There once was a time when you’d travel or head out on an adventure purely to soak up the experience. To live it. Build memories. Not spend the entire trip peering down the lens of an iPhone, fiddling about with Instagram and messaging your mates. It’s time to unplug.
With a barrage of information all competing for your attention, it’s not surprising that too much social media has been linked to a decreased attention span. The constant distraction can disconnect us from the people and places around us.
That’s why it’s so important to give yourself a break from the black mirror in your pocket from time to time. Look up from your screen, forget about likes, pokes and tweets, and go out and get lost in the real world.
So if you’re looking for a remote adventure, where 4G is sketchy at best, here are 6 remote destinations to kick start your digital detox.
The Western Carpathians, also known at the Apuseni Mountains, is the perfect setting for a digital-free weekend. Recognised as a natural geological reserve, this seldom-visited landscape is home to some of the largest remaining areas of ancient forest in Europe and features a maze of over 3500 underground caves and subterranean rivers. Think thick, thatched forests, sinkholes, impressive gorges and canyons, waterfalls and remote traditional villages nestled among the gentle ridges. Its undisturbed forests are also home to 60% of Europe’s brown bear population.
When you’re not sampling the local țuică, the opportunity for an adventure here is pretty vast. From hiking through the spectacular karstic landscape, and exploring the peculiar cave system that lies beneath, to ravine zip-lining, scouting for bears and the odd section of hairy via feratta. Come the winter, the landscape transforms into a snow-filled playground, the perfect opportunity to strap your snow-shoes on.
The Pyhä-Luosto National Park sits in the Arctic Circle in Northern Finland and is pretty darn remote. It is Finland’s oldest national park, and home to some of the longest-standing pine forests in the world and considered sacred by the ancient Sámi people. The southern tip is marked by a 12-peak line of Tunturi’s – the remnants of ancient mountains. ‘Tunturi‘ translates roughly to fell in English. The park features an array these treeless fells, alongside impressive gorges, canyons and pristine lakes, lit by the northern lights in winter and the Midnight Sun in the summer.
One of the best ways to experience the park in all its glory is to pop some snow-shoe on and climb one of the most magnificent ice-falls in Finland. The Koruama Canyon is a gorge that sits 100 metres above the surrounding landscape and was formed by a fracture in the bedrock millions of years ago. The water that trickles off the edges in the summer, freezes during the winter months, creating one of the best ice-climbing destinations in the world. If you’re brave enough, you can also cut a hole in the ice and go for a quick dip, before heading off for an oh-so-Finnish sauna.
Scotland’s Great Glen is one of the United Kingdom’s last great wildernesses. It is surrounded by some of Britain’s tallest mountains and is home to five lochs, Loch Dochfour, Linnhe, Lochy, Oich and the folklore-riddled Loch Ness. The glen was formed by an ancient tectonic collision that left an 80 km rift splitting the country, running from Inverness in the north-east, and down to Fort William in the south-west, creating the Scottish Highlands as we know them today. Scotland’s Land Reform Act of 2004 allows anyone freedom to roam it’s countryside, meaning that you can go and camp anywhere you like.
And there’s no better way to experience it than from the water, following the Great Glen Canoe Trail. Starting from Fort William, you’ll paddle nearly 100 km, over 5 days, navigating small canals and tricky loch gates along the way. Keep your eyes peeled for buzzards, ospreys and the iconic highland stag. Each night you’ll bed down on the loch-side for a spot of wild-camping and some grub under the stars.
Located in Southern Chile, and covering over 181,000 hectares, the Torres del Paine National Park is magical Patagonia at it’s best and a protected UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It’s a maze of mountains, glaciers, rivers, lakes and ancient Lenga forests. The park is named after the Torres, or towers, three massive granite peaks that tower over the Paine Massif and dwarf the surrounding landscape. The glaciers, including Grey, Pingo and Tyndall, spill out into impressive lakes and wind their way up pre-historic valleys to join the Southern Patagonia Ice Field. Wild nature in all its glory.
And the only to explore it is on foot. The ‘W’ trek is one of the most famous routes in South America, and they don’t come much more remote. Over nine days you’ll trek past the base of the Torres, and come across pre-historic fossils, ancient creeping glaciers, soaring condors and feral cows as you get lost in this spectacular landscape. If you choose to go self-guided, it’s probably best to nab a spot in one of the refugios before you go, as getting a space can be tough without a guided group – and your phone will be no help when you’re out there.
Just north of Gothenburg, the Bohuslän archipelago runs nearly 280 km up Sweden’s west coast, starting with the island of Vrångö to the south and the Koster Islands to the North, just shy of the Norwegian border. The archipelago is made up of over 8000 islands, featuring quaint little fishing villages famous for their seafood, lush green islets teeming with wildlife, to tiny barren rocky outcrops. Due to the Gulf stream, the sea is surprisingly warm and with that comes an abundance of biodiversity. The area has a colourful history of fishing and shipping that has created island villages where small wooden houses cluster between the smooth granite rocks. Although it can get busy in the summer, this expansive archipelago always has a secluded beach to camp on, far far away from the crowds.
There’s only really one way to discover them. An island-hopping adventure, sea-kayaking between the islets, and picking a different one to camp on each night. Cooking your freshly-caught dinner over an open fire whilst watching the sunset over the Swedish wilderness is the ideal break from busy, modern life. Due to the archipelago’s shallow reefs, the seascape is littered with shipwrecks from the 2nd World War, making for a fascinating (if not a little eery) destination for a remote kayaking expedition.
6) Tromsø, Norway
Known as the ‘Paris of the North’ and situated 400km north of the Arctic Circle, the historic island of Tromsø is Northern Norway’s largest city. Famous for its cute wooden houses and spectacular wildlife, Tromsø’s mild climate and deep Northerly location make it one of the best places to spot the Aurora Borealis. Head just outside of the city and you’ll find yourself immediately steeped in the untouched expanse of the arctic tundra, surrounded by mountains, with easy access to some of the most spectacular fjords in the world.
The best way to explore the sprawling tundras and snowfields of the Norwegian Arctic Circle is by dog-sled. Camping whilst falling asleep to the sound of howling arctic huskies is the ultimate wilderness experience, isn’t it? But if wildlife is more your thing, you can head out into the fjords on a marine research boat to spot whales, seals and reindeers grazing by the water’s edge. Head there before mid-January and chances are you’ll see Humpbacks and Orcas who feed on the herring that swarm the fjords that time of year.
So, if you’re looking for a remote destination, far away from the crowds, we’ve got them in swathes. Check out our off the beaten track adventure holidays, with only best local guides and hosts.