We are always looking for regions of the world for you to (re)discover! For once, Travelblom experts have unearthed some nuggets for you, including new trends, places still ignored by tourists and surprising experiences. Here are the 10 regions ranked in our Best of 2022.
1. West Fjords, Iceland
Marked by an epic past and marked by the Viking conquests, the West Fjords region of Iceland has kept all its authenticity, far from mass tourism . Its spectacular landscapes, resulting from 16 million years of geological history, are declined in a succession of fjords, cliffs, bays, beaches and waterfalls like that of Dynjandi, high of more than 100 m. Fervent defenders of their natural and cultural heritage , local players in the tourism industry offer tailor-made services with meticulous respect for the environment, flora and fauna.whose traveler appreciates the return of endangered species such as the white-tailed eagle. Alongside the grandiose and dramatic landscapes are small pleasures such as bathing in natural geothermal pools and gastronomy at the traditional fish restaurant Tjöruhúsið in Ísafjörður, the “capital” of the region .
2. West Virginia, USA
Long isolated from the rest of the United States , in particular by the Appalachian chain and by the course of the Ohio, West Virginia or “Mountain State” is gradually emerging from the shadows for the happiness of lovers of forests, mountains wild but also of historical heritage and adventures in the heart of nature. Known for its production of fossil fuels, the state is increasingly moving towards using its natural resources in sustainable industries including tourism. The New River Gorge, which received national park status in 2020, is a good example of the region’s efforts to also showcase its cultural and historic towns such as the village of Harpers Ferry, which in 1859 was the scene of abolitionist John Brown’s attempted insurrection.
3. Xishuangbanna, China
In the depths of Yunnan province , closer to Bangkok than Beijing , the Xishuangbanna was once a major stop on the ancient tea route between Tibet and Asia. Long forgotten and not easily accessible, it is coming back to the fore by attracting more and more Chinese and foreign tourists thanks to new access infrastructures by plane and soon by train. Its humid forests, its mountain villages, its wild elephants are as appealing as its traditional cuisine, among the best in China, and its mosaic of peoples. Xishuangbanna is home to fourteen of the 55 ethnic minorities officially recognized in China, including the Dai, the majority group, known for their famous water festival.
4. Heritage Coast of Kent, England
The famous “white cliffs of Dover” – white cliffs of Dover – and more broadly the region of the Kent Downs (in the extreme south-east of England ) and the Heritage Coast have a great ambition: the registration in the Unesco world heritage . To achieve this, the region is planning multiple cultural and artistic events for 2022 and has set up a program promoting local ecotourism .and aims for entry into the Global Geoparks Network or designation as a Biosphere Reserve. From Dover Castle, built by the Normans to the trendy Creative Quarter in Folkestone, the coast adorned with bays and cliffs offers beautiful walks and breathtaking views of Europe! As for the inland, hilly, wooded and sprinkled with orchards and vineyards, it largely lives up to the image of Epinal that we have of the bucolic English countryside .
5. Puerto Rico, USA
Since 2017, the Caribbean paradise island of Puerto Rico has gone through many torments such as Hurricane Maria, violent earthquakes and the Covid-19 epidemic. Torments that the inhabitants of this unincorporated territory of the United States have transformed into challenges. The island has become more self-sufficient by developing sustainable tourism initiatives : new distillery, “farm-to-table” restaurants, transformations of warehouses into art galleries… Off the beaten track of nickel golf courses and hotels tinsel, it is a more authentic island that Puerto Ricans today seek to highlight: their triple cultural heritage– Spanish, African and Taino – in rural villages, pre-Columbian sites, tropical forests like El Yunque, a south coast full of surf spots, not to mention the citadels of San Juan and the rhythmic evenings of reggaeton!
6. Shikoku, Japan
Shikoku offers a subtle blend of the Japan of yesterday and today. It is indeed in the fourth island of the country that the pilgrimage of the 88 temples takes place . For more than 1,200 years, pilgrims have traveled 1,400 km in the footsteps of the monk Kōbō Daishi, who attained enlightenment in Shikoku and established Shingon Buddhism. In the heart of the island, sumptuous landscapes of mountains and deep gorges, roads on the side of cliffs and rivers are offered to the curious traveler. This almost secret garden full of legends, especially on the side of the remote valley of Iya, rubs shoulders with another facet of Japan, that of modernity in the form of ecological commitment with the country’s first “zero waste” municipality in Kamikatsu., in the middle of the forest, east of Shikoku.
7. Atacama Desert, Chile
In 2022, the Atacama Desert will probably offer one of the most beautiful spots in the world to observe the partial solar and total lunar eclipses of April and May. This desert, which extends over 1600 km from north to south, the largest, highest and driest in South America, is indeed a mecca for astronomy because of the purity of its sky. A little closer to the stars, the Atacama Desert is not only home to mountains that can reach 4000 m in altitude, but also a rare and fragile ecosystem .where Argentine gray foxes rub shoulders with rodents like viscacha amid multiple varieties of cacti. However, due to climate change, mining and tourism that is too concentrated in San Pedro, the desert is in danger. Chile has fortunately taken the bull by the horns by encouraging sustainable and community tourism, respectful of the environment in collaboration with the indigenous population: the Licken-Antay.
8. Scenic Rim, Australia
Victim of the Black Summer bushfires – “the black summer” -, at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, the Scenic Rim region, in the south-east of Queensland , is reborn from its ashes faster than expected. After being 36% destroyed, the Gondwana rainforests are indeed growing back and hikers are coming back thanks to the new Scenic Rim Trail, a 4-day top-of-the-range guided hike in the Main Range National Park. The infrastructures along the ridges of this path are at the forefront of eco-responsible tourism, in total respect of a very old ecosystem., where primitive plant and animal lineages survive. Around the Scenic Rim, gastronomy is also on the menu in charming towns like Mount Tamborine or in the heart of vineyards like Kooroomba Vineyard and Lavender Farm.
9. Vancouver Island, Canada
Vancouver is not only a city but also an island in the extreme south-west of Canada whose area is equivalent to that of Belgium! From forested mountains to large windswept beaches, the island is the ideal playground for hikers and bikers, especially along the Vancouver Island Trail – a multi-purpose trail from Oak Bay to Cape Scott -, kayaking enthusiasts , surfers in Tofino or Ucluelet but also skiers in Mount Washington. Vancouver Island also has many other attractions such as its independent businesses in Victoria or Tofino, its unconventional accommodations, its microbreweries and its wine sector .of the fertile Cowichan Valley. Another center of interest: a fauna at the height of the size of the island: from brown bears to whales passing by cougars!
10. Burgundy, France
Burgundy rhymes with gastronomy and wine. From the great vintages of the hills of the Côte d’Or to the wines of the Maconnais, the vineyards stretch over more than 250 km and are available in no less than 84 controlled designations of origin! At the forefront of responsible wine tourism , the former duchy saw its number of winegrowers certified HVE – High Environmental Value – double in 2020. Burgundy gastronomy is not to be outdone. To cultivate its international reputation, two major projects – the International City of Gastronomy and Wine (CIGV) in Dijon and the City of Burgundy Wines and Climates in three emblematic cities – will see the light of day in 2022. Behind the heritage epicurean of the region hides a less known nature and rich landscapes,ideal for hiking : from the hills, lakes and rivers of the Morvan massif to the woods and groves of Puisaye.