In our series of world-record holding places, we rose to the peak of the tallest mountains then dove to the abysses. What if we now visit the harshest places on Earth? The living conditions are hard due whether to extreme temperatures or lack of oxygen. For your eyes only, and to inspire your next travel, check out the 7 harshest places to visit.
1. Atacama Desert – Chile
Known as the driest non-polar desert in the world, Atacama is a 41,000 sq. mi. coastal plateau west of the Andes. The desert expands through Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina and opens onto the Pacific Ocean. Its driest spot, near the Chilean Antofagasta region records less than 0.51 in. of rain per year, making it one the harshest places to live.
Photo credit: Mariano Mantel via Flickr cc
2. Le Rinconada – Peru
At 16,700 feet above sea level, oxygen becomes more precious than gold. Yet, gold rush is attracting more and more people into this small mining town high in the Peruvian Andes. The world’s highest human settlement is also one of the harshest places for humans to adapt to.
3. Death Valley – California
The Death Valley National Park is a 3-M-acres designated wilderness area. Hard to imagine anything could survive in the harshest desert environment. In 2013, temperatures reached a high of 51 degree Celsius (135 F). Not only is Death Valley the hottest and driest national park in the US, it is now the hottest place on Earth.
Photo credit: Jirka Matousek via Flickr cc
4. Dallol – Ethiopia
While there are no human settlement in the Death Valley, people still live in Dallol. No roads, no means of access other than camel backs, this volcanic site is among the harshest and most remote places on Earth. The lakes, although scenic and colorful, are filled with sulfur and acid. The annual temperatures average 35 C (96 F) making it the world’s hottest inhabited location. Only the most intrepid will venture onto this wasteland.
Photo credit: Achilli Family | journeys via Flickr cc
5. Vostok Station – Antarctica
The Vostok Station lies at the southern Pole of Cold, in the Princess Elizabeth inland. This Russian research station registers the lowest reliably measured natural temperature on Earth. With lows of −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F), it is one of the harshest places that should never figure on a travel bucket list.
Photo credit: Christopher via wikipedia
6. Oymyakon – Russia
In competition for the title of northern Pole of Cold, is the rural locality of Oymyakon. It is the coldest inhabited location on Earth with year round sub-zero temperatures. At a temperature of −67.7 °C (−90 °F), only the Vostok Station has recorded lower extreme temperature. Why people bother living there? It turns out that summer is at hot here as the winters are cold. Talking about extreme tourism!
Photo credit: Maarten Takens via Flickr cc
7. Cave of Crystals – Mexico
Imagine a crystal of 39 feet-long weighting more than 55 tons! That is just one of the items to see in the Mexican cave of Crystals. Regardless of how surreal the sight may be, exploration beyond ten minutes is impossible. Air temperature reaches 58 °C (136 °F) and humidity at 99 %. Nature has set up the harshest atmospheric conditions to protect these wonders.
Does these extreme tourism spots speak to you? Which one would you visit and which would you most certainly stay away from? Tell us more in the comment box below.