Blog Connections

No Road Access

Sometimes I get slightly panicky when I think of the complexity of reaching the WHS that I still have to ‘tick’. What if my health lets me down and I physically cannot make it to them because you have to walk in on foot? To get an overview of where those challenges exist, we have the connection No Road Access. This is a list of WHS where the core zone cannot be reached by road (either paved or unpaved). It of course excludes island-only sites.

First steps on the road to Sagarmatha NP

My experience with hiking into 3 of them

12 sites are currently in this connection, of which I (properly) have visited 3. Personally I do like hiking and 2 of these 3 are among my best WHS visits ever. It’s unfortunate however that they involved quite some climbing while I am only able to train on flat lands in the Netherlands!

Day hikes got me into Madriu (Andorra) and Rwenzori (Uganda). The first is a relatively easy walk of 45 minutes. Rwenzori takes more stamina, especially the first ridge almost killed me. Far more elaborate is the way into Sagarmatha NP (Nepal), although I did not find the hike itself that demanding. The path is in good condition and there are a lot of amenities along it.

Having arrived within the Madriu core zone

Ways to get to the other 9

I need to rely on the reviews from others and the AB evaluations to get insight in the hardship of the other 9. Walk-in only, like the 3 above, are:

  • Chiribiquete National Park: the core zone is fully off limits to tourists and there are no roads either; I guess the scientists have to walk in (there were illegal airstrips on some tepuis during the heydays of the illegal drugs production though).
  • Darien National Park: Jarek has described the process really well: “That part can be done only on foot. The track is well marked but during rainy season it can be difficult to walk (huge mud and occasional streams). Although it is around 3 km it took around 1,5 hours to reached Park border (there are signposts) and around 2 hours to get to Rancho Frio which is located inside Darien National Park.”              

Only by boat can be reached:

  • Central Amazon Conservation Complex: 3 hours in a boat are necessary to reach the park entrance of Jau. The 2nd location, Anavilhanas, is closer but also boat only.
  • Lena Pillars: from the review by Martina, who visited with a boat tour: “Overall it takes four hours to reach the small stretch of the vast national park that is actually open to tourists.”
  • Los Katios National Park: by boat via the Atrato river.   
  • Nahanni National Park: mainly by float plane or canoe/kayak (although hiking is also possible)
  • Pantanal: the core zone is only accessible by boat.        

On the way to the gate of Rwenzori NP

The final 2 are special cases. The only reviewer of Putorana Plateau so far did visit by helicopter. IUCN says: “The nominated property is only readily accessible by helicopter from an airport near to Norilsk, located about 200 km north-west from its western border, or by boat along the lakes, but navigation on the only water course (Norilka River) leading to the Lama Lake is difficult.”            

And finally we have Lorentz National Park. It includes ”small settlements of indigenous peoples several of which are serviced by missionary airstrips. These small settlements (some 50 in all) are accessible by foot-trails”. However, there is mining closeby. And the AB evaluation states “Only one road enters the park and that is on the north-east edge to Lake Habbema.” So it is accessible by road after all – I will scrap it from the connection list.              .

Do you know of additional WHS that have No Road Access?

Els - 28 February 2021

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Els Slots 1 March 2021

Bloodvein lies clearly in the core zone, and it can be accessed by road since 2017 - so I guess it doesn't count for the connection.

Can Sarica 1 March 2021

Pimachiowin aki, a WHS as big as Albania, may be considered in this regard. You can only go to a village on the edge (Bloodvein) by car but rest is canoe/kayak, hiking or plane only.

Jarek Pokrzywnicki 28 February 2021

And Great Himalayan National Park accessible by path on foot (at least I did so while entering core zone). Maybe local authorities will build some kind of road from Gushaini (there were some efforts to do so but probably only as far as the nearest village)

Jarek Pokrzywnicki 28 February 2021

Rio Platano in Honduras has only access by boat or plane. According to the LP guidebook there are flights to Palacios (just outside the park) or Brus Laguna (inside the park), although I am not sure about its frequency. More combined access by land (bumpy road) ends at Batalla. There are boats to different destinations inside core zone of Rio Platano

Els Slots 28 February 2021

Tsingy does have road access, of the Lorentz (sad) kind: "Finally, an oil exploration road was
built 30 km. into the Reserve in 1984 and this is now used as a regular route for foot travel and cattle transport through the Reserve. "

Michael Ayers 28 February 2021

I think we should probably also be able to add Tsingy De Bemaraha National Park in Madagascar. I have not actually been there (yet) but i I am fairly sure that "roads" will only take one close to the park boundary, and to get to any of the interesting places in the core zone will require a good deal of hiking. And based on previous experience with Malagasy roads, those that lead to the Park are probably closer to footpaths than standard dirt roads.

Also, with respect to Rwenzori, it may depend on how strict we want to be about Core Zone access. The second park entrance is right at the end of the Mubuku Road. From there, everything is by foot, but the trails are relatively easy, at least at the start.

Els Slots 28 February 2021

I've added Rio Abiseo and Puerto Princessa, as access to both is by boat only (or a horrendous hike).

Michael Ayers 28 February 2021

Regarding Lorentz, it is my understanding that the Indonesian government has begun its "Trans-Papuan Highway" project in recent years, which is actually a series of longer roads around western New Guinea. From what I have read recently, there may already be a new road connecting the Lake Habbema area in the highlands with a river port town near the south coast of the island. It may be the case that part of this road passes through the Park itself, though I am not really sure about that. If it does it is probably bad news for Lorentz, since usually wherever roads go, destruction soon follows. And this may be another reason to remove this Site from the Connection.

Els Slots 28 February 2021

Regarding Mt. Athos I see a road at the northern shoreline. I've seen it written also that you can get as far as the border post (which you could pass I guess if you're a monk responsible for bringing supplies).

Els Slots 28 February 2021

Noel Kempff has a road too (only 4WD and in dry season): "From La Florida there is a track which runs 35 kilometers into the park where you will find the camping grounds of Los Fierros"

Els Slots 28 February 2021

I was also thinking about Manu (I entered by boat), but the official map clearly shows a road entering the tip of the NP. Will check the other Amazon sites too.

Liam Hetherington 28 February 2021

Mount Athos? It's hard to distinguish on Google Maps satellite view but while there are some tracks that cross the border I think these are trails rather than roads. Not that we would be allowed to use them. Access is via boat (and possession of a Y chromosome) only.

Zoë Sheng 28 February 2021

Rock Paintings of the Sierra de San Francisco
only by mule/donkey, yay!!

Also potentially Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River although I don't know if the core zone is large enough to include roads. To get to the river cruise one has to get on a boat for the last stretch and then wait AGAIN for the river ride.

I also wouldn't call access to East Rennell a "road" but alright it can be reached by car lol

Nan 28 February 2021

Wouldn't more places in the amazon count? At least if you restrict it to the core zone access? Manu, Rio Abesio, Noel Kempff?