Bucket List Worthy
With 7 billion or so people, we human beings are filling up this world pretty fast. However, there are still vast tracts of land left on this planet that are virtually unpopulated. Have you ever visited any of these empty landscapes?
There is something quite magical and humbling about standing in the middle of nowhere, where you know that there is no other soul for miles and miles. You suddenly start to feel how small you are, compared to this great big world we live in. If you really want to be alone and “get away from it all”, here are some of the quietest and least populated spots to visit:
As you stand within these immense salt flats, nothing but empty whiteness stretches toward the blue horizon in 365 degrees all around you. You feel like you are in the middle of a blank white page, or a Rothko painting of only two colours. These empty white salt flats are so large they can actually be seen from space.
The Salar is what is left after several prehistoric lakes evaporated, leaving behind a salt trust that is several metres thick and as flat as a pane of glass. It is possible to take 4×4 tours from Uyuni in Bolivia or San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, during which you see flamingos, geysers, strangely coloured lakes and only a handful of manmade buildings within the three day journey.
The landlocked Asian nation of Mongolia is among the only few places left on earth where nomadic life is still a practiced tradition and with only 1.7 people per square kilometre, it has the lowest population density of any country in the world. If you consider that 40% of the population lives in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, that leaves you plenty of room in the outback to travel for days without seeing another soul.
The vast and majestic emptiness of Mongolia allows the traveller to appreciate the hospitality of the nomadic people and the rugged beauty of the nature. One of the most impressive examples of this is the Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve, which includes steppes, high mountains, wetlands, lakes and rivers. There is only one lodge here, but you could also stay with a nomadic family during your visit.
This remote and frigid island is three times the size of Texas, yet is only inhabited by 58,000 people. A trip to Greenland is a chance to see enormous icebergs floating along the coast, go whale watching, spot caribou grazing in a field, drive a dog sled or enjoy some truly impressive mountain climbing.
There is no property ownership in Greenland, so you are free to hike anywhere in the country. If you wander off the path and make your own trail, you might find yourself somewhere no human has stood before – which is a pretty amazing sensation.
There is no shortage of people living in Australia, but they tend to cluster in the coastal communities – which means that the massive interior of the country is virtually empty. If you are visiting Australia, take a trip to the Outback to learn about the ranching culture, the desert ecology, the sheep stations and the aboriginal culture.
Don’t rely on hitchhiking to get around the Outback! There are some roads that receive less than one car per week and you could easily dehydrate and die in the hot desert climate. The easiest way to explore the Outback is to drive yourself or join a tour, or fly into remote locations with a small airplane.
The relatively small population of Suriname lives along the coast and more than 80% of the land mass of this South American country consists of unspoiled rain forest.
Monkeys leaping through the tree tops, parrots gliding through the air and colourful butterflies resting on lush jungle flowers – If you would like to explore “untouched nature”, here you will be surrounded by nothing but the flora and fauna of the Amazon rain forest. There are a few guest houses and hostels throughout the rainforest in Suriname, where you can sleep in a hammock while listening to the sounds of the forest.
These are just a few of the emptiest landscapes in the least populated countries in the world. If you really want to get away from it all and relax knowing that you will not see another soul for miles, pack your bags and head into these wild, quiet, lonely, beautiful, empty corners of the world.