Strangest Places You Didn’t Know Existed
Science has discovered roughly 5,000 exoplanets that could potentially host life. Yet, it is Earth that triumphs all of them to be the most beautiful (and the only) planet known to support life. From rolling hills to treacherous mountain alps, the Earth beholds all sorts of fantastic sights that can make your imagination go wild. As beautiful as the earth it, it is equally commensurate in the number of bizarre places that will greatly stupefy you.
From the silence of outer space, this blue rock hurtling through space might seem nondescript. But little does one know of the many strange places that exist right on the surface. Without stifling your curiosity, here are 13 strange places on Earth you didn’t know existed:
- Pamukkale, Turkey
- Lencois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil
- Caño Cristales – The River Of 5 Colors, Colombia
- Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (US)
- Fly Geyser, Nevada (US)
- Blue Ijen volcano, Indonesia
- Shanay Timpishka Boiling River, Peru
- Glass Beach, California, USA
- Waitomo Glowworm Caves
- Ausangate Peru Rainbow Mountain, Peru
- The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
- Dead Vlei, Namibia
- Lake Natron, Tanzania
Literally translating to “Cotton Castle” in Turkish, Pamukkale is a spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site that’s houses a rare phenomenon: the azure travertine terraces in Pamukkale that appear as petrified waterfall lending a picturesque scene to the Turkish landscape.
Travertine (limestone) structures are found all around the world. But what’s special about Pamukkale is that it’s the only site in the world where you can get to bask in the beauty of the stunning azure travertine waters. Bathe like a Roman in the warm mineral-rich pools and wade through the antiquity of the ancient waters.
According to a source, you can gain entry to the Antique pools for 32TL (£7.50) from Nov-March 8am-5.30pm, and April-Oct 8am-7.30pm.
How to reach: The fastest way to get to Pamukkale is to fly to Denizli and take a cab to Pamukkale, which would cost you about USD 398 to USD 421. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to reach Pamukkale, then you can fly to Izmir Airport and take a train to Goncalı.
Pandemic restrictions: Currently, Turkey has low restrictions in place. However, you’d need to fill up
this Form for Entry prior to your travel. If you’re vaccinated against COVID-19, then you needn’t fulfill pre-departure testing requirements.
Lençois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil
This area is a testimony to nature’s beautifully intricate examples. Lençois Maranhenses National Park is a mix of sprawling expanse of sand and rainwater. However, what makes it special is the undulatory pattern of the sand dunes with the rainwater ponds between them.
The name of the park translates to “bedsheets” in Portuguese and is greatly reflective of the pattern the landscape adapts. You can either traverse these bright white sand dunes on foot or use a four-wheeler to scale the vastness of these spectacular dunes.
How to reach: The best way is to catch a flight to Sao Luiz. From there, it is a 5-hour journey that any hotel or hostel would be willing to arrange a transfer for. Buses ply from and to Lençois Maranhenses National Park around 7am every morning. You can approximate the entire one-way trip to cost you anywhere between USD 668 to USD 2,060.
Pandemic restrictions: Brazil is one of the few countries worldwide wherein entry is permitted only to vaccinated travelers (or non-vaccinated travelers with RT-PCR test). In order to enter Brazil, you will have to produce a valid international certificate for full vaccination against COVID-19. Take a look at the approved vaccines that can be taken before departure. If you aren’t vaccinated, you must provide proof of a negative RT-PCR antigen test one day prior the departure date.
Caño Cristales – The River Of 5 Colors, Columbia
Truly one of a kind in the world, the “River of Five Colors” is reverberating of an ethereal river that can only be heard in folklore. The river flows through the Serrania de la Macarena mountain range in what is described as the most biodiverse part of the world. The river gets its five colors — bright red, yellow, blue, green, and black — from the reproductive process of the aquatic plants thriving in the river.
During the wet seasons, i.e., from May to as far as December, this 62.1 mile-long river transforms into one of the most beautiful sights. It also is the only river in the world to exhibit this phenomenon. Tourists are allowed to swim in the designated spots in the river. Given to its otherworldly aspect, the river is a protected at all times and is regularly scrutinized for any signs of pollution from the outside world. Hence, it operates strictly between 7 AM to 4 PM.
How to reach: A flight from Dubai (DXB) to Neiva (NVA) would cost you anywhere between USD 600 to 2000. After alighting at Neiva, it’s a 6-hour drive to the location, costing you between USD 45 – 60. The best time to visit is after May. Owing to the fragility of the environment around the river, you can only visit it with a licensed tour operator and a permit. You can get more information here.
Pandemic restrictions: If you’re fully vaccinated, you aren’t required to undergo any pre-departure testing. However, you’re required to fill-in a Check-Mig form within 72 hours of your departure.
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (US)
One of the most ethereal sights not just in the world but in the entire solar system, the Grand Prismatic Spring located in the famed Yellowstone National Park is the largest and deepest geyser of its kind. But what’s alien-looking about it is the echelons of strikingly bright colors. The yellow, red, and orange coloration that encircles the hot spring pool is caused by thermophilic (heat-loving) bacteria. This geyser is truly is a sight to behold!
The best time to visit Yellowstone National Park is during April, September, and October. The park is profuse with wildlife that ranges from bears to migratory birds. If you’re a shutterbug, Yellowstone National Park should be on the top of your list!
How to reach: You can take a flight directly to Yellowstone National Park. The trip would cost you anywhere between USD 1,300 to USD 3,000.
Pandemic Restrictions: In order to enter the USA, you’re required to present your vaccination certificate. In addition to that, you will have to submit a “disclosure and attestation” form prior to your departure. Get more details here.
Fly Geyser, Nevada, USA
Located just two hours from Reno in the center of the desert lies the Fly Geyser, a three-mound, six-foot-tall brightly colored geyser spewing boiling water. Weirdly enough, it wasn’t a natural cause that formed this geyser, but human activity.
The first mound of geyser was formed when the residents in the neighbouring area drilled a well, only to abandon it because the water found was too hot for domestic use. This was further accentuated when a geothermal company drilled a test well. Like the Grand Prismatic Spring, the Fly Geyser is also covered with colonies of thermophilic bacteria, giving the bright iridescent colors on the mounds.
The geyser is also visible from the road, but to get an up-close view of it, you’d have to contact Fly Ranch.
How to reach: You can fly to San Francisco Airport, and from there, catch a bus to Black Rock City. A 30-min taxi ride and you’ll have reached Fly Geyser. The trip would cost you between an estimated USD 1,053 to 1,292.
Pandemic Restrictions: Since Nevada is another state of the United States, the same restrictions as that of Wyoming (as mentioned previously) apply.
Blue Ijen Volcano, Indonesia
If you’re touring the eastern part of the world, the Kawah Ijen volcano isn’t a sight to be missed, for it radiates all sorts of eldritch vibes! From being the world’s biggest acid lake to spewing hot-blue flames, the Blue Ijen Volcano is certainly a big contender on this list.
However, these bizarre elements are what make the volcano a beautiful teal-colored water. If you’re visiting the volcano during twilight, you’ll find some really great spots for photos.
The other fascinating sight is the Kawah Ijen blue fire, a roaring electric blue flame that borders temperatures of up to 600 degrees Celsius.
On weekends, you can access the Kawah Ijen volcano for a mere 10 USD per person. If you’re planning to see the blue fire, get yourself a gas mask without fail.
How to reach: Take a flight to Solo, and embark on the Solo Balapan train to Ketapang. From there, it’s a short ride by taxi to Kawah Ijen. This trip would cost you between USD 429 to USD 1,417.
Pandemic Restrictions: The restrictions to enter Indonesia are low. However, be sure to download the PeduliLindungi mobile app and keep your vaccination certificate handy. More details can be found here.
Shanay Timpishka Boiling River, Peru
Source:Liz Bianca Espinola Moya
The Shanay-Timpishka lies in the innards of the biggest forest in the world. At first impression, the boiling river might look like a stream flowing out of a geyser. But what if we told you that no volcanic activity in the area has been discovered so far?
The 4-mile long stream flows through the thickest parts of the Amazon forest and maintains a mind-numbing temperature of over 95 degrees — enough to kill anything living. It was later discovered that the massive underground network of geothermal springs is what boiled the river.
How to reach: If you’d like to see this otherworld sight and get a touch of adrenaline, then take a flight to Lima. After you alight, you’d have to take a bus to Neshuya, from which, a short taxi ride would get you to Shanay-Timpishka.
Pandemic Restrictions: Ensure that you take a booster dose of an internationally-accepted vaccine before you make your way to Peru. Additionally, you’ll also have to complete this Health Affidavit form. Find more details here.
Glass Beach, California (USA)
Glass Beach, like the name suggests, is a stretch of beach covered with shards of smooth glass. History has it that the soft glass shards are a result of the ocean waves smoothing out the glass bottles, windows, and mirrors that were disposed on the beach.
The best time to promenade the glass beach is during high tide or during a full moon, and during spring or fall. It’s a fun little place that you can put at the end of your list when touring the States.
How to reach: You can take a flight to Redding (RDD) and alight there for a 4-hour drive to Glass Beach. This would cost you anywhere between USD 600 to 2,422.
Pandemic Restrictions: Since California is a state of the United States like any other, the same restrictions as that of Wyoming (as mentioned previously) apply.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
A boat ride in the Waitomo Glowworm Caves will be one unforgettable experience, for you will be enswathed in the magical radiance of thousands of glowworms! The aura in the cave is nonpareil to any natural wonder, as is its geological significance to the area. The history of the caves dates back to ancient times, 30 million years ago when the limestone deposits petrified into what we see today.
Entering the cave is an ethereal experience in and itself. The upper level of the cave has spectacular rock formations while the lower level houses the stream passages and the glowworms themselves.
How to reach: To reach the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, you must take a flight to Auckland. After that, you must take two buses each, from the airport to Hamilton, and then to Waitomo Township.
The ticket prices for entry to the cave according to the official website for adults is NZD 55 and NZD 25 for children. The cave is open to visitors during all months of the year.
Pandemic Restrictions: To enter New Zealand, you’re required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Upon arrival, you will have to undergo 2 rapid antigen tests, with the second taken on the fifth or sixth day. You can check more details here. You will also have to submit a New Zealand Traveller Declarationform.
Ausangate Peru Rainbow Mountain, Peru
The stratified layers of the sandstone mountains are so visually pleasing that at first glance, they look like an endless range of rainbow cake! The arduous hike to the mountains is a befitting embodiment of the phrase “Pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow,” because it’s not really easy to get to the mountains. But as you reach the end of the trail, the turquoise, red and other colors would greet you with a beautiful sight.
How to reach: The easiest way to the rainbow mountains is to fly to Cuzco. After landing, you’d have to take a bus to Andahuaylillas, after which, you’d have to take a taxi to the spot. This trip would cost you anywhere between USD 1,066 to 3,055.
Pandemic restrictions: Please refer to the Shanay Timpishka Boiling River section of this article.
The Giant’s Causeway, Ireland
The Giant’s Causeway in Ireland is renowned for its 40,000+ hexagonal basalt columns extending into the Irish waters. The hexagonal pattern is another of nature’s marvelous yet strange creations.
Among the many theories, the two most prominent ones behind the formation of these unique structures have it that they were either formed by an underground volcano or were created by a mythical creature called Giant Finn MacCool. Whichever it is, these stones have protected the Irish shores from the tumultuous waves for nearly sixty million years, and are one of the most intriguing rock formations in the world.
How to reach: Fly to Belfast city and take a train to Coleraine. From there, you’d have to catch a bus to Aird Giant Causeway. The trip could cost you anywhere between USD 464 to USD 1,704.
Pandemic Restrictions: Currently, there are no requirements in place for entry into Ireland. However, keep a close eye on their official website for any changes.
Dead Vlei, Namibia
In the nondescript desert of Namibia lies an alien-looking area called Sossusvlei. The area is host to Tsauchab River once every 5-10 years, when it gets wet. However, close to this area is an area much more lifeless — Dead Vlei or Dead Marsh. It’s been 900 years since Dead Vlei has tasted water, making it the arid piece of land it is today.
If you’re a photographer, the Dead Vlei against the backdrop of rusty red sand dunes is certainly a sight to see.
How to reach: You have to take a flight to Sesriem. Once there, it’s just an hour’s ride to Dead Vlei.
Pandemic Restrictions: Carry your vaccination certificate with you to gain access to Namibia. Check out more details here.
Lake Natron, Tanzania
You might have heard about the Greek Monster Medusa whose gaze turned men into stones. Well, what if we tell you there’s something similar to that in the depths of Africa?
Widely known as the “Lake that Turns Animals to Stone,” the North Tanzanian Lake Natron is an inland lake that lives up to its name. The reason for that is simple — the lake has a pH value of 12 at max.
The most famous of the 4 Alkaline lake, Lake Natron isn’t too deep. However, it is 22km wide. The reason for its highly alkaline nature is because a long time back, a lava rich in salts flowed to the lake’s bed and settled. Since the lake receives almost no rainfall, the combination of lava salts with constant evaporation created the hellish area.
How to reach: Take a flight to Nairobi. From the airport, it is a short 3-hr route. The cooler months of June, July, and August are the best time to visit the lake.
Pandemic Restrictions: Carry your vaccination certificate with yourself to circumvent the pre-departure and post-arrival test procedures. A Public Health Surveillance Form is required to be completed prior to your travel. You can find more details here.
Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, Columbia
Have you ever been in an underground dwelling that’s been carved completely out of salt? Well, Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is offering you a chance to experience that. History has it that miners had initially created a conclave out of the salt stones for worship. This was further expanded to create a cathedral that can today accommodate 3,000 people.
How to reach: Fly to Bogota, Columbia, and hail a cab from the airport to reach the cathedral.
Pandemic Restrictions: Please check the Caño Cristales section to know about the pandemic restrictions in place.
Sugarloaf Mountain, Brazil
One of Rio de Janeiro’s enduring symbols, Sugarloaf Mountain extends towards the skies for up to 1,300 feet, enabling you to sweep your eyes over the Tijuna Forest, the Ipanema beach, and Christ the Redeemer. If you’re touring Rio de Janeiro, you mustn’t miss visiting this spot.
How to reach: Fly to Rio de Janeiro and hire a taxi to get to the place. Alternatively, you can also use the cable car to get to the top of the mountain.
Pandemic Restrictions: For details on the pandemic restrictions, please check the Lencois Maranhenses National Park section.