10 Wild Places To Lose Yourself
We countdown some peculiar and fascinating destinations for you to add to your bucket list! Let us know if you've visited or plan on visiting any of these incredible destinations!
10. The Darvaza Crater, Turkmenistan
Setting the vibe with the pleasantly named Gate To Hell... As an adventurer 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. So scientists tried burning off some of this gas to prevent it's spread in 1971 and it's burnt continuously since.
9. Yosemite Valley, USA
Awarded the most mispronounced tourist destination in North America, [Yo-Sem-It-Ee] Valley only represents around 1% of the entire National Park - a statistic that's not far abound from the disgustingly rich of Wall Street, the beauty of this 1% is outstanding. 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.
The hikers amongst us may consider the epic John Muir trail, running approximately 212 miles to Mount Whitney
8. Slope Point, New Zealand
As if you needed another reason to visit the fabled lands of New Zealand, Slope Point provides a haunting Tolkien-esque landscape of eskewed, twisted and outstretched branches. The bitterly cold, relentless Antarctic gales that hit this southernmost point of NZ 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.
The area is almost entirely uninhabited, asides from some local livestock and a few rickety old outbuildings and 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.
7. Pamukkale, Turkey
Adorned to the walls of many a UK kebab shop, is the incredible and vastly under promoted Pamukkale springs in Turkey. The natural baths are created by Travertine, a sedimentary rock deposited by water from the hot springs. The different catchments range in temperature from 32deg to 100deg centigrade.
In the early 1960's a number of hotels were built on the site of these natural formations, and caused significant damage until in 1988 the site was declared a world heritage site, and in an act of sheer democratic brilliance, the hotels were demolished.
Unfortunately we can no longer enjoy the baths in the same way as those lucky buggers in the 60's, as visitors are confined to pathways and smaller pools to rightfully preserve the natural beauty of these salty formations.
6. Mu Cang Chai Rice Terraces, Vietnam
Rice. Glorious rice. Boiled, fried, pudding. Anyway is a good way. The fields are beautiful at all times but a couple of months before harvest (harvest is normally in November) is the best time to go if you want to see the hillsides alive with emerald greens.
You can take some spectacular motorcycle tours through this region.
5. Zhangya Danxia, China
In the North-Western Chinese province of Gansu Province lies to kaleidoscopic red rock formations of Zhangye Danxia. A rolling formation of red sandstone formed through the folding of the oceanic crust, that over time becomes exposed to the above-surface desert conditions and freeze-thaw process.
As is well known amongst professional selfie takers, the best time to take photo's lie between the golden hour transition between sunrise and sunset - prime time in Danxia! Visit between June and September where the combination of a little rain and strong sun makes them colours shiiine!
4. Tianzi Mountains, China
I'm doubling down on China. Infact, I could have added a lot more Chinese destinations to this list, but in fairness to other fantastically geologically endowed nations I've limited this post to just two prime vacay's. I don't even necessarily have a sweet spot for China, what with their endless crusade to consume every endangered animal on earth.
Anyway, Tianzi. They speak for themselves. Obelisks of tumbling foliage straight outta Avatar. Incredibly, you can take a cable car 3km's to the top of the highest peak for astonishing views. 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!
3. Mount Roraima, Venezuela/Guyana/Brazi
As a Welshie, I can finally rejoice in the fact that Wales is not the wettest place on earth and that a lump of rock - alas a very imposing lump of rock - is wetted upon on a daily basis. Weird, considering you normally see photos of Mount Roraima reigning proud atop a nest of fluffy white clouds. First described to Westerners by the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, it's 31 km2 summit area is bounded on all sides by 400m high cliffs and forms a triple border area between Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil.
The tabletop mountains of this area are considered the oldest geological formations on earth, dating some 2 billion years old to the Precambrian era.
2. The Stone Forest, Madagascar
As we draw near to the sharp end of this top ten list, I double dare you to run barefoot through this forest...
The sharp vertical limestone rocks of the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park in Madagascar aren't very well explored due to how extremely sharp the needle shaped formations are. The razor sharp edges easily cut through flesh and equipment, and unless you're an agile lemur, you're probably better off sticking to the footpath.
1. Naica Mine, Mexico
The top dog. The number one place on this list. The sheer geological magnificence of this place doesn't come with ease. Infact, the chances of you ever seeing these formations is slim. I know, you've had to read all this rambling only to discover that number one may be unobtainable...
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 300m, they stood in awe as the small entrance that they had created opened into a cavern of colossal crystals, dwarfing their meager human form. The scientific reasons these immense structures have formed are very interesting, but I'm limited in time and characters. Half a million years, some magma and a lot of water - I think that's about it.
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?!