France: over the Marne River in a hot-air balloon
If you need to get away from your neighbours, there's nothing like a getaway in the Champagne region, only one hour and a half away from Paris. If horizontal distance does not break it, go vertical! The Marne department has actually become a hotspot of hot-air balloon practice: besides the now quite famous Warmeriville Hot-Air Balloon Festival, gathering the most beautiful airships you're likely to see in France, various agencies offer initiations or simple leisure flights on board the famous blimps.
Fly away like Dr Ferguson in Jules Verne's Five Weeks in a Balloon, your basket gently hovering a few hundred metres above the land. Enjoy gorgeous vistas over the stretches of land covered in vines that make the region so beautiful and well-known, but also the Epernay forest and the Condé castle. How sweet it is to fly so high above anything!
Japan: atop Mount Fuji
When someone says Japan, Tokyo usually first comes to mind. The cosmopolitan capital, filled with skyscrapers, perpetually shines a bright light across the world. However, if you're afraid to still meet your neighbours in the country of the rising sun, you'll be glad to know there is an alternative: get away from it all, , as a two-hour bus ride will take you to Mount Fuji, the country's most emblematic natural summit.
Honshū, the country's main island, suffuses an air of timelessness. The 3,776-metre high peak called “Fuji-San” by locals will fill trekkers with wonder, as the climb wins their highest praise. You'll best enjoy the view on the shores of Lake Kawaguchiko by following the walkways by night in order to best enjoy the rising sun's bright colours.
USA: silence is golden in Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park owes its name to the curves if the Río Grande marking its border, but Spanish explorers actually named it despoblado, the “uninhabited land”… So, if you're looking for seclusion and absolute silence, you came to the right spot. About 1,000 kilometres away from Houston, Big Bend is Texas' lone national park, but it's so huge that it actually covers part of the Chihuahua desert.
Enjoy the 320,000 hectares of desert, plains and mountains (the Chisos range) that peak at 2,700 metres. Your only neighbours here will be the hundreds of animal species – especially reptiles, birds and some desert mammals, the sole witnesses to your uninhibited performance when you'll recite poetry amid varied flora. Weather can sometimes be extreme, but natural wonders abound. You can spend hours just observing and quietly meditating! Which shouldn't be too difficult as you'll have to drive for about 100 kilometres before reaching the first inhabited village!
Chile: by yourself in the Atacama desert
From the Valley of the Moon to the Atacama salt flat and the El Tatio geysers, get ready to clear your mind: north of Santiago de Chile, huge stretches of land unlike any other await your visit. Dust, rock formations, thin air in altitude… this environment, theoretically hostile to mankind, actually accommodates one of the very last natural and entirely preserved gems on earth. The air is so dry and pure that nations of the world have united in building a giant telescope to study our universe's far away galaxies.
It is your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground that you will stride along the various hiking trails, set up with the best comfort you can imagine: villages nearby have started to offer restaurants, bars and trekking agencies that will all bring the experience within anyone's reach.
The bravest will climb up the 2,000 metres that separate San Pedro de Atacama from the El Tatio geysers on the Altiplano (meaning “high plain” in Spanish) of the Andes. Made of natural hot springs, this landscape will bring yet another level of contrast for anyone looking for a real change of scenery. Damned if you meet your neighbour in here!
Maldives Islands, the perfect retreat from the modern world
Spreading over 700 kilometres, the Maldives archipelago is a genuine earthly paradise. Try your hand at scuba diving twenty thousand leagues under the sea, amid lush aquatic vegetation. The infinite blue of the seabed will contrast with corals and multicoloured fishes during your underwater getaway. Whatever your level, be sure you're about to enjoy an incredible experience. Each hotel offers diving lessons, but you could as well choose a boat excursion and discover other spectacular spots.
You can swim for hours in those crystal clear waters, in channels shaped by currents, on thilas (underwater islands), inside atolls and even in caves! If you'd rather enjoy snorkelling, you'll be glad to learn that the scenery is just as wonderful. There, your only neighbours will be wear fins and look you up like a funny stranger. Ready to dive?