Our world is full of secret nooks and crannies waiting to be discovered and uncovered. Spectacular vistas, jaw dropping sites, peculiar encounters and breathtaking moments. Add these to your bucket list!
1. Eben Ice Caves, Michigan, USA
The Rock River Canyon Ice Caves, much better known as the Eben Ice Caves, remain a mystery to many.
It seems that this cool little natural wonder of the Upper Peninsula isn’t frequented as much as it could be largely due to the fact that many people just aren’t quite sure how to get there. The Eben Ice caves are part of the 4,000 plus acre Rock River Wilderness area of the Hiawatha National Forest.
The Eben Ice Caves form when melting snow runs over the edge of a small cliff and freezes, forming “ice caves.” If you were to visit here in the summer you would see little to no water running over the edge.
It’s the perfect combination of a slow snow melt and frigid temperatures that causes these “caves” of ice to form.
INSIDERS TIP: Wear boots with nice, grippy soles at the very minimum, and if possible, wear some sort of ice cleats on the bottoms of your shoes.
2. Laguna Salada de Torrevieja, Costa Blanca, Spain
Laguna Salada de Torrevieja is a natural phenomenon, where the water looks pink due to a type of unique algae. Saltier than sea water, over 2000 pairs of flamingos have been counted here during breeding season, outnumbered only by the 3000 pairs of black-necked grebe. Marsh harrier, stilts, shelduck, avocets, Kentish plover, curlew, common tern and little tern flock to the lakeshore. Although the lake itself supports almost no vegetation, salt marshes along the margins have developed wherever inflowing water enters.
Walking and biking tracks as well as bird watching is encouraged in this conservation area.
INSIDERS TIP: Swimming is not recommended here due to the levels of algae in the water and heavy salinity.
3. Seven Coloured Earth of Chamarel, Mauritius
This unique phenomenon is one of the main attractions of the island. The area covers an area of 7500 sq. metres and consists of sand dunes of seven different colours red, brown, green, yellow, blue, violet and purple. This area near Chamarel is the only place in the world that has earth of seven colours. The multicolored earth in Chamarel was formed when volcanic rock cooled at different temperatures.
The best part about this place is that the differently coloured sands settle instantly in different layers and give a view of banded colouring. If you want to experience this fact, then take a handful of sand and mix it. The differently coloured sand separates from each other to form layered spectrum. Another interesting fact about the area is that the dunes never seem to wear away, despite the heavy rains in the region.
INSIDERS TIP: Sunrise is the best time to see the Coloured Earths.
4. Huacachina Oasis, Ica, Peru
The Huacachina Oasis is an actual oasis and not a figment of your imagination. The tropical settlement of Huacachina, in Peru, is nestled in the middle of one of the most barren places on earth. The town is home to 96 residents, and has rustic hotels, shops and even an oasis library. Enjoy watching the sunset over the dunes, before sandboarding down to the oasis. Built around a small natural lake and surrounded by enormous sand dunes that stretch several hundred feet high, Huacachina has the looks and feel of a remote Saharan outpost, but in reality is only an hour’s drive away from the Pacific coast. Called the “Oasis of America,” Huacachina is one of the few remaining natural oases in North and South America.
INSIDERS TIP: Combine your visit here with some of the adrenaline activities such as sand boarding or dune.
5. Fairy Pools, Glen Brittle, Isle of Skye, Scotland, UK
At foot of the Black Cuillins near Glenbrittle are the Fairy Pools, beautifully crystal clear blue pools on the River Brittle. These famous pools entice visitors from all over the world, as they make some great ‘Wild Swimming’ for those brave enough to enter the cold water. For the less adventurous these magical Fairy Pools make some fantastic photos.
The walk to the pools uses the same route there and back. The complete return distance to the first main waterfall and pool is 2.4km, with the average time to complete the walk being 40 minutes (with no stops). Most people will spend some time working their way up the river from the first waterfall exploring the different pools.
INSIDERS TIP: This walk is suitable in most normal weather conditions, but if it has been raining hard some on the river crossings can become a real challenge.
6. Abraham Lake, Alberta, Canada
These frozen bubbles under Alberta’s Lake Abraham might look like winter jewels, but you wouldn’t want to be too close to one if it popped: the bubbles are actually frozen pockets of methane, a highly flammable gas. Most of the time, methane escaping from the surface of water is relatively harmless—but if you happen to be lighting a match at the time one of these bubbles explodes, watch out. Methane bubbles form in bodies of water when dead organic matter (leaves and animals) falls into the water and sinks to the bottom, to the delight of bacteria waiting below. The bacteria munches on the matter and poops out methane, which turns to white floating blobs when it comes into contact with frozen water.
INSIDERS TIP: A photographers dream when the sun is rising or setting. Be sure to check ice thickness first before venturing out on the frozen lake.
7. Havasu Falls, Arizona, USA
We’re aware of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, but there’s another lesser-known sight – the Havasu Falls – that you shouldn’t miss out on. The red rocks and vibrant blue waters make a really stunning contrast. Havasu Falls is paradise on Earth. This is an absolutely amazingly beautiful waterfall located in a remote canyon of Arizona. It takes a good deal of effort to get there, but the reward is worth it. Havasupai Falls Arizona is a major destination for hikers who want to visit the blue green waterfalls. Hidden in the Grand Canyon, and difficult to get reservations for, this paradise is for those who can plan ahead and enjoy hikes of 15km or more. The Havasupai people live near the Havasupai Falls in the Supai Village.
The Havasupai people, or Havasuw `Baaja, the people of the blue green waters, are the traditional guardians of the Grand Canyon. Related to the Yuman, the Havasupai have from the beginning, inhabited the Grand Canyon and its environs.
INSIDERS TIP: Don’t want to hike into the canyon? You can also ride a horse or organise a helicopter to drop you in.
8. Danakil Depression, Dallol, Ethiopia
The Danakil Depression is the hottest place on earth year-round. The Danakil is a tectonic triple-junction where the spreading ridges that form the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden emerge on land and meet Africa’s Great Rift Valley. The Danakil (or Dallol) Depression, which straddles the Eritrean border to the east of the Tigraian Highlands, is renowned as the hottest place on earth, with an average temperature of 34–35?C. Much of this vast and practically unpopulated region lies below sea level, dipping to a frazzled nadir of -116m at Dallol, near Lake Asale, the lowest spot of terra firma on the African continent. One of the driest and most tectonically active areas on the planet, the Danakil is an area of singular geological fascination: a strange lunar landscape studded with active volcanoes, malodorous sulphur-caked hot springs, solidified black lava flows and vast salt-encrusted basins.
INSIDERS TIP: Travellers should also be self-sufficient in food and water (bank on a minimum of five litres of drinking water each per day, and carry enough excess in jerrycans to last a few days extra) and will need to take camping and cooking gear, since no accommodation or firewood are available. The desert nights can be refreshingly chilly, so bring a light jumper or a sweatshirt.
9. Spotted Lake, Osoyoos, British Colombia, Canada
Osoyoos is one of the most mineral-rich bodies of water on Earth, featuring mostly sulfates of magnesium, calcium and sodium. During the summer, as the lake’s water evaporates, it leaves behind the minerals, which take the shape of pools. Each natural pool has a different color, depending on the type and concentration of the minerals, making Osoyoos a unique sight to behold.
Ever since ancient times, the Indians of the Oskogan Valley have considered the Spotted Lake a holy place that cured their every illness. Whether they were suffering from sprains, infections, skin diseases or body aches, they would get better by immersing their bodies in the lakes waters. Even during times of war, tribes would ask for truce, so warriors could come to Osoyoos Lake and heal their wounds.
INSIDERS TIP: You cannot walk between the pools anymore. A fence has been erected and viewing must take place behind it.
10. Champagne Pool, Rotorua, New Zealand
This geothermal pool is a hot spring that gets its boozy name from the bubbly nature of its waters. The vibrant colors come from a rich deposition of minerals and silicate. The silicate structures around the edge of the pool is teeming with microbial life.
The hot spring was formed 900 years ago by a hydrothermal eruption, resulting in a crater 65 m in diameter and 62 m deep. Colored waters percolate up from underground full of carbon dioxide which forms bubbles near the surface where the water temperature is 74°C. At the edges of the pools the silica is lined with bright orange from antimony rich deposits that solidify out of the cooler water. Mercury, thallium, gold and silver are also deposited in the rocks.
INSIDERS TIP: Being an active volcanic area with undulating terrain, sturdy footwear is recommended, it is not a good idea to wear jandals, sandals or flip-flops.
11. Preikestolen, Forsand, Norway
Preikestolen, or the Pulpit Rock, is a huge destination point for hikers, adventurous travellers, and anyone else willing to brave the heights for some amazing views. The remarkable rock formation – a flat 25x25m – towers 604 metres over the Lysefjord in Ryfylke near Stavanger.
The hike is packed with anticipation, from the moment you step on the bus in Stavanger’s city centre for the 24km ride to the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge. From here, a well prepared track leads you to the top of the mountain plateau, but a reasonable level of physical fitness is still required. Expect to spend at least 4 hours hiking there and back, plus at least an hour on the Pulpit Rock itself. You can also access Preikestolen from the fjord.
INSIDERS TIP: For the ultimate Preikestolen experience, combine a hike with a cruise along the Lysefjord to see this natural wonder from every possible angle. Boats leave Stavanger regularly during the summer season, which is the best time to ensure a clear sighting of Norway’s famous landmark.
Looking for more ‘Natural Phenomena’ to include in your travels or want more info on the above? Download and search the Crooked Compass Travel App for inspiration.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.