Daydreaming about traveling
May 8, 2020 1:05 PM   Subscribe

I was suppose to "visit" the Middle East, but due to the virus my trip was canceled. Now I'm just daydreaming while I doddle away at home in the midst of quarantine. So I just wanted to know, where are some super underrated/unknown/unvisited areas of the Middle East/N. Africa that people don't commonly go to?

For example, I was suppose to be in Sulaymaniyah, in N. Iraq, which is suppose to be an amazing place. I've never heard of anybody ever visiting there. What are some under-disclosed spots? Thanks! Just trying to perform some mental escapism here and read and learn about some neat places I've never heard of.
posted by gucci mane to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
on my "probably never gonna get there but stranger things have happened" list, the National Museum in Damascus exhibits the paintings from the Dura-Europos synagogue.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:28 PM on May 8, 2020 [3 favorites]


Socotra island in Yemen looks amazing
posted by horizons at 1:46 PM on May 8, 2020 [2 favorites]


If you want to day-dream about North Africa, I can't recommend The Golden Rhinoceros enough. It is fantastic.
posted by jquinby at 1:55 PM on May 8, 2020 [1 favorite]


Chad might be too far south for you, but I’ve heard good things from multiple people about N’Djamena. I guess the fact that I’ve met multiple people who have been there means it’s not the most secret place, but it’s not exactly a hotspot.
posted by kevinbelt at 3:41 PM on May 8, 2020


A friend visited the Kurdish regions about 5 years ago. He says Sulaymaniyah was interesting but he liked Hawler (Erbil) a lot more. The place he loved the most was Mardin in Turkey, which he says is gorgeous. Diyarbakır, also in Turkey, is recommended too, as well as Halabja in Iraq.

I don't know how well-visited Siwa Oasis in Egypt is these days but when I was there about 20 years ago there was only one route (from Marsa Matruh) and it had just been paved. It's a lovely spot at the edge of the Great Sand Sea, with a Berber culture very distinct from the rest of Egypt.
posted by theory at 6:24 PM on May 8, 2020


Jeffery Tayler has written travelogues about North Africa where he goes off the beaten track travelling overland. I've found his books totally compelling:
Angry Wind: Through Muslim Black Africa by Truck, Bus, Boat, and Camel (not much about radicalism at all much more about being a western tourist off the tourist track in Chad to Dakar, the "hook" is just that he's in North Africa a bit after September 11 2001)
Glory in a Camel's Eye: A Perilous Trek Through the Greatest African Desert about camel trekking in the Moroccan Sahara.
posted by hotcoroner at 8:24 PM on May 8, 2020


I like reading travelogs of touring bicyclists visiting different regions. Lots of them like to put together really nice detailed posts about each day's adventure, include plenty of photos, etc. They always spend quite a bit of time in each area they visit, so you get some depth but you also get the "travel" aspect of them moving through the country or countries. They also typically visit many, many out-of-the-way and lesser known places.

Just a few random examples--you can look for more similar by searching a bit on the sites they're hosted on:

- East African Bicycle Tour - 2018: South from Nairobi., then CW loop through TZ, RW and UG, and back to Nairobi. 1/3 by bus.

- Bicycle Travel Journals - Africa

- Bicycle Travel Journals - Middle East
posted by flug at 12:20 AM on May 9, 2020


The supposed tomb of Eve (yes that Eve) in Jeddah - is an ideal location for an armchair traveler (since nothing much remains of the site and it is difficult and discouraged to visit).
posted by rongorongo at 12:50 AM on May 9, 2020


Not the middle East, but Central Asia. The Nukus Museum of Art in Uzbekistan is very far off the tourist trail, but has a collection of 100,000 pieces of art collected from persecuted artists under Stalin. It's the most powerful museum experience I've had.
posted by cholly at 2:06 AM on May 9, 2020 [2 favorites]


Check out the Atlas Obscura site on the Middle East

Atlas Obscura
posted by Flashduck at 12:50 AM on May 10, 2020


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