Despite that we can travel to so many wondrous destinations, there are still some not-so accessible places where getting there is part of a serious adventure. And once there, you realize there are still magical places that can be defined as a wild frontier. These wild frontiers are not for party animals or people who like crowds, but if you want to feel like a pioneer woman …
While most people will probably have heard of the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountain range, and quite a few others will know of chess-master Gary Kasparov and Azerbaijan's much-discussed Eurovision song contest win in 2011, few people will be aware of capital Baku's historic treasures or will have heard of the country's lovely Zoroastrian Fire Temple of Ateshgah. At Baku's heart lies a medieval walled Old Town with mosques, caravanserais and palaces with gorgeous frescoes like Sheki's. Head out on hiking tours into the Caucasus and be a queen of the wild frontier near natural vents that will keep your toes warm and heat water for a cup of tea.
Ever wondered what 3,000 million years of geology look like? Go and see Pointy Ben Stack, Smoo Cave, Knockan Crag Cliffs, Loch Assynt and Sandwood Bay in the North West Highlands Geopark in Scotland and find out. It's one of Europe's most sparsely populated areas, a veritable miracle in crowded Britain. However, when you get there after a long trip to Inverness and an even longer Cycle Bus service later, you'll discover the weather is usually so foul, any self-respecting queen of the frontier will tackle Inverness nightlife instead and count herself one of the nation's intrepid explorers. She'll miss out on some of Europe's most spectacular views though.
Ever taken a selfie on top of the Ennedi Tao plateau, slid down enormous dunes of Mourdi or marveled at the beauty of the Ennedi Mountains? No? Then you haven't been a queen of the Sahara Desert yet, certainly not in the patch that occupies parts of Chad, one of the least-visited African countries. You can look forward to encounters with Chari River fishermen, ancient rock art and Tubu nomads - and hopefully avoid close encounters with dwarf crocodiles while heading to the Tibesti Mountains via the Ounianga Lakes. Check with your embassy first before travelling to Chad, as some parts are deemed too dangerous for foreign travellers, even with specialist insurance policies and armed guides.
At an amazing 972,001 square km, Northeast Greenland National Park is the world's largest protected wildlife area, brimming with polar bears, caribou, musk oxen, Arctic foxes, eagles, walrus and ptarmigan on land and seals, beluga, humpback and narwhal whales at the coast. Just 500 or so travelers make it to Greenland's national park every year, a place without a permanent human settlement, but full of sparkling ice caps and delicate tundra vegetation. Fjords, northern lights, dazzling icebergs and spectacular wildlife make this an experience of a lifetime. Be sure to go on a thrilling dog sled adventure while there.
Floating somewhere in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar, Réunion is part of France and as such, gets a good smattering of tourism along the coast. However, the interior is as wild as it gets, with jungles that could inspire another Jurassic Park movie any day. Spectacular waterfalls, deep volcanic craters and canyons, colorful birds and hiking trips to Piton de la Fournaise, one of Earth's most accessible bubbling volcanoes, make this an unforgettable trip into the wildest frontier French territory has to offer.
Take the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) from Tayshet, and discover over the next 4,300 km, what Russia's frozen Far East looks like from the relative comfort of a 1991-built railway line. Spectacular sights include Lake Baikal, vast Siberian landscapes, Russia's longest tunnel (the Severomuisk), the Amur River, Bratsk Dam and Tynda's own BAM Museum. The rail trip ends at Sovetskaya Gavan on the Tatar Strait.
Guinea-Bissau’s white sands and wildlife-rich Bijagós Archipelago is home to a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve spanning 88 islands of otherworldly mangroves, palm groves, forests and mudflats brimming with lush vegetation and amazing wildlife. From Nile crocodiles and green turtles to rare saltwater hippos, from bottlenose dolphins to African manatees, the biosphere feels like a lost world worthy of a brand-new Sir Arthur Conan Doyle adventure story.
Since Aung San Suu Kyi has allowed tourism to flourish, Burma has been a travel highlight on many bucket lists and not been quite so wild any more. Away from the main tourist spots though, like the Burmese Himalayas for example, it's a different picture. As the mountains are less high than in Nepal, although still snow-capped, you can go on interesting hikes without worrying about altitude sickness too much. Use Putao as a base, which allows you to hike via ancient pine forests up to altitudes of 3,635 metres (Phongun Razi peak) or the summit of Phonyin Razi, 4,282 metres above sea level.
Romania's Carpathians form a 900 km-long arc across the entire country which helped to isolate Romania from the rest of Europe for centuries. A blend of volcanic peaks, karst and glacial terrain, the Carpathians make for one of Europe's wildest areas, and are still inhabited by wolves and bears thanks to continuous stretches of original forest. See villages with customs that haven't changed since the Middle Ages along the way.
Although India is one of the most popular tourist destinations for long-haul travel, the states of Orissa and Chhattisgarh are practically untouched by tourism, thus offering a genuine glimpse into traditional India. Highlights include the Lingaraja Hindu Temple in Orissa, the temples and gardens of Bhubaneswar, Konark on the Bay of Bengal and the Maikal Hills. Use the city of Kolkata as your base.
You'll find no campsites, towns or roads in Atlantic Canada's Torngat Mountains National Park, an unspoiled wilderness stretching for 9,700 square kilometers that show off Canada's most spectacular, iceberg-littered coast where caribou herds, polar bears, black bears and wolves are far more common travelers than humans. Lakes, rivers, dramatic valleys and glaciers so high they'll give a girl a permanent crick in the neck if she tries to take a selfie as far as the eye can see. Highlights include Saglek Fjord, the abandoned Inuit community of Hebron, coastal cruising and helicopter flights. Access to the park is via Goose Bay and/or Nain in Labrador.
Located some 1,600 km distance from the African coast and around 2,250 km distance from the coast of Brazil, Ascension Island is as isolated as it gets for a volcanic island. Situated about half-way between South America and Africa, the island is governed as part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cunha. Ascension Island doesn't get an awful lot of tourism; in fact, it's only been open to tourists since 2002. Limited air-travel via the RAF and overnight stays in the Georgetown Obsidian Hotel make it possible to stay in Ascension Island now, although you must obtain a visitors' permit before traveling. Sport fishing, golf (!) and watching the European Space Agency's activities are the main activities here.
Stretching for roughly 2,500 km through Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, the Atlas Mountains are a rarely visited region in north-western Africa which divides the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines in spectacular fashion. Home to many endangered species, the Atlas Mountains have already suffered much damage, losing indigenous species like the Atlas Bear and Barbary lion, Barbary macaque and Barbary leopard to name but a few. If you're into climbing, try the Jebel Toubkal, the region's highest peak at 4,167 meters above sea level. It sits at the heart of the Toubkal National Park in the High Atlas.
The Falklands' main islands are located some 480 km east of South America's southern Patagonian coast. As a British overseas territory, the islands boast Port Stanley on East Falkland Island as their capital and are English-spoken. At 700 metres above sea level, Falkland's mountains are ideal for trekking, but beware of the unpredictable weather conditions and only go with local guides. Island hopping will take you to Saunders Island's noisy southern rockhopper penguin colonies, puffed up little fellows with tufty heads and attitude. One of the local newspapers is called The Penguin News, in honor of these charming chaps. Marine mammal sightings include the southern elephant seal, not quite so cute and certainly a lot more dangerous, and the South American fur seal.
As the third-largest island in the world and the largest island in Asia, Borneo lies north of Java, east of Sumatra and west of Sulawesi, yet sees relatively little tourism. Home to orang-utans, Borneo Rhino, Pygmy Elephant, Green and Hawksbill turtles, all endangered species, Borneo's flora and fauna is breathtaking in its biodiversity. Several research institutions as well as the WWF are looking after conservation projects here. Borneo is home to one of the oldest rainforess on Earth, and thus a real wild frontier where much is still to be discovered before illegal logging destroys it all. Best time to travel is during the dry season, starting March/April. Use either Sarawak, Kalimantan, Brunei or Sabah as your base for wildlife tours, diving, fishing and adventure treks inland.
Situated in the Canadian Territory Nunawat, Baffin Island is the largest island in Canada and the fifth largest island on Earth. Home to polar bears, it sees a regular, if sparse, influx of tourism from people hoping for a great dog sled adventure and a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Be sure to visit Mount Thor, a sinister and almost vertical cliff rearing up 1,675 meters against a snowy background, and Auyuittuq National Park's Mount Asgard, a peak of 2,011 metres height.
The fifth largest country on Earth offers queen-of-the-wild-frontier experiences in the Amazon River Basin that, frankly, beat anything else on the planet flora and fauna-wise. More than 60% of the remaining rainforest lies in the north of the country, spanning about one billion acres of biodiversity that defies belief. Start with about 40,000 discovered plant species, work your way round to 2,200 so far discovered fish species, before trying to catch a glimpse of around 2,000+ mammal and bird species that have been catalogued by explorers so far. One in five of all bird species on the planet live here, as do one in five fresh water fish species. Join adventure tours from the Rio Grande do Norte state to the Rio Grande do Sul state in the south of Brazil, which take in tropical and subtropical forests along the Atlantic coast.
These are fabulous places for girls with a sense of adventure (and some cash!) Where would you like to conquer?
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