It’s a funny old place, our planet Earth. From rivers the colour of sangria, to landscapes that look truly alien, we take a peek at 10 of the weirdest places in the world…
This famous hillside, covered in snowy white pools, cliffs and tiers, hangs like a cloud over the village named after it – Pamukkale translates as ‘cotton castle’. It was created when Mother Nature left calcium-rich springs trickling down a mountainside for thousands of years. The bath-like pools along the cliffside are filled with toasty waters, which are said to heal everything from rheumatism to skin complaints.
Chile’s Atacama Desert stretches for 1,000 kilometres along the country’s Pacific Coast and, even though it shoulders the ocean, is the driest place on the planet. Astonishingly, plants, animals, and even people thrive in and around the desert. There’s a region of it, though, that’s so inhospitable it’s been compared to the surface of Mars. In fact, NASA tested vehicles there before sending them to the Red Planet.
An extremely high concentration of iron in the waters of Andalucia’s Rio Tinto keeps it glistening in an eerie crimson colour. Copper, silver and gold have been mined along its banks for around 5,000 years, with the left-behind iron dissolving into the streams. Humans stay far away from the acidic river, but scientists have discovered bacteria living on the riverbed’s rocks.
Gaelic legend says these hexagonal columns are the remains of a bridge built by a giant. Science names a 50-million-year-old volcanic eruption as the cause. Either way, the perfectly-interlocking pillars rising from a section of Northern Ireland’s north-east coast are stunning. The site’s been named one of the UK’s greatest natural wonders, and in 1968, UNESCO moved in to make sure it stays that way.
Touching down on this island, just off the coast of Yemen, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped onto the set of the movie, Avatar. It’s strewn with huge dragon trees, which not only look like they could be upside down, but also get their name from the red sap they leak. Another of the island’s endemic species, the cucumber tree, is warped into lifelike shapes, complete with limbs and even smiles.
The world’s largest salt flat often goes by a different moniker – the world’s largest mirror. During the winter, a shallow film of water covers the crust of bright-white salt, reflecting everything on its surface like a supersized looking glass. Other odd characteristics of this place include an ‘island’, a yearly influx of flamingos, and hotels that are built entirely from blocks of salt cut from the flats.
This working mine is best known for its Cave of Crystals. Here, gigantic spears of selenite (seriously, some are 50 feet long) have been growing for hundreds of thousands of years, and draw comparisons to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Perhaps one of the strangest things about the cave is that it was only discovered in 2001. By accident, we might add.
Ever wondered what happens to aeroplanes after they bow out of service? Well, thousands make their way to storage facilities in America’s deserts, where conditions are dry enough to ensure the planes don’t rust. Arizona’s Boneyard is the final resting place of 4,500 aircraft. There’s something seriously creepy about the line-up of B-52 bombers broken up into skeleton-like pieces.
The Richat Structure, to give it its official title, is shrouded in mystery. Possible theories of its creation include an asteroid impact, volcanic eruption, and even an alien laser beam, but we still don’t know why it’s perfectly circular. Even weirder is the fact that the iris-like rings are set in an elliptical, eyelid-shaped canyon, so it really does look like an eye from far away.
We can’t talk about the world’s weirdest places without mentioning our very own Stonehenge. Reason being, no-one knows for sure why the ring of rocks was built, nor how the Neolithic people of 4,000 years ago got them into place in the Wiltshire countryside. Especially when you consider some came from as far away as Wales.
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Author: Lee Dasilva
Published: February 18, 2015
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