The wilderness territories of the world are unique places. They’re pretty much the last few places on Earth where the impact of humanity is still small and where we’re able to see Mother Nature in her truly wild form without outside interference. These places are protected by strict control and legislation due to their importance in promoting the conservation of certain species and biodiversity could even lead to the discovery of new medicines in the future.
Whether you’re interested in an armchair tour of the world’s most exciting regions or looking for some adventure but still need to decide which wilderness to attempt, here are the world’s best and little-known wilderness areas.
Uttarakhand, Himalayas, India
Uttarakhand is home to some of the world’s highest mountain peaks, and the entire wilderness region is a breathtaking place. Whether you are an amateur or experienced mountain climber, the Uttarakhand wilderness offers you a choice of both. The Nanda Devi peak towers above the wilderness territory, a peak that remains inaccessible to most mountain climbers. Still, the area offers fairly accessible nature experiences and includes a number of parks, such as the Valley of the Flowers National Park. Hiking the Choukhamba and Kedarnath mountains, you may find yourself crossing paths with Hindu groups on pilgrimage journeys.
Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
More than half of tropical Phu Quoc Island is a protected environment. Revolving around the national park’s highest peak, Mount Chua, the area extends to include northern and eastern island coastlines. Once you are done playing with the white sands and tropical waters, head to the island’s protected corners. The region can be visited via motorbike or fairly easy trails. The tropical forest with cool undergrowth offers a pleasant escape from the island’s intense heat. Although the region’s protection is not quite at a desirable level, the Vietnamese government is continuing to expand the area’s lawful protection. The area is home to many interesting and unique reptile species, and you will likely find these on your journey through the Phu Quoc National Park.
Bohuslän Coast, West Sweden
Stretching between Gothenburg and Norway, this coastline wilderness region includes some 8,000 islands, mostly secluded and entirely wild. The Bohuslän coast of Western Sweden is a well-described wilderness region and is particularly favoured by fishing enthusiasts. Small fishing villages are found along the coastline but for complete distance from civilization, head to the Kosterhavet National Park and Koster Island. At Kosterhavet National Park, you will find Sweden’s only coral reef and the park offers exclusive shellfish safaris.
Tasmanian Wilderness, Australia
The Tasmanian wilderness is a thriving nature planet on its own –a safe haven for many of the threatened species and marsupials, including the Tasmanian devil, the world’s tallest flowering plant, the swamp gum, as well as the most peculiar 250-millin-year-old mountain shrimp. The Tasmanian wilderness covers almost a fifth of the entire Tasmania Island. Since the early 1980s, the Tasmanian wilderness has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and this listing continues till today. In 2013, an additional 170,000 hectares of wilderness were added to the formal heritage area. The Tasmanian wilderness offers a blast of outdoor adventure for the adrenaline junkie but also more relaxed outdoor enjoyment if you want to enjoy Down Under’s splendour.
The Galapagos Islands are made of volcanic rock. Therefore, the extent of fauna and flora on the archipelago is quite remarkable. Made famous by Charles Darwin, the Galapagos Islands consist of 18 main islands, three smaller islands and a total of 107 islets. The most famous residents of the Galapagos Islands are the gigantic tortoises, measuring four feet in length and with a life expectancy of 150 years. The Galapagos Islands is a place for adventure and exploring and is becoming a popular nature tourist destination. With two ocean currents mixing at the location of the island, the cold Humboldt and the warm Panama, the Galapagos Islands offer a feast of marine life.
Two world firsts are to mention for Sossusvlei: its sand dunes are the highest sand dunes in the world, and it lies within the Namibia desert, which at 80 million years, is the world’s oldest desert. Thousands of red sand dunes blotch the Sossusvlei salt pan with the Namibia desert as surrounds. And if scrambling to the top of the sand dunes watching the sun rise over no man’s land is not yet striking enough, there are even more attractions: perfect skies for stargazing, the world’s second-largest canyon for hiking, shipwrecks to explore along the skeleton coast and abundant collections of Africa’s best wildlife.
Kamchatka is a conglomerate of active volcanoes; at least 10% of the world’s active volcanoes are found here. The smoking Kamchatka peninsula is also home to the largest active volcano in the Northern Hemisphere – Klyuchevskaya Sopka. It is the region’s active volcanos and impressive mounts which earned the peninsula a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Another interesting volcano is Kronotsky, described by reputable volcanologists as the world’s most beautiful and perfect volcano. But Kamchatka has another claim to fame: it is a widely unknown world. Even Russians themselves are not too familiar with Kamchatka, making it an impressive exploration journey into the unknown where man, beast and nature live in harmony with each other.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
The Salar de Uyuni is such a stable environment that NASA uses this giant salt pan for calibrating its satellites. The never-ending Salar de Uyuni salt pan is the centre of the Salar de Uyuni wilderness. Located close to the Andes Mountains, there are very few nature views in this world that will beat the sights of the Salar de Uyuni. In fact, the sights of the Salar de Uyuni might tempt you to believe it is not even on planet Earth. As the hot springs and salt pan activities attract a steady flow of tourists, visitors to the Salar de Uyuni are encouraged to step deeper into the unknown wilderness – beyond the tourist corners to a planet-scape, you will see nowhere else on Earth.
Patagonia, Argentina & Chile
Patagonia was once home to the planet’s largest and greatest dinosaurs. Today, you can follow in the footsteps of the dinosaurs with the Dinosaur Route in the northwestern region of Patagonia. Crossing both Argentinian and Chilean borders, the Patagonia wilderness is an impressive and majestic place, offering snow-capped mountain peaks, intense history including the 7370 BC Cueva de las Manos rock engravings, and plenty of friendly wildlife. One of the best ways to experience Patagonia is through trekking and hiking in the wilderness, offering an uninterrupted nature experience as well as encounters with local communities and rural family lifestyles.
Gila Wilderness, New Mexico & United States
Occupied by the Mogollan people around AD 1000, the Gila Wilderness still contains some ancient and cultural ruins. It was proclaimed a protected wilderness area in 1924, making it the world’s oldest. The region is home to the Mogollon Mountain Range, canyons, grasslands, forests and even hot springs. Some of the more dangerous wildlife found in the Gila include bears, mountain lions, and the Mexican grey wolf. The Gila Wilderness offers plenty of hiking trails, some covering extensive distances in complete isolation from all civilization. Hiking organizations and local rangers can assist in your choice of trail and can offer you important information to ensure safe hiking across the Gila.
Which of these wilderness areas would you like to visit? Have you ever visited one of them before? Do let us know in the comments below!