Each year upwards of 500 million people post photos of their lives on Instagram. Sometimes it’s their cat’s hilarious antics, sometimes it’s their breakfast, and a lot of the time it’s travel. Turns out the world scrubs up all right when you run it through an Insta filter.
This week Instagram released their 16 Most Instagrammed Places of 2016 list. As a sucker for clickbait headlines, I dove straight in. Disney, Universal Studios, Times Square and Central Park all headline a list of some of the most reliable likes this world has to offer. I mean, #CentralPark alone has an astonishing 4.1 million posts. What’s even more fascinating is that this list is a near mirror image of the 2015 winners.
This sucks. The world is a much more varied, interesting, weird and wonderful place than these lists would have you believe. And as cool as Central Park is, I know there is more out there. So I set out to find the least Instagrammed places on earth. Which places have exactly 0% chance of cracking the 2017 list? Places in remote pockets of the world where people haven’t even heard of Instagram, let alone a hashtag.
So I went searching. And found some Intrepid Instagrammers who, like us, are out there revealing the spots no one else is talking about. I proudly present the (very unofficial) list of the frontiers that even social media has yet to discover. The Least Instagrammed Places of 2016.
Yamal Peninsula, Siberia (127 posts)
Yamal is home of the Nenets, one of the last nomadic reindeer communities. It rests well above the Arctic Circle in a place that closely resembles the end of the earth. Traveler @Kristi.Kate posted this photo from the Yamal Peninsula in support of her Kickstar documentary on Women at The End of the Land. This beautifully complex region headlines our new Expedition range: Expedition – Footsteps of Russia’s Reindeer Herders.
Lac Assal, Djibouti (492 posts)
Welcome to Africa’s hidden oasis, Lac Assal, Djibouti. Hidden away in a pocket of northeastern Africa, Djibouti is one of those obscure countries that some people may think you’re making up just to win Scrabble games. I’m happy to report not only is it real, but it boasts salt flats, hot springs, deserts, hiking, snorkelling and one of the world’s saltiest lakes. You can follow the footsteps of the afar on our first ever trip in Djibouti.
Ikh Uul, Mongolia (25 posts)
If you’re anything like me, you’d trade a hotel for a homestay any day of the week. Staying with a local family in Ikh Uul on my Wild Mongolia Intrepid trip was a unanimous highlight for our group. Even the ones who were pretty attached to indoor plumbing. The tricky thing about homestays in Mongolia is that half the local population is still nomadic, moving homes up to four times a year. Finding the right impossibly remote grassy plain is half the battle. But trust me, when you’re out there, with no sound at all but the wind on the tundra, you’ll get what it’s all about.
Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar (947 posts)
Between cruising the #Mekong and sailing in #HaLongBay, Southeast Asia has no shortage of well-documented aquatic adventures. But for travellers in search of a blue water paradise that will require little to no filtering, look no further than Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago. This is a remote collection of islands in the Andaman Sea, inhabited by free-diving sea people called Moken who live in villages by the water or high in coastal cave systems. Yes, that is as cool as it sounds. Tourism here is seriously new – we’re one of the only companies running sailing trips through the region. Disneyland, this is not.
Vatnsnes Peninsula, Iceland (627 posts)
While Iceland is certainly in the midst of a massive tourism boom, the Vatnsnes Peninsula is getting none of the hype. Vatnsnes sits a bit off the northern section of the Ring Road but trust me, it’s well worth the detour. Wild horses here outnumber the local population, seals parade on the black beaches and a basalt stack known as Hviterskur towers in the sea.
Shigatse, Tibet (2,973 posts)
With almost 3,000 posts, Shigatse is practically Times Square compared to the other places on this list. But considering its Tibet’s second largest city, that number deserves to be higher. Shigatse is home to the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery that dates back to the very first Dalai Lama. The city has been around for thousands of years and has had nothing but time to garner some Instagram love. The only thing missing is travellers.
Ras Al Jinz, Oman (639 posts)
Extremely niche travel trends suggest that Oman will become the Iran of 2017 (and if you didn’t know Iran was the Mongolia of 2016, shame on you). Oman is home to every commonly used Middle Eastern travel adjective in the book. It’s a spice-filled, richly coloured feast for the senses with sweepingly breathtaking remote landscapes. But seriously, Ras Al Jinz and its jaded shores on the Gulf of Oman are a Middle Eastern jewel. Discover Oman before everyone else does.
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