It’s pretty easy today to forget how diverse and incredible the world is, how untouched some parts of our planet are, and how (amazingly) there are vast areas of the world which where once inhabited but are now wild and forgotten.
Today’s Americanised global culture seems everywhere. We get on a plane in Vienna and get off in Buenos Aires, and aside from the obvious differences such as language, weather, traditional food and custom. Well, we could be anywhere. The same style of buildings, the same fast-food outlets, the same fashions, the same pop music on the radio, almost everyone speaking English, the same news on TV, the same movies in the cinema, the same sports stars advertising the same deodorant on familiar billboards. The world seems like one big homogenous and flavourless unit. Except that it really isn’t. The spaces in between the world’s urban centres are often as diverse and traditional as they have always been.
And this applies the natural world also: as more people move from the villages into the cities, some regions of our planet have now become vastly underpopulated. A prime example of this is the once busy highlands and islands of Western Scotland which started to be depopulated about 200 years ago as people migrated to the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh for work. The Scottish Highlands is now one of the few ‘new’ wildernesses in the UK as nature took over.
Of course, there are places that have simply remained untouched because they are so remote, not quite Antarctica, but remote enough for people to prefer to live elsewhere. Take Tibet or the vast Pamir region, surrounded by India to the South and China to the North and East (massively populated countries) Tibet and the ‘Pamir knot’ remains isolated and timeless. Remote and forgotten places that are pristine and barely visited by travellers.
People often say that there is nowhere left to explore and no more great adventures to have, but this is not true. Beyond the cities and tourist areas, the spaces in between, there are still lands where few people have ever set foot and where time seems to stand still.