Expedition Unknown: Secret Locations Around the World

Channel your inner Josh Gates and explore these mysterious, remote, off-the-tourist-track adventures. From dinosaur-track hunting in British Columbia to following the Voodoo Trail in West Africa, we’ve rounded up the most far-flung expeditions around the world.

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Papua New Guinea

Josh Gates headed to the remote tribal lands of Papua New Guinea to dig into the iconic disappearance of Amelia Earhart. Take your own Papua New Guinea expedition with small tour sustainable travel company Intrepid Travel for a look into the indigenous cultures of this isolated land.

Taktsang Monastery, Bhutan

How far will you go to find happiness? Bhutan, the Buddhist country that developed its signature prosperity measure, Gross National Happiness, is a good place to start. On this National Geographic with G Advnentures Journeys tour you’ll trek up to the cliff-hugging Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), one of the most sacred pilgrim sites in the Himalayas. And if you make it to the top, 2,953 feet above the valley, we guarantee you’ll find pure happiness.

Lost City of Bagan, Myanmar

While under a military dictatorship, Myanmar was closed off to the rest of the world. Now this Southeast Asian nation is welcoming Westerners once again to areas that were previously off-limits. Don’t miss exploring the Lost City of Bagan, where over 2,000 pagodas make up the 26-sq-mile Bagan Archaeological Zone.

Fort San Lorenzo, Panama

Follow Josh Gates' footsteps in Panama where he joined archaeologists to search for Captain Morgan’s lost gold. Designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fort San Lorenzo is the site in Panama where Captain Morgan’s Satisfaction sank. Today, it’s a popular diving spot for those looking to find a real "Pirates of the Caribbean" lost treasure.

New Delhi, India

Get a unique look into daily life in India through a local -- a local street kid, that is. Learn what life is like in New Delhi from your guide, a former street child, on a National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures trip, while your tour supports your guide’s college education. You’ll also get a chance to meet village elders and teachers to discuss rural life in Chandelao Garh, a homestay in Rajasthan, too.

Kalahari Desert, Africa

Josh Gates explored Kalahari Desert, the second largest desert in Africa, searching for a fabled lost city. Most travelers head to these vast sand-covered plains, which reach into Botswana, Namibia, and parts of South Africa, on safari searching for game like the black-maned Kalahari lion. (If you go, keep your eyes peeled for signs of lost civilizations, too.)

Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia

Forget learning about dinosaurs from "Jurassic Park"; instead head to the dinosaur hot spot in the foothills of Canada’s Rocky Mountains to follow real dinosaur tracks in Tumbler Ridge, UNESCO-supported site known for its discoveries of dinosaur and other prehistoric fossils.

Socotra Island

Landing on the remote island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean, you’ll feel as you’ve stepped foot on another planet, with its alien-looking flora and fauna, a third of which aren’t found anywhere else in the world. Conservation-focused WANT Expeditions leads tours on this isolated island, called the "new Galapagos" due to its human-friendly wildlife.

Jerusalem, Israel

Explore the underground mysteries in the ancient city of Jerusalem with a visit to the Siloam secret water tunnels, believed to have been built in the late 8th and early 7th centuries BCE. Or dig for underground treasures by joining nearby archeological excavations where visitors can participate, such as the Temple Mount Sifting Project.

Citadelle Laferriere, Haiti

Dive into Haiti’s rich past with a visit to Citadelle Laferriere, an imposing mountaintop fortress built in the early 1800s outside of colonial city Cap-Haitien. Climb the six-mile-long steep road that leads to this UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the largest fortresses in the Americas, and the biggest in the Caribbean. Marvel at the magnificence of a fortress that took 20,000 men 15 years to build. Explore more of Haiti with Haitian-led tours with EIM Adventures and G Adventures.

Voodoo Nations, West Africa

Follow the voodoo trail in West Africa with conversation-focused WANT Expedition’s Voodoo Nations of Africa Expedition that attempts to demystify the world’s most misunderstood religion. Visit Voodoo shrines and remote villages, which few outsiders have dared to venture to, then explore isolated national parks in search of rare wildlife.

The Arctic Circle, Russia

Bundle up and travel far above the Arctic Circle to the isolated home of the Nenets, a tribe of nomadic reindeer herders, on the Yamal Peninsula in Russia. On a first-of-its-kind Intrepid Travel Expedition, travelers will be invited into the nomads’ community, to get a glimpse of life on the frozen tundra with reindeer herds.

Lalibela, Ethiopia

Discover the mysteries of Ethiopia and its unique position straddling the cultures of Africa and the Middle East on a National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures tour. You’ll explore the ancient sacred sites of Lalibela and Axum, and learn to make injera, the spongy flatbread national dish, with a rural community.

Eternal Spring Shrine

Perched on the side of a cliff in Taiwan’s Toroko National Park, the Eternal Spring Shrine is not easily reached on foot, but those up for a steep climb to the temple’s bell tower will be rewarded with views of the spring waterfalls.

Baikonur, Kazakhstan

Journey to one of the least explored corners in the world in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic in Central Asia on a 10-day Intrepid Travel Expedition. Watch a live rocket launch in the remote settlement of Baikonur, the site of the former Soviet – now Russian – space program, and explore the ancient cities and Silk Road portals of Kazakhstan.

Altaussee Salt Mine, Austria

Follow the trail of the Monuments Men to the Altaussee Salt Mines in Austria (used in filming of the movie as well) where the Nazis stored stolen art, masterpieces such as the 12-paneled "Adoration of the Mystic Lamb", during WWII. Today you can see the recovered 15th century painting, also known as the "Ghent Altarpiece", in St. Bavo Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium. Although, one panel never has been found.

Lost City, Colombia

Trek through the jungle to the ruins of Colombia’s Lost City or "Ciudad Perdida" with sustainable travel company G Adventures. Get a glimpse into the indigenous communities' way of life in the remote river valleys of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, sleep in hammocks and climb the 1,200 steps to reach the sacred site of the Lost City.

Romania, Moldova, Ukraine

In "Expedition Unknown’s" Romania episode Josh Gates hunts for vampires. Escape Europe’s tourist track and explore more of its darker worlds in Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine on an Intrepid Travel Expedition that takes travelers to the breakaway republic of Transnistria that still clings to Soviet values, and Chernobyl, the site of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters.

Djibouti, Africa

Live like a true nomad as you cross the otherworldly Djibouti landscape on a 13-day Intrepid Travel Expedition. Follow an Afar camel caravan as you trek to the top of Ardoukoba Volcano and to Lake Assal, Africa’s lowest point on land and one of the world’s saltiest lakes.

Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim

Follow in Josh Gates' tracks: He journeyed to Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim Norway, where he searched for the mythical Viking sunstone. The gothic cathedral is believed to be the final resting place of Viking King St. Olaf, who is rumored to have a treasured sunstone buried with him in an unmarked grave in the catacombs. See how the Vikings lived at a Viking settlement at Avaldsnes.

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