Most Remote Places on Earth
Though pretty much every corner of the earth has been opened up to tourism, there are a handful of remote locations that see very little human traffic, thanks to their tantalizingly remote and inhospitable nature.
From islands located thousands of miles away from civilization, to some of the highest and coldest places on the planet, here are 14 extraordinary destinations few outsiders have gone before — but that you can access with some patience and pluck.
If you’re looking for the most inaccessible retreat in the southern reaches of the world, then you might want to set your GPS to what’s called the Antarctic Pole of Inaccessibility. But to be fair, any place that has the word “inaccessibility” in its name should probably be avoided by all but the most brazen adventurers.
Instead, you’re better off heading to the still impressively remote South Pole, 500 miles away. Here, temperatures that average -76 degrees Fahrenheit keep the riffraff away. And if you’re brave enough to venture out to this hostile location, you and your touring party will likely have the vast expanse of whiteness all to yourselves.
How to get there: If you’re determined to reach the South Pole, sign up with a company running expeditions there. 365 Expeditions operates various treks to the South Pole that include training sessions to prep you for strenuous seven-hour treks in freezing weather.
The company can also guide you on a ski trip from the Antarctic coast to the South Pole. But be warned: This journey takes 50 days to complete, and requires you to haul everything you need to survive on a sled behind you.
Like the South Pole, there’s an equally impossible region to reach in the north, called the Arctic Pole of Inaccessibility. But again, with some considerable effort, you can access the nearby North Pole, where conditions are inhospitable enough to make you feel like you’ve earned your adventure.
Note that the real North Pole is different from North Pole, Alaska, a far more reachable destination boasting, you guessed it, Christmas-themed attractions like Santa Claus’ house.
How to get there: Your only option to reach the actual North Pole is to sign up for an organized trek, usually leaving from Norway's Svalbard archipelago. A few companies will lead amateurs out into the wild and, hopefully, back. Ice Trek offers an epic North Pole trek that leaves from Longyearbyen and takes you to the Pole and back over the course of 25 days.
If you’re comfortable with a sea journey that takes more than one and a half days, then a trip to remote Pitcairn Island is for you. The island is home to about 50 people, and has never seen a helicopter or plane. Nor has any ship been able to moor off it, making the journey there an adventure in itself.
The majority of visitors here choose to stay with local families who get around mostly by quad bike. Those who’ve been are quick to brag that fewer people will visit this island in a year than will reach the summit of Mount Everest.
How to get there: Fly to Tahiti. From there, there’s a weekly flight to Mangareva, in French Polynesia. From there, board the MV Claymore II, which sails to Pitcairn Island approximately twice every three months.
Siberia has earned an international reputation as one of the most inhospitable and isolated places on the planet, and at the pinnacle of this vast Russian province is the rural locality of Oymyakon.
Situated along the Indigirka River, the temperature here seldom reaches higher than 53 degrees Fahrenheit, but has been known to dip to -90. This, together with its population of approximately 500, makes Oymyakon one of the coldest inhabited places on Earth.
It takes two days of treacherous driving to reach the region, but once there you’ll find life goes on somewhat normally — there’s a school, post office and even a working bank.
How to get there: The closest you’ll get to Oymyakon by commercial airliner is likely to be Yakutsk or Magadan. From there, you’ll need to drive some 560 miles over the snow-covered Road of Bones — a journey that will take you more than 20 hours.
Easter Island, also known by the name Rapa Nui, is home to iconic head statues called "moai" that have since earned immortality in the form of a widely used emoticon. Though technically part of Chile, the island is actually located more than 2,000 miles from the mainland, making it one of the world's most remote locales.
Visitors who make the journey to this distant speck in the Pacific Ocean can hike and bike on the inland hills, or surf, dive and snorkel in the surrounding pristine oceans.
How to get there: Fortunately, there is an airport on the island with easy, if not inexpensive, connections. The only airline servicing Easter Island is LATAM. It operates daily flights to and from Santiago, which can cost up to $900.
Saint Helena is one of the world’s most remote islands, and it remained uninhabited until the early 1500s, when Portuguese sailors stumbled across it. Located 1,200 miles from the shores of Africa, it now has a sizable population of 4,534.
The destination received most of its notoriety in the 1800s, when it became the place of exile for Napoleon Bonaparte, but these days many people make the journey to the isolated landmass. Sure, it’s mainly just to say that they've been there, but the island also boasts an impressive number of birds, including breeding seabirds, plus abundant plant life and rugged landscapes.
How to get there: Until recently, the only way to reach the island was aboard a freight ship from Cape Town, South Africa. But in 2017, an airport opened to much controversy, due to its steep price tag and limited usage.
The island now receives flights to and from Johannesburg; including a connecting stop in Windhoek, Namibia, the trip takes approximately six hours. The only airline currently operating on this route is Airlink.
Tristan da Cunha
If you judge the remoteness of a destination on population numbers, then you can’t go wrong with a trip to Tristan da Cunha. As of 2017, this group of small volcanic islands in the South Atlantic had a population of just 262. Located some 1,500 miles from inhabited land, this is the most remote archipelago in the world.
The main island has an area of just 38 square miles and is a breeding ground for 13 species of seabirds. It’s also possible to spot whales and dolphins in the surrounding waters, as well as subantarctic fur seals.
In spite of the island’s sheer isolation, it’s a vibrant place, with an annual sheep-shearing contest and even a local television station that broadcasts three evenings a week.
How to get there: There’s no airport on the main island, so the only way to reach it is by sea. The most common mode of transport to and from the island is on fishing boats from South Africa, which travel there approximately nine times per year. On the odd occasion, the RMS Saint Helena ship travels to Tristan da Cunha as well.
The vast wilderness of Alaska means that many towns, villages and cities are remote. And it doesn't get more isolated than Barrow, in the northern reaches of the state. It’s so isolated here that no one’s bothered to build a road to it, which means if you want to get there, you’ll have to fly.
The city itself is an intriguing place to visit, remoteness aside — it’s the northernmost city in the United States, just 320 miles from the Arctic Circle, and home to archeological sites dating back to 500 AD.
How to get there: The only viable way to reach Barrow is by plane; Alaska Air offers regular flights from Anchorage, which connect in Prudhoe Bay, and take upwards of three and a half hours.
West Greenland’s Ittoqqortoormiit is one of the most isolated towns on an already remote island. Given that only about 5 percent of Greenland is habitable, it’s a good place to venture if you want to get away from more predictable travelers.
Ittoqqortoormiit, famous for its multicolored houses perched on barren land, is so far off the radar that you’ll need to fly in by helicopter from the closest airport. There are only about 450 people who live there year round, but it’s gaining some traction among tourists as one of the best spots from which to witness the northern lights.
How to get there: Actually, traveling to Ittoqqortoormiit is part of the fun. There’s no airport in the town, so if you’re planning to arrive by air you’ll need to fly to Nerlerit Inaat, and then chopper in to Ittoqqortoormiit. Air Iceland operates flights between Akureyri and Reykjavik to Nerlerit Inaat. It’s also possible to reach the town by cruise ship during summer months, when the sea melts enough for liners to moor.
Siwa Oasis in Egypt is where you should head for a getaway that’s secluded and, unlike many other spots on this list, warm; temperatures seldom drop below 66 degrees Fahrenheit. This urban oasis in the Western Desert, close to the Libyan border, dates back as far as the 10th millennium BC. Most tourists who make the trip out here do so for the region’s freshwater springs, the Temple of the Oracle and the sheer natural beauty.
How to get there: The most popular way to reach Siwa is by bus. There are regular, comfortable busses from both Cairo and Alexandria, with trips taking 10-12 hours. It’s also possible to get there by taxi, though these are somewhat erratic.
Changtang is a massive plateau on the western reaches of the Tibetan Plateau, often dubbed the “roof of the world” owing to its altitude of more than two and a half miles above sea level. This understandably makes it difficult for the average traveler to reach, and thus one of the most exclusive destinations you could hope to visit.
Though the climate is hostile — owing to the high altitude — it’s home to some of the world’s most remarkable wildlife. Tibetan antelope, wild yaks and various birdlife are found alongside elusive snow leopards and brown bears in Changtang Nature Reserve, one of the largest nature reserves in the world.
How to get there: Most people reach the nature reserve via Ladakh, in India. From there, regular flight services will connect you to the airport in Leh. At this stage, you’ll need to turn to road transport, and there are regular buses available for those not comfortable navigating the high-altitude roads on their own steam.
If you need to determine just how cut off Socotra Island is from the rest of the world, take a look at its plant and animal life — approximately one third of it is not found anywhere else on earth.
The small island, part of an archipelago off the country of Yemen, is often called the “Jewel of Arabia.” Though under threat by encroaching civil wars in the area, those determined enough to make it there have sung its praises. Given its location and the political strife, it’s still largely untouched by tourism — and if you can get there, you may just find you have the vast beaches and turquoise seas all to yourself.
How to get there: Getting to Socotra isn’t easy, and many consider it unsafe given the current circumstances in Yemen. Before the war it was possible to get close to the island by air, and complete the final leg by sea, but many operators have ceased flying in recent years. Several ferry companies have also misled those who’ve made it all the way to the final hurdle.
Instead, your best bet is to make contact with a reputable company like Socotra Eco-Tours, and learn from their experience in the region.
As the highest permanent settlement in the world, La Rinconada is truly difficult to reach. This is music to the ears of anyone fearless enough to handle the high altitude and frigid conditions, because the small town, perched at 16,000 feet, sees very little tourist traffic.
The town developed when rich gold deposits were found in the area, and these are still mined today. But as an outsider, you’re more likely to be taken by La Bella Durmiente, or "The Sleeping Beauty" glacier, and the sheer tenacity of the people who tough it out here in some of the most unlikely conditions.
How to get there: Getting to the highest city is no easy feat. Most visitors choose to fly into Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco, Peru. From Cusco, take a bus or train to the town of Puno. From Puno, you can rent a vehicle and drive yourself, but you’re probably better off hitching a ride, or paying for passage, with someone who’s driven the treacherous route before.
Vale do Javari
If you’re intent on visiting a place so far off the beaten path that even Google Maps struggles to document it, then Brazil’s Vale do Javari is your spot. To outsiders, this massive section of the Amazon is full of mystery and intrigue, with evidence that there are several tribes living there who’ve had little to no contact with the outside modern world.
Realistically, though, unless you’re part of a National Geographic mission, getting anywhere close to Vale do Javari will be tricky, and you may be better off heading out into slightly more accessible reaches of the Amazon that are both fascinating and isolated.
How to get there: AMZ Projects offers comprehensive itineraries that allow you to go it alone to some of the Amazon’s most remarkable destinations. The company doesn’t take you directly to Vale do Javari, but it’ll get you close.