10 Obscure Places To Lose Yourself

We count down some fascinating and peculiar destinations for you to add to your bucket list!

These places have been chosen for their sheer otherworldliness…

 

10. Darvaza Crater, Turkmenistan

Photographer:  Nomadsarus.com

Photographer: Nomadsarus.com

Setting the vibe with the pleasantly named Gate To Hell...

As avid adventurers, we love nothing more than sitting in front of a roaring fire, but if burning a few twigs isn't anarchistic enough for you, let Turkmenistan warm your inner demon.

With a width of approximately 69 meters, roughly the size of a football field, this place makes one epic natural Guy Fawkes night.

The Darvaza crater is a natural source of methane gas which also happens to be highly toxic. Scientists tried burning off some of this gas to prevent it's spread in 1971 and it's burnt continuously ever since!

Best time to go? Yosemite gets VERY crowded so to avoid this, visit in the off-season i.e. outside of summer. However, it is such a stunning place that no matter when you visit, it will take your breath away.

Suggested activities? You can wild camp in the surrounding desert here and there are also camel tours that will take you to the crater.

9. Yosemite National Park, USA

Photographer:  Thuc Creative

Photographer: Thuc Creative

Okay, this isn’t really obscure. On average, four million visit Yosemite every year. And for damn good reason.

Down in Yosemite Valley, granite rocks tower thousands of feet above, providing natural slip and slides for the tumbling waterfalls abound by hanging valleys galore. The valley floor reaps the rewards and flourishes in bloom with constant free falling nutrients from the obelisks above.

To get an epic view over the valley, hike the Clouds Rest Trail via Half Dome (you need a permit to scale this icon).

Best time to go? Yosemite gets VERY crowded so to avoid this, visit in the off-season i.e. outside of summer. However, it is such a stunning place that no matter when you visit, it will take your breath away.

Suggested activities? In our personal opinion, you haven’t really experienced Yosemite until you’ve explored its backcountry. You need a Wilderness Permit to do this. There are SO MANY hikes to consider but if you only have time for one overnight hike, choose the Clouds Rest Trail via Half Dome.

Learn more: about Wilderness Permits via the National Park Service

8. Slope Point, New Zealand

Photographer:  kuriositas.com

Photographer: kuriositas.com

As if you needed another reason to visit the fabled lands of New Zealand.

Slope Point, at the southernmost tip of the South Island, provides a haunting Tolkien-esque landscape of skewed, twisted and outstretched branches. The bitterly cold, relentless Antarctic gales that hit this southernmost point of New Zealand are so fierce that Mother Nature alludes to self harming, with permanent yet magnificent deformities that aren't too dis-similar to Donald Trumps toupee on a cold winters day ;)

Best time to go? Open all year-round!

Suggested activities?  The area is almost entirely uninhabited, aside from some local livestock and a few rickety old outbuildings. The area has no direct road access, meaning you'll need to wrap up warm and take a short walk to enjoy these incredible formations. It is a 20-minute walk across private land.

7. Pamukkale, Turkey

Photographer:  alfurkancompany.com

Photographer: alfurkancompany.com

Adorned to the walls of many a UK kebab shop is the incredible and vastly under-promoted Pamukkale springs in Turkey.

These natural baths are created by Travertine, a sedimentary rock deposited by water from the hot springs. The different catchments range in temperature from 32 degrees to 100 degrees Celsius.

In the early 1960's a number of hotels were built on the site of these natural formations. This caused significant damage and in 1988, when the site was declared a World Heritage site, the hotels were demolished.

Unfortunately, this does mean that we can no longer enjoy the baths the same way as those lucky buggers in the 60's. Visitors are now confined to the travertine path and smaller pools, but rightfully so, to preserve the natural beauty of these salty formations. 

Best time to go? Open all year-round!

Suggested activities? Allow the whole day to walk the travertine path (which you have to do barefoot!), to splash in the warms along the way and finally, swim in the antique pool at the top of the terracing.

 

6. Mu Cang Chai Rice Terraces, Vietnam

Photographer:  Talkvietnam.com

Photographer: Talkvietnam.com

Rice. Glorious rice. Boiled, fried, pudding. Any way is a good way.

Mu Cang Chai is a wonderful display of how humans can integrate into the natural world.

Best time to go? Between mid-September to mid-October is when the rice fields are at their most colourful. November is when the annual harvest occurs.

Suggested activities? You can take some spectacular motorcycle tours and learn about the local ethnic cultures that inhabit the area…and let’s not forget about the Vietnamese cuisine!

 

5. Zhangya Danxia, China

Image source:  huffingtonpost.com

Image source: huffingtonpost.com

In the north-western Chinese province of Gansu Province lies the kaleidoscopic red rock formations of Zhangye Danxia.

This natural spectacle of red sandstone has formed thanks to the folding of the oceanic crust, that over time becomes exposed to the above-surface desert conditions and freeze-thaw process. Each layer here has taken thousands of years to form.

Best time to go? Visit between June and September where the combination of a little rain and strong sun makes them colours shine!

Suggested activities? There are four viewing platforms here joined by an eight-kilometre walking track. It takes 2-3 hours to complete.

Learn more: via Zhangye Travel 

4. Tianzi Mountains, China

Image Source:  boomsbeat.com

Image Source: boomsbeat.com

We’re doubling down on China.

The obelisks of Tianzi speak for themselves and will have you feeling like you’re in ‘Avatar’ - after all, it was the inspiration for the blockbuster’s mythical land of Pandora!

This is nature’s answer to our concrete jungles. Some of these sandstone skyscrapers are freestanding and some are even snow-capped.

Tianzi translates to 'Son of Heaven' and is said to be named after a farmer who lived in the area. He must have been one hell of a guy!

Best time to go? This is a wet and cold place! The best time to visit is April, May, September and October.

Suggested activities? Incredibly, you can take a cable car to the top of the highest peak, Tianzi Mountain, for astonishing views. The ride itself is six minutes and twenty-two seconds long, covering just over two kilometres. There is also the world’s tallest outdoor elevator here named the Bailong elevator; it has an elevation of 326 metres. Walk the two-kilometre Ten-Mile Gallery Route to feel dwarfed by these peaks (the track joins to another track that can take you up to Tianzi Mountain).

 

3. Mount Roraima, Venezuela/Guyana/Brazil

Image Source:  feel-planet.com

Image Source: feel-planet.com


The Table Mountains of this area are considered the oldest geological formations on earth, dating some 2 billion years old to the Precambrian era.

Mount Roraima sits proudly at the intersection of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana with 400-metre tall walls and often looks like it is floating above a nest of fluffy white clouds.

Best time to go? The dry season runs from December to March.

Suggested activities? Hiking Mount Roraima can take 6-8 days. A guide is compulsory and there are many tour companies and guides to choose from, with massive price discrepancies so research is key!

 

2. The Stone Forest, Madagascar

The sharp vertical limestone rocks of the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park in Madagascar are impressive and alienesque…but aren't very well explored due to how extremely sharp the limestone needles are. After all, Tsingy is the Malagasy word for “walking on tiptoes”!

Best time to go? Only open during dry season between April to November.

Suggested activities? The razor sharp edges easily cut through flesh and equipment, and unless you're an agile lemur (you can spot 11 types of lemurs here!), you're probably better off sticking to the footpath. The footpath takes you over several hanging bridges and is child-friendly (though it is a long way up so beware those afraid of heights!)

You can also take a canoe trip down the gorge and experience the pinnacles from bottom-up.

Learn more: via Travel Madagascar

 

1. Naica Mine, Mexico

PHOTO BY OGGISCIENZA, SOURCE THOUSANDWONDERS.NET

PHOTO BY OGGISCIENZA, SOURCE THOUSANDWONDERS.NET

The top dog. The sheer geological magnificence of this place doesn't come with ease. In fact, the chances of you ever seeing these formations is slim.

The Naica Caves in Mexico were discovered by accident. As part of a silver mine, two miners were tasked with the job of digging a new tunnel to a previously unmet depth. Upon striking 300 metres, they stood in awe as the small entrance that they had created opened into a cavern of colossal crystals, dwarfing their meagre human form.  

Alas, the structures still form a part of an active mine, and combined with the incredible humidity and near roasting temperatures, only those who are properly equipped, have fantastic health and have the the ear of the government or mine owners will be allowed access.

Besides, it's so hot and humid down there that most electronic equipment fails and if you can't get an epic selfie... what's the point right?