The planet earth is such a diverse and amazing place to live. It boasts possibilities of ecosystems from the Arctic tundras to seemingly endless deserts. And some of these ecosystems host some truly amazing places, hidden gems that may be hard to believe even exist.
This post will review 16 of these beautiful and unbelievable tourist locations, in blue, beginning with those in cold locations.
Starting at the cold end of the temperature spectrum are the Mendenhall Ice Caves in Juneau, Alaska. The caves are located inside a glacier that is approximately twelve miles long. The caves are only accessible via kayak but once inside it’s like stepping into another world. But, unfortunately, due to global warming the glacier that contains this beautiful cave formation is melting, so the time to go see it may be now.
Another unique destination that requires winter weather gear is the Hotel de Glace in Quebec, Canada. This hotel is made entirely of ice and snow and is rebuilt every year. If one went there every year one would find the architecture and design to be different each time. There are many on-site activities available, and at night guests sleep on a bed made of ice with a mattress and box spring on top of course. The temperature inside the hotel is a steady -3 to -5 degrees Celsius, so sleeping in an Arctic sleeping bag is a must. Hot breakfast is served the next morning and some guests have described the experience truly amazing.
Warmer places to visit include amazing sites such as Mount Roraima in South America. This tabletop style mountain is sometimes called the “Island in the Sky”. The top of this mountain formation is a thirty square kilometer plateau that reaches above the clouds in the right conditions. It is also home to the world’s largest quartz cave formation, discovered in 2003.
Another incredibly unique mountain formation can be found in China. The Tianzi Mountain Range covers an area of roughly fifty-three square kilometers with the highest peak reaching four thousand one hundred and forty-two feet above sea level.
Back at ground level, Asia is also home to the amazing bamboo forests of Japan. The Sagano Bamboo Forest is located approximately thirty minutes, via train, from the city of Kyoto. Featuring impossibly tall bamboo shoots that appear to reach the sky and an eerie unique sound that the Japanese government has deemed “one of the one hundred must-be-preserved sounds of Japan.”
If bright colours are more your thing, then the Canola fields of China, Lavender fields in the United Kingdom and France, or the Red Beach in Panjin China will make you feel like you are in another world, bright colours most often seen in small flower gardens can be seen in these places in mass quantities, lending an otherworldly feel to the view.
In Vietnam, a recently rediscovered cave system, the Hang Son Doong caves, have been dubbed the largest in the world. Large enough to contain a city block of forty skyscrapers, this cave formation also has its own ecosystem.
Some other amazing cave formations include the Naica mine in Mexico, which looks like a scene out of a video game or science fiction movie. Large crystalline formations of selenium or gypsum fill the inside of this cavern. It’s no surprise that it has been dubbed “The Cave of Crystals.”
Divers will enjoy the Blue Hole in Belize. Formed by an underwater sinkhole, the depths reach down to four hundred feet. It is the largest natural underwater sinkhole and is protected by the Barrier Reef Reserve System.
Much like the underwater in Belize, rather than existing underground, the lakes found off the Gulf of Mexico exist, you guessed it, underwater. How is that possible? Well, the lakes are made up of brine water which has a very high salt to water ratio. Much more salt than is found in regular ocean salt water. The extra salt content means the brine water is significantly heavier than the ocean water surrounding it, so it gathers on the ocean floor, creating lake formations that even have their own shores.
In Bolivia, there exists the world’s largest salt flats, over ten thousand five hundred square kilometers. What makes this location so fascinating, aside from its sheer size and the circumstances of its formation, is what happens to it during the rainy season. The whole area is transformed into what is known as the world’s largest mirror. Due to the extremely flat terrain, water pools across the surface and reflects back a near perfect mirror image of the sky above, creating the illusion of standing on top of a giant mirror.
Another unique water formation is the Grand Prismatic Geyser in Yellowstone park in the United States. The largest geyser in the U.S. and third largest in the world, this geyser gets its name from its rainbow-colored waters. Caused by a combination of bacteria and mineral-rich water, this geyser is a sight to behold.
A few less friendly locations that appear to be straight out of the movies include a place popularly known, amongst the locals, as the Door to Hell. Located in Turkmenistan, the Darvaza Gas Crater has been burning for more than fifty years. It is not a natural occurrence but it is indeed man-made, suspected to be the result of a gas drilling accident, but there is no official record to prove it.
The Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock in Norway is a popular hiking destination. The view from the top is breathtaking and one of a kind. At a height of six hundred and four feet above the Lysefjord, the ascent takes approximately four to five hours to complete. The plateau, with dimensions of 25 x 25 meters, is said to be formed by expanding ice and glaciers ten thousand years ago.
Any bucket list of places to see around the world should include at least some of the above detailed amazing sights. Many of them must be seen to be believed, appears to be created straight out of the most vivid imaginations.
It just goes to show how the world we’ve lived in for so long while seeming to shrink with the continued advances of technology, still has so much to offer us. Just one more reason on the long list of reasons to work together to preserve the wonders we have been given and treat our planet with love and care.