The Steepest Peak on Earth: Mount Thor, Nunavut, Canada
At 1,675 metres tall, Mount Thor is not the world’s highest peak, but it is the steepest. The most famous summit in Canada and made of pure granite, Mount Thor has a 1,250 metre vertical drop, at an average angle of about 105 degrees. Despite the fact the mountain is in a remote area, it’s a popular destination for avid mountain climbers. If taking on the peak is too much for you to handle, you can also visit the site and camp out instead.
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The Coldest Inhabited Place on Earth: Oymyakon, Russia
As the coldest inhabited place on earth (with a recorded temperature of -71.2 degrees C in 1924), the small Russian town of Oymyakon, with a population of 500, was once only used as a location for political exiles. Winter temperatures average at about -50 degrees C, which has a serious effect on body function. The ground is permanently frozen all year long and the town currently has only one hotel. Popular sports include skiing, ice hockey and ice fishing.
The Driest Place on Earth: Atacama Desert, Chile
You’ll definitely need the right kind of sunscreen if you plan on travelling through this desert. According to both NASA and National Geographic, the Atacama Desert in Chile has soil comparable to that of Mars. (Fun fact: Mars scenes from the television series Space Odyssey: Voyage To The Planets were filmed here.) From October 1903 to January 1918, the Atacama Desert did not see so much as one drop of rain, making it the longest rainless period in the world’s recorded history. Sparsely populated, the Atacama Desert has several hotels to choose from that cater to tourists who come to explore the land.
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The Closest Place to Outer Space: Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador
Most humans will never visit outer space, so our best option is going to Mount Chimborazo. An inactive volcano that last erupted in approximately 550 AD, Mount Chimborazo stands at over 6,000 metres high. While Mount Everest is over 8,000 metres tall, due to the position of the mountain on the earth’s surface the peak of Mount Chimborazo is the furthest spot from the centre of the earth. That also means that standing on it will put you closest to outer space than man can ever reach on foot. Its peak is completely covered by glaciers, but this mountain has several routes for climbers.
The Hottest Place on Earth: Lut Desert, Iran
Here, temperatures soar as high as 70 degrees C, so it’s important to have a game plan for staying cool and know the signs of heat stroke in case you develop symptoms. According to a local legend, the name Dasht-e Lut means “toasted wheat” in Persian, referencing a story about a load of wheat that burst info flames after being accidentally left out in the desert for a few days. Though tourists visit this desert land, it’s a destination only for those willing to take on the challenge of surviving the heat and the unbearably dry climate.
The Most Isolated Place on Earth: Tristan da Cunha, United Kingdom
Looking for a getaway from the everyday? Forget these popular island getaways; this is about as far away from it as you can get. Though formally part of the British Overseas Territory, Tristan da Cunha is over 2,816 kilometres away from the nearest land in Africa. Discovered by Portuguese explorer Tristão da Cunha in 1506, the island is home to fewer than 300 inhabitants and has no airport; Tristan da Cunha is accessible only by sea.
The Coldest Continent on Earth: Antarctica
With a population estimated at somewhere between 1,000 and 4,000 people, the world’s fifth largest continent is a land of extremes, the coldest and driest continent on the planet. Travellers can only reach it by ice-strengthened vessels made for toughing the rough seas. Though known for its breathtaking scenery, visitors who trek through the wilderness must be well-prepared or accompanied by a tour operator who knows the area well.
The Wettest Place on Earth: Mawsynram, India
This Indian town receives an average of 467 inches of rainfall every year. In 1985, the Guinness Book of World Records dubbed it the Wettest Place on Earth after it saw 1,000 inches of rain in a single year. Plagued by a subtropical climate and monsoons, Mawsynram is both a difficult place to live and an interesting trip for tourists.
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The Tallest Waterfall on Earth: Angel Falls, Venezuela
Although Angel Falls is located in an isolated jungle region and is not reached all that easily, it remains one of Venezuela’s top tourist attractions. The falls are approximately 979 metres high and includes a 807-metre plunge and a quarter of a kilometre of sloped cascades and rapids.
The Most Treacherous Waters on Earth: Gansbaai, South Africa
Since 1995, cage diving with Great White sharks has been a major tourist attraction in Gansbaai, South Africa. With one of the densest populations of these beasts in the world, Gansbaai is the top destination for an up-close view of the deadly creatures. If you want to play it safe and steer clear of the Great Whites, whale watching is also common in Gansbaai, from the sandy white shores of Pearly Beach.
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Originally published as The Top 10 Most Extreme Travel Adventures in the World on ReadersDigest.com.