Top 10 Unexplored Places on Earth

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Top 10 Unexplored Places on Earth

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Dylan Musselman
Who ever said that there's nothing left to discover? For this list, we'll be looking at the most isolated and secluded places on the planet that we have yet to investigate in depth or fully understand. Our countdown includes Devon Island, Fiordland National Park, Surtsey Island, and more!
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Top 10 Unexplored Corners of the Earth


Who ever said that there’s nothing left to discover? Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Unexplored Corners of the Earth.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most isolated and secluded places on the planet that we have yet to investigate in depth or fully understand. Most of these locations are challenging to reach due to environmental conditions and/or geographical barriers. And because of these limiting factors, some believe that they could very well be home to animal species, plantlife or other such secrets yet to be discovered. So without further ado, let’s embark on an adventure into the unknown!

#10: Fiordland National Park

New Zealand
Fiordland National Park is the largest of its kind in all of New Zealand, encompassing 4,868 square miles. The park takes its name from the many fjords that define the landscape. Deep trenches formed long ago by glaciers, the fjords cut through rainforests, mountains, and lakes to awe-inspiring effect. Despite it being a national park, much of it has yet to actually be explored due to its inaccessibility and massive size. New plant and animal species almost certainly reside there, just waiting to be discovered. Fun fact: scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy were actually filmed in the Fiordland.

#9: Surtsey Island

Iceland
Beautiful in a desolate sort of way, this island is a relatively new addition to our world. Surtsey was formed by volcanic eruptions between 1963 and 1967 off Iceland’s southern coast. Largely free of human interference, the island is closed off to the public; only authorized researchers have permission to land. As a newly developed island, it was initially devoid of life. Soon enough, however, different types of birds, insects, and plants began to appear on the island, and that’s what makes it so exciting from a scientific perspective. Here, researchers have the unique opportunity to observe the process through which local ecosystems are established.

#8: Underwater Caves

Riviera Maya, Mexico
Riviera Maya has some of the most spectacular cave systems in the world. It’s also home to some of the longest cave systems in the world, such as the Sistema Ox Bel Ha and Sistema Dos Ojos. Freshwater sinkholes, commonly referred to as cenotes, provide natural access to these networks of caves. But while the cenotes themselves are often popular with travelers, the depths of the caves are a different story entirely. The deepest and most remote parts of the caves have never been opened to the public. And considering the ancient Maya civilization used to throw human sacrifices into these cenotes and possibly artifacts, who knows what’s waiting to be discovered down in the depths?

#7: Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park

Madagascar
“Tsingy” is the term used to describe the steep, pointed limestone structures and plateaus formed by groundwater erosion in this area of northwestern Madagascar. A Malagasy word, “tsingy” roughly translates to “where one cannot walk barefoot.” As it turns out however, the meaning applies to more than just barefoot exploration, but arguably any sort of exploration; the terrain is very difficult to navigate, presenting numerous formidable barriers to those looking to uncover the park’s secrets. A shame, because scientists already know there are many endemic species - ie. plants and animals found nowhere else on earth The national park’s namesake rock formations are so dense and inaccessible, in fact, that they’re sometimes called “forests.”

#6: Mount Mabu Rainforest

Mozambique, Africa
Hard though it might be to believe, this rainforest only came to the attention of the scientific community in the 21st century. Prior to that, it was known to locals, but its unique flora and fauna had yet to be documented. The high altitude rainforest, because of the distinctly challenging geography, requires extensive planning to visit. And because of the role Google Maps played in identifying and understanding the area, it’s commonly referred to in the media as “Google Forest”. Though it wasn’t easy to get there, upon entering the rainforest, researchers have been thrilled to discover a largely untouched ecosystem, including various previously unknown species. And there are likely many more left to be discovered!

#5: Northern Forest Complex

Myanmar
If you’re looking for untarnished wilderness and/or a place where you’re sure to make new discoveries, you couldn’t ask for much better. Because Myanmar has been engaged in the longest civil war in history, the Northern Forest Complex has been largely off-limits for some time. The silver lining of this situation is that it’s served to preserve the natural forests, but the scientific community is naturally anxious to get in there and explore. And even as the country opens up, many challenges remain. The dense jungle has no roads or paths and the terrain is rather inhospitable, with scorching heat, torrential rain, and mountain peaks thousands of feet in height.

#4: Son Doong Cave

Vietnam
The largest known cave in the world, Han Son Doong is so massive that an entire city block could fit inside it. The cave is estimated to be somewhere between 2 and 5 million years old, but it was only discovered relatively recently. Though a local man is credited with first having found it in 1991, Son Doong Cave didn’t receive international attention until 2009 when the British Cave Research Association (BCRA) organized an expedition. The cave has many unexplored regions in its depths and likely holds countless wonders. As if that’s not enough, collapsed portions of the cave allow in enough light that it even has its own forest.

#3: Vale do Javari

Brazil
The Vale do Javari region in the Amazon Rainforest isn’t uninhabited, but it is one of the most isolated places in the world. While many of the other entries on our list today are hard to reach or environmentally challenging, the reason that it goes largely unexplored is the approximately 2,000 to 3,000 indigenous people who live there. Divided into tribes and villages, they’ve had very little contact with the outside world. And when they have, it’s typically gone badly. At this point, the locals are also thought to likely lack immunities to common illnesses. As such, the privacy of these groups is protected by a federal agency, barring outsiders from entry.

#2: Star & Nakanai Mountains

Papua New Guinea
Because of the various geographical barriers, much of Papua New Guinea is, from a scientific perspective, unexplored; entire forests of flora and fauna have yet to be documented. As such it’s likely home to wonders that we can only imagine. The Star Mountains, for example, are especially hard to visit due to the natural rock formation known as the Hindenburg wall, a limestone barrier that rises to approximately one mile above sea level. The Nakanai Mountains, for their part, are so remote and undisturbed that, in 2009, researchers found approximately 200 species never before seen in just 60 days. Over the last few decades, researchers have found upwards of 1,000 new species on or around the island of New Guinea.

Before we explore our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Greenland
Sparsely Populated & Large Sections of the Country Are Rarely Visited

Cape Melville, Australia
Massive Boulders Make This Rainforest Extremely Difficult to Reach

Hranice Abyss, Czech Republic
The Deepest Flooded Freshwater Cave in the World, the Bottom of Which Has Yet to Be Confirmed

Gangkhar Puensum, Bhutan-China Border
A Contender for the “Highest Unclimbed Mountain” on Earth.

Caves of Meghalaya, India
Due to Its Remote Location in Northern India & the Sheer Size of the Cave Systems

#1: Devon Island

Canada
At 21,331 square miles, Devon Island is the largest uninhabited island on the planet. To put that in context, it’s only about 500 square miles smaller than the country of Croatia. But that’s not all that Devon has going for it; the island’s environment is remarkable in that it actually closely resembles that of Mars. Because of the uniquely intense conditions, NASA uses this “polar desert” to train for manned missions to the red planet. Though there is a research station that’s run by the Arctic Institute of North America, no one lives here permanently. In fact, the conditions are so inhospitable that only a small number of birds and mammals can survive, as well as extremophiles - organisms that thrive in extreme environments.
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