It’s hard to believe that in this day and age there are parts of the world that still remain unexplored – but it’s true. In the Siberian Sakha Republic in Russia, there’s an area the size of India that is pretty sparsely populated and unexplored. In Vale Do Javari Brazil, there’s an area the size of Austria inhabited by native peoples that most people aren’t even allowed to venture into. And let’s not get started on the vastness of our oceans, much of which still remains undiscovered. Take the Mariana trench, which is estimated to be over 10,000 meters deep, or the New Hebrides trench in the Pacific Ocean. In Myanmar, there’s a forest complex largely untouched by humans. Gangkhar Puensum gets overshadowed by Mount Everest, but it is one of the tallest mountains in the world that remain unclimbed. In Papua New Guinea you’ll find the Star Mountains, which feature a variety of plant species still largely unknown to science. The Yucatan Cenotes in Mexico are too dangerous for humans to fully explore. And of course there’s Antartica, that massive continent of ice with freezing temperatures, which to this day, remains fully unexplored. Keep reading to find out which 15 places on the planet remain undiscovered.
15. Sakha Republic, Russia
In Russia, you’ll find the Siberian Sakha Republic. It’s pretty massive and covers about 20 percent of Russia, and a large portion of it is located directly above the Arctic Circle. For the sake of comparison, that is the size of India. Because of its extreme climate, it’s pretty remote and a lot of it remains unexplored. In January, for example, temperatures can plummet down to -46 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s so cold that most of the land is covered in swaths of permafrost. Because much of it is untouched, you’ll find lovely natural spots like the Lena River Delta.
14. Vale Do Javari, Brazil
There are still a variety of uncontacted tribes in South America. In Vale Do Javari, Brazil, there are over a dozen of them. Vale Do Javari is one of the most isolated places not just in South America — but in the world. There are roughly 2000 native peoples who live in this area, separate from the Brazilian government. The region they inhabit isn’t tiny by a long shot — it’s about the size of Austria. This region remains separate and isolated because a federal agency protects it — preventing outsiders from entering; so you couldn’t go there if you wanted to.
13. Mariana Trench
In general, the ocean is the last unexplored resource on Earth, so it’s not surprising that there are swaths of it that have remained unseen. Mariana Trench is one of those places, located in the western part of the Pacific Ocean. Formed millions of years ago, the trench is the deepest part of the planet — literally. It’s estimated to be over 10,000 meters deep. Because it’s so deep underground, the high pressure makes it unsafe for humans to venture. But that doesn’t mean people haven’t tried — director James Cameron famously made a journey in a manned mission into the trench back in 2012.
12. Northern Forest Complex, Myanmar
You would think that humans have explored — and exploited — all of the forests there are to find on the planet. But surprisingly, there are a plethora of subtropical forests on the eastern slopes of the Himalayas that are pretty much unexplored. At an elevation of over 5000 meters, the forests here are home to a variety of wildlife, safe to roam free from the eyes of humans — red pandas, gibbons, bears, herons, deer. There is a tiger preserve here as well — the largest one in the world. The forest itself consists of pine-rhododendron, evergreen, mixed deciduous, alpine meadows — and more.
11. Gangkhar Puensum
Mount Everest gets a lot of attention, but there is still a mountain on this planet that no one has climbed — and it is Gangkhar Puensum. It has the distinction of being the highest unclimbed mountain in the world — in fact it’s the 40th highest mountain overall. You’ll find it in Bhutan, and it has a staggering hight of over 7000 meters. It’s not for lack of trying that no one has climbed this mountain — four expeditions have taken place — three in the ‘80s and one in the ‘90s. Unfortunately, they could not be completed due to inclement weather.
10. Star Mountains
In Papua New Guinea you’ll find the Star Mountains, a massive mountain range that extends from the Indonesian border to the Hindenburg Range. The Hindenberg Wall is a series of limestone plateaus that is insanely high — a mile high, to be exact. This natural wonder remains largely unexplored, with unique ecosystems and natural species. A biological survey of the 30 mile long bluffs found that of the 1,109 plant and animal species, 100 of them were completely new and undiscovered. The rainfall here is abundant, at over 10,000 mm per year, and it is believed to be one of the wettest places on the planet.
9. Yucatan Cenotes
Caves are unsurprisingly unexplored places — they are often difficult or even dangerous to access and located in remote mountain ranges or regions all around the planet. Even underwater caves are often undisturbed by marine life because of unsafe conditions. The Yucatan Cenotes are one such example of unexplored caves. Cenotes result from limestone bedrock that collapse and reveal groundwater. The Yucatan Cenotes are quite a large cave network in Mexico, and its stunning snow and crystal caves are too dangerous for even experienced spelunkers. Interestingly enough, cenotes were once used by the ancient Mayans for sacrificial offerings. Maybe they were on to something.
8. Tsingy De Bemaraha National Park
Madagascar itself was unexplored for a while, so the Tsingy De Bemaraha National Park, located on its western edge, is hardly revelatory as a largely undisturbed area. It is named for the limestone formations called “tsingy”, which is Malagasy for walking on tiptoes. The park is 600 square miles of wilderness. Its limestone came about over the process of millions and millions of years, and now there are canyons, forests, and gorges — all of which serve as a fortress of sorts. There are a plethora of animal and plant species native to this area — including a large number that remain undiscovered.
Guess where most people have never traveled to? If you guessed Antartica, you’d be correct. Cold, barren and uninhabitable for much of recent memory, the continent is literally the coldest place on the planet. How cold? Between -10 and -30 degrees Celsius. In fact, the lowest recorded temperature on the continent was -89 degrees Celsius. In addition to the unbearable cold, there is heavy snow, dangerous crevasses and glaciers. There are also incredibly thick ice sheets — with thickness of 2 miles. Given the hazardous climate and unsafe natural features of its landscape, Antartica remains — and will likely continue to remain — one of the least explored places on the planet.
6. Northern Patagonia, Chile
If you were to go to Northern Patagonia, Chile, you would find a sparsely populated and wild landscape. Highways have only recently made it accessible, and there are sections of roads that are still in the process of being paved. Here nature is largely untouched — there is a massive rainforest, many peaks, steppes, lakes, rivers, fjords, glaciers and even more natural wonders. There is even a huge ice mass here, called the Northern Patagonian Ice Field, one of the largest outside of the polar regions. Only the most adventurous traveler heads to this region, which may be worth a visit, considering that it is largely untouched by humans.
5. Kamchatka, Russia
On Russia’s eastern peninsula, there is a region with a crazy amount of volcanic activity. It has over 300 volcanoes, one of which has been erupting for over 20 years. Like most places largely unaffected by humans, it has a range of wildlife, including an eclectic range of salmon species and a large brown bear habitat. In fact, it is considered to be the most densely populated brown bear habitat in the world. This region was largely unsettled because it was closed off to Westerners until 1991. It is still only populated by 400,000 people, which is pretty sparse for such a large area.
Despite being the largest island on the planet, it is still largely undiscovered. Many of us don’t realize just how large Greenland is — it is over 8 million square miles. Of that, roughly 80 percent of it is covered in ice. The ice is incredibly thick — some as dense as 3200 meters. The ice sheets that cover most of the island are also very old — between 400,000 to 800,000 years old. As of 2017, only 56,000 people live on this massive amount of land. Unsurprisingly, such a sparsely populated region is filled with natural wonders — hot springs, Northern lights that you can actually see, rivers that flow with ice.
3. New Hebrides Trench
Another undiscovered trench lies off the eastern coast of Australia and about 1000 miles north of New Zealand. In fact, scientists did not explore the New Hebrides Trench until 2013. The trench is nearly four and a half miles deep. When scientists did explore, using underwater robots, they found eels and prawns — but not just any eels or prawns. These were different from other species found in other trenches in the deep sea. The eels were as long as 1 meter, and the prawns bright red. They collected some marine life species to study — but it is anyone’s guess what other species lies in this largely unexplored deep sea trench.
2. Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon contains 50 percent of the world’s rainforest, and is about 2.5 million square miles. Due to its vastness, a lot of it is unexplored. There is of course an eclectic biodiversity with rare species to be explored. The Amazon gets rain all year, earning its title of rainforest, but this constant rain leads to flooding — which makes it difficult to traverse the Amazon by river. It may be a good thing that the Amazon is largely untraversed — there are a whole host of deadly animals here, from poison dart frogs and piranhas to anacondas.
1. Namib Desert
Deserts have historically been unexplored due to their remoteness and extreme climate. But the Namib in southern Namibia is definitely one of the most unexplored of the world’s deserts. It’s believed to be the oldest desert in the planet, and it’s also the least populated. There are very few paved roads to get around. The Namib desert makes up a large part of Namibia. Surprisingly, Namibia itself is one of the youngest countries in Africa — it only gained its independence in 1990. Most of its population lives in the northern part of the country, leaving the southern part — the desert part — largely empty.
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