We agree - it is becoming increasingly difficult these days to not be a travel sheep. When we hear friends bleating about amazing places we naturally want to follow their lead and visit too. However, with the growing problem of 'overtourism' and the destruction of some of the world's most precious corners due to our woolly, slightly unimaginative tendencies, we think it is important - both for our sake and for our beautiful planet's - to take the risk and forge our own footprints. Luckily, we are obsessed with finding those special, uncharted destinations - the roads less trampled and views less Instagrammed - and are revealing our list of favourite secret gems for 2020. Shhh, don't tell...
Speaking of sheep, our first undiscovered spot is practically governed by them - they outnumber humans by almost 2:1 (note: save space in luggage for multiple new cosy jumpers). Majestic, humble and jaw-droppingly beautiful, the regal Faroe Islands are something to behold. Dramatically alone and adrift in the North Atlantic (although technically part of the Kingdom of Denmark), these 18 magnificent islands are easily forgotten and tourists are a rarity. Stumbling across grass roofs, rugged volcanic coastlines peppered with puffins, fantastical waterfalls and floating lakes, you'll feel like an intrepid explorer. The cherry perched on top of this luscious, lovely land? The mind-boggling culinary treasures served at Koks, the island's two-Michelin-star restaurant.
For any true adventurer searching for their next exhilarating expedition on a quirky holiday, the least-visited country in South America is waiting for you. Guyana's fascinating melange of cultures, races and religions is tied together by an upbeat Caribbean vibe and the friendly, hospitable locals go about their business to the cheering beats of reggae. This extraordinary country is home to some truly astounding sights - the most impressive being the Kaieteur Falls, an immense waterfall five times higher than Niagara Falls and certain to induce utter awe from every visitor. Considering 80% of the country is covered in much of the world's most pristine, unexplored rainforest, you can be sure this trip will be wonderfully wild. Exploring the jungles will mean you are walking alongside anteaters, sloths, armadillos and jaguars, while the north coast's sea-turtle nesting grounds will delight any animal enthusiast.
Those looking for their culture and history fix need look no further than Uzbekistan. This is an utterly fascinating land dappled with eye-popping turquoise mosques, epic deserts, bustling bazaars and a bewildering history, yet it's not even close to making the average holiday destination list. Only 1,000 Britons uncover its dream-like delights and the wonderfully welcoming people each year. However, it was once the crossroads of the world and as such is a wonderful array of cultural influences - today Uzbekistan is the Silk Road in a nutshell, and as you wander through the cities enveloped in endless shades of blue, you will find yourself journeying back in time through a contrasting Soviet history; the vivid traditional ceramics, carpets and tiles which glitter in the streets are juxtaposed by stark areas of parched wilderness. A few nights in a desert yurt, camels snoozing outside while dazzlingly bright stars pierce through the canopy of the night sky, cannot be missed.
Comparatively slightly bare on the sheep front, but instead offering heavenly pearly beaches, rugged mountain scenery, countless castles brimming with history, and an impressively diverse gastronomic scene, Albania is wonderfully surprising and totally underrated. It is the secret Mediterranean; its undisturbed coastline and fascinating archaeological sites still quietly waiting to be discovered. Make a beeline for buzzing Blloku, the hippest district in capital Tirana; wind through enchanting villages which cling to rocky hillsides; scale the ice-grey pinnacles of the Accursed Mountains where wolves roam through deep green forest, and push through the olive groves in Borsh to reveal over four miles of oyster-white, shimmering sand. Hurry there now, and don't tell anyone where you are going.
But what if you are looking for a classic sapphire sea, blissful beach, dozy-days island getaway? Luckily, even this is possible without having to fight with flocks of people having the same thought. Syros is a secret pearl in the otherwise inundated collection of Greek islands. Enchantingly traditional and authentic, it offers the best of idyllic Greek life: scrumptious seafood and exquisite salads served up in front of unparalleled views of the Aegean Sea; medieval winding towns built into the rock; and incredibly unspoiled sands twinkling in the sun. Visitors here are guests, not tourists, and the welcome is always genuinely warm. The elegant Ermoupoli is the grandest of all Cycladic towns and oozes history. Also known as the 'City of Hermes', its pastel villas cascading down the hill, striking churches and a majestic theatre offer much to explore in between some serious summer repose. Sheep count: very few.
Thinking about booking an off the beaten track, quirky holiday? Get in touch and we'll be happy to help.