Tristan da Cunha

The Most Remote Locations in the World

Sometimes it is nice just to get away from it all, to leave the rat race behind and finally get some peace and quiet. Because as Jean Paul Sartre once said, “hell is other people”. So with that in mind, here is a look at some of the most remote locations on the planet, 5 places so far away from anywhere else that you know you’ll never have to bump into that annoying ex ever again.

La Rinconada, Peru

Best value hotels in peru

Image from Wikipedia

Some of the most remote cities in the world are nestled in the midst of impassable mountain ranges, and the city of La Rinconada is perhaps the most extreme example. The name of this Peruvian city says it all; it translates literally as “The Corner of Nowhere”. The town, with an almost abandoned air about it, sits high up in the Peruvian Andes, so high, in fact, that the city is said to be the highest permanently inhabited settlement on earth. To get there from the Peruvian capital Lima one must travel over 774 miles and ascend more than 16,000 feet, on a network of unpaved roads and dirt tracks, alongside dangerous cliff edges and through ravines lacking signposts. La Rinconada is so remote that many maps do not even show it. So why, you may ask, does anyone live here, in the middle of nowhere in particular, on the top of a mountain? Well, one of Peru’s biggest gold mines, owned by conglomerate Corporacion Ananea, is located nearby. 30,000 inhabitants make a living digging far beneath the ground or carrying gold ore on their backs from the mine to the town, living with no plumbing or sanitation, and very little electricity, in the hope of finding the nugget of precious metal that will change their lives.

Ushuaia, Argentina

(Image by pinguino on Flickr)

From the highest city in the world, to the southernmost. Ushuaia on the island of Tierra del Fuego in Argentina is so far south that it lies closer to Antarctica than it does to the Argentine capital Buenos Aires. The city is separated from land to its immediate south by the Beagle Channel, while the Martial Mountain Range lies between it and easy access to Mainland Argentina. The city is so isolated that Jules Verne, the legendary French author, took inspiration for adventure novel The Lighthouse at the End of the World from the desolate Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse just a few miles from Ushuaia. If you were to set sail from this forgotten town that seems to dangle from the rest of the world by a mere thread, you would, if you voyaged due west, not encounter another piece of land until you had circumnavigated the globe and returned back to where you started. Residents of this sleepy city are well and truly out on a limb.

Tristan da Cunha

Tristan da Cunha
(Image by ctbto on Flickr)

Yet Ushuaia is nothing compared to the isolated nature of Atlantic archipelago Tristan Da Cunha, the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world. This British colony was first settled in 1810 by a solitary farmer from Salem, Massachusetts, though it was not until an outpost of the British Royal Marines were moved to the islands in the Victorian era that any permanent and sizeable civilian population was established. Today the islands are home to a meagre 264 people, mostly farmers, who eagerly await the arrival of the mail ships from Africa that dock here only nine times a year. Their nearest major city? Cape Town, South Africa, which lies some 1600 miles due west over the choppy waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile

Robinson Crusoe Island
(Image by Pato Novoa on Flickr)

If anyone knows about being cut adrift and cast away on a desert island, it is Robinson Crusoe. This fictional character, invented by Daniel Defoe, was based on the real life 18th century figure of Alexander Selkirk. Selkirk, a Scottish buccaneer of the South Seas, became marooned on the uninhabited islands of Juan Fernandez in the Pacific Ocean after a dispute with his crew. Selkirk lived off shellfish, goat and pepper berries, and, with the skills he had picked up at sea, was able to forge tools and build shelter for himself in the wild. In order to keep packs of rats at bay, he even tamed and domesticated a group of feral cats. Selkirk was eventually rescued by a British Navy ship, and his exploits were heard of around the world, eventually becoming Defoe’s inspiration for Robinson Crusoe. Even the Chilean government paid tribute to Selkirk in 1966, renaming two of the Juan Fernandez islands Robinson Crusoe Island and Alejandro Selkirk Island. Seems being a cast away isn’t so bad for your reputation after all.

Mount Hua, China

Mount Hua
(Image by takwing on Flickr)

While some places are remote because of geographical circumstance, others are that way due to their inherent inaccessibility. And when you find a group of people who do not want anyone else to disturb them, for instance Taoist monks, you often find they set up camp in one of those places. This explains Mount Hua perfectly. Sited on the peak of a remote mountain, Mount Hua is home to a hermitage that attracts Daoist pilgrims from all over China. To get there, these mix of the devout and downright crazy must ascend a dangerously steep walking trail, shuffle across thin planks of wood carelessly affixed to a cliff-face, and even hang on to chains that have been hammered into the mountain itself. Being almost 1600 metres above sea level one slip could spell tragedy, and though no official records have been made public, deaths are said to be frequent. Yet Mount Hua is perhaps not as inaccessible as it once was; new cablecars and improved walkways have taken some of the risk away, but many pilgrims insist on taking the old trail to prove their religious zeal. If you are intent on visiting the temple at Mount Hua, just remember not to look down on your way up.

If you manage to get to one of these remote places, the sheer isolation means that you may find yourself crying out for a bit of human contact, or the amenities and distractions of a well populated city. Like Alexander Selkirk, being alone and far away makes one, more than anything else, want to return home. Of course, you could always tame an army of feral cats, instead.

Date posted: 28th August, 2011

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