Impossible destinations: Amelia Earhart’s final destination – Lonely Planet blog

It’s interesting that Amelia Earhart’s final destination – or intended one – is virtually impossible to visit seven decades later. In 1937, the aviator was bound for Howland Island on the second-to-last leg of her landmark global flight. She never made it.

Today Howland Island is an uninhabited, bean-shaped, flat, arid 648-acre island midway between Hawaii and Samoa. Run by the US Wildlife Refuge System, Howland Island is only visited every other year by a few scientists who go to count sea birds, check on vegetation and move on after two days. You have to be qualified, and very lucky, to ever get the chance.

Honolulu-based Beth Flint, Supervisory Wildlife Biologist for the US Wildlife Refuge System, has been seven times. She says it has a remarkable feeling to visit. ‘I’ve never felt so far from the rest of humanity. It’s nice to think there’s still places that are this wild,’ she said by phone. ‘And it IS really wild.’

howland Impossible destinations: Amelia Earhart’s final destination – Lonely Planet blogA hermit crab, one of the few residents of Howland Island. Photo by US Fish and Wildlife Service

The only way to reach it is by boat from Honolulu, an eight-day trip one way. Once on the island, scientists can only use unused gear, including clothing, that’s frozen on the way to ensure no bacteria is introduced to the fragile ecosystem. The next trip is planned for February 2012.

It’s amazing what she tried to accomplish during her time.

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