Where in the world doesn't have mobile phone coverage?Or no access to the internet? In today’s globalised society, it can feel almost impossible to disconnect from technology - even on a gap year when you're half way around the world.
So these are our top five isolated, off the beaten track destinations, to head when you fancy a break from all that chatter…
Disconnect with… the Amazon Rainforest
One point four billion acres of forest, covering nine countries in South America, and home to one in ten of every known species on the planet, as well as 30 million people – while it still exists, the Amazon is one of the world’s great wonders. It’s so big that entire communities of people can live there without anyone else ever knowing they exist - even in today’s technological and globally connected world. Unfortunately, it’s also under threat from a huge amount of illegal logging – according to the WWF 55 per cent of the forest will have disappeared by 2030.
How? Live with the Achuar tribe in Ecuador. The Achuar people's territory is only accessible via a small plane, flying over an unbroken green expanse of rainforest – thus guaranteeing a trip that will disconnect you from technology. More importantly though, the tribe needs English teachers and volunteers to help them protect their land from oil extractions, mining and logging.
Disconnect with… the Australian Outback
Its funny to think that a country so popular with backpackers and so renowned for its metropolitan cities and their global culture is actually home to one of the world’s largest un-inhabited desserts. Yes – it is very possible to get off the beaten track in Australia. In fact, if you were to abandon the highway for one of the Australian Outback’s dirt tracks, you would probably be in very real danger of death. Not because of the spiders and snakes lurking about – but because of the other, much more sinister danger: vast, open space. No skyscrapers, or roads – or even road signs. When most tourists thing of ‘The Outback’, they think of ‘Alice Springs and the Ares Rock’, but if you want a more accurate picture then its good to think that the Outback makes up most of Australia – and Australia is a country that is so large, it’s actually a continent.
How? SEIT Outback Australia offers guided 4x4 touring through Outback Australia – which is good, because no one would want to get lost out there. One of their trips includes learning about bush food from an Aboriginal host.
Disconnect with… the Bolivian Salt Flats
Pre-historic lakes, 4,086 square miles of salt, the largest mirror on earth – no, we’re not describing one of Hollywood’s weirdest Science Fiction films. These are the Bolivian Salt Flats – an unusual geographical wonder which means a thick salt crust has formed permanently over some huge pre-historic lakes. Although well known to tourists, the flats are still a breathtaking wonder to behold – and a very rugged experience. Plus, it’s difficult not to feel disconnected when all you see around you is a huge, white, landscape of nothingness.
How? Gap Adventures include a tour of the flats in their Great South American journey. Alternatively, Projects Abroad run football coaching projects in Bolivia – you can coach youth football to players aged seven to 17, and organise a trip to the flats in your spare time.
Disconnect with… Tibetan Monks
More of a state of mind than a place –Tibetan Monks devote themselves to a life of self-reflection and meditation. More than 130,000 Tibetans live in exile in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, and nearly 20 percent of those exiled live in Nepal. As with any religious group, spending time with monks can be an enlightening and life-changing experience.
How? Volunteering Nepal runs a programme which allows you to live with Tibetan Monks, teaching English as part of a Buddhist Monk programme.
Disconnect with… Antarctica
The ultimate wilderness – Antarctica is truly the last of the Earth’s untouched places. It is the only place in the world which has never had a native population and, even today, humans only reside as temporary visitors. However, as with the Amazon, that’s not to say that people aren’t having a detrimental effect on its chilly climate – overfishing and climate changes are affecting the landscape. But, for now at least, it still remains a largely un-touched wonderland. So, if you can afford it, a trip to Antarctica poses one of the best places in the world to disconnect from technology and re-connect with the powerful wonder of nature.
How? Unfortunately, visiting Antarctica basically means winning the lottery. A trip with someone like Aurora Expeditions, for example, would cost around $10,000.