Frontier and expedition


Overview

Plan an expedition-type trip for a frontier-feel adventure. Visit the Amazon, the Arctic, the Mongolian steppe or book a remote homestay

Fancy yourself a budding Bruce Parry or Ranulph Fiennes? Want to blaze a new trail into the Amazon, pull a sled across the Arctic or make a solo traverse of the Mongolian steppe?

In truth, there are few places left totally undiscovered. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a frontier-feel adventure.

You could visit somewhere really remote – the icy vastness of Antarctica, the far north of Canada (perhaps arrange a stay with the local Inuit) or the little-known ‘Stans’ (sprawling Kazakhstan, mountainous Kyrgyzstan, hard-to-explore Turkmenistan…).

Or you could set yourself an explorer-worthy challenge: the Plymouth-Dakar Rally sees entrants drive an old banger from the UK to Senegal, while the purpose of the Rickshaw Rally is to negotiate a golf-cart-style vehicle across India. Various other such challenges can be found worldwide.

Meeting little-visited tribes is a fascinating experience, and the rise in popularity of homestays means you can spend time living amid an alien culture. Bed down with the indigenous Indians of the Ecuadorian Amazon, live alongside the tribes of the Omo Valley, Ethiopia, or stay in the stilted houses of Vietnamese elephant catchers.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop you planning a bona fide expedition. All you need is a worthwhile aim, a lot of curiosity and a clear plan. Institutions such as the Royal Geographical Society offer grants and funding to projects that have an inspiring goal – be that mapping a national park in Tanzania, conserving the rainforests of Borneo or researching climate change in the Arctic.

There are still unknown lands to explore, frontiers to find – and there’s no reason why (with some decent planning) you can’t be the first to find them.

Further Reading

Top 10 trips for that frontier feeling

Set yourself a challenge, meet a remote tribe, do something different – there are still opens for would-be pioneers

  1. Plymouth-Dakar Rally – buy an old banger and attempt to drive it through Europe to Africa, negotiating the Spanish hinterland, Moroccan drivers and Saharan sands en route to Senegal.
  2. Omo Valley, Ethiopia – meet the remote tribes of this little-visited region of Africa, where women wear clay lip plates and men jump over cattle. Eye-opening and unique.
  3. Amazon Basin – wild trip opportunities abound: make an easy cruise from one of the big hubs in Brazil and Peru, or mount an exploration of the vast region’s remoter tributaries.
  4. Everest Base Camp, Nepal – hike in the footsteps of Edmund Hillary on the route to the foot of the planet's highest mountain. You won't be alone (this is now a popular trail), but the sense of scale and significance is still strong.
  5. East Timor – explore the forests and beaches of one of Asia’s newest countries, where tourists are few and far between.
  6. Antarctica – board an icebreaker and set sail for the untouched bays and bergs of the White Continent to feel like an ancient mariner. More travellers are visiting these days – but they're still massively outnumbered by penguins.
  7. Rickshaw Rally, India – brace yourself for a hair-raising ride: negotiate the roads of India in a flimsy three-wheeler on an alternative rally race (arranged throughout the year), where you self-drive a rickshaw across the subcontinent.
  8. Go overland in Africa – explore the continent in a sturdy truck (many tour operators offer tantalising, six-month-long itineraries) to link remote centres such as Timbuktu (Mali) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) with Nairobi (Kenya) and Cape Town (South Africa).
  9. Mount Roraima, Venezuela – climb this tepui (flat-topped peak), a Lost World that was the inspiration behind Conan Doyle’s atmospheric novel, and is home to unique wildlife
  10. Komodo Island, Indonesia – meet living dragons (which grow up to 3m long) on the sun-soaked islands of Indonesia; while you're there dive with manta rays and look out for megapodes birds.