10 world famous landmarks that are really hard to reach
Most of the major tourist sites in the world, be it Niagara Falls, the Great Barrier Reef or the Eiffel Tower, are fairly easy to get to. Accessibility is an important part of what makes them great attractions.
However, not all world famous monuments are easy to reach.
Some require extraordinary efforts, and others are indeed impossible …
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To get to Everest, you need to fly to Kathmandu, catch a connecting flight to Lukla Himalayan Airport, and then travel 65 kilometers through a mountain valley. And that only gets you to Everest Base Camp. If you want to climb the tallest mountain in the world, a lot more training, money and expertise is needed. Intrepid Travel organizes 15 day treks for all those who wish to join the base camp. See intrepidtravel.com
The tallest waterfall in the world is in Venezuela, which isn’t exactly the friendliest place right now. In addition, it is deep in the Venezuelan jungle, in the Canaima National Park. Canaima is the nearest town, but there are no direct flights from Caracas, so you have to go through Puerto Ordaz or Ciudad Bolívar. Then you have to take a trip along the river, and the water levels are only high enough to make this possible during certain months of the year – usually June through November.
Where? Queensland, australia
Heart Reef has become the marketing symbol of the Great Barrier Reef. But you can usually only see it when flying over Hamilton Island or Proserpine. It’s part of the Hardy Reef, on the outer reef, far away from the more accessible Whitsunday Islands. Hamilton Island has now created a tour that gets you up close – a helicopter tour of a private pontoon docked next to Heart Reef. But you still can’t climb the reef itself properly. See hamiltonisland.com.au
The Great Mosque
Where? Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Visiting the Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site, is quite easy if you are a Muslim. In fact, several specialist tour operators only focus on Hajj tours in Mecca. Non-Muslims, however, are not allowed to enter Mecca at all, with the Grand Mosque being particularly strictly prohibited. And Saudi Arabia is not the kind of place where you want to risk a police encounter by trying it.
The White House
Where? Washington DC, United States
It’s easy enough to take a peek at the White House, but to get inside you have to be on tour. And there are limited places on these tours. U.S. citizens must request a seat on the tour through their congressman at least 21 days in advance. However, non-citizens struggle even more – they have to go through their embassy and hope that a staff member is willing to put in some effort to get there. See nps.gov/who
Where? Nevada, United States
If you find it difficult to get into the places Americans want you to know, just try to get into the places they want to keep secret. Area 51 is notorious and the center of many conspiracy theories. It exists in the Nevada desert, off all roads and intentionally off the map. Don’t expect too warm a welcome if you go looking for aliens in an all-terrain vehicle.
Machu Picchu is perhaps the most difficult landmark to reach. The journey through the Andes to the Lost Inca City has become such a rite of passage that numbers have been limited. The Inca Trail is 42 kilometers long and the journey to Machu Picchu typically takes four days and three nights. G Adventures is one of the companies offering tours departing from the mountainous city of Cusco. See gadventures.com
The south pole
There is a camp at the South Pole, the result of over a century of courageous explorers trying to reach the southernmost point on Earth. But you’re going to have to be very fit, tough, and wealthy to make it happen. Icetrek organizes various expeditions, and it costs over US $ 50,000 to get there. And that’s after arriving in Punta Arenas, Chile. Take it the hard way on skis, and you’ll spend days roaming the frozen wastelands of Antarctica. See icetrek.com
The Lascaux Caves
The Lascaux Caves, in the Dordogne region of France, are home to perhaps the most famous cave paintings in the world. Hundreds of paintings from the Paleolithic era were found in 1940, but as soon as people started to visit, the condition of the paintings deteriorated considerably. Humans brought in carbon dioxide, moisture, and other contaminants. The caves were therefore quickly closed and the closest you are allowed to go are the piecemeal cave replicas set up as a museum nearby. See Lascaux.fr
Where? Easter island
Easter Island is one of the most remote islands on the planet and is home to the most remote airport on the planet. To get to Easter Island, you must first travel to Chile and take the LAN flight from Santiago. Once there, there are nearly 1,000 Moai statues to see. But they’re not exactly by the pool at the hotel – you often have to climb hills to see them.
The writer has been a guest of tourist boards in Queensland, France, Washington DC and Nevada.