My last post was dedicated to Greenland – the one place people go after they’ve been everywhere – or so the saying goes anyway. After going there and falling in love with the place, I’d urge anyone to consider adding Greenland to your “must see” list. So, assuming you’ve seen Greenland and just about every other country imaginable, what’s left? Here are the places I’d go if I really wanted to get away from it all:
I’m determined to visit Antarctica during this lifetime, if for no other reason than for the satisfaction of knowing I’ve been to all 7 continents. Luckily, while no one actually makes their home on Antarctica, there are actually cruises you can take to get there – they leave from Ushuaia, Argentina, and cost an arm and a leg, but if you’re not tight on time you can actually take your chances at catching a last minute cruise where the cost is comparable to a decent European cruise around the Mediterrean! The best part of a trip to the South Pole? It’s a polar feast for your eyes with all the glaciers, ice shelves, and wildlife (think: penguins, seals, albatross and whales). Also, just imagine how starry the night skies must be.
Midway between Australia and Hawaii is a super tiny Polynesian country called Tuvalu. The only time I’ve ever heard of this place was maybe 10 years ago when they offered to sell their internet domain of “.tv”. After all, with a population of only 10,000, they likely have some domains to spare. The reason this country is worth visiting, however, is because it’s the first country at risk of disappearing with rising sea levels. At its highest point, the country is only 15ft above sea level. If sea levels rise 8 inches or so, the entire place is uninhabitable! So add Tuvalu to your list because if you don’t go, well, you won’t be able to.
3. Motuo County, China
Motuo County, known as Tibet’s Holy Land, is the only place in China that not only lacks a road leading to it, it may not have been meant to ever have one – all prior attempts at road construction have been futile as anything ever built has been destroyed by Mother Nature (landslides, avalanches, mudslides, or just overgrown jungle). As a result, if you want to go, you’ll have to get your hiking gear ready. The trek includes hiking across the frozen Himalaya before arriving at a ~650ft long suspension bridge that is over 300ft high (you really have to put on your “adventurer” hat for this one). If you manage to make it, you’ll be surrounded on all sides by snow-capped mountains and be rewarded with sub-tropical weather.
4. Pitcairn Island
This island is located in the dead center of the southern Pacific Ocean hundreds of miles away from its closest neighbors. The novelty of Pitcairn Island is that it’s notable for being the jurisdiction with the smallest population in the world and it’s not an easy place to get to – there isn’t even an airport. Once you’re there, however, you’ll be one of 49 people (there are only 48 inhabitants). Really. If you’ve ever wandered what would happen if you got stranded on a deserted island, just visit this place because that’s pretty much what happened when the HMS Bounty settled here in 1790. Since then, the population has gone up and down but it primarily consists of just a handful of families (I wander what that means from an inbreeding perspective). Anyway, if you’re interested in going to Pitcairn, you’ll have to make reservations to get on the MV Claymore II since it’s the only ship that’s scheduled to stop here. Given Pitcairn’s remoteness, it is ironic that 80% of the country’s income comes from tourism, but I suppose when the population is so small, 80% of “not that much income” is still “not that much income”.
5. Tristan da Cunha
Moving to the south Atlantic ocean this time, Tristan da Cunha is the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world with a population of 264. Its closest neighbor is South Africa – a mere 1,750 miles away. Given its location, few people visit and those who do have to endure a 6 day boat ride from Cape Town or Walvis Bay and that’s assuming that the unpredictable weather conditions will permit you to get off the boat when you arrive at the island. If you’re game for that boat ride, the only other challenge is that you’ll have to stay there for months – there is a limited number of boats that make the trip a year and the natives get priority so you’re basically going to have to wait for an open spot. Let’s hope you don’t get island fever.