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Bouvet-pos.png
Population 0
Time zone UTC±00:00, Europe/London

Bouvet Island is an uninhabited 58.5 km² volcanic, mostly inaccessible, island in the Southern Ocean, south-southwest of the Cape Town. It is thought to be the most remote island in the world. The nearest land is Queen Maud Land, Antarctica, which is over 1,750 km (1,090 mi) away to the south. It is a dependency of Norway.

Understand[edit]

Bouvet Island-CIA WFB Map.png

This uninhabited volcanic island was discovered in 1739 by a French naval officer after whom the island was named. No claim was made until 1825 when the British flag was raised. In 1928, the UK waived its claim in favor of Norway, which had occupied the island the previous year. In 1971, Bouvet Island and the adjacent territorial waters were designated a nature reserve. Since 1977, Norway has run an automated meteorological station on the island.

It's not too hard to get a lot of search-engine-hits for airports, hotels, rental cars, or even airport limousines at Bouvet Island, even though there have never been, and likely never will be, such things.

Landscape[edit]

It is a small (58.5 km²) volcanic island that rises sharply from the ocean, with cliffs up to 500 m high. Almost all of the island is covered by a thick glacier. The highest point is Olav Peak at 780 m.

Get in[edit]

Map of Bouvet Island

In theory you need permission to visit from the Norwegian Polar Institute. In practice they don't ask for this because they know it's next-to-impossible, and any expedition must involve other activities (such as helicopters) that do require permits. Frankly it might be easier to join the Royal Norwegian Navy Marinejegerkommandoen, distinguish yourself in training, and persuade them to land and camp on the island as a team-building exercise.

The island is 2600 km southwest of South Africa, far from cruise ship routes. It's walled by cliffs, with nothing resembling a harbour, though an expedition ship could anchor to leeward. Then you could approach in a Zodiac or similar small craft and attempt to scale the cliffs to, umm, where? Likewise there is no landing strip, but it's possible for helicopters to set down, though there's often fog and a howling wind. Those who've visited and lived to tell the tale have mostly got in and out this way.

You may be able to join an expedition if you have special polar skills. One surprising example was DXpedition, when amateur radio enthusiasts set up a radio station to communicate with people around the world. Read up on current topics and projects, and also the 2016 / 17 polar policy paper adopted by the Norwegian parliament. For example, they might be interested in micro-plastics and similar pollutants in a place so far from anywhere.

Get around[edit]

Cape Valdivia

The interior of the island is virtually inaccessible except for one area which is off-limits. 93% is covered by glacier, riven by crevasses that are not charted. So you need the skills and technique to cross such terrain and it might be simpler to call on the helicopter that brought you in to shift you. The small ice-free area is called Nyrøysa and is a special area of study. You may not enter Nov-March except in an approved monitoring party; April-Oct you're at liberty to perish there from the cold.

See[edit]

  • 1 Olavtoppen or Olav Peak is the island's summit at 780 m / 2560 ft. It was first climbed in 2012. To its west stretches Wilhelmplatået, the Wilhelm Plateau. South is a volcanic caldera, with signs of lava flows towards the southeast coast.
  • 2 Kapp Valdivia is the island's northern tip, named for the survey vessel that charted the place in 1898 - until then the island had wandered around the map. Good to know: it's only 12,460 km from here to Norway.
  • 3 Kapp Circoncision was sighted by the French on 1 Jan 1739, the "Feast of Circumcision". The 1928 / 29 Norwegian expedition camped here but to date no tahara, briss or similar rite has been conducted on the island (bits dropping off with cold don't count). Morgenstiernkysten is the coast between here and Valdivia.
  • 4 Nyrøysa is the ice-free area just south of Kapp Circoncision where entry is restricted, which is bad luck as it's the most accessible section of coast. A landslide from the cliffs circa 1956 has created a terrace, and an automated weather station stands here.
  • 5 Kapp Norvegia was charted in 1898. Inland are Lykketoppen (766 m) and double-peaked Mosbytoppane (670 m). The bleak skerries of Bennskjæra lie 500 m offshore.
  • 6 Larsøya is Bouvet's only significant islet, some 400 m long. The first landing was in 1927.
  • 7 Kapp Fie is Bouvet's southeast corner.
  • 8 Kapp Lollo is the northeastern tip. Between here and Kapp Fie, known as Kapp Meteor, is a lava outflow from the caldera.
  • 9 Store Kari are skerries east of Kapp Valdivia, every bit as far away from Norway.

Do[edit]

  • As with any hazardous environment, your prime task is always to come home safe.

Buy[edit]

  • Nothing here, so bring everything you need and some to spare in case you get stuck. And take everything including trash away with you.

Sleep[edit]

  • No accommodation, not even a sheltered spot, sleep on your ship if you can. Otherwise it's heavy-duty polar-grade camping, with the capability to melt ice for water.

Connect[edit]

  • Last thing you might expect, but Bouvet has its own internet top-level domain .bv - but Norway, which administers this domain, has decided that it will remain unused. So you're back where you started. You'll need a radio link to your support ship, which will have a satellite phone facility.

Go next[edit]

  • Home safe preferably, but wherever your expedition ship is going next. Its next port of call might be Capetown in South Africa, and reaching the other Subantarctic Islands or Antarctica proper would involve an intercontinental flight and further long cold sea crossing.


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