It doesn’t get much more remote than the bottom of the Earth, where the sun shines continually for six months of the year and is dark for the remainder. Visiting this inhospitable but enthralling land of translucent icebergs, curious penguins, humpback whales and gliding albatrosses is quite a schlep, although cruises running from Ushuaiain southern Argentina make it a far less arduous trip than it was for Ernest Shackleton.
2. Wrangell-St Elias National Park, Alaska, USA
There’s a whole lot of wilderness to go round in the largest and least-visited national park in the USA: giant serrated peaks, blue tinted glaciers, deep gorges and twisting rivers. It’s an untouched landscape of astounding beauty, home to caribou, grizzly and black bears. With some cabins only accessible via a shaky ride in a tiny plane, accommodation doesn’t get much more away-from-it-all than this.
3. The Tarkine, Tasmania, Australia
Don’t expect a map to help you in the Tarkine – much of this area in the far northwest of Tasmania, aptly called “The Forgotten Wilderness”, is uncharted. The only way to explore the immense stretches of some of the oldest cool-temperate rainforest in Australia, wild rivers and a desolate coastline pummelled by waves from Patagonia, is on foot and by kayaking along its isolated rivers and tributaries.
4. Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland
As difficult to get here as it is to spell, this remote town on the east coast of Greenland is not for the sun worshipper: it’s cold, with its waters covered in ice for much of the year. But for outdoorsy nature lovers (and those with warm mittens) there’s the pristine vastness of the National Park of Greenland on its doorstep to entice, with dogsledding adventures, sailing on glacial fjords, and a chance to see reindeer, the odd polar bear and walruses.
5. Rodrigues, Indian Ocean
There’s no place more likely to ease the stress of frenetic modern life than this sleepy little island in the Indian Ocean, some 600km east of Mauritius. At this laidback retreat, where exquisite sandy beaches with not a parasol in sight meet a preposterously aquamarine sea, you can stay with the friendly locals and sample delicious creole cooking.
6. Amazon rainforest, southern Oriente, Ecuador
It’s certainly remote but that’s not to say it’s quiet, what with the raucous sound of resplendent birds and monkeys making a right hullabaloo. With only one proper road through, the best way to get deep into the Amazonian rainforest is by hiking or by canoe along its twisting rivers. Visit the indigenous Shuar people with an ecotourism organisation to learn about their healing practices and mythology.
7. Pitcairn Island, South Pacific
You may be familiar with Mutiny on the Bounty, the seafaring saga of mutineers who ditched their captain and hid out on this dot of an island in the South Pacific Ocean. Two hundred years later you can visit via a choppy boat ride from Tahiti, over a thousand kilometres away. Experience island life and the lush tropical vegetation through a homestay with one of the locals – there were a total of 50 at last count.
8. Battle Harbour, Labrador, Canada
If you take the one-hour hop by boat from the mainland to the historical isolated fishing village of Battle Harbour you’ll have to stay the night, as there are no same-day return ferries – which is not necessarily a bad thing. It offers the chance to stay at one of the wonderfully restored eighteenth-century clapboard houses, set among a beautiful Sub-Arctic landscape – with no cars to spoil the views. Imposing icebergs often sit silently just offshore, and if you take a boat out you’re likely to spot whales.
9. Dolpo and She-Phoksundo National Park, Nepal
That this region is home to such notoriously camera-shy creatures as the snow leopard gives an idea just how isolated it is. Take a guided trek into the lush, lonely valleys of Shey Phoksundo National Park and along Phoksundo Lake’s turquoise waters to visit impossibly high mountain villages and the stark barren landscapes of the highlands.
10. Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda
Lions, elephants, leopards, buffalos, cheetahs, as well as a stunning array of birdlife… With such wildlife on its roster you’d assume this national park would be a big draw for safari tourists. But the vast area of wilderness is so tucked away in a valley in the far northeast of the country that only the more adventurous make the trip. You can also visit a Karamojon village and learn about the traditions and culture of this remote herding community, and there’s bound to be a spot of “high jumping” to join in with.
11. Choquequirao, Andes, Peru
Sometimes it takes effort – and good hiking shoes – to escape the crowds. The days of trekking, even before the 3000m vertiginous boulder-strewn ascent, put off all but the most determined to reach Machu Pichu’s “bigger sister”. Choquequirao. You’ll likely have the place to yourself to explore this astonishing forgotten Inca Citadel, perched high in the cloud forest of the Cordillera Vilcabamba mountains.
12. Tristan da Cunha, the south Atlantic
If you want solitude, this British outpost has it in spades – unless the volcano on which this rocky island sits suddenly erupts. The stomach-churning boat trip from Cape Towntakes the best part of a week and is enough to put most people off a visit to ‘the world’s remotest inhabited island’. Once here, aside from meeting the 300 or so residents, you can hike the rough coastline, just bumping into the odd rockhopper penguin, and then tuck into lobster pie at the Albatross, the only pub in town.
13. Khan Khentii, Mongolia
With the only sounds coming from the slow sipping of salt tea, and the only light a warm glow from a wood-burning stove, an overnight stay with a nomadic family in a ger, or Mongolian yurt, is doubtless more peaceful than when Ghengis Khan was galloping across the region. Explore the vast grassy plains and mountain ridges on foot, or do as the nomads – saddle up and tour this serene landscape on horseback.
14. Trekking to Laya, Bhutan
Bhutan is the land of the Yeti myth, and while you might be more likely to encounter a yak en route to the country’s highest village, it’s still several days trek from the nearest road, which is cut off by snow for much of the year. Hike through lush meadows dappled with rhododendrons, navigate high mountain passes and take in stupendous panoramas. The friendly Layap villagers – Buddhist monks, inquisitive children, and women wearing their unique, striking, pointed hats – will welcome you.
15. Lundy Island, England
Although only two hours away by boat from north Devon, this windy, tiny patch of an island feels a world away. With just a smattering of places to stay, and no cars, wifi, TV or radio, entertainment is a spot of bird watching, a gusty cliff-top walk and an exploration of winding paths to secluded coves. Or you could just hole up by the fire at the Marisco Tavern, Lundy‘s only pub.
16. Inverie, the Knoydart Peninsula, Scotland
With no road in, the only way to reach the hamlet on this wild and weather-beaten peninsula is by boat from Mallaig or on foot. And if you’re walking at anything but a cracking pace it’ll take you the best part of a couple of days. But with scenery this glorious – all tufty moorland and craggy mountains, and views over lochs to neighbouring islands – that’s the appeal. And when you get there, chances are there’ll be a knees up at the Old Forge, mainland Britain’s most remote pub.
17. Desroches Island, the Seychelles
It’ll take more than a dig around under the sofa cushions for the funds needed to stay on one of the remote outer islands of the Seychelles. But if you’ve got the cash, you can experience a piece of paradise: the clichéd coconut palms, gentle azure waters for diving and snorkelling, and pristine sandy beaches for doing – well, nothing much at all.