Some of the worst war-torn regions of the 20th century have made miraculous recoveries, transforming from places of carnage and decimation to hubs for comfort and fun. Here are some countries that you’ll now find in guidebooks as well as history books. Just keep in mind that many of them are poor, so it’s smart to practice the safety measures you’d take anywhere.
Colombia is infamous for hosting the world’s longest continuous civil war (1948 – present) and for its deadly narco -trade battles, but the country’s efforts to bring back security have paid off.
Under the guidance of ProColombia, a government agency that promotes investment, ports and tourism, Colombia’s economy is growing, and tourism is booming. Last year the country welcomed 1.9 million visitors — more than twice as many in 2005.
Travelers are being lured by Colombia’s natural beauty, including the Amazon jungle, tropical beaches and the high peaks of the Andes. Also, urban hubs like colonial-era Cartagena and a remodeled Medellin (once considered the world’s most dangerous city) have hip restaurants, cool hotels and an authentic feel.
Don’t Want to Go Solo? Intrepid Travel runs an eight-day Cafe Colombia tour that takes groups to the heart of the Colombian highlands, where they learn the art of growing and brewing some of the world’s best coffee.
2. South Africa
More than two decades after apartheid ended in South Africa, the healing process still isn’t complete, says South African native and travel expert Erik Brits.
But the country that once saw regular violence is at peace and economically stable and tourism is booming. There are more than 100 safari tour operators specializing in sightings of Africa’s Big 5 Cape buffaloes, elephants, leopards, lions and rhinos.
The country is also home to the world’s highest commercial natural bungee jump, best
in-class surf breaks and the Drakensberg Mountains, home of South Africa’s only ski resort.
Relax Where Mandela Did: In 2015 the Shambala Game Reserve reopened the Nelson Mandela Centre for Reconciliation, where the former president vacationed and held important peacekeeping meetings. The six-bedroom house is available to travelers willing to pay $5,741 per night.
From Anastasio Somoza’s nightmarish 36-year dictatorship to the Sandinista Revolution and the subsequent Contra War, Central America’s largest country has had more than its fair share of civil unrest in the last 40 years.
But Nicaragua’s troubled past didn’t stop the New York Times from ranking it third on its list of 46 Places to Go in 2013. Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast beaches are as beautiful and abundant as neighboring Costa Rica’s, but they’re far less crowded.
And best of all, everything is cheaper (think beers for $2 and hotel stays for under $100). Travelers can find an entirely different culture on the country’s Caribbean coast or head inland to explore the colonial streets of Granada and Lake Nicaragua, where nearby Laguna de Apoya, a former volcano, is now a popular swimming hole.
Easier to Reach Than Ever: The Costa Esmeralda Airport, scheduled to open in November, will be a game- changer for accessing the Pacific playground, which has never had a public airport.Instead of taking a 2.5-hour taxi drive, travelers will be able to fly directly from Managua to Rivas attractions like Mukul, Nicaragua’s first luxury resort.
4. Northen Ireland
Fighting between the Irish Republican Army and the Ulster Freedom Fighters lasted from 1968 until the 1990s, but peace prevails today though you should be careful about what you say, and never mention the old times. Northern Ireland has much of the same stunning scenery as its southern counterpart, The Republic of Ireland, but it is part of the United Kingdom and belongs to the European Union. It boasts the rough-around-the-edges Belfast, epic road-tripping along the Causeway Coastal Route, the historic walled city of Londonderry and even the gravesite of St. Patrick at Down Cathedral.
Live it Up at Lough Erne: Before it was voted Northern Ireland’s Hotel of the Year in 2014, Lough Erne Resort hosted the last G8 Summit in 2013. The five-star property features the Faldo Championship Golf Course, a resident game angling instructor, helicopter tours, a Thai spa and an exclusive Irish whiskey tasting experience.
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Source : Traveller (From Sept 7 to Sept 13 )Vol 3, No 13