Visit the most southerly towns Testimony to the pioneering spirit of early settlers who journeyed to the ends of the earth, despite appalling weather and an unpromising landscape, the world’s most remote communities are in South America.
Chile and Argentina both lay claim to the most southerly town—and the winner depends on your definition of town (and the kind of nightlife you are expecting). Punta Arenas in Chile (70° south) can fairly claim to be the largest community at the end of the earth, with a population of about 120,000. To many though, Ushuaia in Argentinian Patagonia wins the prize.
It’s located at 67° south, and has a respectable population (around 45,000 at the last census), Puerto Williams on Chile’s Isla Navarino is a little farther south, but with a population of under 2,000. Around 1,000 tourists a year make it as far as Esperanza in the Argentinian Antarctic (which lies at 63° south), swelling its population of under 60. But it could be disqualified since it is considered a base rather than a permanent settlement.
Experience the world’s most northerly party town Longyearbyen has just 1,700 inhabitants, but this glacier-shrouded town on the Svalbard islands in Norway’s frozen north has proved that you don’t need a huge crowds or a balmy climate to have a good time.
This is a place that describes itself as having a “relatively mild climate” when its average winter temperature is 7° fahrenheit (-14° celsius), and the mercury typically climbs to an average 43° fahrenheit (6° celsius) during the summer months.
Located 780 north of the Equator, Longyearbyen hosts an annual Sunfest each March to celebrate the return of perpetual sunlight after more than foul months when the town is in darkness. It also has two music festivals—blues to mark the beginning of polar night in October and jazz in January (presumably to keep everyone going until the sun comes up).
It has pubs, restaurants, a nightclub, and an ATM, but most visitors are there to experience wilderness. This is one of the few party towns where you can spend your days trekking by dogsled or visiting ice caves. Winter visitors can forgo the town’s Radisson Hotel and choose the Boat in the Ice at Temple For—a frozen rather than floating hotel housed in an of Dutch schooner.
Journey an extreme highway You’ll need to be self-sufficient and savvy to tackle the famous Gunbarrel Highway in Australia—and some knowledge of basic car mechanics could come in very handy.
This track traverses Western Australia and the Northern Territory from Wiluna to Yulara, and it is classic Outback country, only recommended for experienced trekkers in four-wheel drive vehicles- It was the first road surveyed by famous bushman Len Beadell, and is named after his Gunbarrel construction team (you’ll find plaques commemorating his work along the route).
The road was built to serve a weapons research facility called Woomera, built during the Cold War years. You are advised to let the police at Wiluna know before you start your journey, and then check back on arrival at your destination, since breaking down could mean a long wait for a passing motorist. Enough water, fuel, and food supplies are essential—particularly as a 310 mile (500km) stretch beyond Carnegie Station has no fuel or food, and only the occasional borehole for emergency water supplies. Temperatures can be searingly hot during the day and cold at night, but there are stunning .