Simon Reeve’s undiscovered lands

Seasoned explorer Simon Reeve reveals his favourite destinations off the beaten track

Famed for its beaches and carnivals, visitors to Brazil tend to head for its most developed areas, Rio and Sao Paolo, but if you want real adventure steer away from the south-east. The country is filled with an incredible array of natural sights, including the Amazon River, waterfalls such as the incredible Iguaçu Falls (right), rainforests, red rock canyons, tropical islands and the Pantanal wetlands. Brazilians are renowned for their fun-loving nature, so music, dance and revelry are common sights throughout its borders, making it a place you’ll find hard to leave.

Despite being one of the most poverty-stricken countries in the world, Madagascar is also one of the most beautiful, and unlike anywhere else on Earth. A remote island off the coast of southern Africa, its plants and animals have evolved over 165 million years into some of the most distinctive sights on the planet, including screaming lizards, giant jumping rats, octopus trees and more than 70 varieties of lemur. The incredibly diverse scenery, which ranges from lush jungles and tropical rainforest to mountains and deserts, adds to the other-worldly feel of the country.

While Bangladesh often makes the headlines for its political conflict, natural disasters and outbreaks of disease, the country’s amazing potential as a travel destination is rarely covered. Away from the overpopulated, polluted capital of Dhaka lies the real Bangladesh, where rolling rice fields, jungles, tea plantations, unspoilt beaches and the Sundarbans National Park – which is home to the Bengal tiger and the largest mangrove forest in the world – lie waiting to be discovered. While the country’s inhabitants are some of the most hospitable people you will ever meet.

Being the world’s largest exporter of diamonds, Botswana enjoys economic stability and a high standard of education and health care that its neighbours struggle to compete with. As a result, it keeps tourist numbers low and charges high prices for safaris to avoid the jeep loads of travellers seen in Kenya. Instead, it’s a virtually roadless and fenceless wilderness, where herds of elephants, buffalo, lions and zebra roam freely and wildlife fills the open savannah. Botswana is also home to the remarkable Okavango Delta, a huge area of lakes in the Kalahari Desert with an abundance of animals and more than 400 species of birds.

Often dismissed as a country that centres around IT and high-tech gadgets, Taiwan is not usually thought of as a tourist mecca. Although cities such as Taipei are fast-paced, business-minded metropolises, close by are the green mountains of Wulai, the beautiful beaches and basalt cliffs of the Penghu archipelago, the tropical paradise of Lanyu Island and some of the world’s best hot springs. A country of contrasts, Taiwan is rich with aboriginal culture, inspirational temples, diverse peoples and stunning landscapes.

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