10 Best Countries to Explore on your Gap Year
OutdoorJAC has been to a few places in his time and he thought it was about time he shared some of his favourite experiences with you. Today we are asking JAC to share with us his favourite countries to explore during a gap year, and to give us some insight into what makes them so special and of courses the types of adventures you can get up to in each.
"Well everyone knows how much I like to travel, and one of my favourite destinations has to be Australia. For your Gap Year you can do so many things in this amazing country, so many opportunities to get stuck into, whether it be chilling on Bondai Beach after a day working, or hanging out in the harbour of Sydney, taking in the spectacular views - Australia has it all. Personally I love getting out into the bush and off the beaten track, with plenty of farm work to keep you occupied in the day you can enjoy a camp fire a cold beer under the stars in the evening."
"Once, for something completely different, I went for a trip to Cambodia and wow! what an experience - it was like stepping into the past and seeing the temples, monuments and undisturbed habitat, it really is an eye opener of any Gap Year explorer. There are various volunteer programmes you can join which will help the indigenous communities, and really give something back to these amazing people."
"As with all things, planning your Gap Year around what you want to get out of it is essential. When looking at somewhere which has a very wide range and mix of possible locations and experiences, it is worth having a clear plan, rather than just heading out there and making it up as you go along. There is nothing wrong with spontaneity, but a structured itinerary will certainly allow you to get more out of your visit! Where am I talking about this time? Canada! With its amazing slopes and skiing opportunities to the unspoilt wild terrain where you can get immersed in expeditions it really is a place for all. Like Australia, most of the country is English speaking, though in areas like Quebec, you will find most people have French as a first language."
"India has long been an amazing place for any Gap Year adventurer to go to, and get involved in some amazing projects. The stark contrast between rich and poor can be quite upsetting if you are not prepared for it, but if you are travelling there to help less fortunate people, then you can at least feel as though you are making contribution, albeit a small one in the scheme of things. The variety of cultures within the different regions is something that you should definitely explore while you are there. With over a thousand festivals taking place each year, you are sure to be kept entertained during your gap year experience. If you managed to be in the country during Diwali, as I was, it will blow your mind."
"Another country that easily makes my top ten destinations is Japan. This is a great gap year destination and there are lots of opportunities for teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL). The Japanese people are so welcoming to foreigners visiting their country. The nightlife is amazing, as is their culture and hospitality. It is not the cheapest gap year destination but you can pick up some great bargains when you are in Japan. I especially loved the food, and of course the people and their culture. This is definitely a place I want to go back to."
#5 South Africa
"If you are a budding botanist, wildlife enthusiast, or just generally love being outdoors. South Africa is a place where you will see some of the most beautiful wildlife and scenery in the world making it a must for anyone who wants to experience unspoilt nature at its finest. There are many different Gap Year programmes that will put you into the heart of the wildlife working within conservation areas helping nurture the local wildlife. In your downtime there are many things to do if you like surfing it has some of the most idyllic beaches with great waves to lap up. Don't forget to check out the wild penguines who have set up home on a couple of the countries beaches!"
"While Peru has always been a popular gap year destination, there is more than enough terrain to explore for everyone. When I visited, I did not hear anyone speaking anything other than Spanish, and I felt like an early explorer. Peru has many areas untouched by the tourist industry and you don't have to travel too far to be wrapped up in the local hospitality. Apart from the world famous Inca trail taking you to Macchu Picchu there is also the Amazon basin and the Andes to add to your trail list as you make the most of exploring this amazing country in your Gap Year."
"If you are looking to make a difference and don't mind giving up your creature comforts while on your Gap Year travels then Ecuador provides amazing opportunities to help the local children and wildlife. You can get involved with the Sea Turtle conservation work they are doing or teaching the local children. The cost of living is very inexpensive so you don't have to break the bank whilst giving something back."
"One place that may seem a bit cliched for some people, but has to be incuded in any sensible person's top ten gap year desintations, is Thailand. There are lots of worthy projects in Thailand, whether you choose to work teaching English to school children, assist rangers in the rainforests, or get involved in a medical project. And once your workday is over there are so many amazing beach parties and hot spots to go to it will surely make this place one of the most memorable Gap Year locations to travel to. The food is well renowned and the cost of living is relatively cheap leaving you open to spend some money on exploring some of the hidden treasures Thailand has to offer. A lot of gap travel companies include optional excursions that take in the amazing landscapes and Bhuddist temples."
"Finally something that any would be Ranulph Fiennes will truly appreciate - an expedition to Svalbard, the most Northern Territory in Europe and not too far from the North Pole. Gap Year travel does not get any more extreme than this, with 24 hours worth of daylight, Polar Bears, extreme temperature and a true physical challenge, this Gap Year trip will really give you memories that will stay with you for the rest of your life."
Whether you choose to visit a country from my ten favourite places, or somewhere else that appeals to you, I think that no matter what you do whilst on your travels, the single most important thing is to immerse yourself into it. Eat all the traditional foods you can, meet as many different people as you can, see all the amazing sites your Gap Year location has to offer and create memories that will stay with you for a lifetime.