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Planes, trains, and automobiles are one thing – but they’ll only get you so far. To get truly off the beaten track and head to some of the world’s most far-flung, adventurous and extremely remote destinations, you’ll need to consider alternative transport modes. Like cargo ships, private jets, ten day hikes or even helicopters. It may sound extreme, but in some cases these journeys are worth it – whether it’s to see incredible natural beauty, go cold-turkey on your smartphone addiction, or simply to be among the select group of travellers who can say “I’ve been there”. So stockpile your reading material, charter a plane (or several), and see if you can’t get yourself to one of these incredible remote destinations…
Literally the bottom of the world, Antarctica is easily one of the most remote places on Earth – a place which could win you some serious traveller points if you manage to get there. These days, the several research centres constantly in operation – of which the McMurdo Station is the largest – mean that this fascinating continent is more accessible than ever. There are still some extreme locations, though, like Deception Island, an active volcano accessible only by boat, where hot springs and the rotting buildings of an old whaling base make for a very unusual tourist destination.
How to Get There: Since commercial flights heading to Antarctica are rare, your only real options are to hitch a ride with a team of scientists heading out for research, or head down to the bottom of Argentina and hop aboard a sightseeing cruise. Alternatively, if money’s no object and you’re determined to fly, you could always charter your own flight. I contacted Air Charter Service to get a quote for the journey:
From London to Antarctica it’s a long old flight of approximately 19-20 hours, so a fuel stop will be required on route, and the total cost would be approximately £180k* on an aircraft such as a Gulfstream G450. A good alternative for this would be to fly commercially to Auckland, from where the 6 hour flight to McMurdo Station on Antarctica would be approximately £55k* on an aircraft such as a Cessna Citation X.
A prize to anyone who can correctly pronounce the fabulous name Ittoqqortoormiit (disclaimer: there is no prize)! It means “Big House Dwellers in Greenlandic”, although the wonderfully colourful houses in this remote settlement are actually of a fairly standard size. Provided you’re not here for enormous homes, you’ll be delighted to discover a truly beautiful, untouched area of incredible fjords – including the longest one in the world – and tons of great outdoorsy activities, from dog sledding and skiing to whale hunting, which is how the teeny tiny population of 452 make a living.
How to Get There: Fly to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, where you can await the once-weekly charter flight to Constable Point Airport in Greenland. From there, you’ll need to hop on a helicopter, Walter Mitty style, to reach the incredibly secluded town of Ittoqqortoormiit.
With just 1,000 visitors in 2014, the islets of tiny Tuvalu (formerly the Ellice Islands) make up one of the least visited countries in the world. Much of this Polynesian island nation is incredibly far-flung and very hard to reach, involving several flights to get there. But, with turquoise lagoons and palm-lined beaches, this is a perfect place to truly get away from it all.
How to Get There: You’ll need to fly to Nadi in Fiji (usually via Australia or New Zealand), then make your way to Suva and take Air Fiji’s a sporadic weekly flight to Tuvalu, which is apparently known as one of the most unreliable air services in the world. This is a tough island to reach, so I asked Air Charter Service for another quote, to provide those of you that might book a charter flight impromptu, with the additional information. They recommend flying commercially to Brisbane, then taking a charter from there, quoting an approximate cost of £40k* for the 5 hour flight to Funafatu Intl on an aircraft such as a Cessna Citation X.
Another of the world’s least visited countries, Nauru is home to miles of untouched white sand beaches, a population of just 10,000 or so, and – reportedly – just one registered cab driver. Not that it matters, since with a circumference of roughly 12 miles it’s possible to walk almost everywhere in this Micronesian gem just south of the Ecuator.
How to get there: First, get yourself to Brisbane, Australia, where you’ll need to wait around for the highly unreliable once-weekly flight with Nauru’s national airline, named (somewhat adorably) Our Airline, which will most likely stopover on the Solomon Islands. Finally, hitch a ride on a scooter to find a hotel – unless you can track down the island’s only taxi!
Tristan da Cunha, Atlantic Ocean
Home to a forbidding active volcano, which last erupted in 1961, the British Overseas Territory of Tristan da Cunha is considered the single most remote inhabited place in the world. The nearest land is South Africa, just a casual 1,700 miles away, and in the other direction the South American coast is about 2,000 miles away. Seriously isolated, this rocky and beautifully rugged island is home to a total population of about 271 people, almost all descended from the original settlers of British, Italian and American descent who began to arrive in the 1800’s, now making a simple living as farmers and craftsmen. Although physically remote, this British-owned territory does have its own TV station – and access to the internet via satellite – so it’s not entirely possible to cut yourself from the real world here. Just stick your out of office on and pop your phone in a drawer somewhere. There’s a good explorer.
How to Get There: The rocky geography of Tristan de Cunha means there’s simply no place for an airstrip, so you’ll need to arrive by boat. Since the only regular transport from South Africa has stopped calling at the island, it seems the only way to get there is to hitch a ride on a cargo vessel or deep sea fishing boat – but that’s all part of the adventure!
The only place in the world where you can see four 26,000+ ft mountains at the same time, Concordia on the Pakistan/China border is the meeting point between two glaciers; the Baltoro Glacier and the Godwin-Austen Glacier, and lies at the heart of Pakistan’s Karakoram mountain range. Horrendously remote and breathtakingly beautiful, the only way to reach this otherworldly spot is by hiking for ten days or so (good luck with that), but in terms of visual rewards this scenic route is surely one of the best in the world.
How to get there: First fly to Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, from where it’s just a three day drive to Askolie, unless you can find a plane headed there. Don’t forget to fill out the all-important trekking papers while you’re in Islamabad. Askolie is the last village before Concordia, so stock up on food and drink, before heading out for the ten day hike to the foot of K2.
*Disclaimer: The prices quoted by ACS are very rough ballpark costs – they are not fixed cost. The actual price will depend on aircraft availability, dates, number of passengers, etc.
Where’s the most remote or off the beaten track place you’ve ever been? Let us know in the comments!