If we asked you to think of Western Europe’s last remaining wilderness areas, you might not have Sweden in mind. But in the far north of Swedish lapland, the atmospheric and grandly-named Kungsleden, or King’s Trail, is a stunning area of untouched natural beauty. Although much of the trail is well-adapted for hikers, try a route through Sarek National Park, where there are no marked trails, for a real challenge.
7. Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland
Ittoqqortoormiit, on the eastern coast of Greenland, is the country’s most isolated and undisturbed region. The neighbouring sea freezes over for nine months of the year, making it even harder to access, but visit in winter to experience it at its best. The colourful houses on the shore poke out above thick snow and the ice can reach six feet deep. Roads become unusable, so dogsleds and ski-mobiles are the preferred form of transport.
Canada’s Nunavut is its largest but also least populous territory. Inaccessible over land and with a largely polar climate, Nunavut boasts Alert, the most northerly permanently inhabited place in the world. Go to see the gorgeous midnight sun and mesmerising northern lights – a trip that’s certainly worth the effort.
Image by Johannes Zielcke on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
9. Macquarie Island, Subantarctic Islands
Sitting between New Zealand and Antarctica, the remote, icy and utterly fascinating subantarctic islands are filled with rare and endangered species. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, you’ll find fur and elephant seals as well as royal, king and gentoo penguins on Macquarie Island.
10. Salavan, Laos
Wide open spaces, spectacular waterfalls and mountainous terrain characterise the Lao province of Salavan. Despite the stunning scenery, little tourism infrastructure or transport means that its remote villages still attract only the most intrepid travellers.
11. Northwestern Laikipia, Kenya
Beautiful, wild and unexplored, northwestern Laikipia is one of the best places in Kenya for safaris. There are limited accommodation options so it's a great place to try wild camping, though be aware that wildlife in this area roams freely and isn't confined to the bush. You'll need a local guide for protection if anything dangerous comes too close. Look out for lions, elephants and giraffe as well as aardwolves, aardvarks and hundreds of bird species.
12. Kolsai Lakes, Kazakhstan
Thousands of metres above sea level, the clear blue waters of Kazakhstan’s idyllic Kolsai Lakes are an impressive sight. The long road from Almaty is poor, and there’s little infrastructure, but prepare yourself for the remote slopes with plenty of supplies and you'll experience a rewarding and picturesque hike through the green alpine forest.
13. Gobi desert, Mongolia
Gobi means ‘waterless place’ and the Mongolian desert’s extreme temperatures and barren, rocky landscape make it a harsh, unforgiving environment. Stay in a Mongolian nomad’s distinctive felt yurt for a unique experience away from civilisation.
Powerful waves pummel the shores of the ten tiny islands of the Batanes, which boast more lighthouses than anywhere else in the Philippines. Plan your visit carefully, as the islands are prone to wild storms and typhoons. If you do get caught out, escape the hostile environment by finding refuge in a traditional stone Ivatan house.
15. Tiger’s nest monastery, Bhutan
Brave the 3000ft climb up a mountain to Takstang Palphug and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views from arguably the most breathtaking Buddhist monastery in the world. Built into the rock, the four main temples are accessed by narrow passages, unstable bridges and stone stairways. Perched on the edge of a cliff, this is not a trip for not for the faint-hearted.
High above the Apurimac, discover the magnificent remains of ancient Incan city Choquequirao. A three to four day trek through the Peruvian cloud forest means that, unlike the daily crowds at Machu Picchu, you’ll be among the few visitors to these awe-inspiring ruins.
The wild, harsh winters of Knivskjellodden may not immediately entice travellers, but the dramatic landscape will both enthral and bewilder. Trek the northernmost trail to write your name in the hiking association’s minute book.
18. North Korea
One of the most inaccessible countries in the world, tourist visits to North Korea are run by government-sanctioned tours. While the country can be dangerous, travel safely and consciously and you’ll be given a fascinating insight into a very different culture.
19. Cape York Peninsula, Australia
Prehistoric rock art, tropical rainforests and eucalypt woodland; Cape York Peninsula is like nowhere else on Earth. It’s virtually inaccessible in the wet season, and even in summer you’ll need to endure a rough, bumpy four-wheel drive to reach the peninsula. Once there, pitch a tent and make the most of the wild but beautiful landscape, which is ideal for adventure sports, and is bordered by the Great Barrier Reef on its eastern coast.
20. St George Island, The Pribilof Islands, Alaska, USA
Sometimes called the ‘Galapagos of the North’, the Pribilof Islands are located in the Bering Sea three hundred miles from Alaska’s coast. Abundant with fur seals and birdlife, the unspoilt rolling hills are a photographer’s paradise, but harsh winds, rain and thick fog will make for an even more adventurous trip.