Visiting the Desolation Islands

by Benjamin Kerns

May 13, 2019

ID 38763983 © Subduke | Dreamstime.com

Trends / Unique Itineraries & Tours

The Kerguelen Islands, commonly known as the Desolation Islands, are located 2,051 miles from the closest civilization in the southern Indian Ocean. A vast windy and barren landscape gives it an appearance of hell on Earth.


The island group is part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands and is roughly the size of Delaware. Though there is no local habitation to speak of, the main island is routinely populated by between 40 and 110 scientists. It is covered by massive, active glaciers and stretches nearly 100 miles long. It’s also a volcanic hotbed with a height reaching 6,445 feet at the tallest peak.


The harsh climate and lack of wildlife doesn’t lend itself well to visitors, but those daring enough to make the trek are able to. The only way to reach the Desolation Islands is by boat. The islands are a French territory, and the only ship that travels there is the Marion Dufresne. The Dufresne is a research boat that brings supplies and transports crew to the islands four times a year. Tourists are able to book a cabin on the ship at the paltry price of roughly $18,000. The boat makes pit stops along many of the islands of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, many more attractive than Kerguelen.



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