Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia
Want a sense of how big Russia really is? Then picture this: the Kamchatka Peninsula off the country’s east coast is closer to Los Angeles than it is to Moscow. Among Russia’s least visited areas, the 1,200km-long peninsula is also perhaps its most spectacular, a hyperactive geothermal land containing more than 200 volcanoes. The surrounding lava fields were used as testing grounds for Russia’s lunar vehicles. Once it was a six-month journey to get here; today you can fly from Moscow, though it is still an 11-hour flight, possibly the longest domestic flight on the planet.
Cape York, Australia
Australia is renowned as a place of nowheres, but even to Aussies Cape York presents a remote and forbidding frontier. The northernmost tip of the country is reached by 4X4 along corrugated tracks that will rattle the teeth loose from your jaw. You will find the cape approximately 1,000km from Cairns, which means days and days of driving, including crossing creeks inhabited by estuarine crocodiles. For your reward, you will find a rocky headland and blissfully not much else. Now the only thing left to do is to turn around and clatter your way back.
To reach Concordia — the junction of the Baltoro, Godwin-Austen and Vigne Glaciers in Baltistan, northern Pakistan — you must walk for about 10 days, eventually arriving at the foot of K2, the world’s second-highest mountain. Easy ways in do not exist, and there are few places on Earth where you can be buried so deep within a mountainscape. Described by photographer Galen Rowell as the “throne room of the mountain gods”, Concordia is as starkly beautiful as it is remote. Its name was given by European explorers, who thought it looked like a spot in the European Alps.
Olkhon Island, Russia
Travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway as it skirts Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest freshwater lake, and you appreciate the place’s remoteness — it is about three-and-a-half days by train from Moscow and three days from Beijing. Containing around 20% of the world’s fresh water, the lake also contains the 72km long Olkhon Island (pictured) near its midpoint. Olkhon is Baikal’s largest island, and by some climatic quirk it is said to get more sunny days than the Black Sea coast, even as the rest of the lake and its surrounds mope beneath heavy cloud cover.
Quttinirpaaq National Park, Canada
Canada’s second-largest national park is probably also its least visited. Straddling the 80th parallel on Ellesmere Island, it reaches to North America’s northernmost point (Cape Columbia), and, for visitors, deep into their pockets – a charter flight in from the town of Resolute will set you back an immodest 32,000 Canadian dollars. The park has no facilities, roads or even trees. What it does have are polar bears and beautiful mountains
Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile
The most famous lonely person in literary history is Robinson Crusoe, and there is an equally lonely island that bears his name, 670km off the South American coast. It was here, in 1704, that Alexander Selkirk asked to be put ashore after a dispute with his ship’s captain. He lived on the island alone for four years, inspiring Daniel Defoe to write Robinson Crusoe. Today, around 500 people live on the Pacific island that is named for its very solitude. Few others come here; visitor numbers rarely top 100 in a year