Ready to step out of your comfort zone on your next vacation? The travel experts at Insight Guides have come up with this list of places that are so mysterious that they have to be seen to be believed.
Blood Falls, Antarctica
Discovered in 1911 by an Australian scientist, Blood Falls is a stream of saltwater that is heavily tainted with iron oxide and flows out of the Taylor Glacier. Iron oxide is basically rust, which gives the flow an appearance of blood. As anyone who’s ever spilled red wine on a white dress shirt knows, it makes a striking contrast.
Aokighara Forest, Japan
This is probably one that you don’t actually want to visit. Located around the base of Mount Fuji, the Aokighara Forest is a 35-square-mile area known as the Suicide Forest. The greenery is incredibly dense, and it’s rumoured to be haunted by evil spirits, or yurei. The area is rich with natural magnetic iron, rendering many electronic devices useless.
The forest is the second most popular suicide spot on earth: About 100 people end their lives there annually. Because the forest is so dense, people often go undiscovered for long periods of time. Teams of volunteers patrol the forest frequently to recover remains.
Racetrack Playa, Death Valley, California
Once a lake, now a vast, arid plain of nothingness, Racetrack Playa is dry almost all year round and has absolutely no vegetation. What it does have, however, is a collection of dolomite and syenite stones of various sizes — known as sailing stones — that travel across the racetrack over time, leaving a clear path behind them. The geological phenomenon has been observed for more than a century, and although no one has ever seen the stones in motion, scientists and geologists are no closer now to finding out how the stones move. Early theories that strong winds blow them gradually have been disproven.
Eternal Flame Falls, Orchard Park, New York
Tucked away in a quiet corner of a national park, it’s a small waterfall with a cavern behind it. Pretty normcore. But here, a fault underneath the park emits a steady flow of methane. When the gas was lit is unknown, but it burns steadily throughout the year, creating a spooky image.
Travertine Pools of Pamukkale, Turkey
The Travertine Pools of Pamukkale, or cotton castles, are another geological phenomenon. Formed slowly over thousands of years, natural springs have carried traces of mineral and carbonate deposits that have gradually formed travertine terraces at different levels.
The steady flow of water from hot springs has turned each travertine terrace into a labyrinth of pools, which look more like the brainchild of an ultramodern hipster designer then thousands of years of Mother Nature’s work.