These days, you can hop a plane to most UNESCO World Heritage sites and even the most remote National Parks. But airplanes can’t take you everywhere. There are still some remote destinations in the world that aren’t accessible by plane. Instead, you’ll have to drive, hike, or boat in. Here are five remote destinations that won’t get you air miles but are still worth the trip.
Deception Island, Antarctica
The main military base on the Antarctica, McMurdo Station, is only reachable by specialized airplanes. But you’ll have to access certain areas of the continent via boat, including Deception Island. Deception Island is actually the top ring of an active volcano, which last erupted in the 1960s. Despite the very real possibility of another eruption, Slate says the island “has long provided a safe harbor for sailors being tossed about in stormy seas.” The horseshoe-shape of the island creates an interior bay that’s warmed by the geothermal activity of the volcano. Visitors can hike, check out the colonies of chinstrap penguins, or learn more about the whaling ships that used the island as a safe harbor until the 1930s.
The island may be remote, but that’s not keeping visitors away. It’s become an increasingly popular tourist destination for those who want to check Antarctica off of their bucket list. The island is most easily reached by taking a cruise from Santiago, Chile. It takes about two weeks to make the journey into the Antarctic and back.
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It’s the “coldest village on Earth,” according to the Washington Post. This remote village in northeast Russia is 214 miles from the Arctic Circle, but about 500 miles from the nearest city. The average temperature in winter is a frigid -58 degrees Fahrenheit. And people are still living here despite temperatures too cold for planes to land.
Several hundred people make this place their home, surviving off of a diet of (often raw) fish, reindeer meat, and soups. The Washington Post reports that the ground here gets so cold that if they need to break into it (to do something like bury a body), they have to light a bonfire first to thaw it. That also means there are no underground pipes for plumbing, so all bathroom facilities are in the form of outhouses.
Does that mean tourists should shy away? Not at all. Visiting the destination gives you insight into the extremes human beings can survive and even thrive in. And it’s fascinating to see how the people living here cope with the extreme cold. You’ll need to arrange for a driver to take you on the two-day journey from the nearest city into the small village to experience life here.
The Kerguelen Islands, French Southern and Antarctic Lands
This group of islands is also known as the Desolation Islands for a good reason. According to Atlas Obscura, they are more than 2,000 miles away from civilization. They are also uninhabited, at least by any permanent residents. The islands are a base for French researchers, and up to 100 of them call the island their temporary home at any given time. Researchers use the islands to study geology and climate change, among other subjects, according to an article from NASA. Visitors to the island can enjoy observing seals and penguin colonies.
There are no planes to Kerguelen, not only because of a lack in demand but also because it’s often too icy and cold for flights to land. So the only way to travel to this remote location is to take a boat. However, the boats only travel to the islands four times a year. So you’ll need to plan ahead if you want to make the trip to this remote destination.
Tristan da Cunha, British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena
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Another site of an active volcano, Tristan da Cunha sits in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. The next nearest landmass is over 1500 miles away. That is St. Helena, where the British exiled Napoleon Bonaparte until his death. Africa, the nearest continent to Tristan, is over 1700 miles away. It’s considered the most remote inhabited island in the world, but if you decide to visit you’ll meet the 246 British citizens who call it home. Once on the island, you can visit the post office to buy stamps, a popular item among collectors and visitors alike.
Getting to the island isn’t easy, though. If you want to visit this remote destination, the island’s official website recommends starting the planning process a year in advance. You’ll have to fly into Cape Town, South Africa, and then board one of the boats making the journey out to the island. It’s a six-day trip one way and boats are often canceled or delayed due to weather conditions, so be flexible with your travel schedule.
Nyi La Pass, Upper Mustang, Nepal
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This remote location takes the top spot on the list for many reasons. First, you can’t reach it by plane, boat, or car. You’ll have to hike into it. And this isn’t a leisurely stroll along a nicely laid path, either. It’s a six-day hike, walking six or seven hours a day, across terrain that barely counts as a trail. Avalanches and rockslides are real and constant dangers. But it’s through some of the most remote, breathtakingly beautiful scenery in the world.
Nyi La Pass is part of a trail through Upper Mustang, a region in North Central Nepal. According to the website DangerousRoads.org, the Nepalese Army built the gravel road leading up to the pass. While a 4×4 vehicle can make some of the journey, it’s impassable in the winter and best done on foot. Visitors from around the world make the trek through the Upper Mustang valley, the entire trip taking nearly two weeks. Along the way, they’ll meet the warm and welcoming Nepalese families who make their home in one of the most remote destinations in the world. The combination of the scenery, the remote location, and the immersion into Nepalese life makes this one of the most extraordinary journeys into the far-flung places on our planet.