Powerful forces—politics, violence, climate change, natural disaster—are constantly redrawing those maps, opening up new frontiers for adventure travel. These trips explore some of the planet’s most incredible land- and waterscapes, which circumstances have preserved in a near-pristine state. See them now, before the crowds descend.
To call the 100-mile hut-to-hut route over Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail “remote” is an understatement. The trail will still be covered with snow when the dogsled-aided trip rolls out next April, and the only other souls on it will likely be reindeer, Arctic foxes, and musk oxen. Brcic calls Greenland “a spectacular country with a rich history and virtually no tourists,” but don’t expect it to stay that way. It’s already being called the next Iceland.
Years of unrest kept Bolivian tourism in check, and today this landlocked country is one of South America’s best-kept secrets. In addition to Amazon jungles and Andean peaks, it’s also home to the 12,300-foot Altiplano plateau, where Chilean company Explora runs remote camps.
This eight-day journey explores the dramatic landscape with hikes up active volcanoes, down to flamingo-studded lakes, and out onto the world’s largest salt flats, where cactus-encrusted islands rise up from the white, salty “sea.” It’s the closest you’ll get to outer space without boarding a space shuttle.
The first thing divers notice in the Gardens of the Queen, an archipelago of coral and mangrove islands off the coast of Cuba, are the big fish—Caribbean reef sharks and 200-pound grouper—that thrive at this comparably pristine reef established by Fidel Castro (himself a diver) as the Caribbean’s largest marine-protected area and a no-take fishing zone.
Just 1,000 divers are allowed to visit each year; you can be one of them on an officially sanctioned Ocean Doctor 11-day dive trip that’s led by marine biologist David Guggenheim and includes a chartered flight from Miami and five days of touring in Cuba.
This Czech Republic–size refuge is an untracked wilderness that’s home to gray wolves, musk oxen, grizzly and polar bears, wolverines, moose, and massive herds of caribou. On Alaska Alpine Adventures’ 10-day ANWR backpacking trip, owner Dan Oberlatz guides you 60-plus miles through the Alpine zone of the Brooks Range, where you’re unlikely to see another human for the duration.
Despite Sri Lanka’s rich heritage, marquee wildlife (elephants, leopards), and world-class swells, 20-plus years of civil war kept outsiders away. But recent stability has brought investment to the South Asian island, from luxury resorts to boutique surf camps.
Scandinavian travel firm Lapoint has one of the best, on a golden stretch of coastline where monsoon winds deliver clean waves and sunny skies from late October to early April. All-inclusive weeklong stays cover food, luxe beachfront accommodations, equipment, and five days of expert surf instruction.