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Not so long ago, being by yourself was generally considered a bad thing. It was something to be ashamed of, even ridiculed. But the rise of budget flights, social media and the likes of Airbnb, Couchsurfing and Tinder have changed that for the better. Online hitchhiking has become a thing, as has cabin porn (not what you think) which is billed as inspiration for your quiet place.
The point is, it’s never been easier or more acceptable to get out by yourself on a holiday for one. The thrill of escaping into the wilds is so heightened by being alone that it may recast your resolutions for next year. If you’ve never gone solo, you see, you’d never know how much you need your friends and family in the first place. Here are SUITCASE’s top destinations to see in New Year by yourself.
If there is an image of the Yukon, it is this: empty, rugged, and wild. It’s a place for self-reflection on a rudimentary canoe expedition, perhaps, or a husky-sled journey through boreal forest. Winter may bring harsh snows and higher-than-your-house snowdrifts but that doesn’t mean it’s not suited for solitude. Where the peaks crease the horizon in Kluane National Park, in the province’s extreme southwestern, you can find hundreds of kilometres of mapped-out trails for snowshoeing or ski-touring. You’ll also have the Northern Lights to yourself; they’re best viewed on crisp-clear nights in late December.
The red dunes of the Namib Desert have the bones of Africa, but the soul of Arabia. Here you won’t find countdown fireworks, descending glitter balls or New Year revellers. Instead, you’ll be welcomed by the world’s highest mountains of sand, some of which reach 300m, and the stark beauty of expansive clay pans and solitary campsites. Rise before dawn and you’ll witness the arrival of 2017 in a way few others can. Nothing, in truth, is like a beautiful desert sunrise, bathed in vivid pink and orange, to make your start of a new year more dramatic.
A solo hiking adventure is the ultimate long-winded yarn. Just ask Cheryl Strayed, who penned Wild, the autobiographical account of her trip along the 4,286km Pacific Crest Trail – a wilderness route that runs from California to the Canadian border – which has been made into a film starring Reese Witherspoon. Whether you have your own story or not, dozens of stretches of the trip can be completed even in deep midwinter, far away from the 3,000 or so hikers that began the hike this summer. You’ll meet others on the way, of course, but the mindset is key: start-out with realistic expectations, learn how to be self-sufficient and you’ll have a far better chance of reaching your goal.
Running through the remote northwest of Scotland, the North Coast 500 bills itself as Scotland’s Route 66. It’s only a half-truth at best, because it’s a lonely single-track loop of solitude that winds past the seaboard peninsulas of Caithness, Sutherland and Wester Ross – hardly fit for Cadillacs and road trips with your best buddies. But therein lies its charm: shrouded by mountain peaks and punctuated by dramatic, ruined castles and haunting caves, it’ll give you a solo perspective on a mystical landscape that’s as barren as northern Iceland and striking as southern Patagonia. That Scotland is the capital of whisky-fuelled Hogmanay celebrations, shouldn’t be lost on you either.
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