9 Places You’ll Never See
Despite living in an era where people can fly from continent to continent in a matter of hours, some parts of the world still remain out of reach to you and me. Places only a select few people are ever allowed to see, from secret underground tunnel networks to an exclusive members club.
Here are are some of the most elusive.
North Sentinel Island
This tiny island in the Bay of Bengal offers a fascinating glimpse into pre-history, as it’s home to one of the last remaining indigenous civilisations unconnected to the outside world. The Sentinelese people are hunter gatherers with a population believed to be in the low hundreds, and recent attempts to make contact with the islanders have been met with a flurry of arrows and rocks. In 2006 two fishermen unfortunate enough to wash up on their shores were killed. Unsurprisingly, Google are yet to send a street view van.
Image by James Allen at NASA
Not just a clever name, Brazil’s Snake Island is home to 4,000 Golden Lancehead Vipers- the world’s deadliest snake. As such, the government prohibits human access to Ilha da Queimada Grande for all but a few scientists. That hasn’t stopped plucky daredevils from attempting to explore the island, but be prepared, the venom from the snake can melt human flesh almost instantly. You’ll probably need to take more than a tub of Sudocrem.
Image by Prefeitura Municipal de Itanhaém
The only chance you’ll have of seeing inside Area 51 is by crash landing in a UFO. The source of endless sci-fi plots and conspiracy theories, this barren space in Nevada reserved for testing experimental craft and weaponry is so secretive it’s barely acknowledged by the US government. Everything from studies on extraterrestrials to the development of time travel has been said to take place within its confines, the official silence doing little to quell rumours.
Ise Grand Shrine
Japan’s most exclusive building can be found within the Ise Grand Shrine complex, a collection of Shinto shrines in southern Honshu. Due to its beautiful architecture and lush forestry the city of Ise is a popular tourist destination, but the great Naiku shrine, which is dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu and contains the legendary Sacred Mirror, is closed to all except Japan’s imperial family. The general public can only spy the rooftop from behind wooden walls, and photography is strictly prohibited. In keeping with Shinto tradition, the Naiku shrine is disassembled and rebuilt every 20 years.
Image by N Yotarou
Uzbekistan / Kazakhstan
A desolate peninsula in Uzbekistan once known as Anthrax Island is hardly going to be fighting off tourists, but potential visitors will be put off even further once they learn that Vozrozhdeniya, or ‘Rebirth Island’ was once the Soviet Union’s chief testing ground for biological weaponry. Everything from anthrax to the bubonic plague was cooked up and stored for use in conflict, and in 1971 an outbreak of smallpox killed three of the island’s residents. The area was abandoned after the fall of the USSR and the main city remains in ruins, although fears that local rodents have come into contact with the deadly germs, accelerated by the fact that the island is now connected to the mainland due to shrinking sea levels, mean only the most extreme explorers go anywhere near this one.
Image by NASA
Like something out of a James Bond film, there reportedly exists a secret underground system running parallel to Moscow’s Metro, built during Stalin’s Cold War reign. D-6, as it was named by the KGB, is said to connect several key government buildings, with some reports claiming the network spreads as far as the suburbs, in case leaders need to be ferried away from the centre of a nuclear attack. To this day the Russian government neither confirms nor denies its existence.
In 1940, a group of teenagers from France stumbled upon a cave full of curious drawings on the walls. Little did they know, their discovery would become one of the most celebrated examples of Paleolithic cave paintings ever recorded. News quickly spread and in 1948 the Lascaux Caves were opened to the public. Carbon dioxide and heat from the visitors would significantly damage the 17,300 year old drawings however, and in 1963 this stunning doorway into prehistory closed again, with only a handful of scientists ever allowed back in.
Image by Delluc
RAF Menwith Hill
North Yorkshire, UK
If Big Brother really is watching us, he’s probably doing it from somewhere like this. RAF Menwith Hill is a collection of gigantic structures with a somewhat more serious purpose than their golfball-like appearance suggests. The site, located off the A59 Skipton Road, is said to be an important overseas hub for the USA’s controversial National Security Agency, a body whose interests include intelligence and surveillance. Despite being on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales and surrounded by natural beauty, this is not somewhere recommended for a Sunday stroll.
The world is full of private members clubs catering to the powerful and important behind closed doors, but none are more exclusive than White’s, located in a Grade I listed building in Mayfair, London. Current members include Prince William and Conrad Black, David Cameron’s dad is a former chairman, and it was here that Prince Charles held his stag party before marrying Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. Unless you happen to be a member of the aristocracy and also a man (White’s controversial male-only policy has only ever been suspended once, for a visit by The Queen in 1991) your chances of getting into the three century old club are slim to none.
Image by Paul Farmer