewhere you can walk, as portions of the Colca Canyon are habitable and lived-in, with pre-Colombian terraced fields still supporting agriculture, unlike those on the mountainsides around Machu Picchu. I wandered off, found a corner I liked and watched the sun filter down on the red rock. Just beautiful.
3. Coroico, Bolivia
Exciting as LaPaz and the Bolivian highlands are, the cold of the Altiplano can get into your bones after a while. To escape typical tourist haunts and the cold, catch a 4 hour bus ride down the World’s Most Dangerous Highway to this humid oasis. It’s halfway down to the Bolivian Amazon, there are few travellers, the air is fragrant and warm, and there’s lots of nothing to do, which sometimes just hits the spot.
4. Taos, New Mexico
The state of New Mexico is not one of the smallest in the U.S., and with a population of 3 million there’s a lot of space for everyone. New Mexicans are friendly folks, but you get the impression that they are really a nation apart, and that is true’ in their political orientation, the way they speak and their pace of life. Photographers: the quality of light there is exceptional, partly due to elevation and lack of pollution. I recommend the canyons, mountains and walking out into the middle of the desert and listening to the sound of the wind.
5. Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Tortuguero is a secluded marine part off the northeastern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica north of Puerto Limon. It’s great for the independent-minded traveller because you won’t see a lot of other travellers there, and you can wander off by yourself, catch a turtle, light a fire and make delicious fresh turtle soup. (Just kidding!) No, the green turtles that verged on extinction for this very reason are coming back nicely, and it’s also a birder’s paradise. I’m not exactly a birder, but I do enjoy watching them swoop and dive and taking the odd photo. Best of all, I like wandering off and enjoying the sea breeze and natural atmosphere.