Having had the great good fortune of being able to travel to 133 countries so far in my life, I am always amazed that in the 21st Century (with a world population that has tripled since I was born), there are still extraordinary destinations where I find myself the only visitor.
In the past year I have scouted several new locations for our study adventures and from the highlands and upper Sepik basin of New Guinea to the deserts and lake depressions of Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, I have spent weeks without encountering a single other traveler.
There are a number of other new destinations we are offering in 2016-17 that have only recently appeared on the tourist radar. These locations are easily accessible and have good infrastructure, but are still delightfully unspoiled. Flores and Komodo Islands are but two of Indonesia’s 14,000 islands, but over 95% of all tourists that visit this incredible archipelago restrict themselves to one island – Bali. The situation is similar in the Philippines where few people venture out to the more remote islands in this 7,000-island archipelago. Palawan Island near the tip of Borneo is an extraordinary gem only recently opening to tourism.
As I write this I am off to explore our first study and service destinations in South America. Guyana and Suriname are still two of the best-kept secrets on the South American continent and I hope to research both countries for future ITWNE trips for both adult and student groups.
International school students on our trips are usually well traveled, having been to many global destinations with their parents. Our goal is to get them off the beaten path and out of the 4 star hotels to more intimately know peoples, cultures and environments that are unaffected by mass tourism. Even in countries that receive millions of tourists annually, like Thailand, we strive to stay well away from the crowd to offer the most unique and richly rewarding experiences possible. That’s one of the hallmarks of our study adventures… getting off the too trodden pathways to create new directions of our own.
Thom Henley, Executive Director