Our seven Hidden wonders have been carefully curated to showcase a handful of our favourite undiscovered places and celebrate the people that make them so special.
As we return once again to discovering the world, over-tourism is a plight we can no longer ignore. Of course, we have always recognised the value of lesser-known sights and avoiding the crowds. But now, more than ever, it is time to slow down and head to destinations where your feet aren’t two amongst a million others.
When pondering the places we want to see again, the most famous Ancient, Natural, and New Wonders of the World often come up. This got us thinking, what of the people that make these places so significant? So, our travel experts have created a new list. One that celebrates seven spectacular hidden wonders, from vast places to symbolic monuments, focusing on the people, culture and traditions and how you can make a positive impact towards their way of life.
These seven wonders reimagined will have you wandering along undiscovered ancient pathways in Peru, immersed in enchanting rituals at the monolithic churches of Ethiopia, and forging a deeper connection to the natural world in Mongolia. Whether you’re breaking bread with the Bedouins of Little Petra or foraging in the Siberian Taiga Forest with the Tsaatan Reindeer Herders, we hope you will come away from these experiences with great compassion for remote communities and a more profound understanding of the cultures and traditions that have shaped them.
5. Machu Picchu’s Lonely Sister
People cross oceans to visit the legendary Machu Picchu, only to find themselves in a feverish crowd waiting for a photo opportunity. But deep in the less polished corners of the Peruvian Andes lies Choquequirao, a citadel thought to be three times the size of Machu Picchu with only a dozen visitors each day.
Meaning ‘cradle of gold’, Choquequirao is a treasure trove of ancient archaeology and only 30% of the ruins have been freed from the jungle so far. The partially excavated Inca ruins sit high upon sprawling mazes of green terraces and are thought to have been one of the final royal refuges as the empire crumbled and royalty fled Cuzco. On the scarce occasion that you aren’t here alone, you will find locals offering prayers to the Gods asking for protection against the elements.
Perched on the edge of the platforms, surrounded by silence, enjoy uninterrupted views of the breathtaking Apurimac Valley. Enveloped by lush rainforest observe the precious Andean condors as they circle above. Much like Machu Picchu, parts of the site are aligned to the stars, which means stargazing is like holding up a mirror to the Milkyway.
7. The Rock Churches of Ethiopia
There are numerous theories regarding the origins of the Monolithic Cave Churches of Lalibela. However, one of the more divine explanations is that King Lalibela, aided by an army of angels, sculpted the magnificent stone monuments in a single night. His vision was to build a ‘New Jerusalem’, one that would welcome Christians from every corner of the world. Now, we understand the idea of architectural angels is a little harder to get behind. But there is no denying that these shrines have become significant in unifying people from many different cultures through religion and tradition.
For centuries, devoted worshipers fill the courtyards and gather at the edges of the cavern – their ivory robes enveloping the rock-hewn churches in a sea of white. Witness as they come together to perform powerful prayer in its rawest form, just as it would have been over 800 years ago. Their voices build as the chants rise out from the cave’s depths, carrying across the surrounding desert. Incense pours out from the entrances, the sound of hypnotic drum beats reverberating through the air as priests lead their people in song.
Such scenes are not exclusive to Lalibela; with hundreds of these rock-hewn churches spanning the whole of Ethiopia, from the Simien mountains to the Mago National Park. These ancient sanctuaries are essential to providing worshippers, who are often spread far and wide, a place of solace and celebration. Their gatherings are a spectacle not to be missed, even if you do not share their practice.