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Chapter XVII

You’ve seen the usual and popular places in the world. How about travelling to the 10 most quirky and unusual places to see extraordinary wonders of the world?

Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia

Salar De Uyuni in Bolivia is the world’s largest salt pan and offers incredible vistas probably in all of South America. An infinite white sheet of hexagonal tiles (due to the crystalline nature of the salt), stretches more than 4,050 square miles of the Altiplano. It is an unforgettable Bolivian landscape displaying an awe-inspiring spectacle of nature’s magic. Sometimes when the closeby lakes overflow, a thin layer of water transforms the flats into a stunning reflection of the sky. It then appears like the world’s largest mirror creating extraordinary illusions of infinity. The landscape is also home to the world’s first hotel, Luna Salada Salt Hot.

Salar De Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni (Photo Credit: Kozue Ishimoto)

Don’t take a dip in Lake Natron, Tanzania

Have you heard about the ghastly Lake Natron? Straight out of a horror movie, it turns animals into statues, through calcification. This is because there are massive volumes of natron that kills them and turns them into mummies. Since the lake is extremely alkaline, with a pH as high as ammonia, the “petrifying” lake seems red. It’s so caustic that even coming in contact with it would be treacherous. During the dry season when the water from the lake recedes, one can see hundreds of carcasses of birds washed up along the coastline. This is one lake in the world you should never ever take a dip.

Lake Natron
It may appear as if the bird was gripped by the icy hand of death, but it was calcified in the caustic waters of Lake Natron. (Photo Credit: Nick Brendt)

Hin Ta and Hin Yai rocks, Koh Samui

The Hin Ta and Hin Yai rocks are listed as one of the must-see tourist attractions by every tour company in Koh Samui. These rather unusual rock formations have drawn the attention of the tourists because they have an uncanny resemblance to our private organs. According to folklore, nature’s carving of a vagina and penis authenticates the story of the couple Hin Ta and Hin Yai who died at sea. The resemblance is uncanny. Truly nature’s wonder.

Hin Ta Hin Ya Rocks
Hin Ta or The Grandfather’s Rock that resembles a male organ in Koh Samui

Deadvlei, Namibia

Meaning ‘dead marsh’, Deadvlei is a sun-blackened dead forest in a white clay pan. Amazing yet haunting, the lack of water in the region has forced the roots of trees to come out in search of moisture. The place is surrounded by towering red sand dunes that form a stunning backdrop. These sand dunes have literally rusted over thousands of years, giving them their blazing appearance.

Deadvlei, Namibia

Tunnel of love, Ukraine

I don’t know whether I should list this as a romantic or a quirky place, but the Tunnel Of Love is a beauty. Once a section of industrial railway in Klevan, Ukraine, the deep, verdant leafy tunnel is surrounded by green arches and continues up to three to five km in length. The location is a favourite of lovers who love to hold hands and take walks. Search the net and you will know what I mean.

Tunnel of love
Tunnel of Love

Christ Of The Abyss, Italy

A 2.50-metre tall bronze statue of Lord Jesus lies underwater in the bay of San Fruttuoso, between Camogli and Portofino, in Italy making it one of the unique diving sites in the world. The statue was made of molten metals, bells and ship parts by Guido Galletti. It was submerged at a depth of 17 feet to the seafloor on August 29th, 1954. Reproductions of the famous statue can be found all over the world, the key one being at Key Largo, Florida.

Christ of the Abyss
Christ Of The Abyss

The Silfra Rift, Iceland

Can you imagine snorkelling in a chasm that separates two continents and the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates? Just the thought of it gives me the heebie-jeebies. The fissure was formed in 1789 when the divergent movement of the two tectonic plates took place due to an earthquake. A one-of-a-kind experience the Silfra Rift is the only place in the world where you can dive or snorkel directly in a crack between tectonic plates that move 2 cm away from each other every year.

The Silfra Rift
The Silfra Rift

Vinicunca Or The Rainbow Mountain

At an altitude of 5,200 m above sea level and a two-hour drive from Cusco, the Vinicunca Mountain is blanketed with a splash of colours. The seven colours are because the mountain is rich in mineralogical composition. Considered a holy site in Andes, Peru, the mountain was discovered only four years ago when the snow covering it melted to reveal its spectacular beauty. Till January 2020, Vinicuna was receiving more than 1500 visitors a day. Following Machu Picchu, Vinicuna is fast becoming a popular tourist destination.

The Rainbow Mountain
Vinicunca or Rainbow Mountain

Caño Cristales, Colombia

For a few weeks from September through November, the river bed of Caño Cristales is covered by a unique species of plant, Macarenia Clavigera which turn a brilliant red. Yellow and red coloured sand, the cerulean waters and the gorgeous red exuded by the plants on the river bed display a vibrancy of colours. The river is for this reason known as the “River of Five Colours” and is a spectacular natural wonder.

Caño Cristales
Caño Cristales

The Wave, Arizona

It was in 2005 when Microsoft included the picture of The Wave as the desktop wallpaper on the desktop Windows 7. The world was mesmerised by the picturesque sandstone colour formation of swirling colours and psychedelic formations. The rock formation of The Wave is from the Jurassic period. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, only 20 lucky people per day are allowed to visit Coyote Buttes North and The Wave in Arizona so as to preserve the natural beauty of this natural site.

Featured Photo: The Wave, Arizona

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