Cultural treasures to savour
IF YOU'RE yearning to visit an off-the-beaten-path location - somewhere unsullied by outsiders and souvenir shops - let the Global Heritage Fund (GHF) be your guide.
In honour of World Heritage Day, on April 18, the fund released a list of five endangered cultural heritage sites in Europe, Asia and South America that it's working to preserve.
CIUDAD PERDIDA (LOST CITY), COLOMBIA
These ancient jungle ruins include more than 200 structures built by the Tairona people from the 8th to the 14th centuries. In order to preserve the archaeological treasures, GHF is helping locals develop environmental education programmes, and is working to lessen tourism's impact on the area.
The city is hidden in the middle of the Colombian jungle, a few days' hike from Santa Marta, the country's oldest colonial town.
THE MINORITY VILLAGES OF GUIZHOU, CHINA
Guizhou, terraced with lush rice paddies and dotted with elaborate wooden structures and stupas, is China's poorest province. But modernisation is coming, and villages that have maintained ancient traditions are threatened by increasing industrial activity. Drive three hours from Guiyang City until you reach Dali, a charming village. As you pass through mountains, stop and buy crafts (such as hand-made paper) made by the Dong, Buyi and Miao people.
GOBEKLI TEPE, TURKEY
Built more than 10,000 years ago, this strange collection of stone pillars in the Anatolia region of Turkey is believed to be the oldest place of worship in the world - even older than Stonehenge. Fly into Sanliurfa, where Nomad Tours will arrange homestays with local families.
You've heard of Peru's Machu Picchu, right? This is Guatemala's answer, home to the earliest Preclassic Maya archaeological sites in Mesoamerica.
It also boasts one of the world's largest pyramids. Unfortunately, a growing ranching industry (spurred by drug trafficking) has wiped out huge swathes of jungle nearby, as have looting and poaching.
CARPATHIAN VILLAGES OF ROMANIA
Go back in time to mediaeval Europe at these traditional Transylvanian hideouts. The region's seven fortress towns (or Siebenburgen), built by Saxons in the 12th century, emerged unscathed from the socialist era and have since been restored to their former elegance.