No one can ever go to every single corner of the earth, and in fact, no one ever has (that we know of). Even Donald M Parrish Jr, who has been rated as the most traveled person in the world has only been to 96% of the planet’s territories. While most of us have come to terms that we will only dream of being to as many places as Mr. Parrish, we would like to believe that we could at least go to the places we really really REALLY want to visit if we set our minds to it right (really)? Everything is possible if we try our best…or so we are told. Not so fast cowboy, as there are some places that are so limited, chances are, you will never be allowed to visit. Here are some of the most amazing, fantastic, and mind-blowing places that you will likely never visit. You might want to get a box of tissues for this list.
#5 Giant Crystal Cave, Mexico
The giant crystal cave is exactly what it sounds like, a cave with huge crystals. If you have ever been to a museum of minerals, you would know that crystals are not normally known to grow very large. I recall the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles displayed their largest crystal which was about a 15 centimeters long and remember thinking, “that’s huge!” These crystals here have grown to just obscene sizes topping out at 12 meters in length (37 ft) and have a circumference of up to 4 meters. The cave in question was found below a Mexican silver mine and scientists have been blown away since. Read the full story (with more pictures) here and here.
Why can’t I go?
If you followed the link above, you might have read that you are allowed to go with a specialized group. Follow the second link and you will see that it is a dead end and in fact, only specially trained scientists with super awesome science-fiction space-age radical silver suits are allowed in. After all, it is over 58 degrees Celsius (138 F) inside the main chamber. Even film and pictures of the cave are limited as cameras do not last very long under those conditions. For the time being, it is deemed too dangerous to allow the general public to enter, despite the interest of people like you and me.
#4 Snake Island (Ilha de Queimada Grande), Brazil
Maybe I don’t have a lot of followers on this, but I find it fascinating to be on the same land as something that could kill me. After all, the main reason I visited Komodo National Park is because of how deadly and dangerous those dragons can be and it turned out to be one of my favorite places in the world. Snake island is off the coast of Sao Paulo, Brazil and is completely covered with the extremely poisonous golden lancehead, a type of pit viper. The density of snakes is something of a legend as locals claim up to 5 snakes per square meter. By comparison, that would mean that my 10×10 meter apartment would have 500 deadly pit vipers slithering about! Read more about it here and here.
Can I please go?
No, and for obvious reasons. For those of us who are stupid enough to not be scared away by the statistics, the Brazilian government isn’t about to let you kill yourself. It is completely off limits to anyone without a special researching permit, so you won’t be setting foot on Snake Island anytime soon.
#3 Venezuela’s Amazonian Tribes, Venezuela
Even though I now know what Columbus really did on his exploration of America, the fantasy that I learned in my childhood still lingers in my mind. It is kind of like Santa Claus in that even though I know it isn’t real, I would never tell a child that. Imagine meeting people who actually have very little idea of what life outside of their village is like. That would be like visiting a whole new world, much like childhood Columbus did in 1492.
There are many tribes today that live in the Amazon forest (and other secluded places) that have very little knowledge of the outside world. Their way of life continues to modernize in its own way and has not integrated at all to the rest of our globalized world and is essentially, isolated. I recently read an article titled: “Return to the rainforest: A son’s search for his Amazonian mother” which was probably the best thing (and lengthiest article) I read all year. It is an incredible story of a half Amazonian man who was essentially abandoned by his mother who couldn’t adapt to life in the US when his researcher father moved them to his country. Seriously, read it and come back here, I’ll wait.
Okay, done? Incredible right?
Anyways, it got me thinking about how awesome it would be to visit such a tribe, despite the risks.
So, should I pack my bags?
Well, what makes these tribes incredible is how isolated they are, and if everyone took charter boats to check them out, it wouldn’t be so magical anymore now would it? What, you completely disagree? Well, fortunately, the Venezuelan government thinks this way as they only allow Venezuelans visit and only under extreme circumstances like the one mentioned in the story. I guess you should go find your own undiscovered tribe.
#2 Surtsey Volcanic Island, Iceland
The World Heritage Site of Surtsey Volcanic Island is also a place where very few are allowed to go. Formed in the 1963-1967 underwater volcanic eruption off the southern coast of Iceland, Surtsey would be an amazing place to set foot. Imagine being on a land that you know with absolute, 100% certainty that no one before the 1960s had been to because it actually did not exist. Read more about it on the ultra-trustworthy Wikipedia!
So, when does the boat leave?
Apparently, not that infrequent, but it won’t be making land fall anytime soon, at least not without an extremely hard to get researcher’s permit from the Icelandic government. Many, including myself would love to set foot on such a site, but even the World Hertiage Site guru Gary Arndt from the ultra-popular Everything-Everywhere blog calls is the #1 hardest to visit UNESCO World Heritage Site. If he has lost hope, what chance do you or I have?
#1 North Sentinel Island, India
This entry has was also at the top of my bucket-list destinations, and here it is again. North Sentinel Island is much like the Amazonian tribes mentioned in #3 to the extreme. You see, it is the home of about 250-400 residents known as North Sentinelese people, the last completely isolated and un-contacted people on earth. That is right, not only has no one ever set foot on the island (and lived to tell about it), but we too know very little about them, too. No one has ever heard their language spoken aloud, know anything at all about their customs.
Can we make first contact?
Ummmm, no. For starters, researching anthropologists who have dedicated their whole lives would be deeply offended that they allowed a chump like you or me to be the first to say hello. If that is not enough, the Indian government has forbidden anyone from attempting any kind of contact to preserve their sovereignty. However, if you wish to be a bad-ass outlaw for a chance at glory and risk imprisonment, you might ultimately end up speared to death as the North Sentinelese are violently xenophobic.