In this digital world we live in, it’s good to know there are still some places left that offer little or absolutely no connectivity at all – no way to get in touch with all those ‘friends’ and followers through social media, nowhere to check your emails and no way to stream the latest episode of whatever TV show you happen to be currently hooked on. Cell phone reception doubtful, good times guaranteed. Here’s our list of Top 10 places to get off the grid.
1. Wadi Rum, Jordan
Swap those mobile phone towers and high-rise buildings for the geological drama of the desert of Wadi Rum. These incredible rock formations have set the stage for many a blockbuster, starting with Lawrence of Arabia and carrying on right up to the recent Transformers film franchise. Stop for a second and listen to the ancient desert wind, marvel at the brilliance of the clear night sky and enjoy the peace and quiet.
2. Annapurna, Nepal
The breathtaking views of the Annapurna region will overwhelm even the most committed technophiles. Comprising some of the planet’s highest mountain peaks, the Annapurna Conservation Area is Nepal’s first and largest conservation area. It’s also home to some world-class treks, including the famed Annapurna Circuit. Unplug and get a good whiff of that fresh mountain air!
3. The Lares Trek, Peru
Say Machu Picchu and you’re bound to think of the famous Inca Trail – and for good reason; it’s a classic trail with a dramatic ending – but the path less travelled is the Lares Trek. With spectacular views, glacial lakes and hot springs, the less-crowded Lares Trek also concludes with a full day at Machu Picchu. You’ll also arrive a day earlier than those on the Inca Trail, at the perfect time to catch photos of the famous site as the sun rises over the mountains. Although there aren’t any Inca ruins on the Lares Trek, you do get to visit an Andean family on the way. Leave the laptop at home.
4. The Sahara, Morocco
The world’s largest hot desert, the Sahara Desert dominates northern Africa. It’s so large in fact, that it’s almost the size of the entire United States. But with some of the sand dunes reaching up to 180m high and shifting as they do with the wind, the only way to travel is by camel. Trek into the Sahara by camel on a tour to Morocco, and prick your ears up at night after a fireside dinner and some traditional music and dancing. Hear that? Silence.
5. Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa (and the highest freestanding mountain on the planet) is not known for its internet connectivity. Taking the Machame Route (steeper than the Marangu Route but yielding a higher success rate) will see you hiking through lush rainforest before circling along the southern circuit beneath the glaciated precipices. Enjoy the view – it’s only going to get better.
6. The Western Desert, Egypt
Far from the famed pyramids on the Giza plateau and the multitude of ruins in the fertile Nile valley, the Western Desert offers something a little bit different for those who have explored the tombs, drifted down the Nile and explored the markets of Cairo, Luxor and Aswan. Camp under a blanket of stars (and a real blanket – don’t worry), see the Bahariyya Oasis, the abandoned medieval city of Al Qasr, the temple of Alexander the Great and the Tombs of the Nobles. There’s also Kharga Oasis, the Temple of Hibis and the rambling, eerie necropolis of al-Bagawat.
7. The steppes of Mongolia
The Trans-Siberian train crosses the continent of Asia, from Moscow to Beijing, covering roughly a third of the earth’s circumference as it goes and crossing straight through the grassy plains of Mongolia. Camping out in a traditional ger is the best way to get a taste of the nomadic life of the plains of Mongolia, and the ideal place to forget about your inbox.
8. The Amazon rainforest, Peru
The richest of all ecosystems, rainforests are hugely important to the planet. And particularly the Amazon – which contains about half the world’s living species of plants and animals despite covering only around 5% of the earth’s surface. Along with being ecologically vital, it’s also not known for having great mobile signal. Replace that ringtone with the sound of birdsong in the Amazon.
9. Okavango Delta, Botswana
The Okavango is the largest inland delta in the world, studded with exotic little islands and teeming with birds and other wildlife. Explore the waterways in a traditional mokoro – a dug-out canoe – and see elephant, hippos, crocodiles, wild dogs and an unrivalled variety of birdlife. Fed by rainfall in the Angolan highlands, the Okavango reaches a size of up to 15 000 square kilometres, meaning you’ll be well and truly out of range and off the grid.
10. Lake Titicaca, Peru
The largest lake in South America, Lake Titicaca in the Andes forms the border between Bolivia and Peru. Take a homestay on the reed island of Amantani, where you’ll get a taste of the traditional lives of the Aymara / Quechua families. Eat traditional food, try on traditional dress and get a feel for truly rural life. Don’t count on being able to recharge your iPhone. Or anything else for that matter.