From ring-tailed lemurs to baobab trees, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot: over 80 per cent of its plant and animal species are found nowhere else on Earth. Isolated from Africa millions of years ago, the world’s fourth largest island has evolved an incredibly rich ecology and a landscape that is as bizarre as it is unique, making it one of the most exciting destinations in Africa and a world away from the footie this summer. World Expeditions offers an 11-day Unique Madagascar holiday departing on 11 June and 9 July, from £1,390 per person.
It may not seem that far from the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, but as the most remote inhabited island on Earth it is a world away. On Tristan da Cunha, you'll find just one football field, which slopes downhill to the South Atlantic and if the ball is kicked too vigorously its next westward landfall is South America! Around the island with just 264 residents, you can explore the amazing wildlife (Northern Rockhopper Penguins, the Tristan Albatross, and rare Shepherd's Beaked Whales), go on walks and climbs, and have a drink at the island's only pub, the Albatross Bar.
The archipelago of Svalbard is Norway’s northernmost settlement and its location inside the Arctic Circle makes it one of the last true European wilderness areas, with pristine mountains, deep fjords, picturesque icebergs and diverse fauna. Revel in the region’s natural beauty as you hike in the tundra, zodiac cruise in search of walrus haulouts and look for polar bears. World Expeditions' 11-day Svalbard to Tromsø holiday departs on 17 and 27 June, and costs from £4,635 per person.
Escape the World Cup on a truly unique trip to the remote islands of the Russian Far East, which are most easily accessed by ship. Here, you can spend time with the remote tribes of Okhotsk, Nikolskoe and Tymlat, and visit some of the most secluded villages in the region. Silversea's expedition ship Silver Discoverer will be making its way towards the Russian Far East on 14 June 2014. The village of Okhotsk is seemingly frozen in time and visitors can enjoy the local food tasting and cultural performances. Nikolskoe was established in 1826 by fur traders and is now a fishing village, and at Tymlat village, you can sample local food comprised of salmon, navanga and caviar with the Mengo people. Silver Discoverer is one of the only cruises to offers these unique stops enabling travellers time to get to know the traditions of tribes such as Koryak, Chykchi, Nivkh and Orok. Silver Discoverer's 18-day round trip from Otaru (Sapporo), Japan costs from £9,450 per person based on double occupancy of the Explorer Suite.
One of the last few wildernesses on earth, Mongolia is the world’s least populated country and one of the last few places on the planet to still find nomadic life. From the edge of the Gobi desert to the old Mongolian capital of Karakorum, this country is an off-roader's dream. Cycle into the heart of the country through a diversity of landscapes, meet its nomadic people and camp under the stars. World Expeditions' 15-day Wild Mongolia Cycle departs on 14 June and costs from £1,750 per person.
Relatively undiscovered by Westerners, Myanmar is the perfect place to escape the crowds and the World Cup. Start at Mandalay, the country’s last royal capital, and continue through Myanmar’s timeless villages to observe traditional lifestyles en route to Bagan, home to one of Southeast Asia’s finest collection of ancient pagodas and temples. Climb the 700 steps from the golden temple at the summit of sacred Mount Popa for stunning panoramic views, before the trip finishing at the picturesque Inle Lake. World Expeditions' 11-day Cycle Myanmar trip departs on 21 June and costs from £1,890 per person.
- While the residents are passionate about football, the Faroe Islands didn't qualify for the 2014 World Cup, making it a great place to escape the buzz this summer. Between Iceland and Norway, 300 km north of Scotland, the 18 tiny windswept dots in the North Atlantic are home to Fjords, waterfalls, green valleys and volcanic rock. The weather in the Faroe Islands is changeable and the light it spectacular. Understandably, given its remote location, the Faroese way of life is inextricably linked with nature, as evidenced by the islands' fashion, architecture and food. Go for an unforgettable long weekend of bird watching or hiking, spend Midsummer's Eve on an uninhabited island, savour the world’s most sustainably-farmed salmon or swim from island to island.
- The remote, uninhabited Rubondo Island in Lake Victoria could not be a better place to escape the soccer madness. At Rubondo Island Camp, you'll be the only people on the island. You can hike through the forest, looking out for elephants and giraffe, enjoy tranquil canoe trips out on the lake past pods of hippos, or for an adrenalin rush go Nile Perch fishing. If all of that sounds too much like hard work then relax by the pool or have a massage in this Africa paradise. From £395 per person per night.
Australia's remote Kimberley region in the wild northwest is perfect for discovering a land so old that vast tracts pre-date the very existence of fossils. Here you can explore the immense and complex landscape encompassing spectacular gorges, waterfalls, caves, rainforests and wildlife. See the seemingly infinite, varied coastline crowded with islands and bursting with marine life. And be among the few to visit this land where primeval crocodiles rule and only a trickle of savvy travellers venture each year. A ten-night cruise on National Geographic Orion starts in Darwin on 19 June and visits Wyndham and The Bungle Bungles, King George River and Falls, Vansittart Bay, Hunter River, Talbot Bay and Horizontal Waterfalls, and more, from £6,545 per person including return flights from London with Mundy Adventures.
- Escape from World Cup fever without leaving the UK on a blissful break in the Isle of Skye. Part of Scotland's Inner Hebrides, Skye is famed for its natural beauty, abundant wildlife, mind-blowing scenery and hillwalking. The place feels a million miles from the UK and even further from Brazil! It is conveniently connected to the UK by a road bridge and for the first time ever, visitors can climb high above the island by seaplane and see why its dramatic landscapes are often used as movie locations. A new luxury B&B has also arrived on Skye, tucked away in a rural setting just outside of the quaint capital Portree. Canowindra boasts luxurious rooms, a warm welcome and locally sourced produce for guests. A two-night stay at Canowindra including a scenic flight with Skye Seaplanes starts at £254 per person.
- This eerie but beautiful part of China could not be further from a crowded World Cup stadium and is so spectacular that it was used as a film location in movie Avatar. Part of the Wulingyuan Scenic Area, the famous Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is a 243-square-mile park characterised by 3,000 stunning karst pillars of sandstone, covered with sub-tropical rainforest. The park is sometimes covered in fog, adding to the mystery. China Links Travel offers a trip to the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park with four nights' accommodation in a four-star hotel, transport, meals and an English speaking guide as an add on to holidays in China, from £599 per person.