Ten most inaccessible places to travel: It is difficult to get to some regions of the Earth due to their remoteness, to others – because of the harsh climate, and in others – because of the weird political situation. We have collected ten places where you are unlikely to go after the end of the pandemic, although you may glean a couple of ideas for future trips. After all, many geek travelers have visited these places, and Dima Bilan sang that the impossible is possible.
An absolutely amazing country with its own special world. Here, clearly narcissistic rulers erect golden monuments to their loved ones, write instructive books about all branches of life, shoot videos for their own songs and deny the presence of coronavirus in the country. In general, this is a kind of North Korea, with the only difference that getting to North Korea as a tourist is as easy as shelling pears – you just need to buy an official tour.
Such a scheme will not work with Turkmenistan. There are tour operators and a tourist visa, but they don’t issue it to almost anyone. This is not a story about specific countries, such as how it is difficult for a conditional Syrian to get into the conditional USA – the Turkmens have equalized everyone and are denied regardless of citizenship. The local president with a difficult to pronounce name Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov decided to limit contacts of his subjects with the outside world and does not allow foreigners into the country. By the way, it is quite difficult for the Turkmens themselves to go abroad.
For a long time, there was a loophole in the form of a transit visa. Citizens of the countries of the former USSR applied for it in Iran and asked for transit to a visa-free Uzbekistan for them. A visa was usually issued for five days, during which one could have time to see the center of Ashgabat, richly faced with marble, gilded statues, and the Darvaz crater burning in the middle of the desert. But now this opportunity has been covered up, and there is no hope for improvement.
A volcanic island in the South Atlantic. It is part of one of the British Overseas Territories – these are islands scattered around the globe that are subject to British sovereignty, but they are not part of the UK. For example, the laws here may be local, but the judgments on them are passed by British judges who specially come here from Europe from time to time. Along with the British pound sterling, they also pay with their own currency, and the army of the United Kingdom must defend this piece of land from enemies.
The visa policy here also differs from the British one, and the Turkmen ideas of equality did not take root here – citizens of some countries can get here by applying for an electronic visa, while for others, entry to the island is simply prohibited by local laws. In those latter are Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. The black list is small – only 13 states and the company from three post-Soviet republics got a decent one: Vietnam, Hong Kong, Egypt, Iran, China, Libya, Macau, North Korea, Syria, and Taiwan.
The fact is that there is a British-American military base on the island, as well as a British-American electronic reconnaissance station, a GPS antenna, NASA laboratories, and the European Space Agency. Until the beginning of the century, tourism did not exist here in principle, although this was rather due to the inaccessibility of the island.
Tourists whose passports are not suspicious usually arrive on the island on Atlantic cruises. If the waves allow you to land on the island on a boat, you can go ashore and see the few local attractions: birds, turtles, colonial architecture, and “the world’s worst golf course” – so at one time even the official website of the island called the site covered with volcanic sand holes without a single blade of grass.
The Palestinian state consists of two enclaves: the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. A lot of tourists go to the first one – they visit biblical places, look at Banksy graffiti, try Levantine cuisine. The second is a narrow strip of land measuring about 40 by 10 kilometers, sandwiched between Israel, Egypt, and the Mediterranean Sea. There is not even such a thing as a visit for the purpose of tourism. Entering here – as well as leaving – is not the most trivial task. The authors of the Lonely Planet backpacking bible honestly admit that they too could not get there, and they recommend their readers not even try, referring to the difficult military situation.
Until 2005, the situation in the Gaza Strip was about the same as in the West Bank: part of the region where Jewish settlements were located was controlled by Israel, and the rest by the Palestinian Authority. Local Arabs even regularly traveled to Israel to work. There were hardly any tourists in Gaza in those years, but this can be explained by the insecurity of the region. In 2005, the Israeli army and its citizens left the Gaza Strip – even the graves were removed from the Jewish cemeteries so that the Arabs would not desecrate them. The following year, Islamic fundamentalists won local elections, and a year later, during the civil war, they completely seized power in the Gaza Strip. Islamists begin to attack Israeli territories, and Israel, together with Egypt, arranges a complete blockade of the Gaza Strip – on land, at sea, and in the air.
For foreigners, this means that you need to obtain permission not only from the authorities in Gaza itself but also from their neighbors – Israel or Egypt, depending on which side you want to enter. But it is mostly issued only to journalists, diplomats, and representatives of humanitarian missions.
One of the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, which is administered by the Indian authorities. This archipelago consists of almost six hundred islands, of which less than forty are inhabited. This is a completely heavenly sunny place with jungle and bounty beaches, but only a couple of dozen islands are open to foreigners, and about the same number can be visited during the day without spending the night.
The Andaman and the neighboring Nicobar Islands are famous for the fact that several indigenous peoples still live there. Most of them have ceased to be non-contact and have already begun to come into contact with our civilization, gradually taking everything good and bad from it: medical care, clothing, food, destruction of the traditional way of life, alcohol, tobacco, diseases, and even children conceived from strangers. To prevent this process, the Indian authorities establish reservations in those areas where the aborigines live compactly and restrict movement in these territories.
North Sentinel Island stands out here. Firstly, it is located slightly away from the main archipelago, and secondly, the local guys are so aggressive towards visitors that it saved them as a result. In the 70s, they attacked documentary filmmakers filming a film for National Geographic on the island. In 2004, when Indian authorities surveyed the island from the air to assess the impact of the tsunami, the Sentinelese fired bows at the helicopter. The first peaceful contact took place only in the 90s after researchers for a long time brought coconuts and iron products to the islanders as a gift, which are not on the island. Now even the number of Sentinelians is not known exactly – the population of the island is estimated at between 50 and 150 people.
They are considered direct descendants of immigrants from Africa who have lived here for about 60 thousand years. To protect the Sentinelians from the destructive influence of civilization, the Indian authorities forbade them to approach the island closer than five nautical miles. The Coast Guard monitors compliance with this law. However, offenders are usually punished by the islanders themselves. In 2006, the Sentinelese archery two fishermen swam up to the island. The bodies of the killed were not taken away. And in 2018, an American made his way to them, who allegedly wanted to preach Christianity to the natives. He paid Indian fishermen to bring him to the island, and two days later the fishermen saw the natives burying a body very similar to an American on the beach.
The territory of these atolls is difficult to get not only for foreigners but also for local residents. The Chagos Archipelago is located 700 kilometers south of the Maldives, approximately halfway between Tanzania and Indonesia. Like Ascension Island, the archipelago belongs to the British Overseas Territories and is the official name of the islands in the British Indian Ocean Territory. This is de facto. And de jure, according to the UN decision, Chagos should belong to Mauritius.
The island of Mauritius and the Chagos archipelago were uninhabited, but they always passed from colonizer to colonizer in pairs. At first, they were both discovered by the Portuguese. Then Mauritius was settled by the Dutch, who were replaced by the French, who also received Chagos as a bonus to Mauritius. Under the French in the 18th century, the first permanent residents appeared on Chagos. They were African slaves and Indian wage laborers who came here to work on coconut plantations. At the beginning of the 19th century, Britain conquered Mauritius and received Chagos as a load.
In the late 60s – early 70s of the last century, the British began to build here a joint military base with the Americans, and all residents – about 2 thousand people – were deported to Mauritius. Now the entire population of the archipelago is military and base personnel. Naturally, there is no regular transport or even cruise ships here, and if you suddenly want to sunbathe on the snow-white Chagos beaches, then you will have to obtain a travel permit, and then also get on a private boat from the Maldives.
A piece of Africa, which is signed on our maps with you as “Western Sahara”, de facto belongs to three states: most of it was annexed by Morocco, a small cape in the south is controlled by Mauritania, and a narrow strip of land that stretches across the desert from Algeria to the ocean along the entire Mauritanian-Western Sahara border is the Sahara Arab Democratic Republic.
It’s easy to get to the Moroccan part of Western Sahara: de jure, you do not leave the territory of Morocco, the border is not marked in any way, and no one checks passports. Moroccan Western Sahara is not as popular as Morocco itself, but people even come here to surf. There is a lot of state propaganda and the close attention of the police and special services to foreigners – journalists are suspected of many. The Moroccans annexed this territory in 1975, and the ideas of independence are still strong here. You can even walk into the Moorish piece from the nearest town of Nouadhibou – if an overly vigilant military patrol does not interfere.
But getting into the territory of the independent SADR is much more difficult. From the side of Morocco, you cannot call here. In addition to the fact that the sides are still de jure in a state of war, Morocco built a so-called “wall” along the front line – this is a sand and stone embankment about three meters high, along which there are minefields, barbed wire, sensor systems, and military posts. The total length of the fortifications is more than 2.5 thousand km. They are called the largest minefield on the planet.
Theoretically, it would be possible to get here from the Algerian side, but getting an Algerian visa, and even permission to move freely in the desert, is still a quest. The easiest option is to travel from Mauritania. You just have to find transport, and preferably with a local driver, so that you know where the road goes and where the minefield is.
In addition, you will need to obtain permission from the authorities of the SADR itself, which may not understand your tourist intentions. Although tourism is really there – organized charity tours, thanks to which you can not only get acquainted with the culture of local residents but also help them with money.
Nominally, you can get to SADR on the road from Mauritania to the Moroccan part of Western Sahara. Here the SADR authorities own a piece of desert, which is signed on Google maps with the poetic “No Man’s Land”. There are no roads or any other infrastructure. Garbage is everywhere, from plastic bottles and old household appliances to car wrecks. At one time there was even a hut with the flag of this very SADR – probably empty. Any signs of state power ended there. Some people consider crossing this lane a full-fledged visit to the country, but this, of course, is absolutely not sporting.
A country in which war has been going on for almost thirty-five years, tied to all kinds of clan and religious contradictions. Today Somalia is actually a few separate states, but even in the territory controlled by the government, the power is so weak that various barley regularly blows up and kidnap people.
It is quite easy to fly to the Somali capital Mogadishu and obtain a visa. But for a foreigner, a simple walk around the city is almost guaranteed to threaten to be captured by some rabid bearded men. Actually, without protection, you are unlikely to ever be released from the airport. All foreign citizens live in a separate area of the city, which is guarded by soldiers and surrounded by concrete blocks in case of suicide car attacks. They go to the city exclusively accompanied by submachine gunners.
Tourism also exists here: you can look at the destroyed colonial Italian architecture, and the local life is very colorful. Come here with an organized tour that includes armed guards and an overnight stay at a hotel in a protected area.
On the territory of the de jure Somalia, there is the unrecognized state of Somaliland, which broke away during the civil war and in 1991 declared independence – however, until it was recognized by any country in the world. At the same time, the Somalis turned out to be much more successful in building a state, and in this territory, it is quite safe, except for the eastern outskirts. Therefore, many go there to boast of visiting “Somalia”.
Somalia is also a historical region inhabited by Somali clans. In addition to the state of Somalia, it includes southern Djibouti, eastern Ethiopia, and northeastern Kenya. The security situation there is different, but overall it is much quieter than in Somalia. So these places can also be seen as an alternative.
A historical region in the northeast of Mali and the self-proclaimed republic of the same name. This region used to be a wildly popular tourist destination – relative to Africa, of course. There are a lot of picturesque clay settlements here. Local attraction number one is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which stands on the banks of the Niger River, the ancient city of Timbuktu. Yes, Timbuktu is not a bay, and the Secret group deceived us all.
However, in 2012, another uprising was raised by the Tuaregs living here, then the Islamists joined them – and it became restless. The tourist flow has dried up. Buses to these cities run regularly, but outside the cities, the territory is controlled by Tuaregs, Islamists, and Islamist Tuaregs. And since it is impossible to get there with a white skin color without a pale one, there is a chance to be held hostage by the barmaley. Perhaps the only guaranteed safe option to get to Timbuktu is to fly there on a rented plane and move around the surroundings with security.
The virtual state is slightly smaller than a football field, located on a platform off the coast of Great Britain. During World War II, the British built a bunch of these to defend their shores and sea routes from the Third Reich. Some of these platforms were built in international waters, which was illegal, but in those turbulent years, no one bothered about such little things.
For some reason, one of these illegal platforms was not destroyed after the war, and in the 60s it was squatted by Major of the British Army Roy Bates. Ostensibly in order to organize a pirate radio station here – then British laws would not apply to it. The radio station did not work, but in 1967, Bates proclaimed the creation of the state of Sealand and later adopted its constitution, flag, anthem, and national currency.
During the war, 150-300 soldiers lived on the platform. In the early 70s, in the most “densely populated” times of the principality – about fifty. However, Sealand is never empty, and at least one person is constantly on duty here. The Seelandians fired warningly at British ships in their territorial waters a couple of times, and once even suppressed a coup d’état when the prime minister of the principality, along with a detachment of mercenaries, broke onto the platform and took Bates’ son hostage. For the citizens of Sealand, this conflict had no consequences, because the British courts decided that all events took place outside their jurisdiction.
In 2012, Roy Bates died, but his son continues his business. There is no tourism in Sealand now. For a long time, the official website had information that organized tours would begin soon, but then this page also disappeared. So far, the state has been replenishing its treasury with the sale of Sealand identity cards, titles of nobility, and other souvenir trinkets.
These uninhabited volcanic islands in the very south of the Indian Ocean are perhaps the most inaccessible in the world. They are the outer territories of Australia, a marine reserve, and are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. To get there, you have to get permission to land from the Australian authorities, but bureaucracy is not the most insurmountable obstacle.
The most remote island in the world is the Norwegian Beauvais in the South Atlantic. The closest land to it is the uninhabited Antarctic coast, 1,600 kilometers away. Heard and MacDonald will be closer to civilization: some 450 kilometers northwest of Heard, and we stumble upon the French Kerguelen archipelago, where dozens of scientists and military men live. But Beauvais is often visited by commercial cruise ships, and the only way to get to Heard and McDonald is to either join an expedition that happens every few years or organize a cruise yourself. It will not come cheap, because from Australia you have to sail there for about two weeks on rough waters, and then return the same amount of time. But if it works out, you can see active volcanoes, penguins, and the remains of 19th-century seal hunter settlements.
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