The top 5 places to survive in the wilderness (or to build a retreat)

Wouldn't it be good to know where a perfect area is to build a camp to survive, or to prepare a retreat in advance? Here is my list of the best places.

from Martin Gebhardt | Survival | reading time 6 Min
Updated on 24 August 2023 41.235 views 97% found this guide helpful
The top 5 places to survive in the wilderness (or to build a retreat)

Martin Gebhardt

From Martin Gebhardt. Check out my “About me” page.

👉 The key facts from this guide

  • The Appalachian Mountains in North America offer a rich variety of species, many water sources, and a moderate climate, making them an ideal place to survive.
  • The Nephin Beg Range in Ireland is a remote mountainous area with a lot of untouched wildernesses, perfect for those seeking seclusion.
  • Alaska is known for its extensive forests, rivers, lakes, and wildlife, but the extreme weather can be a challenge.
  • The Russian Taiga is a harsh and unforgiving world, but it offers plenty of food sources and water.
  • The Valdivian Rainforest in southern Chile is a temperate rainforest with incredible biodiversity and less extreme temperatures than many northern forests.

I don't wish it upon you, but imagine having to leave your home.

Wouldn't it be good to know where a perfect area is to set up camp in order to survive, or to build a survival retreat in advance?

Whether it's only a few weeks or even months, you definitely want to choose a place that supports your survival needs in the wilderness.

To survive in the wilderness, the best place is a wooded area far from main roads. It should have plenty of running water, as well as edible plants and wood to make fire and build shelter. Additionally, the weather should not be too extreme.

Read on to learn more about these places that satisfy these criteria and have the properties to adequately support human life.

If you are looking for a first-class place to set up a survival retreat, this information is also relevant to you.

The density of trees

I can hardly imagine a desert or steppe being the perfect place for survival. Even our ancestors always settled where there was building material (wood) and water.

Places near water have always been popular
Places near water have always been popular

Take a look at most major cities in Germany. Almost all of them developed near a river.

Areas with a high density of trees have the greatest biodiversity, so you can find plants to eat. Furthermore, many wild animals live there that you can hunt.

But not only that, because with trees so much more is possible:

  • You get essential fire and building materials
  • They protect you from wind and weather
  • You can climb trees to escape an animal or get a better view
  • Trees provide food, such as fruits or bark
  • The inner bark of some tree species provides material for making rope

In fact, forests are a great place to survive because they offer multiple resources while also protecting you from the elements. Waterfalls and streams often flow through forests, providing you with a source of freshwater, as dehydration is one of the biggest threats to outdoor survival. Forests provide shade to avoid overheating or sunstroke.

Now let's take a look together at which specific areas on Earth would be ideal.

For this, I looked at the Global Forest Watch Map to find areas that are the most forested and remote.

Using the Global Forest Watch Map, you can see the forest density worldwide
Using the Global Forest Watch Map, you can see the forest density worldwide

On the map, you can see that Canada, Alaska, the northern part of South America, most of Russia, Ireland, the Pacific islands, and Central Africa have high tree cover.

The Top 5 Global Areas to Survive

I will now show you examples of areas that are perfect for retreating, building a permanent camp, surviving, or just getting away when S.H.T.F happens.

They all have one thing in common: abundant forests, no extreme climate, numerous rivers and lakes, various animals, and a wide variety of plants.

The Appalachians

The Appalachians are a forested mountain range in eastern North America.

The range is approximately 2,400 kilometers long, stretching from the Long Range Mountains on the west coast of the Canadian island of Newfoundland to the north of the U.S. state of Alabama.

The Appalachians are a forested mountain range in eastern North America.
The Appalachians are a forested mountain range in eastern North America.

In the Appalachians, there is an abundance of quartzite, a type of flint that is suitable for starting a fire. However, you still need the actual stone: pyrite or marcasite, which is highly iron-rich.

Additionally, with quartzite, you can create simple tools such as cutting for knives and axes.

In the Appalachians, there are many birch trees, whose dry bark is perfect kindling for starting a fire.

Unfortunately, most rivers and lakes in the Appalachians are not safe to drink directly from. Be sure to boil your water and try to filter it before drinking.

Since you are in a temperate climate, you will find plenty of edible insects such as beetles, termites, crickets, ants, and worms. Check out my guide if you're considering trying insects soon.

You'll also find a lot of edible plants, but be careful not to pick any poisonous ones, and familiarize yourself with the most common edible plants, trees, and roots beforehand.

You can envision the weather in the Appalachians just like in Germany, making it quite attractive for survival.

Summers are mild to hot, and nights can be cool. Winters feature a snowy landscape, but it's not nearly as cold and dark as in Canada.

Ireland's Nephin Beg Range

The Nephin Beg Range is located in the northern part of County Mayo, Ireland. It's a vast mountain range with a lot of untouched wilderness.

Nearby, there is also a national park, and some of Ireland's survival and bushcraft schools have settled in the mountains.

The Nephin Beg Range is a large mountain range in Ireland
The Nephin Beg Range is a large mountain range in Ireland

In order to avoid civilization, you have to venture further into the woods than the course participants and avoid the numerous hiking trails.

For those who crave seclusion, these mountains are ideal - they are completely uninhabited and have no roads, so you will be isolated.

Additionally, the area is approximately 27,000 hectares and full of bogs, swamps, and pine and fir forests. Water sources and wildlife are abundant.

So it's perfect for setting up camp and settling in for the long term.


You've surely thought of Alaska, haven't you? Survival TV shows and documentaries are often filmed in Alaska or the participants are located there.

Alaska is a beautiful, wild state with extensive forests, rivers, lakes, national parks, and wildlife. It is very easy to withdraw there and live life as a hermit.

In Alaska you can live far away from civilization
In Alaska you can live far away from civilization

But don't make it too easy for yourself, as the extreme weather will challenge you. Especially people with no experience of the weather in Alaska are in great demand.

To adapt to extreme weather, you should learn how to build various types of shelters. This could include, for example, a Wilderness Survival Shelter or a snow cave.

In winter, it gets very cold in Alaska, especially in the northern part. Additionally, there is a lot of snowfall, which makes daily life much more difficult.

The advantage of Alaska is the many sources of food available, including numerous fish such as salmon, which you can catch with your bare hands as they swim to their spawning grounds.

You can also find plant-based food in abundance in Alaska, as well as wild fruits like berries.

However, the abundance of fish and berries also makes Alaska a perfect environment for bears, which can be dangerous.

Therefore, it's better to make sure you know how to deal with bears and wolves, or simply avoid them altogether.

Russia's Taiga

Endless forests, no civilization, pure wilderness: these are the remote corners of Russia. But please don't get too romantic, as I mainly mean the Taiga.

Russia's Taiga is vast and harsh
Russia's Taiga is vast and harsh

The Russian Taiga is a harsh and unforgiving world. An unprepared tourist who gets lost in the deep northern forests has a relatively low chance of survival. It's even more difficult in winter.

The best times to find food in the Taiga are during summer and autumn. The forests are full of wild fruits, herbs, and ferns. Always remember the golden rule in the forest - only eat what you know.

Winter is a different story. The best option is to catch small animals with self-made traps or try fishing.

There is no problem with water in the Taiga. It is full of rivers, lakes, springs, and streams. You can follow the tracks of wild animals - they will lead you to water.

The Taiga is full of wild animals, but only a few of them pose a serious threat to humans: bears, wolves, and wild boars. Avoid contact with them at all costs.

In the summer, you should start building your camp and make it truly winter-proof. The winters are harsh and without the necessary reserves, it will be dangerous until the end of winter.

I highly recommend a very interesting video by Ray Mears where he lives for a few days with the locals in Siberia.

Valdivian Rainforest

The Valdivian Rainforest is a temperate rainforest located in southern Chile. It is the third largest forest in the world and the only temperate rainforest in South America.

It is an evergreen and cold temperate ecosystem. 60% of the plants are native and it is the only rainforest with glaciers.

The Valdivian Rainforest is the only rainforest in the world with a temperate climate
The Valdivian Rainforest is the only rainforest in the world with a temperate climate

The great thing about a temperate rainforest is that it is ideal for wilderness survival and does not have the same animal or poison risks as tropical rainforests.

However, heavy rainfall may disturb you there, but you can handle it because it is not generally very cold. You will probably only need fire for cooking or to keep wild animals away.

The incredible biodiversity of the rainforest allows you to find many sources of food and medicinal plants.

Overall, this forest is ideal for someone who wants to survive in a humid, beautiful area with less extreme temperatures than many northern forests.

Also read

The Ultimate Survival List: These 7 things you need on a deserted island - Discover the 7 essential equipment items for a deserted island. With our ultimate survival list and tips, you are well equipped.


If you want to survive in the wilderness, you should choose areas based on these criteria:

  • temperate climate
  • high forest density
  • many water sources
  • edible wild plants
  • high animal diversity

North American forests are therefore ideal for survival. You will also find fewer poisonous animals and plants there than in more tropical areas.

My first survival rule is: Never take a risk, so I also recommend temperate zones in a survival situation.

Overall, I believe that North American areas such as Alaska and the Appalachian Mountains have the best conditions for wilderness survival. However, there are certainly other areas on earth with ideal places.

Since I live in Germany, I would head to Ireland or Russia - even though Alaska would be my first choice. But getting to Alaska in an emergency situation seems highly unlikely to me.

Which area would you choose?

Take care, Martin
Martin Gebhardt

Author of the guide

Martin Gebhardt

Hey, I'm Martin. On my blog, you will learn the basics and numerous details about living in the wild. I think survival, bushcraft and the good life in nature are the keys to happiness. Find me here on Instagram or on YouTube. You can find more about my mission on the About Me page.

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