The recent atrocities in Paris and Tunisia where the Sousse beach attack claimed the lives of thirty British tourists have made us all that bit more cautious. The travel advice on the Foreign Office (FO) website currently makes depressing reading. It's little surprise that Syria is off limits and I assume will remain so for a generation. But what about those other destinations off the track? Yemen, someone I have always hankered after going is definitely a 'no-go' and the FO's - normally understated - advice pulls no punches.
"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to Yemen. This includes the mainland and all islands. If you’re in Yemen, you should leave immediately."
The advice for Somalia and border areas of Ethiopia is very similar. I have fond memories of sailing up the Kenyan coast on a dhow and sleeping rough on Somalian beaches. The very idea now would be considered reckless. What about Venezuela, near the top of my travel list for years I'm still to visit; tropical rainforest, tepuis and the Angel Falls - but again the advice warns of the high threat from violent crime and kidnapping. The border with Columbia has been closed at most points to prevent smuggling. The list goes on with Egypt, Tunisia and Zimbabwe all urging extreme caution. Pakistan, one of the most beautiful countries in the world is now only for the most intrepid. So is anywhere left, especially for the adventurous amongst us? Here are 5 countries currently keeping a low and very safe profile.
Jungle, beaches, a low level of crime and zero terrorist threat. What's not too like? Combine this with a relatively easy flight from Europe or better still the States and you have a life enhancing destination. For many the eco-tourism angle is another bonus, something Costa Rica has embraced full on.
Most visits here are incident free and you can either travel as part of a package or if you're more adventurous hire your own vehicle. If you do you have the country at your feet; the high dunes of Sossusvlei and then along the Skeleton coast, the safari highlights of Etosha national park and Fish river canyon. This is some of the finest and most unique scenery in the world.
BOLIVIA and beyond...
This is one my favourite all time travel destinations. Cheap, friendly and spectacularly beautiful there's months of travelling you could do here. Not many countries have that wonderful combination of mountains and jungle, aside from neighbouring Peru and of course Ecuador. The latter can be combined with a wonderful family trip to the Galapagos. Click here for Galapagos travel tips.
So much more accessible than people imagine from either the UK or USA. I can't think of anywhere in the world quite like this. The waterfalls and geysers are spectacular and this is one of the very best places for adventure biking. It used to be incredibly expensive but less so since the financial crash. I particularly like the right to camp anywhere as long as you are a respectful distance from homesteads. The campsites though are cheap and often have free natural hot tubs!
Over 400,o00 Brits visit Croatia annually, most in perfect safety. This number is only going to increase as travellers become more cautious of Turkey and North Africa. Rather than the standard package deal there are loads of adventurous options with great mountain biking, wonderful sailing and some of the very best sea kayaking along the Dalmatian coastline and its UNESCO protected sites.
Do remember that nowhere is your safety guaranteed, especially if you are undertaking adventurous activities. Check any operators as rigorously as you can as in many developing countries they will be unlicensed. Any adventure can wait for another day if you're unsure. And remember that far and away the biggest risk to travellers is not terrorism but road traffic accidents and drunken frolics around swimming pools. Keep things in perspective and travel safely!