Article written by Chris Brown, an inveterate explorer and adventurer from the United Kingdom. You can keep track of his progress on his blog, Poles of Inaccessibility.
I'm an explorer at heart. I would have loved to have lived years ago when countries were being discovered or years in the future when we might be exploring planets. For now, I make do with the corners of the Earth that may not have been visited by many people: The Seven Poles of Inaccessibility.
A Pole of Inaccessibility is the location in a geographical area that is the furthest away from all its borders. The borders could be physical, such as the sea, or political, such as a state boundary. There is one pole on each of the five largest land masses on Earth (North America, South America, Africa, Eurasia and Australia) and the two frozen poles (Northern and Southern).
I'm aiming to be the first person to visit all seven.
I reached the North American Pole of Inaccessibility on land belonging to the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota first. Reaching the Antarctic Pole of Inaccessibility was thwarted by a series of mechanical faults and four enormous Antarctic hurricanes. In November, an expedition to the African Pole of Inaccessibility was successful - but I had some help.
This pole was located not only in the hardest part of the continent to reach but close to one of Africa's more politically contentious border intersections: the tripoint meeting of the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan. I would describe the entire region as unstable. Travel in and around CAR is dangerous, and several ex-military contacts from the U.K. and South Africa declined to assist with the expedition.
I dropped an email to my travel protection membership, Global Rescue, and received a reply within hours: "Call me." That I did and explained briefly I wanted to get to a specific location near a small town in CAR called Obo. It turned out the guy I'd reached at Global Rescue had actually "worked" in Obo and had experience with the Lord's Resistance Army.
"In CAR and many other African countries, the situation can go sideways in an instant," said Harding Bush, manager of operations at Global Rescue.
It's a highly individualized project I've set for myself, and I only know of two other people who are trying to visit all of the poles. If anyone is daft enough, I'd strongly suggest they work with experts like Global Rescue who have hands-on experience in the exact region.
Global Rescue looked at the trip from all aspects: aviation assets, country clearances, COVID restrictions, terrain and weather analysis, and logistical analysis. It's not an easy task to plan a trip to an area with a host of risks from terrain (a triple-canopy rainforest) to temperature (38 Celsius/100 Fahrenheit with high humidity) to transmission (Zika virus, Dengue Fever, Ebola and COVID-19) to target (unmarked and more than 1,100 miles from the nearest coast). With medical and security teams staffed and led by experienced special operations veterans, Global Rescue developed a five-phase plan with a timeline, key actions and contingency plans for each phase.
The result? Outside of one flight being rescheduled, the expedition went according to plan. My team pinned down the exact point (5°39.0'N, 26°10.2'E) and took photographs and an earth sample. This journey to the African Pole of Inaccessibility would simply not have been possible without the help of Global Rescue. Their planning and attention to safety were immaculate.
My quest will continue in 2022. I did cancel an attempt at the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility this spring because of the war between Russia and Ukraine, but I filled my time with a trip to the Point of Inaccessibility in Iceland.
Is my quest suitable for the average traveler?
With proper planning, risk mitigation and experienced personnel leading the expedition, the average traveler would have a great experience. So why don't you visit a Pole of Inaccessibility with Global Rescue? It's far more interesting than just visiting the usual attractions.
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