12th Annual 2015 Travelers GO/no-GO Travel List

Los Angeles, CA (17 December 2014)  The WorldsGreatestTravelers.com website has released their 12th annual GO/no-GO List for serious travelers in 2015.

"We review all the publications and examine all the trends. We found that serious travelers want authentic, challenging and participatory adventures," says the website spokesperson, Pamela Finmark, "They want to visit places offering authentic encounters, destinations offering participatory experiences, and adventurous challenges that take them outside their comfort zones. Humans always feel more alive when challenged."

Every year around this time, many of us avid travelers start looking at destinations for the coming year. For us, this started decades ago; and the current process has me personally surveying a dozen or so other great professional travelers we know, as well as doing a down and dirty review of many of the other annual travel publication list. Call it a synthesis of travel ideas. Our 2014 list was a big hit.

What we created annually now is called the 2015 GO/no-GO List; a kind of fresh and exciting take on travel and adventure that offers serious 21st century travelers who are search out authentic utopias and distinctively definitive destinations--think: Paris in the 20s, 70’s Bali or Prague circa 1990—new ideas. Some destinations and activities are not new, just things we would like to do in 2015. And some destinations are not obscure never-heard-of-before off the Google Map, but well known fun destinations.

The 2015 GO List:

1. Cycle experiences are getting more and more popular. How about a cycle holiday in a taboo country…like Cuba! We were there in June, and the place is ripe with culture and adventure: Havana, Trinidad, the Escambray mountain rainforests, Soroa, La Guira National Park and that legendary Caribbean coast. Biking it gets you more in tune with the locals than any package holiday can. And forget what you’ve heard--they love Americans!  

 2. India is more than the just the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. We highly recommend checking out the magical and mysterious mountains of Ladakh (aka the land of many passes) in Jammu and Kashmir state. You get all the Tibetan-influences without the Chinese heavy-handedness as witnessed in Tibet. Take the 420km mountain route from Srinagar to Leh for an amazing experience you can only really dream about.

3. Valletta, the capital city of the island nation of Malta, is the place in the Mediterranean to visit this year. A mix of Sicily, Cyprus, Marseilles and Tunis, this historic city on this amazing island is an exotic departure from the traditional popular Mediterranean hot spots.  

4. Allow serendipity into your travels in 2015 and try organizing a so-called Peer-to-Peer (P2P) dinner with some locals using social media. Good food and interesting conversations. We have done this several times and it is always an amazing experience. Look at it as AirBnB for cuisine where you can take a chance and trust strangers in strange lands and enjoy the local flavor and their perspective.  

5. The Global Scavenger Hunt...like Burning Man, has become a travelers-in-the-know cult-like institution celebrating their 11th edition in 2015. It's a daring adventure for one, A Blind Date with the World for two, a real-life around the world Amazing Race-like competition for three, and philanthropic opportunities abound—where’s the bad? The 2015 edition of the annual three-week travel adventure event is scheduled for Apr 10-May 2, 2015. (GlobalScavengerHunt.com)

6. Iran is open for business; ancient ruins, glittering mosques, cultural treasures (16 world heritage sites) and spectacular landscapes. You don’t have to be a UN nuclear inspector to visit nowadays with the new moderate government. Three words describe most been there reviews: generous, cosmopolitan and welcoming. See yourself as a happy-faced Goodwill Ambassador.

7. The oldest independent country in Africa, Ethiopia, and the it country in Africa for 2015.  And rightly so with: animal safaris (akin to the famed migration in the Maasai Mara), Egyptian-like ruins (the Queen of Sheba slept here), castles, churches (Is the Ark of the Covenant here?), and profound natural beauty. Easy to get to now and where else can you go to speak Amharic? Did I mention cheap?

8. A third of the distinctly non-Latin South American country Suriname (aka the former Dutch Colony of Guiana) are natural reserves, with ecotourism potential extraordinaire: secluded beaches, endless rainforests and waterfalls, the vibrant historic capital city of Paramaribo, and leatherback turtles, river dolphins, anacondas and piranhas oh my! But go for the West African beats, the creole and roasted vegetables, and Indonesian food (also a former Dutch colony). Besides, do you know anyone who has ever been there? Thought so.

 9. Are you one of those jetsetters that, as Carly Simon sings, “…you're where you should be all the time - and when you're not you're with some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend…”? Well, plan on chasing an elusive total solar eclipse in a strange land by heading to the Faeroe Islands in 2015. Be there, with a close friend on March 30th and experience almost three full minutes of complete darkness. And why not; it is the last solar eclipse in area until 2026!

10. We also love attending global happenings when we travel, so in 2015 we recommend these magnificent seven events: visit London for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (May 19-23), Germany’s ITB Berlin travel market (March 4-8), Québec City’s Winter Carnival (Jan 30-Feb 15), Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival (Feb 13-17), the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music (May 22 - 30), San Diego’s Comic-Con International (July 9), or the 2015 Cricket World Cup that begins February 14 in the land Down Under.

The 2015 no-GO List:

Now for the always entertaining no-GO List. Forget all those hyper-sensitive (and highly-politicalized) State Department travel advisories, warnings and bulletins. Heck, the world is a 95% conflict free zone. So, aside from the middle seat on a long-haul flight, here is the 2015 Travelers no-GO List:

Even though the world is a 95% conflict free zone we still obviously have a handful of hot conflict zones to avoid: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Central African Republic, Sudan, Central African Republic, DR Congo, Yemen and Somalia.

And here are a few other destinations to avoid in 2015:

West Africa: Obviously due to the ongoing Ebola outbreak…but please, fear the disease, not the whole African continent or its wonderful people.

China: We used to love you, but we are so over you now. Call us reformed sinners and no longer keen on traveling to China. Pick an issue that suits you: pollution, human rights, Tibet, Uighurs, corruption, food safety, Hong Kong, crazy cousin Kim Jong-un, cancer villages, ivory trade, 30 million more men than women, unsafe drinking water, censorship…we could go on. Anyway, sorry to say it, bài bài la.


Venezuela is such an amazingly rich country (Los Roques, La Gran Sabana, Angel Falls, coralline islands, the mighty Orinoco, the Andes, etc.), but it annually makes the no-GO List. It saddens us. After Chavez died, we had hope. Sadly, it only got worse! Caracas is the closest thing to modern-day dystopia that Kurt Russell could make a movie called Escape from Caracas -- not set in the future, but now! It is the murder capital of the world, and other violent crime like kidnappings, car-jacking (of taxis!), the spiking of drinks and daylight muggings are a constant -- kind of like New York City in the '70s! Just stay away.

Moscow
: Moscow why has Mother Russia forsaken you? The traffic congestion and routine petty rip offs are legendary in Moscow—there is a reason everyone who is somebody has their own private army. Worse, Putin has ignored the city in favor of his dacha and Moscow has turned into an ugly and drab, empty museum-filled city with no lively gay bars! Is it just me, or does it seem that Russia is becoming like
Venezuela except with nukes? No wonder you need an invitation to come before you apply for that variable priced (anything from US$50 to US$450 depending on your corrupt official) visa. If you do go, a quick stop in St. Petersburg will fulfill all your needs—you can Photoshop the Red Square selfie.

Dubai…from hot to not. Think Orange County meets Duck Dynasty. Nouveau riche and it shows in this manufactured overly-hyped expensive Disneyland. They pride themselves on glitz and glamour---a 7-star hotel, really!? You might get arrested for some PDA with your honey (a Norwegian woman was jailed for being raped outside marriage—yes, you heard that correctly!); yet there are more prostitutes here than locals. Your taxi driver just might be a member of ISIS on leave. Oh BTW, did I mention that it is really freaky hot here? 120 in the shade. Dubai Travel Tip: Claim you were giving emergency CPR when caught kissing in public. We’ll pass in 2015.

Speaking of modern-day dystopias, Boko Haram-infested Nigeria maybe be one of Dante's original rings of hell. Overcrowding, corruption, clogged sewers, traffic beyond belief, sectarian violence, etc. They make it easy enough to enter their country--although touts will start badgering you as the aircraft door opens--but leaving is another thing. In what may be, no most certainly is the world's most corrupt country, you will be repeatedly asked to pay bribes enroute to the airport to leave...many bribes, dozens. And you will happily pay them too—to get the hell out!

Sub-Saharan Sahel Africa. Yep, the whole region. We hate to dump on Africa, but sadly, the whole Sahel region stretching from West Africa to east Africa has become the world's last remaining lawless pockets of resistance: Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, and Somalia. You could say they are in transition between modernity and medieval times and caught in the schism between the Arab/Berber Muslim north and black African/Christian south. Terrorism, arms trafficking, khat (a chewable stimulant) smuggling, slavery—yes, slavery!--and a "nasty, brutish, and short" life awaits the 50 million people living here in what may be the poorest place on the planet!

Dishonorable mentions for the 2015 Traveler no-GO List would also include: Pakistan (who needs the headache of always looking over your shoulder), Johannesburg (not really the most-friendly place to visit), Eastern Ukraine (Putin’s war of choice), and Egypt (met the new boss, same as the old boss).

If you consider going to any of the no-GO List destinations, that’s cool, just remember three things: surgical masks, purchasing a really good K&R (kidnapping & ransom) insurance policy and to leave a will with mom.

Happy trails in 2015!
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2014 GO-no-GO List:


Los Angeles, CA (17 December 2013) The travel website WorldsGreatestTravelers.com has  published their 11th annual travelers Christmas wish list and 2014 New Year resolutions. The 2014 Travelers GO/no-GO List is created for "serious travelers" looking for something a bit different in 2014.

"We tally all the publications and examine all the trends. We found that serious travelers want authentic, challenging and participatory adventures," says the website spokesperson Pamela Finmark, "They want to visit places offering them authentic experiences, destinations that offer them participatory experiences, and travel experiences that take them outside their comfort zones. People like to be challenged."

The 11th annual WorldsGreatestTravelers.com 2014Travelers GO/no-GO List is a tad fresher, offering serious travelers who continue their 21st century search for new utopias—think Paris in the 20s, Bali in the 70s, and Prague circa 1990—the 2014 list does offer some rather fresh and exciting takes on travel destinations:

1. Uganda...Isn't it finally time to see those gorillas? Congo is out of the question, but things in Uganda remain calm and the old English colonial infrastructure remains intact. A small and stunning African destination: the Nile source, Mountains of the Moon and the gorilla haunt of Bwindi National Park.

2. Burning Man...Who hasn't wanted to see for themselves what this annual gathering of tribes is all about. 2014 might be the perfect year to do. Mark the dates Aug 25-Sept 1, 2014 off limits...and start working on your alter-ego costume.

3. The FIFA World Cup...There is a reason it is called "the greatest show on earth" and this year it is in Brazil where you can multitask and visit natural wonders that are Iguazu Falls, the Amazon and world's largest wetlands ecosystem Pantanal too! Clear your calendar for 30 days between June 12-July 13, 2014.

4. Scotland...Over 27 million Americans have Scottish ancestry and 2014 is the official Scot Year of Homecoming. And why not too, the Scottish independence referendum is slated for September, the Commonwealth Games (July 23-Aug 3) and the Ryder Cup (Sept 26-28). Show your colors and go on a family roots pilgrimage.

5.
The Global Scavenger Hunt...Like Burning Man, a travelers-in-the-know cult-like institution celebrating their 10th anniversary. It's a daring adventure for one, A Blind Date with the World for two, a real-life around the world Amazing Race-like competition for three, and philanthropic opportunities abound for four—where’s the bad? The 10th annual three-week travel adventure event is scheduled between Apr 11-May 3, 2014. (GlobalScavengerHunt.com)

6. Morocco...A North African treasure trove of culture, color, architecture and natural beauty. From the coastline to the High Atlas Mountains to the never-ending Sahara, Morocco is all things to all adventurous travelers. Take the Marrakesh Express from Casablanca and be transported back in time to ancient souks, towering minarets, the gathering of tribes, colorful gardens and plush relaxing riads.

2014 Travelers GO/no-GO List honorable mentions include: Nicaragua, Croatia, Bhutan and the Maldives.

Now for the always entertaining no-GO portion of the list. Forget all those hyper-sensitive (and highly-politicalized) State Department travel advisories, warnings and bulletins. And remember, those annual insurance company risk assessment lists are only trying to save them payouts on K&R (kidnapping & ransom) insurance policies. Heck, the world is a 95% conflict free zone. So, aside from the middle seat on a long-haul flight, here is the 2014 Travelers no-GO List:

 Obvious you got: https://maplecroft.com/themes/pr/)">Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Central African Republic, Sudan, Congo, and Somalia

1. Mauritania...The slave capital of the world. Yea, slavery! An estimated 4% of the population are bona fide slaves. Then there is the sand, the nasty nomads, land mines, the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Adrar "red zone" region and indiscriminate attacks on everything foreign. Other than that it's beautiful!

Sadly, the whole Sahel region stretching from west Africa to east Africa has become the world's last remaining lawless pocket of resistance: Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia. You could say they are in transition between modernity and medieval times, between the Arab/Berber Muslim north and black African/Christian south. Terrorism, arms trafficking, khat smuggling, slavery, and a "nasty, brutish, and short" life awaits the 50 million people living here in what maybe the poorest place on the planet!

2. Saudi Arabia...Not that you could actually get in as a tourists—no spiritual pollution here allowed in this modern-day medieval kingdom. It is a country rich in potentially amazing heritage sites, but when you have what maybe the most restrictive travel policies in the world (even worse than USA's), they don't want you to see any of it. As the great unifier King Abdul Aziz bin Saud once said "My Kingdom will survive only insofar as it remains a country difficult to access, where the foreigner will have no other aim, with his task fulfilled, but to get out." Nuff said. So, I guess we all miss out on their lethal driving and sexual harassment.

3. Russia...We usually promote the Olympic spirit...but not this year for the Putin Games at Sochi (Which is a Black Sea resort area with actually very little snow!). This $50+ billion boondoggle of corruption (Putin's Palace nearby is estimated at upwards of $350 million—not bad on a life time civil servant salary!) will be no fun for a lot of reasons: extensive paranoid security, meaningless bureaucracy, $140 visas, lack of amenities, probably lack of snow, bad food, bad service...and worse, there will be good parties because Russia has a law against homosexuals! They won't even let Gandalf in the country!

4. Turkmenistan...This tightly controlled police state has some of the most arduous  tourist visa requirements on the planet. And they have succeeded too—only 7,000 tourists visited the place in 2012. Aside from the 11PM curfew in this not so party central country, it is not a good place to get into a political discussion or walk with a woman on the street. Trust me, stay away!

5. Venezuela...We thought it might make it off this annual no-GO list after Chavez died. It is such an amazing country to visit. But, nope. It only got worse! Caracas is the closest thing to modern day dystopia that Kurt Russell could make a movie called "Escape from Caracas" not set in the future, but now! It is the murder capital of the world, and other violent crime like kidnappings, car-jacking (of taxis!), the spiking of drinks, and daylight muggings are a constant—kind of like New York City in the 70s! Just stay away.

6. Nigeria...Speaking of modern-day the dystopias, Nigeria maybe be one of Dante's original rings of hell! Overcrowding, corruption, clogged sewers, traffic beyond belief, sectarian violence, etc... They make it easy enough to enter their country—although touts will start badgering you as the aircraft door opens; but leaving is another thing. In what maybe be, no is, the world's most corrupt country, you will be repeatedly asked to pay bribes to get to the airport to leave...many bribes. And you will happily pay them too!   

7-10. Galapagos Islands...Leave it alone, it needs a rest. There are just too many eco-tourists wrecking havoc on the environment. In fact, let's round out this last spot with a few other tourist destinations that we are clearing ruining (aka Loving it to Death Syndrome) with our industrial-strength tourism, including: Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, Petra and Venice. We are indeed short-sightedly killing the goose that lays the golden egg. They all should begin a limited daily visitor policies via a lottery system. They, and many other global sites are in dire need of hardcore sustainable tourism polices and aggressive protection/preservation management techniques. Heed this warning.

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