With the world becoming ever easier to travel around, some once-exotic destinations have lost their allure for seasoned travellers. Here at Grand American Adventures we love nothing more than going off the grid. If you too are looking for a true wilderness experience, check out our suggestions of where to go to really escape the crowds and get back to nature.
As the most northerly and largest US state, not to mention one of the least populous, Alaska has more than its fair share of wilderness areas, many of which are protected by vast national parks. This is a land where nature definitely rules the roost – bears roam in forests and by rivers, whales breach the surface of the churning grey sea, and caribou huddle on exposed plains. If you want to see northern hemisphere nature at its most spectacular, this is the place to come.
Denali National Park
Visiting Denali National Park, which spans over six million acres, is an absolute must if you’re after a wilderness experience. Not content with covering such a vast area, Denali is also home to the imposing Mt Mckinley – North America’s highest peak at over 20,000 ft tall.
Glaciers, huge bays, swathes of forest, areas of icy tundra and towering mountains are all encompassed within this protected area. Hiking and camping in the park is a real treat and in the summer months you can look forward to long hours of daylight thanks to its northerly location. Grizzly bears, golden eagles, caribous, mooses, wolves and many more creatures call it home – there’s a chance you could spot any of these while you’re out and about.
Of course, Denali is far from the only national park worth exploring in Alaska. The Kenai Fjords, Kluane and Wrangell-St Elias national parks are equally worthy of your time and all have incredible landscapes and wildlife to share.
For a wilderness experience of a much warmer kind, head to Central or South America to explore the jungle. Costa Rica is a real haven for ecotourism and a wonderful place to start if you’re keen to see a bit of what this part of the world has to offer.
In fact, more than 12 per cent of this small nation is protected by national parks, ensuring that its delicate ecosystems are preserved and that there are plenty of places where adventurous travellers can truly appreciate Costa Rica’s natural wonders.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most visited in the nation and it’s easy to see why – this section of rainforest hugs the Pacific coastline, providing a home for all manner of weird and wonderful wildlife. There are numerous hiking trails within the reserve that make it easy to explore on foot – look out for squirrel monkeys, resplendent quetzals and sloths as you wander around.
The Monteverde Biological Cloud Forest Reserve is another wonderful place to discover on a trip to Costa Rica, with this area located in the north of the country. It protects over 10,000 hectares of primary forest that supports a wide variety of creatures. The cloud forest is breathtakingly beautiful, with the mist hanging in the air around the verdant green of the trees.
The incredible thing about heading into the jungle is that you instantly feel as though you’ve left modern life behind. You won’t be able to see anything but the trees above, in front and behind, while the air will be alive with bird, insect and animal calls. Unlike the stillness of the Alaskan tundra, every part of Costa Rica’s rainforest will feel as though it’s buzzing with life.