Adventure

10 Places To Go If You Want To Feel Small

Need some space?

People often speak quite philosophically on travel. It was Rumi who once advised that “what you seek is seeking you” and it was Alexander Supertramp who said “only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go”. Travel can be inspiring and it can be humbling and it can make you feel quite small  – both metaphorically and literally.

If you’re more into the latter and are looking to be a dot on a vast horizon, or you’ve just told your long-term partner that you “need some space”, here are the most epic of epic places to help you find those moments of immensity.

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Patagonia, Chile & Argentina

Welcome to South America’s wild frontier, a wonderland of staggering scale that straddles Chile and Argentina. If you’re wanting to get lost in a paradise of pristine rivers, towering peaks and glacial umm… glaciers, then Bruce Chatwin territory is your best bet. The Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile or the tiny town of El Chaltén in Argentina are great places to start, both offering epic multi- or single-day hikes. It’s just you and the guanacos now, amigo.

Photo: author’s own

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Kings Canyon, Australia

Australia is a big place. We know that. We’ve all seen those maps where they fit all the European countries into Oz like a geographic puzzle. But sometimes it’s genuinely hard to comprehend the breadth of this fine country. Until you go north to Kings Canyon, where you feel like a termite climbing the world’s biggest mound. See those tiny dots in the photo? They’re people. The canyon is found almost a five hour drive north-east of Uluru, and the hike around the upper rim will take you between three to four hours.

Photo: author’s own

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Preikestolen, Norway

Light Fjord (aka Lysefjorden) is a 42 kilometre valley made of granite and water, which is an amazing sight unto itself. But then you get to Pulpit Rock, your stomach is guaranteed to drop. The overhang rests 600 metres above the fjord and provides selfie aficionados with the best views of the valley. Just don’t drop your phone, or it’s going straight to Valhalla.

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Rub’ al-Khali (Empty Quarter), various countries

The Empty Quarter is the largest contiguous sand desert in the world. Yep. This fella spreads out over 650,000 square kilometres, so that means it’s Arabian nights and desert for daaaayyyyyyssss. It covers parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen and is a part of the much larger Arabian Desert. Expect huge sand dunes, brackish salt flats, and not much else.

Photo: IrenicRhonda/Flickr

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Alaska, USA

Some things that come to mind when I think of Alaska: bears, salmon and Emile Hirsche. That’s right, we’ve hit Into the Wild terrain now. Alaska’s vastness is at once incredibly beautiful and incredibly terrifying. It’s a place of extremes – the dark freeze of winter followed by the warm midnight sun. Be happy with simply wandering the Stampede Trail or standing in the shadow of Denali; just don’t expect to tame the beast.

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Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China

If there was ever a place to make you feel small, insignificant and full of wonder, it’s on location for a James Cameron film. Cameron apparently found some great inspiration for Avatar’s Hallelujah Mountains amid the floating rocks of Zhangjiajie in the north-west of China’s Hunan province. Now you just need one of those dragon things to plug your hair into and you can really get lost.

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Mongolia

I now finally understand what Genghis Khan was all about. The Mongolian steppe is like no other. It’s so vast that it truly makes you feel like you’re the only person left on earth. If that’s the sensation you’re after, then fly into Ulaanbataar and drive in any direction. If it’s not, prepare to be very lonely.

Photo: author’s own

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Nepal

Home to mighty Everest, the world’s tallest peak, how could Nepal not get a look-in on a list dedicated to the world’s most epic and grand vistas? Whether you’re summiting, trekking or just sitting back and sipping on a chai, the Himalayas have the tendency to leave one entirely overwhelmed.

Photo: author’s own

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Antarctica

I’ve had a significant number of friends travel to Antarctica. And by significant, I mean more than five. They’ve all come home raving about the place, showing me photos of the penguins and the ‘bergs and their best Titanic impersonations. Which is cool. But what is cooler is the way in which they speak about the region. They say things like “it changed my whole perspective on life”, “you would never guess there is another world under the world”, and “holy moly, the place is huge”. It’s bucket list stuff.

Photo: Patrick O’Neill

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Redwood National and State Parks, USA

How about sidling up next to the world’s tallest trees to make you feel tiny? Take the man versus nature thing to great heights among a forest of towering Californian redwoods. Standing as high as 100 metres and living for up to 2000 years, you’ll find this magical spot in northern Cali, just a hop, skip and a jump over the border from Oregon.

Photo: Kirt Edblom/Flickr

(Lead image: Patrick O’Neill)

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