Area 51, USA
The famous Area 51, located in Nevada, covers 155 km2 in the middle of the desert. Built in the 1950s, this military base is strictly off-limits and does not appear on any official US government map. Notice to those who would like to venture there, guards constantly monitor the area and are authorized to use their weapons. Officially recognized by the US government in 2013, Area 51 is highly classified and fuels many conspiracy theories, particularly around UFOs.
Heard and McDonald Islands, Australia
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Heard and McDonald Islands are located in the southern Indian Ocean, between Australia and South Africa and approximately 1,600 kilometers from Antarctica. To get there, several days of navigation are necessary. The only active sub-Antarctic volcanic islands, they are among the world’s few pristine island ecosystems and humans are strictly prohibited from visiting them except for “compelling scientific reasons”. The McDonald Islands have only been visited twice, and no long-term stays have taken place on Heard Island since 1992.
Surtsey Island, Iceland
This volcanic island, located off the coast of Iceland, was formed in the 1960s. A completely virgin land, life has slowly colonized the island. So to preserve the fauna and flora, no tourist is allowed to go there. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008, only a few representatives of the scientific community (geologists, biologists, etc.) are authorized to have access to it to study the evolution of natural terrestrial phenomena.
⋙ Iceland: on the island of Surtsey, we walked on the forbidden volcano
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway
In the heart of the Svalbard archipelago in Norway, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a vault that stores thousands of seed samples from around the world. This plant Noah’s ark was designed to protect plant biodiversity from conflicts and natural disasters. A sort of global catastrophe insurance policy.
North Sentinel Island, India
Located off Burma and attached to India, this island is one of the most isolated places in the world. The people who live there, called the Sentinels, do not let anyone approach and land on the island. Present for millennia, the Sentinels are today one of the last peoples to be so far removed from the rest of civilization. A handful of men have attempted to make contact with the Sentinels, but these encounters have more or less all ended in failure. Sentinels are fiercely and sometimes violently protective of their independence. For this reason, the Indian government has decided to prohibit access to the island.
⋙ Discovering the island of North Sentinel, one of the most isolated places in the world
L‘Queimade Grande Island, Brazil
This island, located about 35 kilometers from São Paulo, is uninhabited and its access is strictly reserved for scientists. A veritable ecological niche, the island is infested with deadly poisonous snakes called jararaca-ilhoas (Bothrops insularis). A local legend claims that there would be 5 snakes per square meter. Until 1920, a dozen people lived on the island to operate its lighthouse, but they are all said to have died. Now “Snake Island” is totally off limits to the public.
Tepuys (or tepuis) are flat-topped mountains that overlook the tropical jungle. They are found in South America, Colombia, Guyana, Brazil and especially in Venezuela. Surrounded by dense forests and with vertical cliffs, the tepuys are almost inaccessible on foot. Only three of the mountains of the Gran Sabana (southeastern region of Venezuela) can be reached on foot, among which the 2,180-meter-high Mount Roraima, which is the most accessible.
Tristan Da Cunha Island, United Kingdom
This island is part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. Located in the Atlantic Ocean more than 2,000 kilometers from Cape Town, South Africa, and nearly 3,000 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the island of Tristan Da Cunha is one of the the hardest to achieve. Only means of transport, the boat. Four ships make the round trip, only nine times a year and it will take at least seven days of navigation. Swept by the winds 200 days a year, 244 people still live on this island nicknamed “the island of desolation”.
Off the coast of Venice, this island was used to quarantine plague patients during the 16th century. It is rumored that more than 160,000 people were buried and almost half of the island is made up of human remains. Today, the island has been abandoned and closed to the public.
Mariana Trench, Pacific Ocean
The Mariana Trench is the deepest oceanic trench known to date, it is also the deepest place in the earth’s crust. Located in the Pacific Ocean, the pit would be 10,916 meters deep. Only a handful of people have ever visited the bottom of the Mariana Trench. For the record, in 2012, director James Cameron became the first man to explore the Mariana Trench alone, at a depth of 10,898 meters.
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