- in Adventures
In the broadest definition, there are two types of traveller.
First, there is by far the most common kind, that being the type who wants to experience the world with some semblance of comfort and safety and without having to spend a fortune as well as months of preparation.
The second type concerns the world’s most adventurous type, that being the person who thrives on pushing themselves to the absolute limits to do something utterly crazy if only just to be one of the few on the planet who can make such a claim. This list is for the latter.
1. Oymyakon, Russia
There’s bitter, frostbite-inducing cold, and then there’s cold that’s so intense that a cup of coffee turns to snow if it’s thrown off a balcony.
Welcome to Oymyakon, Russia, the coldest permanently inhabited place on Earth, and a place where diesel spends half of the year frozen solid.
The remote Siberian town of 500 people is built entirely on permafrost and surrounded by a tundra where the mercury regularly plummets below -50 °C during the winter months.
Appropriately, the Soviet-Era entry sign to the town reads ‘Oymyakon, The Pole of Cold’.
2. Lut Desert, Iran
If you feel the need to warm up a little after a visit to Pole of Cold, the Lut Desert shouldn’t disappoint.
The 20,000-square-mile salt desert in Iran is one of the driest and hottest places on the planet, with surface temperatures reaching a balmy 70 °C. In 2016, the Lut Desert was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List owing to its unique geography, climate and bizarre sand formations.
Beautifully post-apocalyptic in its appearance, the Lut Desert is characterised by countless towers of mud and sand, eroded over the eons by the wind.
3. Atacama Desert, Chile
The driest place in Earth, some parts of the Atacama Desert, which is mostly located in Chile, haven’t seen rain since records began.
Much of the region is almost entirely lifeless, looking more like the surface of Mars than anywhere else here on Earth.
In fact, that’s precisely the reason why it’s long been one of the world’s favourite places for filming movie scenes set on the Red Planet.
With nary a cloud in the sky, the Atacama Desert is also a paradise for skywatchers seeking the world’s best views of the heavens, completely devoid of any light pollution.
4. Tristan da Cunha, South Atlantic
Some people just want to get away from it all, so what better option than the remote island of Tristan da Cunha, located in the middle of the South Atlantic.
The island is some 1,200 miles away from the nearest inhabited area, Saint Helena, which itself is one of the most remote settlements on the planet.
The population of 265 lives entirely in the village of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas relying largely on the local crawfish industry and the sale of postage stamps. There are more rockhopper penguins, known locally as pinnamins (image above), that are residents Tristan da Cunha than people.
The only way to get there is by fishing boat, a handful of times per year from South Africa.
5. La Rinconada, Peru
The highest permanent settlement in the world is, sadly, also a thoroughly dreary place of abject misery.
Its population of some 50,000 relies entirely on the local gold-mining industry where they work for free every day of the month except for one, when they’re allowed to take home anything they find.
In addition to what most of the civilised world would describe as corporate slave labour, the residents of the town have to make do without any plumbing or sanitation.
Making matters even worse is the fact that breathing at a height of 16,700 feet is hardly easy.
6. Coober Pedy, Australia
Coober Pedy, a remote town of some 1,700 inhabitants, is the world’s biggest supplier of opals.
However, while daily temperatures regularly exceed 40 °C throughout the year to make this a rather inhospitable place, the ever-resourceful Australians have found a novel way to live with the harsh climate – to build underground.
Much of the population lives, shops and even worships under the Earth, and there’s a subterranean hotel, bookstore, church and more where temperatures consistently hover around a rather more pleasant 22 °C.
7. Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland
With only 56,500 inhabitants, Greenland is by far the least densely population country in the world, so its remotest town, Ittoqqortoormiit, is quite literally in the middle of nowhere.
Far above the Arctic Circle, this small town of 500 people is a place where the sun never rises above the horizon in winter.
The mercury rarely goes above 6 °C, even in summer, and the place is not exactly easy to get to either.
Nonetheless, it offers a truly unique experience to visitors who can enjoy their time dog-sledding and kayaking in one of the world’s most unspoiled destinations.
8. Lloró, Colombia
Don’t forget to bring your umbrella if you decide to visit the village of Lloró in Columbia.
The British might be infamous for complaining about the weather, but they’ve got nothing on this place, which receives an average annual rainfall of almost 300 inches. That’s 40 feet of rain per year, compared to 2 feet in London.
In the wettest place in the world, temperatures average 25-30 °C throughout the year, and there’s almost never a day without rain.
However, the surrounding area is abundant with lush jungle, making it a haven for exotic plants and animals.
9. Krubera Cave, Abkhazia
Those seeking a caving adventure may find it worthwhile to pay a visit to Georgia’s breakaway republic of Abkhazia.
Though the troubled region is not easy to get to, it is home to the deepest cave in the world, located high in the mountains.
The limestone cave is around 7,200 feet deep and over eight miles long, and much of it still remains unexplored due to its very narrow passages.
Even more impressively, the unique environment has given rise to some equally unique animals, including several endemic species of spider, crustaceans and beetles.
10. Outer Space
There are some adventurers for whom Earthly delights simply don’t cut the mustard.
Fortunately, there’s an infinity to discover beyond and, slowly but surely, tourism to outer space is becoming a reality.
It will still cost you a fortune, with ticket prices for a brief Virgin Galactic trip, albeit one where you can experience a microgravity environment, costing $200,000.
However, now that many private companies are investing heavily in space tourism, it seems almost certain that, in the next couple of decades, it will no longer be a luxury exclusive to the world’s millionaires.
Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and Space X… time will tell when you and with who you can push the edge to the final frontier.
Wrapping Up: Extreme Destinations
The exciting world of adventure travel presents literally limitless exciting possibilities, and the above represent just a few of the most extreme.
None of them are particularly hospitable, but for the most daring, they certainly promise to be among the most memorable.