Forget the Galapagos and Iceland - here are 10 under-the-radar destinations to visit in 2020 if you want to escape the crowds

Haida Gwaii Islands - British Columbia, Canada

  • Intrepid Travel, the world's largest small-group adventure travel company, has released its fourth annual "Not Hot" list, highlighting off-the-beaten-path and emerging destinations to visit in 2020.
  • This year's list ranges from the "Galápagos of the North," a wild archipelago off the coast of British Columbia, to the deserts of northern Sudan.
  • The purpose of the list is to help travelers discover new destinations without the crowds and ease the effects of overtourism.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Egypt is known as the land of pyramids; yet northern Sudan is home to over twice as many.

And while the Galápagos is known as the world's foremost wildlife haven, lesser-known Haida Gwaii, a mountainous archipelago off the coast of British Columbia, is an equally prime destination for wildlife viewing.

Northern Sudan and Haida Gwaii are two of the destinations on Intrepid Travel's 2020 "Not Hot" list, a collection of under-the-radar and emerging destinations for travelers looking to venture off the beaten path and escape crowds of tourists.

Intrepid Travel, the world's largest small-group adventure travel company, specializes in responsible tourism and offers over 1,500 trips in 120 countries across all seven continents.

In recent years, destinations such as Dubrovnik and Venice have buckled under the weight of overtourism, enacting a ban on new restaurants and limiting incoming cruise ships respectively to limit visitor numbers. In 2018, Croatia, which has a population of a 4 million, received 57 million overnight visitors, and Italy, a country of 60 million, received 93 million overnight visitors.

Intrepid CEO James Thornton noted that increased climate awareness in recent years has led to travelers becoming more conscious about their impact on the destinations they visit.

"There is a desire from tourists to ensure they are benefiting the communities they visit and local people they meet, while respecting their cultures, economy and the environment too," he said in a statement. "The Not Hot List aims to meet this growing demand and promote lesser-known destinations that are just as worthy of travelers' time."

Here are the 10 under-the-radar destinations Intrepid Travel recommends for 2020, in no particular order:


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Estimated number of overnight visitors per year: 160,000

In a nutshell: Europe's least visited country, which receives roughly the same number of visitors in a year that Croatia does in a day

What to see and do: Walk through the world's biggest wine cellar at Milestii Mici winery; visit Transnistria, a breakaway state that upholds Soviet values; tour Orheiul Vechi, a 14th-century monastery built into a cliff and UNESCO World Heritage site

Source: Intrepid Travel; UNWTO; UNWTO

Dakhla, Morocco

Dakhla, Morocco

Estimated number of overnight visitors per year: 100,000

In a nutshell: An isolated desert community on the edge of the Sahara that was "largely inaccessible until a couple of years ago," according to Intrepid

What to see and do: Visit the White Sand Dune, a towering inland dune on the edge of a lagoon; sample freshly caught seafood from Bahia de Dakhla lagoon; join kitesurfers at Portorico Beach; go off-roading in Imlili, an inland desert dotted with fresh and saltwater lagoons

Source: Intrepid Travel; MSN; Oxford Business Group

The Gambia

The Gambia

Estimated number of overnight visitors per year: 552,000

In a nutshell: Mainland Africa's smallest country with diverse terrain that spans wetlands, desert, and coast

What to see and do: Visit Wassu Stone Circle, a UNESCO World Heritage site known as "West Africa's Stonehenge"; embark on a river safari around the Baboon Islands; see French colonial architecture on a walking tour through Janjanbureh; experience West African surf culture

Source: Intrepid Travel; UNWTO



Estimated number of overnight visitors per year: 200,000

In a nutshell: Located above the Arctic Circle, the tundra-like island has less than 60,000 permanent residents and is "truly wild." Intrepid saw a spike in inquiries about travel to Greenland following reports that President Trump wants to buy the country

What to see and do: Partake in a local kaffemilk, an all-day social gathering involving coffee and food; stay overnight on the edge of Ilulissat Icefjord; stroll past colorful houses and boutiques in the capital of Nuuk; cruise to the picturesque fishing village of Oqaatsut

Source: Intrepid Travel; Greenland Tourism Statistics; Visit Greenland

The Haida Gwaii Islands, British Columbia

The Haida Gwaii Islands, British Columbia

In a nutshell: An archipelago of 150 islands in British Columbia, Haida Gwaii is the ancestral home of the Haida First Nations people and known as "the Galapagos of the North" for its diverse wildlife

What to see and do: Tour ancient Haida totem poles on Louise Island; explore protected rainforest, wetlands, and 150 miles of beach in Graham Island's Naikoon Provincial Park; travel between uninhabited islands on Zodiac boat, keeping an eye out for whales and orcas

*Business Insider was not able to identify a source for Haida Gwaii visitor numbers

Source: Intrepid Travel; Destination BC

Northeast Cambodia

Northeast Cambodia

Estimated number of overnight visitors per year (Cambodia): 6,201,000

In a nutshell: Northeast Cambodia is an "untouched corner of the country," according to Intrepid, and a great alternative to heavily touristed Siem Reap

What to see and do: See elephants in their natural habitat on Elephant Valley Project hike; visit Preah Vihear, a half-mile-long temple dating back to the 11th century and a UNESCO World Heritage site; explored untouched forests, lakes and waterfalls in Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri provinces

Source: Intrepid Travel; UNWTO; UNESCO

Sulawesi, Indonesia

Sulawesi, Indonesia

Estimated number of overnight visitors per year (Indonesia): 15,810,000

In a nutshell: Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago with over 17,500 islands, and Sulawesi is a scenic, lesser-known alternative to Bali

What to see and do: Trek through bamboo forest and lush valleys; cruise past rice paddies in a traditional wooden boat near Ramang Ramang village; experience a day in the life of fisherman in the village of Puntondo; visit the cliff-face burial sites and wooden effigies the Toraja people in Lemo

Source: Intrepid Travel; UNWTO; Embassy of Indonesia



Estimated number of overnight visitors per year: 1,035,000

In a nutshell: Uzebekistan was Intrepid Travel's fastest growing destination in 2019, and Intrepid predicts that Tajikistan will be the next 'stan to take off

What to see and do: Enjoy a picnic on the shores of Yashikul Lake in the shadow of the Pamir Mountains; meet locals through Tajikistan's homestay network; soak up mountainous scenery along the Pamir Highway; visit the 3,000-year-old Hisor Fort outside of Dushanbe, Tajikistan's capital

Source: Intrepid Travel; UNWTO; Atlas Obscura

Northern Sudan

Northern Sudan

Estimated number of overnight visitors per year (Sudan): 836,000

In a nutshell: Northern Sudan is home to some of the world's lesser-known archaeological treasures

What to see and do: Visit the Pyramids of Meroe, a network of more than 200 pyramids built by Nubian kings during the Kingdom of Kush; summit Hos El Dalan volcano; witness a Sufi whirling dervishes ritual outside of the tomb of Hamed el-Nil; meet Bisharin nomads through a local guide

*See the latest US Department of State travel advisories for Sudan here.

Source: Intrepid Travel; UNWTO; Slate; Atlas Obscura



Estimated number of overnight visitors per year: 1,412,000

In a nutshell: In the wake of political unrest, Nicaragua — known as the "land of lakes and volcanoes" — has seen an uptick in tourism

What to see and do: Explore prismatic volcanoes, rainforest, beaches, and ancient rock carvings on Ometepe Island; discover colorful architecture in Granada and Leon, two of the oldest colonial towns in Central America; sand board on Cerro Negro, an active volcano; surf and spot sea turtles in San Juan del Sur

Source: Intrepid Travel; UNWTO; Visit Nicaragua

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