9 great places to be a recluse
If hell is other people, maybe you can find heaven where other people aren't.
These places, though not entirely devoid of human life, offer some of the world's most beautiful me-time fixes.
1. Rongbuk Monastery Guesthouse, Mt. Everest
Location: Tibet Autonomous Region, China
It's freezing, there's barely any oxygen and it has claimed more than 200 lives. But you don't actually need to hit Mt. Everest's summit to get away from it all.
Head for the North Face and you'll pass by Rongbuk Monastery. At an elevation of 5,100 meters (16,732 feet), it's an anxiety-settling 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) short of the death zone.
Opposite is the guesthouse, a basic, electricity-rationed, rustic little property where you can gaze upon Everest's face and experience all the internal contemplation it brings on without having to risk life and limb.
Rate: Less than US$10 per night. Information at windhoursetour.com.
Rongbuk Monastery, Everest Base Camp, Tsang, Tibet, China
2. Great White Lake, Mongolia
Location: Central Mongolia, between Tariat town and Terkhiin Tsaagan Nuur's eastern shore
Stay at: A ger camp
Book yourself in at a ger camp beside Central Mongolia’s Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur, or “Great White Lake,” in the lush Khangai Mountain region and you'll wonder why people ever felt the need to congregate in cities.
Located in the Khorgo-Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park, the area is pockmarked with volcanic rock. The lake itself was created by lava flow from an eruption thousands of years ago.
Even if there are others in your camp, go for a walk and within 20 minutes it'll just be you, a vast expanse of land and a few pesky flies.
Rates: Less than US$20 per night. Multi-day horseback tours and camps can be booked via onthegotours.com, or you can hike from camp to camp.
3. Kettuvallam houseboat, India
Location: State of Kerala, southern India
They look like giant wicker baskets, but the kettuvallam houseboats that ply the many channels and backwaters of the Indian state of Kerala are floating luxury hotel rooms.
The boats can accommodate up to six guests and while you can disembark if the need grabs you (finished your novel too quickly?), it's just as easy to remain on the water and let attentive crews cater to you for several days.
Rates: US$210 for 22 hours. Book via thehouseboatskerala.com.
4. Wilson Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Location: Off the coast of Gladstone, Australia
Stay in: A luxury tent
If only Robinson Crusoe had it so good. Just 12 guests are allowed on this five-acre island at any one time, so no need to run out at dawn to reserve the sun loungers.
Guests have access to a library and various resort-style amenities, such as toiletries, housekeeping service and food and drinks.
If you book in January, you may have to share the place with green and loggerhead turtles, which crawl onto shore to lay their eggs.
Rates: From US$680 per night for one of six permanent luxury tents. Book at wilsonisland.com.
Wilson Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Tel +61 3 9413 6284
5. Takaro Peace Resort, New Zealand
Location: South Island, New Zealand
Takaro Peace Resort is so out of the way that guests used to have to fly directly to this wellness spa and relaxation lodge. Thanks to a new private road, it's now even easier to ignore other people.
As well as holing yourself up in one of the resort's 10 luxury feng shui-designed chalets, you can go on glow-worm cruises and walks on the magnificent 2,000-acre private estate.
Rate: From US$190 (for standard chalet) per person per night. Book at takarolodge.com.
914 Takaro Road, Te Anau 9640, New Zealand. Tel +64 3 249 0161. firstname.lastname@example.org
6. International Dhamma Hermitage, Thailand
Location: Chaiya, Thailand
If you find it hard to find silence for 10 minutes during "normal" life, you might want to book a stay at International Dhamma Hermitage, a meditation resort attached to the Wat Suan Mokkh forest monastery 640 kilometers (about 400 miles) south of Bangkok.
Every month the resort hosts 10-day meditation retreats, during which participants take on vows of silence.
Turns out running your mouth is not an easy habit to break.
You get up early and fast between noon and dawn. Sitting on "luxury beds or seats" is a no-no.
Guests must register in person on the last day of the previous month.
Rate: US$66 for 10 days. For more info go to suannmokkh-idh.org.
International Dhamma Hermitage, 1.5 kilometers (about 1 mile) from Wat Suan Mokkh, Chaiya, Surat Thani, Thailand. Khun.Reinhard@gmail.com
7. Alert, Canada
Location: Nunavut, Canada
Stay in: An igloo. Or convince the local soldiers to let you hunker down with them.
Located just 817 kilometers (507 miles) from the North Pole, and more than 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) from the nearest city, Alert is the last stop for civilization in the northern hemisphere. In the 2006 census, its permanent population was five.
Alert is mainly home to military and meteorological personnel and installations. The only feasible way to get there is by hitching a ride the next time the Canadian military sends a plane.
There are no tourist facilities and you'll have to bring your own food. And sleeping bag. Then build your own igloo.
8. Kulala Wilderness Camp, Namibia
Location: Namib Desert, Namibia
If by becoming a recluse your intention is to feel small and insignificant, you need look no further than the Sossusvlei in the southern part of the Namib Desert. Sossusvlei roughly translates as "marsh of no return," and that pretty much tells the story of this remote spot.
It's a dead, dry, Dali-esque place, with the Deadvlei, a ghostly white clay pan area full of dead acacia trees, set against burning red sand dunes.
Book stays at the Kulala Wilderness Camp, within a private 37,000-hectare reserve, through safariadventurecompany.com.
Rate: From US$300 per adult per night.
350 kilometers (217 miles) from Windhoek, Namibia. Tel +27 11 257 5111. email@example.com
9. Loisaba Wilderness, Kenya
Location: Laikipia, Kenya
How do you make your African safari even more adventurous? Spend nights out with the animals.
In the Loisaba Wilderness, outdoor "star beds" expose you to the Kenyan elements (you do get a mosquito net). The unique beds, which jut out over the Ewaso Ng'iro River, are a joint venture between Loisaba and the local Laikipiak Maasai.
Traditional Samburu and Laikipiak Maasai warriors guide and look after you during your wilderness stay. Each bed-lodging can accommodate two to four people.
Rate: US$740-$1,190 per night through Loisaba WIlderness.
Loisaba Wilderness, Nanyuki, Kenya. Tel +254 (0)62 31072. firstname.lastname@example.org