10 Vacation Destinations for Adventurous Tourists
By Ashley Dufault, Toptenz, 1 September 2014.
By Ashley Dufault, Toptenz, 1 September 2014.
Everyone seeks adventure from time to time. Don’t just book another trip to the Caribbean for your next vacation - take a unique journey to one of these unforgettable destinations.
10. Blood Falls
While Antarctica may not be on the top of your vacation bucket list, you might avoid this particular location for more reasons than just the cold. In Victoria Land lies Blood Falls, where a violent shade of what appears to be blood stains the 35-mile long Taylor Glacier. A waterfall gushes out the “blood,” adding to the murderous scene.
Of course, the macabre red shade isn’t really blood. The crimson hue originates from sulphur-devouring bacteria that thrive underneath the glacier’s underground lakes. Iron-oxide excretions from the bacteria dye the ice. Although the eerie colour of the Taylor Glacier presents no danger, Blood Falls is deadly for another reason - the McMurdo Dry Valleys are so relentlessly dry that when lost animals wander into the area and perish, their bodies never decompose. Their mummified corpses litter the land, completing the chilling vision.
9. Door to Hell
People who tell others to “go to Hell” are usually woefully unclear about how to arrive there. However, Soviet geologists in the Karakum Desert got a big surprise in 1971 when their rig fell through the ground and plunged into a 230-foot wide cavern brimming with natural gas. Deciding the vapour was less toxic for the nearby villagers of Deweze if they burnt the methane off, geologists lit the cavern, expecting the fire to blaze for only a few weeks. Forty years later, the fire is still burning despite the 2010 orders from Turkmenistan’s president to fill the pit. Turkmenistan’s natural gas reserves rank fifth in the world, but poor development of international gas pipes has impeded efforts to make better financial use of the resource. The name “Door to Hell” emerged from locals who say that at night the location is reminiscent of the fires of the Bible.
Even if you don’t believe in aliens, it’s still worth visiting the extraterrestrial capital of the world. Home to Area 51, Roswell includes the Robert H. Goddard Planetarium, UFO tours, and the Roswell UFO Museum and Research Centre. Many of Roswell’s gift shops, such as Alien Zone, Gifts From the Angels, and Roswell Landing are dedicated to celebrating the out-of-this-world culture in the area.
Additionally, Roswell hosts the annual month-long Roswell Cosmic Con and Sci-Fi Film Festival in June. Participants can register for the Roswell Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film Camp, a month-long boot camp designed to instruct students on the different elements of short films. In July, the city also features the Roswell UFO Festival, where visitors can spend four days among believers and sceptics alike celebrating the city’s controversial history. There’s always something quirky to do in Roswell, and even the non-believers can have a good time as they tour New Mexico’s beautiful landscape.
Any real Lord of the Rings fan knows that the hobbit-holes Peter Jackson filmed were built in New Zealand. However, many fans don’t know that they can experience the hobbits’ hospitality and zest for celebration by visiting the old shooting location in Matamata, where Hobbiton has been redesigned with tourists in mind.
Guests can see Bag End, where Bilbo began his journey, and conquer their thirst at the Green Dragon Inn. Even the sheep in the fields lend themselves to the realism of Hobbiton. Visitors can expect to spend up to two hundred dollars for a guided tour of filming locations and an overnight stay. As the weather is mild all year with few extreme temperature changes, visitors can plan on touring Hobbiton at any time.
6. North Island
Underneath the hills of North Island, New Zealand rest caves full of bright glowworms that have been attracting curious tourists since 1889. Looking up, the Waitomo caves remind visitors of peering up at a starry sky. The species of worm, Arachnocampa luminosa, is exclusive to New Zealand and creates a blue-green light that reflects off the water in the caverns. Despite being officially called the “Waitomo Glowworm Caves,” the “worms” are really fly larvae. The excretory organs of the larvae cause the luminescence, and the hungrier they are the more they glow. They also cast silk-like thread in order to catch bugs and other prey, adding to the mysterious beauty of the caverns. The cave system was first discovered by English surveyor Fred Mace and Maori Chief Tane Tinorau. Many of the cave guides who lead tourists today are descendants of Tinorau.
5. Island of the Dolls
Located near Mexico City is an island that has become home to one of Mexico’s strangest tourist attractions. Isla de las Munecas (Island of the Dolls) wasn’t designed to attract crowds, but to honour a little girl who drowned. Legend has it that the man who found her body, Don Julian Santana, felt so haunted by her death and the doll floating near her corpse that he hung the doll on a tree to honour her spirit. Wanting to protect the island from more tragedies, Santana continued hanging dolls up all over the island - even tattered and broken ones. In total, Santana collected 1,500 dolls. Some people say that the dolls come alive at night and whisper in the trees, but this doesn’t keep tourists away. Visitors flock to the island in gondolas, where they can observe the island’s creepiness at a distance while eating, drinking, and listening to mariachi music. Santana’s family leads the island’s tourism attraction.
4. Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Rather than hanging out on sandy Pacific shorelines, some travellers are opting to spend their vacations traversing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a Texas-sized region of garbage and plastic floating off the Western coast of the United States. Much of the trash in this area consists of small plastic slivers not immediately visible to the human eye. In 2011, the Algalita Marine Research Foundation partnered with Pangaea Explorations to offer a 21-day trip to research the effects of the ocean debris. Participants paid US$10,000 each for the opportunity and the foundation continues to offer the adventure. This year, travellers will head out to the North Pacific Gyre in July in hopes of determining how the swirling vortex of trash affects marine life. Despite the area being a conglomeration for garbage, travellers typically have no problem navigating through the waters since everything is spread out across the ocean.
3. Alnwick Poison Garden
The Alnwick Castle may look familiar to Harry Potter fans, as it appeared in the first two instalments of the series as the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Because of this, the Alnwick Poison Garden gets a lot of attention from tourists. Adjacent to the Castle, the Alnwick Poison Garden is a complex of gardens in Northumberland, England. Rather than focusing on the healing powers of nature, this attraction focuses on the deadly abilities of certain plants. Foxglove, nightshade, poppies, belladonna, and laburnam are among the more than 100 poisonous plants that grow here. Even hemlock, which killed Socrates, flourishes freely in this public garden. Guides warn guests, especially curious children, not to touch the plants or even smell them due to their fatal potential. Even the gate reads “these plants can kill” in order to remind visitors and employees alike not to get too comfortable.
2. Paris Sewer Museum
Surely the wonder and romance of Paris must extend below the surface of the city. But in the sewers? The Paris Sewer Museum provides tourists with the chance to learn more about the importance and history of the city’s sewer system. The city’s first sewer system was built in the 1200s and consisted of troughs that ran down roads. The first underground sewer - far more hygienic - was created in 1370. However, it drained into a tributary of the Seine River. Engineers continued to think of ways to overcome issues of hygiene. Over the next four centuries the sewer system advanced, but was never enough to cover the entire city. In 1850, Baron Haussmann engineered separate channels for drinking water and sewage, making the entire system more sanitary. Tours of Paris’ sewers have been popular since the mid-1800s and visitors can expect to learn all of this and more on their own trips. The Paris Sewer Museum has a gift shop and, unsurprisingly, fully functional restrooms. As a show of enthusiasm, tour guides educate visitors for free.
1. Lake Hillier
Ever swim in a lake that looks like Pepto Bismol? In the down under you can - if you take a helicopter. Australia’s Middle Island contains the bubble-gum pink Lake Hillier. Adventurer Matthew Flinders first recorded the mysterious body of water in 1802 after climbing Middle Island’s highest peak. Because Lake Hillier is only visible by air, it hasn’t been extensively studied. As a result, scientists aren’t sure what causes the lake to have its pink tinge.
Another body of water in Western Australia, Pink Lake, shares Lake Hillier’s colour. In the right weather conditions, Pink Lake turns a lighter shade due to the high concentration of algae in the water. Australia isn’t the only country in the world with salmon coloured lakes, either. Lake Retba in Senegal features a similar lake whose pink tone comes from the Dunaliella salina bacteria that feed off of the lake’s high salt content. Few creatures can survive life in the salty lake, so the area serves mainly as a tourist attraction and source for salt production. People can swim in the lake since the bacteria is completely harmless to humans.
Top image: The Waitomo Glowworm Caves, via Mach Principle.
[Source: Toptenz. Edited. Top image and some links added.]