Top 10 Amazing places You Won’t Believe exist

Antelope Canyon

Top 10 Amazing places in the world

Amazing places that are looking totally unearthly but are actually here, on our planet Earth. 

There are places on Earth that are absolutely stunning and extraordinary. Some of these amazing places contain phenomenon that defy the norms of our understanding. Imagining such places as a reality may seem impossible but they are there for everyone to visit. These jaw-dropping  places are formed by natural occurrences and we are presenting to you now! Keep reading and watching!  

1. Pamukkale, Hierapolis Turkey

Pamukkale is one of Turkey’s top attractions and a precious in the world with its cotton-look terraces. The underground water once gave life to the ancient city of Hierapolis now helps Pamukkale be one of the most important thermal centers of Turkey.

Tourists and locals visit Pamukkale frequently not only for its extraordinary look and its ancient history but also for wellness. Scientifically proven to cure many diseases, the waters attract people and there are many thermal hotels in the area that serve 12 months a year. Watch video about Pamukkale here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5OCBrY0oqY

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Thousands of years ago, the Romans built the city of Hierapolis so their citizens can enjoy the health benefits of a hot mineral water. Flash forward to 2015, and the city of Pamukkale in Turkey is still one of the healthiest and most mysterious places in the world. Deep in the earth beneath the city lies a vast source of water that is heated by volcanic lava. As a result, the water dissolves pure white calcium, and then becomes saturated with the calcium before appearing on the surface of the earth where it bursts and runs down a steep hillside. As the calcium cools in the open air, the material precipitates from the water and adheres the soil. And the end result is a form of calcium cascades frozen in stone.

PAMUKKALE IN TURKEY

The Legend of Pamukkale

As every mysterious place in the world, Pamukkale has a strong legend that makes the place even more appealing. People believe that back in the days, there was a Turkish young girl that no one wanted to marry because she was ugly. Depressed, the girl tried to commit suicide throwing herself off the travertine. She fell into a natural pool and survived the fall. The water in the pool turned her into a beautiful girl who caught the attention of the Turkish lord Denizli while he was passing by the place. He fell in love with the girl and decided to marry her. That is why people nowadays believe that in addition to the health benefits, the rocks in Pamukkale can make you more beautiful.

Pamukkale

Understanding the mystery of Pamukkale

In order to explain the mystery of Pamukkale, we must explain the geology of the spot. The terraces of the place are made out of travertine, a sedimentary rock that is deposited by water.

There are 17 hot springs in Pamukkale with temperature ranging from 35 degrees to 100 degrees. The water, once emerging from the spring, is then transported 320m to the head of thee terraces where it deposits calcium carbonate. Once the water reaches the surface, carbon dioxide is de-gassed and the result is deposition of calcium carbonate. The deposition continues until the carbon dioxide in the water and in the air is balanced. Calcium carbonate is deposited as a soft jelly, but in the travertine the carbonate hardens.

Health Benefits

Pamukkale is considered a natural health spa thanks to the many benefits it provide for its visitors. According to many, the water provides cure against asthma and rheumatism.

Additionally, the water brings benefits to the skin, eyes, helps recover from high blood pressure, kidney stones, stroke, physical exhaustion, circulatory issues, digestive maladies, chronic disorders and nutritional disorders.

Best time to visit Pamukkale is the spring, as the weather and the climate is at a normal level. In the summer, the temperature can go up to 40+ degrees and humidity is another issue.

Tourist destination

Up until the 1980s, Pamukkale was a local destination in Turkey, and not many people outside of the country knew the benefits of the water. But then the local authorities decided to market and develop Pamukkale as a spa center. Motels were razed and the land became clear, the road up the slope was converted into pools, and visitors were allowed in them to walk, play, splash and even soak.

But most importantly, the pools are designed for swimmers who like to experience the health and beauty benefits of the hot water.

In 1988, Pamukkale was made a World Heritage Site. To protect the site, access to terraces is limited and visitors must follow the main pathway. Small pools are the only ones allowed for swimming and bathing in order to protect the thermal waters.

The thermal water in the Antique Pool is very important for human health besides the earthly goods and historical artifacts.  Antique Pool

Cleopatra’s Pool

Cleopatra pool, Pamukkale

Especially in The Roman Empire period, Hierapolis and its side was exactly a health centre. In that years, thousand of people was coming to the Baths which are more than 15, and they find their remedy in that baths.

Up to the researchs, the Antique pools water is good for heart diseases, atherosclerosis, blood pressure, rheumatism, eye and skin diseases, rickets, nervous disorders, nervous and physical exhaustion circulatorly problems and furthermore when it has been drank it is good for digestive maladies. And all this benefits shows why so many health centers had been founded sides the Antique Pool from Roman Empire times on.
 The water in the termal pool is 36 C°- 57 C°,PH value is 5,8 and radon value is1480 piccocuri/liter. Spa water has its inside bicarbonate, sulphate, carbon dioxide, partly with iron and radioactive combination. And also, the water in this spring is suitable for taking shower and drinking cures, 2430 MG/liter melt metal value.

Beside all the other part of Hierapolis and Pamukkale terraces, the cleopatra's pool is run by private sector. If you want to swim in Cleopatra's pool you will have to pay 30 TL as entrance fee.

2. Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan

The giant red mountains and vast mausoleums of a departed race have nothing in common with modern civilization, and ask nothing of it except to be appreciated at their true value - as one of the greatest wonders ever wrought by Nature and Man. Although much has been written about Petra, nothing really prepares you for this amazing place. It has to be seen to be believed. 

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Petra

Inhabited since prehistoric times, this Nabataean caravan-city, situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, was an important crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia. Petra is half-built, half-carved into the rock, and is surrounded by mountains riddled with passages and gorges. It is one of the world's most famous archaeological sites, where ancient Eastern traditions blend with Hellenistic architecture.

Situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea and inhabited since prehistoric times, the rock-cut capital city of the Nabateans, became during Hellenistic and Roman times a major caravan centre for the incense of Arabia, the silks of China and the spices of India, a crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia. Petra is half-built, half-carved into the rock, and is surrounded by mountains riddled with passages and gorges. An ingenious water management system allowed extensive settlement of an essentially arid area during the Nabataean, Roman and Byzantine periods. It is one of the world's richest and largest archaeological sites set in a dominating red sandstone landscape.

Petra, Jordan

The Outstanding Universal Value of Petra resides in the vast extent of elaborate tomb and temple architecture; religious high places; the remnant channels, tunnels and diversion dams that combined with a vast network of cisterns and reservoirs which controlled and conserved seasonal rains, and the extensive archaeological remains including of copper mining, temples, churches and other public buildings. The fusion of Hellenistic architectural facades with traditional Nabataean rock-cut temple/tombs including the Khasneh, the Urn Tomb, the Palace Tomb, the Corinthian Tomb and the Deir ("monastery") represents a unique artistic achievement and an outstanding architectural ensemble of the first centuries BC to AD. The varied archaeological remains and architectural monuments from prehistoric times to the medieval periods bear exceptional testimony to the now lost civilisations which succeeded each other at the site.

Petra, Jordan

Integrity

All the main freestanding and rock-cut monuments and extensive archaeological remains within the arid landscape of red sandstone cliffs and gorges lie within the boundaries of the property that coincide with the boundaries of the Petra National Park. The monuments are subject to ongoing erosion due to wind and rain, exacerbated in the past by windblown sand due to grazing animals reducing ground cover. The resettlement more than twenty years ago of the Bdul (Bedouin) tribe and their livestock away from their former seasonal dwellings in the Petra basin to a new village at Umm Sayhun was aimed in part at arresting this process.

They are also vulnerable to flash flooding along Wadi Musa through the winding gorge (Siq) if the Nabataean diversion system is not continually monitored, repaired and maintained.

The property is under pressure from tourism, which has increased greatly since the time of inscription, particularly congestion points such as the Siq which is the main entrance to the city from the east.

The property is also vulnerable to the infrastructure needs of local communities and tourists. A new sewerage treatment plant has been provided within the property to the north with the recycled water being used for an adjacent drip irrigation farming project. Further infrastructure development proposed inside the boundary includes electricity supply and substation, a community/visitor centre, an outdoor theatre for community events, picnic areas, camping ground and a new restaurant near the Qasr al Bint temple, all of which have the potential to impact on the integrity of the property.

Authenticity

The attributes of temple/tomb monuments, and their location and setting clearly express the Outstanding Universal Value. The natural decay of the sandstone architecture threatens the authenticity of the property in the long-term. Stabilization of freestanding monuments including the Qasr al Bint temple and the vaulted structure supporting the Byzantine forecourt to the Urn Tomb Church was carried out prior to inscription.

3. Lake Hillier, Australia

Lake Hillier, Australia
Lake Hillier, Australia

This bubble-gum pink lake defies science. This amazing place in Western Australia has some scientists scratching their heads. Because the exact reason behind the lake's pink color isn't fully understood. Some believe the vibrant color is made by a type of micro algae found in the lake. Others think it's because of an interaction between the lake's salt crusts and bacteria. 

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The reason of its unique colour is still a topic that is not fully understood by scientists, although most suspect it has to do with the presence of the Dunaliella salina microalgae. The Dunaliella produces carotenoids, a pigment found in carrots as well. But the presence of halophilic bacteria in the salt crusts could be another explanation. A reaction between the salt and the sodium bicarbonate that is found in the water may cause it as well.

Lake Hilier

The Hillier Lake was first discovered in 1802 by navigator and cartographer Matthew Flinders who took samples from the lake and mentioned its existence in his journal.

The lake is located on Middle Island, off the coast of Western Australia. As noted above, the Hillier Lake is quite small, its length is 600 meters and its width is no more than 250 meters. It is surrounded by eucalyptus and paperback trees and the ocean on its northern part.

Its pink color is less accentuated when viewed from the surface but it is very prominent from above. However, unlike other pink lakes around the world, its water is still distinctively pink even when it is in a glass.

For a few years they used to extract salt from the lake but nowadays it is only used for tourism purposes. The water of the lake is otherwise clear and it causes no harm to the human skin and the Dunaliella salina alga is completely harmless as well. In fact, swimming in the lake’s water is safe and fun but impossible to do for normal tourists as the lake can’t be visited.

Lake hillier

Lake Hillier Facts

• Lake Hillier is not the only pink lake in the world, for that matter, it is not even the only pink lake in Australia.

• Geographic coordinates: 34°5′45″S 123°12′10″E

• For a period of six years, in the early 20th century, salt was mined from the lake, but it is not anymore.

4.Great rice terraces, China

great rice terraces china
Great rice terraces China

THE TERRACED RICE paddies of southern China are breathtaking, with flowing lines and vibrant colors that make them look like nothing else on Earth. 

The Hani people first terraced the hillsides 1,300 years ago. Given their long history and overwhelming beauty, the Yuanyang terraces are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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The Longji Terraced Fields

The Longji Rice Terraces offer some of the most fantastic scenery in China or indeed the world. Beautiful when the sun reflects in the water of the paddy fields and glowing with yellow ears when the harvest is ripe, Longji (Dragon's Back) is a feast for the eyes.

The Longji Terraced Fields

Longji Rice Terraces

There are about 66 square kilometers (25 sq mi) of terraced fields. The rice terraces are built into the hillsides, and look like great amphitheatres or ribbons as they wind round the contours in tiered bands.

This ingenious irrigation method makes the best use of the scarce arable land and water resources in this mountainous area.

The Two Popular Rice Terrace Areas — How to Choose Between Them

The Longji Rice Terraces refers to several village areas in Longsheng County.

The most popular terraced field areas are around Ping'an Village, where Zhuang minority people live, and in the Jinkeng area, home to the Red Yao.

The Ping'an Terraced Fields — Famous and Well-developed

Ping'an Zhuang Village Terraced Fields (平安壮寨梯田) are the earliest and most developed terraced fields in Longsheng, and the most touristy area.

Ping'an Terraced Fields

Ping'an Terraced Fields

These terraced fields are around Ping'an Village and two smaller hamlets, inhabited by the Zhuang minority. The villagers live in traditional wooden three-story stilted houses.

The area is well-equipped with modern facilities, where dining, accommodation and transportation are very convenient with over 80 hostels and hotels available.

Ping'an Highlights You Shouldn't Miss

  • Seven Stars Accompany the Moon (七星伴月) is comprised of seven small piles of rocks, left when the area was developed, in the middle of a moon-like field. It is a perfect place for photography.
  • Nine Dragons and Five Tigers (九龙五虎) or just Nine Dragons refers to nine ridges, branching off from the main ridge, which look like nine dragons bending over to drink from the Jinsha River. Alongside, there are five tiger-like rocks.

The Jinkeng Terraced Fields — Less Touristy and More Spectacular

Jinkeng Red Yao Terraced Fields (金坑红瑶梯田) are farther than the Ping’an Terraced Fields from the tourist entrance.

Jinkeng Terraced Fields

Jinkeng Terraced Fields

The Jinkeng Terraces hold several Yao villages: Dazhai, Tiantouzhai, Xinzhai, and Xiaozhai. The main attractions and accommodation are located in and around Dazhai ('Big Village') and Tiantouzhai ('Field Head Village').

Jinkeng Highlights You Shouldn't Miss

  • 'West Hill Music' (Xishan Shaoyue 西山韶乐) is the highest point on the terraces (altitude 1,180 m; 3,870 ft) with the broadest panorama. Popular for sunrises and sunsets, it takes two hours to walk there. More than 90% of published Longsheng Terrace photos are taken there.
  • The 'Large-Scale Thousand-Layer Terraces’ (Dajie Qianceng Titian 大界天层天梯) is relatively low and easy to climb to as the paths are good. The terraces are fantastic and you can see the Yao people's houses. It is an excellent place to see a sunrise.
  • ‘Golden Buddha Peak’ (Jinfo Ding 金佛顶): This is the best place to take sunset photos. The cable way from the bottom of the rice terraces to the peak is very convenient for those who are not good at walking (20 minutes instead of 3 hours of walking).

Longji Terrace Hiking

For those who like outdoor exercise, there couldn't be a better choice than to hike at the Longji Terraced Fields. There are many good hiking trails between the villages. The most popular two options are:

  • Ping'an to Longji Ancient Zhuang Village: about 2 hours
  • Dazhai to Ping'an: 4-5 hours.

Longji Terrace Hiking

There are a considerable number of small paths, which may easily lead to getting lost, so a tour guide may be necessary to help you find the right way.

The uncut stone paths have many twists and turns, and some sections are steep, so please mind your step.

Famous Ethnic Villages in Longji

The major villages in Longji Rice Terraces Scenic area include Ping'an and Dazhai (covered above), and Longji Ancient Zhuang Village and Huangluo Yao Village, with particular ethnic attractions.

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village — Famous for Zhuang History and Culture

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village (龙脊古壮寨), 3 km southwest of Ping'an Village, is the most traditional and least modernized Zhuang minority village in Longsheng. It is the top choice for those interested in history and culture.

pingan-zhuang-village

 

The village boasts the oldest and the largest stilted building group in Guangxi Province, most of which are more than 100 years old. It features well-preserved architecture of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. With a history of over 400 years, the village is home to 200 households of over 1,000 Zhuang people. Their costumes are vigorous and brilliant.

The stone bridges are the most special feature. Among the 20 kilometers (13 mi) of terraces, there are around 300 stone bridges, of which 57 are in Longji Ancient Zhuang Village. On the bridges, lotuses, swords, and eight trigrams were carved. The most typical one is the "Three Fish Share One Head" which was carved on the Wind and Rain Bridge in front of the village administrative office.

The village is very big and may take half a day to explore.

Huangluo Red Yao Village — 'the World's Top Long Hair Village'

Huangluo Red Yao Village (黄洛红瑶寨), 1 km south of Ping'an, is where over 60 Yao households of over 400 people live harmoniously. It is known as the ‘World's Top Long Hair Village'.

Huangluo,Top Long Hair Village

Top Long Hair Village

It is a tradition for girls to wear long hair in Huangluo, and over 60 girls have over one-meter long black hair. The longest is 2.1 meters. It is said that this village holds the Guinness World Record for the group of people with the longest hair.

You can tell a woman's marriage status from her hair. An unmarried woman should pack all of her hair in a cloth. You are not able to see her hair. A married woman will also pack her hair, but will leave a bun outside.

The 'long-hair show', 'red-stick dancing', and 'umbrella dancing' are performed in the village. It is very touristy. If you are looking for something less staged, skip it.

The Best Times for a Visit

You can enjoy different sceneries in different months. Spring and autumn are the most popular times to take photos and go hiking.

  • From mid-April to mid-June the fields are well-watered and you can see water glittering in the sun in spring.
  • From July to mid-September it is the growing period for the grain seedlings. You will see green and vigor everywhere.
  • From September to early October, the rice on the fields is ripe. You will see layers of golden yellow. Farmers can be seen harvesting in the fields from around October 1st to 15th.
  • From October 15th to April you will see nothing more than the plain scenery of brown empty fields (and maybe snow).

Travel Essentials for Planning a Trip

Location

Longji Terraced Fields Scenic Area is 95 kilometers (59 miles) from Guilin, about two and a half hours by bus.

Transport Information

We can arrange a private van and driver for you, with a private English speaking tour guide. Taking private transport directly there takes less than 2 hours.

Direct tourist buses depart from Guilin Train Station, but beware being roped into an inflexible and commission-focused group tour.

If you wish to go alone, you can take the express bus from Guilin to Longsheng County Town first. It takes about two hours. Then take another bus from Longsheng to the Longji terraces area, which takes about one hour.

Alternatively, you can take regular bus at Guilin Qintan Bus Station and get off at Heping, a village before Longsheng, and then take a tourism bus to Ping’an or Dazhai. This takes even longer.

Three Entrances

Beautiful scenery of Ping'an Zhuang Village Terraced Fields

The terraced fields have three entrances: Ping'an Village, Longji Ancient Zhuang Village, and Dazhai Village.

Visitors must park/alight at the bottom of the valley, and take a minibus to one of the upper car parks and entrances. From there visitors must ascend on foot.

Entry Cost

The 90-yuan-per-person ticket includes entrance fees to Ping'an and Dazhai/Jinkeng scenic areas. The ticket is valid for two days.

Children over 1.4 meters (4’7”) tall must pay the full price, but entry is free for those under 1.4 meters.

Going to Huangluo Yao Village (Hongyao Long Hair Village) requires an extra 60 yuan per person.

Luggage Carrying Service

If you have heavy luggage, you can have it stored at the entrance of the scenic area. The price is 30 yuan per piece.

The local people will enthusiastically offer to help you with your luggage and to guide you to your hotel. If you have one, your tour guide will help you negotiate the price with them first.

From Dazhai Village to Tiantou Village is about 30 yuan per basket; to the highest view point (Xishan Shaoyue) is 40 yuan per basket. (A basket can hold a medium suitcase or a large backpack.)

Accommodation

The accommodation is mainly around Ping'an, Dazhai, and Tiantou. It is quite basic. Most of the hotels are local stilted buildings, with a limited hot water supply. Some of the rooms have washrooms, some don't. You can really experience local life if you stay in a guesthouse.

Photography at the Longji Rice Terraces

The Longji Rice Terraces offer outstanding scenery for photography. Ask for permission first before taking photos of the locals, as they like to charge you for the privilege.

Longji Terrace

 

5. Tunnel of love, Ukraina

Tunnel of love, Ukraine

Tunnel of Love is a beautiful spot in Klevan, Ukraine. A three kilometer railway section leads to the fiberboard factory.

The train goes three times a day and delivers wood to the factory. However, the trees make a green corridor, which attracts many couples, as well as photographers for its eye catching avenue.

It is said that if you and your beloved come to the Tunnel of Love and sincerely make a wish, it will come true. This might be a new romantic place to discover.

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The Tunnel of Love is an old abandoned Railway track around 4 km long, which connects Klevan town with Orzhevsk Woodworking Factory. The Tunnel of Love itself stretches just for 1 km long.  The factory is still in use; however the workers do not actively use the railway. A train makes its three daily runs only. That’s why trees are thickly covered with vegetation and that’s how the arched corridor appeared in the nature without help of human hands.

WHY IT’S SO IMPORTANT FOR COUPLES AND WHY IT’S SO WELL-KNOWN EVEN WORLDWIDE?

Desolation makes this place full of mystery and magic and needless to say which is why couples want to visit this place so much… since Love is a Fairy Tale! Mysterious twilight helps couples to have relaxing walks, pleasant thoughts and, of course, romantic confessions. The name of this place – “The tunnel of Love” comes from locals. They have christened the abandoned road as a “tunnel of love” since this place attracts lots of travelers in love and holding hands they walk through the arched corridor and make innermost wishes!

Local legend has it that if you kissed in the tunnel of Love and made a wish, that the wish would come true if only your feelings are sincere.  Isn’t it a romantic?

Tunnel of Love in Ukraine

And another (but not romantic one) legend has it that during USSR this  rail track led to a secret military underground base, and in order to hide the 4 km long railway soviet power decided to arrange here many many trees to protect their secret from people’s eyes!

Believe it or not, but we know for sure that the train played important role in creating this mystery tunnel of love in Klevan!

And if you believe in a Fairy Tale and a dream, or want to create your own Love Fairy Tale in Ukraine – you are welcome to have a tunnel of love tour! Klevan town is located around 20 km from Rivne (Rovno) city and just around 350 km from Kyiv.  It’s beautiful at any weather and any season of a year, no matter if it’s summer, fall or winter.

6. Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon  is located in Arizona, next to the great Lake Powell, and in the center of the Grand Circle. The mysterious and haunting beauty of Antelope Canyon (also known as "Corkscrew Canyon") awaits the adventurous traveler who seeks to discover one of the most spectacular attractions. 

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Just how special is Antelope Canyon? Special enough to be featured on almost any “top 25 places to see in the world.” Located just outside of Page, Arizona, in the heart of Navajo Country, Antelope Canyon could be the most photographed slot canyon in the world and there is good reason for that fact. Simply put, the canyon may be the most mystifying place I’ve ever visited. Antelope Canyon

Visiting Antelope Canyon

1. Entry fees and tours

For Upper Antelope Canyon you’re looking at about a $32-$40 entrance fee and for Lower Antelope it’s only $20. If you want to take a photography tour at Upper Antelope, it’s going to cost you around $80.  Also, you’re entering Navajo land and are required to pay an additional entrance fee of $6.

2. The great debate: Upper Antelope vs Lower Antelope

Antelope Canyon comprises two separate canyons and you have to book trips to them separately. Lower Antelope is less populated with tourists, cheaper to visit, longer, and the canyon spaces are much tighter inside the canyon walls. Upper Antelope is more frequently visited, more expensive, and has much wider walkways in the canyon. The important difference for me was the famous light beams of Upper Antelope. While you can find the light beams (or “shafts”) in Lower Antelope as well, Upper Antelope’s light beams appear to be more dramatic and seemed to be the more guaranteed route for stunning photographs.

So which one is right for you? Well, they are both going to blow you away so you really can’t go wrong with either one. But if you are trying to narrow it down, one thing to consider is your personal mobility. In Lower Antelope, you will have to climb some stairs and ladders and get through some very tight spaces with moderate scrambling. In Upper Antelope, that is not the case because the floor is flat and there are only a few narrow sections. So if mobility is an important concern then the decision is easy: go with Upper Antelope.

Upper Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope

One big advantage to Lower Antelope is that there are far fewer people visiting the canyon, which means you don’t have to deal with mass herds of people. Another is that Lower has the more adventurous appeal, because you may be able to venture without being accompanied by a tour guide and there’s a little bit of climbing here and there. While the spaces are more cramped and thus more difficult to set up a tripod, you won’t have to deal with the big crowds so it balances out. But once again, if you are going to Antelope Canyon to shoot the light beams you probably want to go with Upper Antelope.

lower antelope canyon

Lower antelope canyon

Another difference is getting there. For Upper Antelope, you will arrive at a parking lot where you will sign in under a tent and then jump aboard an open-bed truck and head a few minutes down the road and then on to a bumpy off-road to reach the canyon. We did a photography tour (more below) so we were taken to the canyon in an enclosed SUV. For Lower Antelope, you simply show up at the parking lot and then a guide takes you down into the canyon. Based on reviews, it appears the guides use their discretion as to whether they’ll accompany you down there or not.

Overall, I think the two main determining factors are mobility and desire to shoot the light beams. But just know, you really can’t lose any way you go and remember you can always schedule a tour for both. As for my recommendation, I say do both. However, if you can’t do both then I’m on Team Upper Antelope (at least for your first time out there). 

3. Light beams

The light beams in Antelope Canyon are, to me, what makes this place is so unforgettable. They only occur at certain times of the day and only last for a short while but when they shine through the openings up top it’s truly a sight to see.

Light beams antelope canyon

Light beams antelope canyon

I highly recommend planning your visit so that you can witness the magnificent light beams. Call the tour guides to see when the best time to come to see the beams is since that time will differ depending on the time of year. Usually the time will be between 10am-12pm. If you can’t get there to see the beams, don’t worry, this place is still one of the most mystifying destinations you’ll ever visit.

The guides in Upper Antelope will take care of throwing sand into the beams to make sure that the light sticks out, just try to time your shots to make sure you capture the beam when the sand is mid-air. And please, as much fun as we all have throwing sand up in the air, just let the guides handle the sand throwing and work their magic. There was at least one visitor who threw up a handful of sand only for it to shower upon on an entire group of photographers in front of me. Suffice it to say, he instantly became the least popular person in the canyon.

Light beams antelope canyon

Light beams antelope canyon

4. Pouring sand

Another amazing sight is the pouring sand effect. This happens when the guide throws a lot of the sand onto the canyon walls or also when the sand is blown from above the canyon. When I visited, a strong wind blew tons of sand from the top so we had more than enough pouring sand to go around. And when I say tons, I mean it felt like I was trapped in the bottom half of a giant hourglass. Our guide said that’s something that usually doesn’t happen but just be ready for it because it will get everywhere.

Pouring sand antelope canyon

Pouring sand antelope canyon

7. Kailasa Temple, India

Kailasa Temple, India

The enigmatic Kailasa Temple at the Ellora Caves in Maharashtra, India has fascinated researchers and tourists for centuries. It is a breathtaking construction that points out that thousands of years ago, ancient cultures were far more advanced than what mainstream scholars are crediting them for. Everyone is trying to understand how the temple was built, cut out of the rocks, without the use of ‘modern’ technology.

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The temple symbolizes Mount Kailash, the home of Lord Shiva, one of the most important ancient Hindu deities. The Kailasa temple is the 16th from a total of 34 caves which were literally excavated out of the surrounding rock. Mainstream scholars indicate that the ancient caves were built sometime around the fifth and tenth centuries AD, but many others disagree suggesting the caves are much older.

Many researchers believe that the builders of the Kailasa temple used a vertical excavation method in order to achieve what they did. They started at the top of the original boulders and worked their way downward carving out one of the most fascinating ancient temple complexes on the planet. But how did they do it? What did the ancient builders of the Ellora caves use to excavate and build? Mainstream scholars indicate that the caves were built with the use of hammers, chisels, and picks, thousands of years ago.

According to H.P. Blavatsky, many of these ancient temples date back much longer than what scholars today believe.

M.K. Dhavalikar, a notable Indian historian, and archaeologist, author of the book ‘Ellora’, suggests the shrines and the Kailasa temple were not excavated at the same time but are the result of a construction process that belongs to a number of different periods.

There is a perforated window in the west wall [of cave 15, a Hindu cave] on which is engraved a Sanskrit inscription in the Brahmi script of the eighth century. It is, however, incomplete and much of it has been damaged due to weathering. It gives the genealogy of the Rashtrakuta dynasty, from the founder Dantivarman (c. 600-30) and records the visit of Dantidurga (752-7) to the cave. It can, therefore, be placed in the middle of the eighth century. 

“This, of course, only proves that the caves existed in the 8th century and were engraved at that time with this inscription. Again, “There were inscriptions on pillars [in cave 33, a Jain cave] which are now mostly worn; a few letters that have survived suggest that the cave may have been built at around the ninth century” (ibid., p. 96).

Take a look at these fascinating images of the Ellora caves and judge for yourself if ancient cultures had more than ordinary hammers, chisels, and picks thousands of years ago.

Kailasa Temple

Kailasa Temple_India

Kailasa Temple_India

Kailasa Temple_India

Kailasa Temple_India

Kailasa Temple_India

Kailasa Temple_India

Kailasa Temple_India

8.Mount Roraima,Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana

Mount Roraima

Mount Roraima is the highest of South America’s Pakaraima Mountains and one of the world’s most extraordinary natural geological formations. The 31-square-kilometer summit area is defined by 400-meter-tall cliffs on all sides and includes the borders of Brazil, Venezuela, and Guyana.

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While its cliff walls are only scalable by the most experienced of climbers, there is a path up the mountain’s natural ramp-like path (usually a two-day hike).

Mount Roraima

However, the mountain is worth a visit for more reasons than its impressive cliffs. Mount Roraima, part of Venezuela’s 30000-square-kilometer Canaima National Park, is the site of the highest peak of the country of Guyana’s Highland Range. The mountains of this range, including Roraima, are considered to be some of the oldest geological formations known, some dating back to two billion years ago. Its near daily rains have also created a unique ecosystem which includes several endemic species, such as a unique carnivorous pitcher plant, and some of the highest waterfalls in the world.

Mount Roraima

Culturally, the mountain has long held significance to the indigenous people of the area and features prominently in their myths and folklore. This remote landscape of jungle and cliffs has inspired the dinosaur infested landscapes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel The Lost World, and the dramatic waterfalls dubbed “Paradise Falls” in the 2009 Pixar film Up.

Mount Roraima

9. Mendenhall ice caves, Alaska

Mendenhall Glacier Ice Caves, Alaska

The Mendenhall Glacier ice caves are among the world’s most stunning, with their eerie, swelling blue domes that resemble the underside of a rapid river, flash-frozen. They’re found in Southeastern Alaska’s rainy Tongass National Forest, but once you arrive you might think you’ve somehow traveled beyond Alaska and ended up in a fantasy land far, far away.

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Why do glaciers form?

In Southeast Alaska, maritime climate and coastal mountains create favorable conditions for glaciation. Moist air flows toward the mountains, rises and releases snow and rain. Average annual snowfall on the Juneau Icefield exceeds 100 feet. Mild Southeast Alaskan summers cause winter snow accumulation to exceed summer snowmelt at higher elevations. Year after year, snow accumulates, compacting underlying snow layers from previous years into solid ice. Mendenhall Glacier is one of the 38 large glaciers that flow from the 1500 square mile expanse of rock, snow and ice known as the Juneau Icefield. As glacial ice continues to build, gravity pulls the ice down slope. The glacier slowly scours the bedrock and grinds down its 13-mile journey to Mendenhall Lake.

Mendenhall Glacier Ice Caves, Juneau, Alaska

Is the glacier retreating?

A neo-glaciation period began 3,000 years ago and ended in the mid-1700s. At this time, Mendenhall Glacier reached its point on maximum advance, and its terminus rested almost 2.5 miles down valley from its present position. Mendenhall Glacier started retreating in the mid-1700s because its annual rate of melt began to exceed its annual total accumulation. The icefield's snowfall perpetually creates new glacial ice for Mendenhall Glacier and this ice takes 200-250 years to travel from the Juneau Icefield to Mendenhall Lake. Water depth at the glacier's terminus is 220 feet. At this rate, the glacier would take several centuries to completely disappear. For Mendenhall Glacier to advance, the icefield's snowfall needs to increase, the glacier's rate of melt needs to decrease, or both.

Mendenhall Glacier Ice Caves, Juneau, Alaska

What happens after the glacier retreats?

As Mendenhall Glacier retreats and uncovers bare rock, the wind carries seeds and spores of moss onto barren land. Alder, willow and cottonwood tree seeds systematically grow in degalciated landscapes. Glacier debris, poor in nutrients, depends on flowering lupine and alder to fix nitrogen in the soil, and all species add organic matter to the soil as they are overtopped and shaded out by other species. Spruce and hemlock ultimately rise to close the forest canopy, eventually creating an old growth forest. Encompassing almost 350 years, this sequence of plant succession provides habitat for an increasing number of plants and animal species.

Mendenhall Glacier Ice Caves, Juneau, Alaska

What evidence do glaciers leave behind?

The base of Mendenhall Glacier works like a giant piece of sandpaper. As the ice flows towards Mendenhall Lake, the glacier plucks rocks that become imbedded in the ice from the valley floor. The glacier scrapes these rocks across the bedrock creating grooves and striations. The glacier's erosive power changes the landscape and scrapes much of the soil and rock from the valley walls. Rocks scoured from the surrounding valley wallscan fall on to the glacier and be transported down valley. This process can create dark debris lines called moraines on the edges and, where two branches come together, down the center of the glacier. As the glacier continues its path towards Mendenhall Lake, it carries debris like a conveyor belt and deposits it in the lake. As it moves the glacier also grinds up rock to a fine powder called rock flour that escapes with glacial melt water and creates the lake's murky color. 

What wildlife lives near the glacier?

Coyote, porcupine, squirrel, snowshoe hare, and short-tailed weasel build homes on the valley floor, and migrating songbirds build nests in the deciduous shrubs in the young forest. In Steep Creek, beavers work to create ponds while spawning sockeye and coho salmom provide a food source for black bears and eagles. Loons, gull and Arctic terns nest around Mendenhall Lake, and mountain goats favor the rocky terrain and alpine meadows on the surrounding peaks.

I heard there is an ice cave at Mendenhall Glacier. Where is it?

There are several ice caves, but the cave that appears in most photos is quite challenging to access. It is located along the west flank of the glacier.

How can I prepare for a trip to the ice cave?

A trip to the western ice cave, while inspiring, is also dangerous.  If you choose to go to the cave, be aware of the risks and go prepared and with a guide. 

  • Allow at least six to eight hours for a trek to the cave. Many people underestimate the time required and as a result they wind up lost and out of daylight.
  • Dress in layers and bring extra clothing. A day that starts warm can turn cold and rainy. Bring extra clothing in case a change of dry clothes is needed or you get lost and spend the night outdoors. Hypothermia is a valid concern.
  • Wear sturdy footwear such as hiking boots. Both the rocks and the glacier can be slippery. Loose soil and rocks are regularly encountered. Glacier travel requires crampons, ice axe and rescue gear, and the skills to use them.
  • The ice cave may collapse either in whole or in part, injuring or killing people and pets inside or on top of the cave. The cave entrance is thinner and more vulnerable to collapse. Rocks atop the entrance can fall unseen. People have been killed and injured in ice cave collapses on Mt. Baker and on Mt. Hood. 
  •  Do you have the skills to travel on a glacier? Crevasses can be hidden by a thin bridge of snow. Slopes near moulins (holes) can be slippery. The glacier can calve and shift at any time.
  • Have a communication plan. Let someone you trust know what route you plan to take and when you plan to return. They can call for help if you don’t return on time.
  • Since there are no accurate route maps, track your progress with GPS in order to find your way back. Cell service may or may not be available. While many people find their way to the glacier, many get lost when returning from the cave as the trail is not obvious. Lost hikers who try to find their way to the lake’s edge often find themselves at a cliff. You want to be one of those who make it back without the need for rescue. Bring enough food and water to survive an unplanned overnight stay.
  • Mendenhall Glacier Ice Caves, Juneau, Alaska

How do I get to the ice cave?

There are two general routes people take to the ice caves: over land and over the lake. Both routes involve hazards not normally found on trails and it is strongly recommended to go with someone who knows the route.

The lake route involves paddling a water craft on an icy-cold lake and passing near the glacier face where large bergs may break off at any time. This should only be attempted by those with cold-water paddling skills including an ability to self-rescue in the event of capsize.  Strong, cold, downslope winds can cause 1-2’ choppy waves on the lake, particularly on warmer, sunny days.  Waves from glacial calvings (collapse of the glacial terminus face) can cause watercraft to capsize or wash watercraft off the shoreline. Birds nest near the landing beach and should not be approached within 250 yards (2 ½ football fields). This route also requires foot travel for 30 minutes along the glacier edge where rock is especially loose, or on the glacier itself with the hazards of crevasses and slippery ice.

Many people use an overland route that begins at the West Glacier trail and veers onto an unmaintained, unofficial path through the forest and across a moon-scape of loose rock with a confusing array of markers.  The overall route length to the caves is approximately 4 miles one-way and the majority of it is over rough, steep, uneven, unmarked, and slippery terrain. Pay careful attention as you proceed in order to return on the same route, or better yet, follow a GPS course. Many people get lost on the return from the ice cave. Slips and falls down steep and sometimes wet rock faces are all too common.

Nesting birds: gulls and arctic terns nest on the rock peninsula. Recreationists can easily step on and kill an egg or nestling. Stay 250 yards away from nesting areas and roosting birds. The presence of people and especially dogs can negatively affect nesting success.

What do I need to be aware of if I go in the winter on the frozen lake?

Areas of particular concern in the winter route are:

  • Lake ice is never safe. The thickness is not measured or monitored by the Forest Service. Lake ice can vary in thickness due to water flowing into the lake.
  • Ice is thinner at the mouth of Steep Creek, near Nugget Falls, and near any running water.
  • Icebergs can roll over without warning, even when the lake is frozen. When Icebergs roll, they break up the lake ice around them.
  • The face of the glacier is an active calving zone at all times of the year. In the winter, a calving can shatter the lake ice.  Ice near the face of the glacier is also weaker due to calving and the movement of the glacier. Most reports of people falling through the ice come from the face of the glacier.
  • Rockslides can and do break up lake ice.

Why is the ice blue?

Glacial ice appears blue because it absorbs all colors of the visible light spectrum except blue, which it transmits. The transmission of this blue wavelength gives glacial ice its blue appearance. Glacier ice may also appear white because some ice is highly fractured with air pockets and indiscriminately scatters the visible light spectrum.

Who was Mendenhall?

Appointed by President Harrison, Thomas Corwin Mendenhall (1841-1924) served as Superintendent of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey from 1889 to 1894. A noted scientist, Mendenhall also served on the Alaska Boundary Commission that was responsible for surveying the international boundary between Canada and Alaska. In 1892, this glacier was renamed to honor Mendenhall. Naturalist John Muir first named the glacier Auke Glacier in 1879 after the Aak'w Kwaan of the Tlingít Indians.

10. Meteora, Greece

Meteora, Greece

Meteora is an area in Thessaly (Central Greece) and Kalampaka is the city under the rock towers of Meteora. The thing that makes Meteora so special is the monasteries on the top of the rock towers. The monasteries, the amound of peaks to climb and the paths for hiking brings in Meteora the whole year many tourists.

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Historians and geologists started to be interested in the creation of these rocks (Meteora) about 1000 years ago, expressing several theories.

Meteora, Greece

The prevailing theory about Meteora creation, is that one of the German geologist Philipson, who came to Greece in the late 19th century. According to his theory, a large river had his estuary in this area which for million of years was covered by a narrow and deep part of the sea. The river waters place matter, stones and generally several materials that were transferred by its waters at the estuary from Northern parts of primordial central Europe. From the accumulation of these materials deltaic cones were formed.

25-30 million years ago, after some geological changes took place during the centuries, the central part of today’s Europe was lifted. That’s how the opening of Tempi was created ,having as a result the pouring of the waters in today’s Aegean sea.

During the tertiary period ,at the time of the alpine orogenies, the solid volumes of the “rocks” were cut off from the mountain chain of Pindos that was created and as the centuries went by, the plain of Pinios river was formed between them.

Meteora, Greece

With the continuous corrosion by the wind and the rain as well as by other geological changes, these rocks took their present form through the passing of million of years.

At the cavities, fissures and peaks of Meteora rocks, the people of that place found protection from the raids of several conquerors and of those who passed from the area.

Also, several bold hermits and anchorites found shelter at these rocks, seeking for mental calmness, tranquility and while praying they saught for Christian perfection.

Meteora, Greece

Monasteries

Today, the tradition of Orthodoxy is continued uninterrupted for over 600 years by the Holy Monastery of the Great Meteoro (or the Transfiguration of Jesus), the Varlaam Monastery, the Saint Stephen Monastery, the Holy Trinity Monastery, the Saint Nicholas Anapafsas Monastery and the Rousanou Monastery. All these monasteries are on the top of Meteora rocks.

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