Explorer's Guide to
(2nd edition)

by David T. Page

"Open to any page and you'll find a great story, along with details that will inspire travel—and more reading." —Westways 

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Explorer's Guide Yosemite & the Southern Sierra Nevada - David T. Page
Notes Index


  Death Valley's Secret Stash (Men's Journal)

  Really Old Masters
(NY Times)

The World's Most Traveled Man?

(Men's Journal)

Skiing CA's 14ers

(Eastside Magazine)

Wild Ice

(NY Times)

Rituals: The Last Run

(NY Times)


« Who Is the World's Most Traveled Man? | Main | Where to See the Perseids in CA? Why, Out Back of Course. »

Hardest Place to Get to on the Planet?

Photo: André Brigiroux.SOMEWHERE BETWEEN 189 AND 217 nautical miles* off the coast of Yemen (depending on your source of information), and some 130 off the coast of Somalia, like a tiny, glittering tongue-stud in the gaping maw of the Gulf of Aden, lies the legendary island of Socotra (Suquṭra), ancient source of ambergris, dragon's blood, frankincense and myrrh. Its name derives either from the Sanskrit for "Isle of Bliss (or Tranquility)" or from an Arabic mash-up meaning "Market of Dripping Frankincense." Thomas the Apostle made it here, and Marco Polo, and Sinbad the Sailor (though he encountered some big angry birds and lost his ship). "It is one of those unique places in the world," says Spanish toptrotter Jorge Sanchez, founder of the well-respected Travelers Exploits Club, writing from Severobaikals, Buriatia, waiting for a train to Tinda.

And it has a long and distinguished history of being very hard to get to.

For the whole story, check out Matador.com.

*This number being important not merely for purposes of dead reckoning but also for determining eligibility for inclusion in the list of destinations officially endorsed by the Travelers Century Club (TCC). According to TCC Treasurer Pamela Barrus: "Socotra wasn't included because it's not quite 200 nautical miles from Yemen, the country it belongs to. A couple of websites say 380 and 400 kilometers, which would qualify it. However, the most common cited distance and the one socotraisland.org has is 350 kilometers, which comes out to about 189 nautical miles. If the distance is under 200 miles, in order to qualify according to the TCC bylaws, there must be a population of 100,000. Socotra's is about 50,000. If someone comes up with an accurate distance that puts it over, I'd vote to put it on the list in a heartbeat." Jorge Sanchez argues that there should perhaps be a loophole in the case of Socotra, as it is geographically closer to Africa than to Yemen, and happens also to be claimed by Somalia. "The Board has been over and over this," says Kevin Hughes, ex-President of the TCC. "It falls a few miles short, per the guidelines. Still, I intend to visit some day... inshallah."

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Reader Comments (1)

The hardest place to get to is Howland Island. Your GPS better be right on the money and go out at dawn otherwise you'll miss it.
04.25.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve R

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