Journeys to the ends of the earth

Journeys to the world's extremesGetty

Ever fancied eating with cannibals or flying in a hot air balloon over the top of the world? Perhaps you'd like a trip to the hottest place on earth or the world's wettest town? From the nearest point to the moon to the most remote barrier reef, we've rounded up the best holidays to the earth's extremes. Just one word of warning: these aren't for the faint-hearted.

10 PHOTOS
The world's most extreme holidays
See Gallery
Journeys to the ends of the earth

Mount Everest may be the tallest mountain, but trekking across the snow-covered, conical peak of Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador is the furthest point from the centre of the earth you can possibly get without a spacesuit. Surtrek.com runs climbing trips all over Ecuador and their two-day summit trek to Chimborazo starts in the capital city Quito, drives through the Avenue of the Volcanoes and follows the winding road up the slopes of Chimborazo. The summit climb starts at 00:00 hours on day two and, weather permitting, will reveal a breathtaking panorama of the Ecuadorian Andes, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Amazon rainforest to the east. Prices from $494 (£330) per person, including climbing equipment, guides and transportation, excludes flights.

With its stark, lunar landscape, red mountains and blazing blue sky, parts of the the Atacama Desert in Chile haven't seen rain for 400 years. It may not be the first place you’d expect to find thermal springs and spa hotels, which is why The Tierra Atacama hotel and Uma spa is a bit of a find: an oasis with open-air yoga platform, private hot tubs and spectacular views of the Licancur volcano. Try Join Tierra’s 4x4 trip to the Puritama hot springs: eight natural pools where the temperature stays at an inviting 33C. Seven nights' full board including excursions and airport transfers is $3,500 (£2,300) per person. Flights extra.

Set in the cerulean waters of a 5,000-acre Fijian lagoon, the Poseidon Undersea Resort is the world’s first seafloor hotel. Guests stay in luxurious, pod-like villas 40 ft underwater, surrounded by coral gardens teeming with marine wildlife. Just beyond the coral reef the seabed plunges into a dark abyss, which guests can explore in the resort’s very own submersibles. This underwater wonderland comes with a hefty price tag, the introductory package, including four nights above water and two below, costs $30,000 (£19,000) per couple, per week.

Death Valley, California is a land of extremes where rare rainstorms force the arid land to burst into bloom and strange salt formations warp the scenery. While the towering purple peaks are dusted with snow, the temperature can soar to 56.7C, which makes driving through this eerie moonscape an experience. Timeandplaceluxuryholidays.com operates a 15-day Classic West fly-drive holiday travelling from San Francisco, through Yosemite, Death Valley and the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas and Los Angeles for £1,579 per person, including flights and car hire.

Cherrapunjee is a small town perched on the southern edge of the Khasi Hills in the Indian state of Meghalaya. While the title of world's rainiest place is disputed, Cherrapunjee has the dubious accolade of recording the most rainfall in 1974 when it rained 24,555 mm…that’s about 80 feet! The torrential rain has carved out labyrinthine networks of caves in the limestone rocks making it the perfect destination for thrill seeking cavers.Cherrapunjee.com organises guided caving trips for the amateur to the advanced. The resort also takes guests to see the living root bridges of Cherrapunjee – Indian rubber trees that have formed secondary roots across eroded riverbanks creating natural bridges. An executive double costs £46 per night; caving trips must be booked with the resort in advance.

Only 57 people visited Oymyakon, Yakutia - the kingdom of cold - last year and 18 of those intrepid travellers were British. This snow-laden, ice age town wedged in the north east of Russia is the coldest inhabited place on earth. In mid-January the temperature drops to -50 C and the lowest recorded temperature was logged at a frostbitten  -71.2 C in 1972. Planetyakutia operates an eight-day Pole of Cold expedition for the brave, starting with husky sledging, ice fishing and a meeting with the mayor of Oymyakon to collect your certificate for visiting and ending with an introduction to the life of the reindeer herders of Yuchugey. Prices and departure dates on application.

The Pitcairn Islands are about as far away from any inhabited land that you can get. This cluster of four fertile volcanic islands is marooned in the Pacific Ocean and inhabited by only 67 people who are mostly descended from pirates. Apparently a crew of mutineers from the infamous ship, the Bounty, landed here and, along with some Tahitian men and women, colonized the island. The locals still speak an 18thcentury sea-faring dialect and the place names have been christened in true buccaneer fashion – look out for Bitey-Bitey, Oh Dear, Bang on Iron and Little George Cocknuts. Join paradiseadventures.com for your own high seas adventure sailing from Easter Island to Pitcairn to scuba and snorkel in the beautiful reefs and catch a glimpse of the sunken shipwrecked Bounty herself. From AUS$ 3,345 per person.

The nomadic Korowai tribes live under the dense, emerald canopy of Papua New Guinea’s rainforest and are reported to still practice ritual cannibalism in the present day.Puretravel.comwill take you trekking through the lush Baliem Valley to meet some of these enigmatic tribes on their 14-day adventure tour. Jungle guides will take you to stay with the Korowai Batu where you’ll join their Sago Grub feast. While the thought of feasting on fat grubs may not seem immediately appealing look on the bright side, at least it keeps you off the menu! Prices from £3,950 per person including guides, accommodation, internal flights and transfers, excluding international flights.

Board the narrow-gauge steam train from Estacion Fin del Mundo – the station at the end of the world – in Ushuaia on the southernmost tip of South America to the rugged peaks and glacial valleys of Tierra del Fuego National Park. The steam train once transported convicts to work at the timber yards and still follows the same route overlooking the Pipo river valley, winding through Sub-Antarctic forest before arriving at Estación del Parque. Audley travel runs an epic 16-day Ultimate Patagonia trip starting in Buenos Aires, taking in Ushuaia, the Tierra Del Fuego Park, the dramatic scenery of the Torres del Paine Park and the Perito Moreno glacier. From £4,775 per person.

The world’s Northern-most tip – the Arctic North Pole is a frozen landscape that has bewitched and challenged countless polar explorers. Smash through the Arctic Ocean pack ice aboard the 50 Years of Victory icebreaker with discover-the-world.co.uk. Visit Franz Joseph Land - Eurasia's most northerly archipelago - and spot arctic foxes and polar bears on land and beluga whales and narwhals from the ship’s helicopter. There's only one way to finish this once-in-a-lifetime experience, and that’s taking the optional hot air balloon trip over the North Pole. The 13-night cruise departs in June and starts from £15,260 per person.

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE


Related articles

Ten of the most extreme holiday activities

Travel quiz: Guess the world's most extreme places
Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS