In search of clues – 31 of the strangest and most unusual places in the world

the strangest and most unusual places in the world
© Mike Shaw / Shutterstock

For thousands of years, nature and man have been competing to create the most unusual places on Earth. The Bermuda Triangle, Dracula’s Castle, the Danakil Depression, the catacombs of Paris, moving stones, the Eternal Flame Waterfall, the Nazca geoglyphs – they are all so strange that they make you believe in the existence of supernatural forces or alien influence, giving rise to many fantastic theories, myths and legends. Find out in this publication what the 32 most unique places in the world are worth visiting and try to unravel their secrets with us. Or plan your own route, full of amazing emotions and discoveries.

Spotted Lake

Location: Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, Canada

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Spotted Lake © Nalidsa / Shutterstock

This is without a doubt one of the strangest places in the world. Spotted Lake is located on the lands of the Okanagan Indians. They call it Kliluk and have considered it sacred for many centuries. In winter and spring, this body of water looks quite normal, and one can only wonder why it is called the most magical place in Canada. But the fact is that with the arrival of the summer heat, the water in it begins to evaporate, revealing hundreds of individual pools that make up a strange mosaic pattern. They are colored in different colors due to the high concentration of certain mineral salts. The Indians believe that each of the pools has a special healing property.

Since the reservoir has the status of an ecological and cultural heritage, it is fenced and there is no free access to it. You can see this unusual place up close from a special observation deck only after receiving permission from the leader of the Okanagan tribe. Otherwise, you will have to admire it from afar, stopping on Highway No. 3, which runs northwest from the small town of Osoyoos.

Valley of Jars

Location: Xiang Khouang Province, Laos

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Valley of the Jugs © amnat30 / Shutterstock

Shrouded in myth, the Valley of the Jars, located on a plateau in central Laos, has been called one of Southeast Asia’s greatest prehistoric mysteries. It consists of several dozen areas covered with thousands of megalithic stone vessels. They reach a height of half a meter to three meters, and weigh from 6 to 14 tons.

According to archaeologists, their age may be about 2,000 years. The exact purpose of these jugs is not determined. Most scientists are inclined to believe that they were used in funeral ceremonies. There is also a theory that the containers served to collect water during the summer rainy season. It, in turn, was intended for caravans passing here during the dry season – the valley lies right at the crossroads of ancient trade routes. Local legend says that the king of giants created huge jugs for brewing rice wine, wanting to celebrate one of his victories.

Plain of Jars is located in an area that was heavily bombed by the US Air Force during the so-called Secret War of the 1960s. Many shells did not explode then and are still not neutralized. Therefore, it is one of the most dangerous archaeological sites in the world, although in 2019 it received UNESCO World Heritage status.

Devil’s Kettle Waterfall

Location: Judge CR Magney State Park, Minnesota, USA

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Devil’s Cauldron Waterfall © RAMESH PAVVLURI VEERA / Shutterstock

Excellent proof that the most mysterious places on Earth can look quite ordinary at first glance is the Devil’s Cauldron waterfall on the Brule River. It attracts many tourists, but not for its beauty, although this cannot be taken away from it. The waterfall consists of two streams. Eastern – quite trivially falls from a height of 15 meters into the natural pool below. But the western one erupts into a deep natural hole in the ground and simply disappears. Those who come here first of all try to test this on their own, throwing various objects into the stream – containers with dye, GPS trackers, ping-pong balls, logs and much more. And they really don’t appear further downstream, but disappear forever.

This makes the most impressionable people believe in some kind of diabolism, and the more skeptical ones look for a logical explanation. For example, that under the waterfall there is an extensive system of underground caves. However, this theory is not particularly viable, since the rhyolite rock and basalt underlying the river bed are very strong. They are not washed away by water, and cavities practically do not form in them.

In 2016, research was conducted that indirectly proved that water from the Devil’s Cauldron passes through a short underground channel and reconnects with the river just below the waterfall. However, the location where this occurs has never been determined. In addition, scientists have tried to explain the disappearance of objects by saying that they are simply destroyed by the force of falling and circulating water before they float to the surface again. And although all of the above is quite possible, many doubt it and continue to build mystical theories.

Winchester Mystery House

Location: San Jose, California, USA

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Winchester Mystery House © Uladzik Kryhin / Shutterstock

Without a doubt, one of the strangest man-made places in the world is the Winchester Mystery House. Since 1922, it has been open to the public and serves as a real draw for lovers of all things paranormal. Its owner was Sarah Winchester, the widow of the famous arms magnate William Winchester. In 1886, she purchased a two-story farmhouse with 8 rooms in the city of San Jose. Deciding to rebuild it to her liking, Sarah began the longest-term residential renovation in history, which lasted until her death – from 1886 to 1922. The result was a huge and chaotically constructed mansion measuring 2,230 m², containing 160 rooms, 13 bathrooms, 6 kitchens, 17 chimneys, 2,000 doors and 10,000 windows.

This building has become a true embodiment of the concept of “architectural curiosity.” Sarah Winchester refused the services of professionals and planned all the changes on her own, easily abandoning the implementation of certain projects in the middle if she was not satisfied with the result. As a result, the building, which at that time was considered the largest mansion in America, became like a labyrinth with countless corridors, secret passages, staircases leading to nowhere and luxurious Tiffany stained glass windows that were never exposed to light.

What made Sarah Winchester constantly rebuild her house? The most popular version is that she tried to hide from the haunting spirits of people killed with Winchester brand weapons, entangling them in endless passages and not spending the night in the same bedroom twice in a row. True or not, no one knows, but the Winchester Mansion is currently the most popular haunted house in the country.

Bermuda Triangle

Location: North Atlantic Ocean

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Bermuda Triangle © PTZ Pictures / Shutterstock

The first mention of the Bermuda Triangle in the press as a place where ships and planes disappear without a trace dates back to 1950. However, inexplicable and mysterious phenomena in these waters were reported back in the mid-19th century. The world-famous zone, which is credited with anomalous properties, has no clear boundaries. The conventional peaks of the Bermuda Triangle are Miami on the coast of Florida, San Juan in Puerto Rico and Bermuda, and its area in different sources ranges from 1,300,000 to 3,900,000 km².

It gained its dark fame after a series of unexplained disappearances. For example, in 1918, the cargo ship USS Cyclops, transporting manganese ore, disappeared here. The ship did not send any distress signals. No lifeboats with crew were found, and no shipwreck was spotted off the coast. One of the most sensational cases occurred in 1945, when a flight of five bomber aircraft (Flight 19) and a seaplane sent to search for them seemed to disappear into the air over the Bermuda Triangle. A similar tragedy happened in 1948, when a civilian plane with 3 crew members and 29 passengers on board disappeared during an ill-fated trip. And this incident was far from the last – it is alleged that about 50 ships and 20 aircraft disappeared here.

People who believe in the supernatural associate these events with the action of evil forces, otherworldly influences and even the machinations of aliens. And scientists give more plausible explanations, talking about tropical storms and hurricanes that often occur in this region. In addition, small ships with faulty engines and light aircraft landing on the water could be destroyed by the Gulf Stream current passing here. Also among the risk factors are periodically occurring underwater methane eruptions, causing the sinking of random ships caught in their epicenter.

Nasca Lines

Location: Nazca Desert, Peru

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Nazca Lines © Daniel Prudek / Shutterstock

The Nazca geoglyphs are huge designs carved into the surface of the earth in the desert of southern Peru. Most of them are stripes and lines (almost 13,000 of them), as well as geometric figures – triangles, trapezoids and spirals, of which about 700 were found. However, there are also more complex images – plants, animals and even a humanoid creature, nicknamed “astronaut” ” They are made in a single manner – one line that is not interrupted and maintains a given direction, despite the complex terrain, and also have a huge scale. For example, the length of a spider is 47 meters, a drawing with the code name “condor” is almost 135 meters, and a lizard is 188 meters. The entire image can only be seen from above.

Probably, the Nazca Lines are ahead of other strange places in the world in terms of the number of scientists from different countries who are trying to unravel their secret. Archaeologists, art historians, historians, ethnohistorians, anthropologists, and specialists in archaeoastronomy and paranormal phenomena have been working on this since 1941. It was possible to establish that the geoglyphs were created between 500 BC and 500 AD. It was quite easy to determine and even reproduce the method of applying the drawings. But it remains a mystery why they were made.

A variety of theories are being considered. Some researchers are inclined to believe that the lines served as an astronomical calendar. Others claim that they were of a ritual nature and were used in various religious practices. There are even those who believe that the huge images were landmarks for landing alien ships. Research on geoglyphs and debates about their purpose continue to this day, and are unlikely to end in the coming years.

Giant’s Causeway

Location: Near Bushmills, Northern Ireland

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Giant’s Causeway © Sergii Figurnyi / Shutterstock

The Giant’s Causeway consists of 40,000 basalt columns formed as a result of the eruption of an underwater volcano. Each of them has 5 or 7 sides, a diameter from 38 to 51 centimeters and a height of up to 25 meters. They are interconnected and stretch for almost 6 kilometers along the coast of the Antrim plateau in Northern Ireland, resembling a bridge gradually extending into the Atlantic Ocean.

The history of this geological miracle goes back at least 50 million years. And, like all the most unique places to visit in the world, it has its own legend about its origin. According to her, the Giant’s Causeway was created by the hero of Celtic myths, Finn McCool. He decided to fight a Scottish giant named Benandonner and built a dam of huge stone pillars to cross from Ireland to Scotland. However, he was so tired that he lay down to rest. At this time, Benandonner himself came to his house to take the fight. Finn’s wife, seeing how huge the giant was, swaddled her husband like a baby. And she asked the uninvited guest himself not to make noise, so as not to wake up his son. Seeing a “child” of such size, Benandonner became frightened, imagining what a giant his father must be, and ran away. Fearing pursuit, he broke the dam. Therefore, all that remains of it are stone columns near the place where Finn McCool’s house stood.

The Giant’s Causeway is considered the main natural attraction of Northern Ireland. Since 1986, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a funny legend about it is told to every tourist who comes here on vacation.

Crooked Forest

Location: Nowe Czarnowo village, West Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland

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Crooked Forest © / Shutterstock

No matter how many scientists have explored this place over the decades, no one has ever identified the real reason that caused so many trees to grow in such a strange and unnatural form. The Crooked Forest, located 20 kilometers from the voivodeship capital Szczecin, consists of pine trees whose trunks have a bizarre J-shape. Moreover, their bend is oriented strictly to the north. The number of trees in the forest, according to various sources, ranges from 80 to 400. They were planted here between 1930 and 1945, are quite healthy and, apart from their appearance, are no different from their upright counterparts that surround them.

Explanations for this phenomenon vary widely. Proponents of rational theories say that the trees were bent specifically for further use in the production of furniture or for the construction of boats, but this was prevented by the Second World War. There is also a version about weather conditions – icy snowstorms that deformed the trunks of pine trees in the initial stage of their growth. There is also an opinion about the presence of geopathology in this place, which has a negative effect on all living things and causes the trees to bend. And as proof, they cite the fact that it is surprisingly quiet in the forest – you can’t hear either birds or insects. And, of course, we cannot exclude local legends that say that a witch used to live in the forest. She allegedly bewitched the pine trees to protect her home. When the woodcutters came here, the trees began to twist and whip them with branches. And after they fled in fear, they froze in a curved form as a warning to all other uninvited guests.

Be that as it may, while scientists argue and put forward mutually exclusive versions, Crooked Forest attracts many tourists and is one of the most popular attractions in the northwestern part of Poland.

Catacombs of Paris

Location: Paris, France

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Catacombs of Paris © I. Casavechia / Shutterstock

The catacombs of Paris may well take a leading position in the list of the strangest places on Earth. At a depth of 20 meters under the pavements of the French capital there is a whole labyrinth of limestone quarries. Some of them were converted into the final resting place of more than 6 million Parisians between 1785 and 1814. Their bones were transported here from the most “overcrowded” city cemeteries, where the situation was so catastrophic that people living nearby began to complain about health problems. This allowed us to solve two problems at once. Firstly, to streamline burials and eliminate the cause of the spread of infectious diseases. And secondly, to strengthen the walls of ancient tunnels with bones, since soluble rocks, including limestone, tend to collapse over time.

At first, the remains in the catacombs were located quite chaotically. But in 1810-1814, reconstruction was carried out here, during which bones and skulls were laid out in the form of original ornaments. And some of them were even used to create art objects – for example, hearts made of skulls on one of the walls. At the same time, the famous monumental tablets with ominous inscriptions were installed. The most famous of them is located at the entrance to the main part of the crypt and reads: “Stop! This is the Empire of the Dead.”

Today the catacombs are open to the public. However, tickets can only be purchased online on the website , and this must be done at least 7 days before the intended visit.

Skeleton Lake

Location: Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, India

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Skeleton Lake ©

The Himalayan Skeleton Lake, whose official name is Roopkund, is located at an altitude of about 5,000 meters and is covered with ice most of the time. The reservoir received its eerie nickname after a forest ranger at Nanda Devi National Park discovered hundreds of fragments of human skeletons on its banks and at the bottom in 1942. In fact, information about them was received at the end of the 19th century, but then this information was not given enough attention. But in the 40s of the last century, scientists became very interested in the find and began to study it. However, even now, after so many decades, its secret has not been fully revealed.

It was possible to find out that the number of people whose remains were discovered varies from 500 to 600 people. Moreover, carbon analysis of the bones showed that they belonged to several groups that died not just in different years, but in different centuries. For example, the oldest bones date back to the 8th century, and most of them date back to the 18th century. As for the reasons why so many people met their end on the shores of the Roopkund glacial lake, a significant number of them were found to have had their skulls damaged by round objects the size of cricket balls falling from a height. A theory has been put forward that a group of travelers were hit by a sudden hailstorm, but it has not yet been conclusively proven. It is also worth noting that the people living in this area have an ancient song about a goddess who punished strangers who desecrated her mountain sanctuary by raining death on them.

Some parts of the skeletons are still found on the shore of the reservoir. And those remains that are submerged to the bottom can only be seen during one month of the year, when the ice melts. The area where the lake is located, despite its dark glory, is a popular ecotourism destination.

Bran Castle

Location: Brasov city, Transylvania, Romania

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Bran Castle © Cristian M Balate / Shutterstock

The majestic Bran Castle stands on top of a cliff on the border between two historical regions of Romania – Transylvania and Wallachia. Built by local residents as a defensive fortress between 1377 and 1388, it has changed owners and uses many times throughout its history. And it even managed to be the residence of monarchs when in 1920, by decision of the Brasov city council, it was presented to Mary of Edinburgh, the last queen of Romania.

However, no matter how exciting the history of the citadel is, it is not its vicissitudes that attract hundreds of thousands of tourists here. The thing is that this particular medieval building is considered to be the castle of Dracula, the most famous vampire in the world, whose image was popularized thanks to Bram Stoker’s novel. And although the author described an imaginary place in the work, it strikingly coincides in all its characteristics with Bran Castle. It, too, is topped with gabled watchtowers and rises above a forested valley. In addition, the fact that the prototype of the ancient vampire invented by the Irish novelist was Vlad the Impaler, the most cruel and bloodthirsty ruler of Wallachia, also played a role. He bore the nickname Dracul, which means “devil,” and indeed visited the citadel several times and was even imprisoned in its dungeon.

It is worth recognizing that the castle was covered in myths and legends even before the publication of Bram Stoker’s work. Therefore, fans of everything mystical choose this strange place to visit in the hope of witnessing something supernatural.

Bhangarh Fort

Location: Rajasthan, India

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Bhangarh Fort © mrinalpal / Shutterstock

Another strange place is the Bhangarh Fort, which was built in the 16th century as the residence of the second son of Raja Bhagwant Das, named Man Singh I. Its powerful walls and strong gates protected palaces famous for their magnificent architecture, as well as temples and residential buildings. But, for an unknown reason, in 1783 all the inhabitants very quickly left the fort, and it was completely empty.

Many buildings of this architectural monument have been preserved quite well to this day. Shrouded in mystical glory, it attracts many adherents of esoteric tourism and is one of the most visited attractions in the country. Local residents believe that the fort is home to evil ghosts who kill anyone who stays here overnight. And allegedly people have disappeared on its territory more than once. There are even witnesses who claim to have heard women crying there, the jingling of bracelets and strange music, and also saw will-o’-the-wisps.

The reason for everything that happens is called a curse. According to one version, it was cast by a sorcerer who was in love with Princess Ratnavati, who lived in the fort. He tried to charm the girl by replacing the bottle of incense with a love potion. But she found out about this and broke the bottle on a boulder, which unexpectedly rolled and crushed the sorcerer. Dying, he managed to wish harm to both Ratnavati and the inhabitants of the fort. Another version says that Bhangarh was cursed by a saint named Baba Balu Nath because the shadow from the columns of the majestic structure blocked the sun and prevented him from meditating. And supposedly by his will, the citadel turned into ruins.

No matter how strange all of the above may sound, one fact remains indisputable – the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has installed several signs warning that staying on the fort premises from dusk to dawn is strictly prohibited.

Thor’s Well

Location: Cape Perpetua, Oregon, USA

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Thor’s Well © lu_sea / Shutterstock

Strange places associated with raging elements always attract a lot of attention. Thor’s Well, often called the “drainpipe of the Pacific Ocean” and even the “gateway to hell,” was no exception. Hundreds of tourists flock daily to this seething sinkhole on the rocky coast to watch it absorb tons of water hour after hour, spraying everything around it. During high tides, a geyser erupts from the depths of the well, reaching a height of up to 6 meters. And a moment later this entire mass of water falls down and disappears, creating the illusion that the well really has no bottom and leads to an unknown underground world. In these seconds, even skeptics believe that the great Scandinavian god Thor really created it, hitting the basalt rock at Cape Perpetua with his mighty hammer.

In fact, the depth of the crater is only 6 meters. And it was formed naturally when waves eroded the roof of an oceanic cave. However, this does not make Thor’s Well any less impressive.

The attraction can be quite dangerous, especially during winter storms. Powerful streams of water can knock down an observer standing nearby and drag him down. Therefore, if the ocean is particularly turbulent, it is better not to come close to Thor’s Well, but to admire it from the observation deck.

Cat Island

Location: Ehime Prefecture, Japan

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Cat Island © Jihun Sim / Shutterstock

A strange and fun place to visit is Cat Island. It is so remote from the main tourist routes that it attracts only true lovers of fluffy and purring animals. Its official name is Aoshima. There are no hotels, cafes, shops or even vending machines, and the number of local residents is only 6 people. Therefore, cats reign everywhere, the population of which numbers 210 individuals, and most of them are red. Many years ago, these animals were brought to the once prosperous island to fight rodents. The bustling fishing village had been fishing for sardines for a long time, but gradually the catch dwindled to a minimum and residents began to leave Aoshima en masse. But the cats stayed and multiplied.

Now that the island has become more popular, donations to feed the animals are coming from all over Japan. Several old-timers of the village, whose age has exceeded 75 years, take care of them. The cats are also fed by tourists who come here by ferry, so each of them is greeted by a large tailed delegation. Since there are no other activities here, all visitors spend a lot of time on the cats – petting and playing with them.

All those who dream of visiting the island, but are postponing the trip for now, can be given warm advice – to hurry up with the trip. It is likely that soon this funniest location may become inaccessible to tourists and turn into an uninhabited piece of land. As soon as there are no residents left here, the ferry will stop running, and there will be no one to take care of the cats. Therefore, local authorities, in order to prevent the appearance of offspring, sterilized all animals in 2018.

Aoshima is far from the only Cat Island in Japan, although it is the most famous. There are at least 11 islands in the country where the population of these animals dominates the human population. Therefore, it is worthwhile to accurately determine the destination before the voyage.

Silfra Rift

Where is it: Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

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Silfra Fault © Nora Yusuf / Shutterstock

The Silfra Rift on the shores of Lake Thingvallavatn once again proves how mysterious and unique little-known places in the world can be. It is intercontinental and lies on the boundary between two tectonic plates – the North American and Eurasian plates. The fault is filled with underground springs – the water here is so pure that it is suitable for drinking, and the locals call it “liquid air”. It has a constant temperature – from +2 to +4°C and never freezes. Underwater visibility here is considered the best in the world, as it extends the entire length of Silfra – about 100 meters. This is an ideal place for diving and snorkeling in a dry suit.

There is practically no living life in the Silfra fault, but its relief is very picturesque. Earthquakes occur here about once every 10 years. Rocks and boulders falling from above form beautiful caves and tunnels inside the crack. At the same time, the landscape is constantly changing.

Many divers are attracted by the opportunity to swim between two tectonic plates and even touch them at the same time. The latter can be done at the narrowest point of the fault, while its greatest width is 20 meters. In the middle of Lake Thingvallavatn there is also a round lagoon with a diameter of about 100 meters.

Rakotzbrück Bridge

Where is it: Kromlau Park, Gablenz, Germany

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Rakotzbrücke Bridge ©

The Rakotzbrücke Bridge can easily be considered one of the most unusual places in the world. Built in 1860 over Lake Rakoc, it is renowned for its stunningly precise architecture – its high arch and its reflection in the water create a perfectly shaped circle no matter where it is viewed. The edges of the bridge are decorated with stone peaks – artificial basalt columns. And the picturesque nature around makes the view simply perfect.

Given the state of the art of technology at the time of its construction, it seems only logical that the locals nicknamed Rakotzbrücke the “Devil’s Bridge.” They considered the creation of such a structure beyond the capabilities of a mere mortal. In addition, there is a legend that the knight Friedrich Hermann Rötschke, on whose order the construction was carried out, sought to complete it by a certain date. And when he realized that this was impossible, he asked Satan himself for help. He agreed, but in return demanded that they give him the soul of the first person to cross the bridge.

It is worth recognizing that due to the steep arch and the lack of railings, this structure looks as if it was erected solely for aesthetic reasons. In any case, in our time the bridge is prohibited from being used for its intended purpose due to its venerable age and fragile condition. But it serves as a favorite subject for photography in this area.

Five-colored river Cano Cristales

Where is it located: Sierra de la Macarena National Park, central Colombia

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Five-colored river Cano Cristales © VarnaK / Shutterstock

The Caño Cristales River is called the “liquid rainbow”, and there is even a legend that it left paradise to flow across the Earth. And it’s easy to believe this when looking at its waters – they can be purple, pink, blood red, yellow, and green.

However, there is a completely rational explanation for this seemingly magical phenomenon. The river bed is covered with rare endemic plants – macarenia clavigera. They take on different shades depending on the water level and light, so Cano Cristales looks different every season. The brightest colors can be seen from June to December. It is during this period that the Sierra de la Macarena National Park experiences the most dense flow of tourists.

But just a few decades ago, only people living nearby knew about the river of five colors. It was almost impossible for foreigners to come to the park due to the government’s constant wars with drug traffickers and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). Only since 2016, after a peace agreement between the official authorities and the rebels, has travel here become safe.

The ecosystem of Caño Cristales is very fragile, and macarenia clavigera reacts negatively to careless human influence. While visiting the river, it is prohibited to use repellents and sunscreen, or enter the water outside the designated areas. From January to May, during the dry season, access to the river is completely closed to tourists.

Monolith Of Uluru

Location: Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

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Uluru Monolith © bmphotographer / Shutterstock

Uluru or Ayers Rock, which is called the “Red Heart of Australia”, is the only thing left of the mountain range that was located in this part of the country thousands of years ago. Neither natural disasters, nor natural erosion, nor time could destroy it. The thing is that Uluru, known for its gigantic size, is a monolith. That is, it is literally a huge stone. Its above-ground part is oval in shape and rises 348 meters above the plain. The rock is 3.6 kilometers long and 2.4 kilometers wide. But, according to scientists, most of it is underground.

This unique and strange place attracts many tourists thanks to another unusual feature of the monolith – it changes color depending on the angle at which sunlight falls on it. Uluru looks especially impressive in the sunset, acquiring a bright orange-red hue.

The monolith is sacred to the Anangu Aboriginal people living in this area. At its base there are small caves, the walls of which are covered with ancient rock paintings, and sacred rituals and ceremonies are still held on the slopes. Uluru and the surrounding national park are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Aokigahara Forest

Location: foot of Mount Fuji, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan

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Aokigahara Forest © tsuchi / Shutterstock

Aokigahara or “Suicide Forest” is one of the strangest, mysterious and scary places in Japan, which has become famous far beyond its borders. Moreover, its terrible fame is well deserved, because every year more than a hundred men and women come here to commit suicide. The prefectural authorities are actively working to reduce the number of such cases – signs with encouraging slogans and helpline numbers are posted in the forest, and the police immediately respond to reports of any suspicious visitors.

What makes people come here is not known for certain. The Japanese believe that Aokigahara (or Jukai) is inhabited by demons and ghosts. And it’s easy to believe. There is incredible silence here, there are practically no animals, and the compass needle rotates chaotically from side to side. In addition, there is evidence that back in the 19th century, residents of nearby villages and towns used the forest to perform ubasute – they brought weak children and old people here to die of hunger or cold.

Scientists explain the supposedly mystical properties of the green zone by completely natural reasons. The silence is caused by the dense greenery and the fact that the forest grows on porous lava that solidified hundreds of years ago – it absorbs sounds. And the compass behaves strangely because there are large deposits of iron ore underground. And the practice of using ubasute in Japan, known for its deep respect for elders, is very often questioned. However, no reasonable arguments have yet been able to stop the flow of suicides in Aokigahara. According to this indicator, it consistently ranks second in the world after the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

It is believed that the forest became especially popular among those wishing to commit suicide after the release of Seicho Matsumoto’s novel “The Tower of Waves” in 1961. His heroine, mired in a scandalous love affair, takes her own life in Aokigahara. The situation was aggravated by Wataru Tsurumi’s book “The Complete Guide to Suicide,” which was published in 1993. In it, the author describes this forest as an ideal place to meet death, and even gives advice on which part of it is best to do this.

Sailing Stones

Location: Racetrack Playa Lake, Death Valley, California, USA

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Moving stones © Bill45 / Shutterstock

Death Valley National Park is included in the list of very dangerous locations for tourism. However, this does not scare many, because the strangest places are the most attractive. Most travelers strive to get to the dried-up lake Racetrack Playa to see with their own eyes its phenomenon – moving stones. The weight of some of them exceeds 100 kilograms. And they, without any outside help, crawl along the clay bottom, covered with patterns of cracks in the form of regular hexagons, and leave long traces on it. Most often, the route of the stones is straight, but there are also complex turns and even zigzags. They move only once every couple of years, but the tracks on the bottom of the lake remain much longer.

This phenomenon is so unusual that until the beginning of the 20th century, the only explanation that they tried to give it was associated with the influence of supernatural forces. Later, a theory about the action of magnetic fields appeared, but it was not confirmed by anything. Serious research into the phenomenon began in 1972, and only in 2014 was the mechanism of stone movement fully deciphered. They begin to move exclusively in winter – during the rainy season. During this period, at the bottom of the lake, after frosty nights, extensive but very thin plates of ice form, and unfrozen water remains under them. The wind and the ice current carry the stones along with them, causing them to crawl.

Eternal Flame Falls

Location: Chestnut Ridge Park, Orchard Park, New York, USA

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Eternal Flame Falls © Jay Ondreicka / Shutterstock

A low but picturesque waterfall in a park in a small town in western New York would never have attracted so much attention if not for one unique feature. At its base there is a grotto, where behind a wall of water a flame 75 centimeters high constantly burns, and of natural origin. Of course, the peaceful existence of such different elements, and the legends enveloping the Eternal Flame Falls, contribute to a large influx of tourists.

It is believed that this natural torch never goes out and has been burning since it was lit by a Native American thousands of years ago. In fact, the flame periodically goes out when the wind blows into the grotto. But there is always someone who lights it up again.

As for the source of combustion, people who believe in mysticism prefer to consider it the work of fairies, elves or other supernatural creatures living in the forest. However, scientists have already proven that the flammable gas feeding the flames comes from crevices in the shale rocks of the lower part of the grotto. But the mechanism of gas formation itself differs from previously known ones and is still being studied.

Richat Structure

Location: Adrar Plateau, Sahara Desert, Mauritania

the strangest and most unusual places in the world
Richat structure ©

The Richat structure or the Eye of the Sahara is a unique geological formation, the enormity of which humanity was only able to appreciate by receiving images from space orbit. It’s all about the huge size of the structure. It consists of several concentric rings, with the outer diameter being about 40 kilometers. It is also surprising that these rings are formed from different rocks – igneous and sedimentary, and have different ages. The outer ones are the oldest and date back to the late Proterozoic era, that is, they arose about a billion years ago. And the youngest ones, the internal ones, are only 485 million years old.

Many theories have been put forward about how such an unusual place could have appeared. According to one of them, Richat arose after an asteroid fell onto the Earth’s surface at a right angle. However, studies have not confirmed this. According to another version, the Eye of the Sahara is the crater of an extinct volcano, which gradually collapsed inward over the years. And it is closest to the truth, since the structure is, in fact, a geological dome that has been subject to natural erosion over millions of years. But we can’t help but mention fantastic theories. For example, some believe that Richat was created by aliens as a landing site for their spaceships. Or that it is a legacy of Atlantis, although it is located on the territory of the Sahara.

Lencois Maranhenses National Park

Location: State of Maranhao, Brazil

the strangest and most unusual places in the world
Lencois Maranhenses National Park © guilhermespengler / Shutterstock

Nature has a way of creating the craziest places in the world with a magical and unearthly aura. Without a doubt, Lençois Maranhenses National Park is one of them. It’s hard to believe that its snow-white dunes and lagoons with azure water hidden between them are reality and not mysticism. It is not surprising that this area often becomes a location for filming science fiction films.

The pattern of sand waves is constantly changing due to the winds blowing from the Atlantic Ocean. Some of the ridges can reach a height of 40 meters. Rain fills the lagoons with fresh water. Thanks to the rocky base under the sand, it does not go into the ground. The reservoirs exist until they evaporate during the dry season. Some of them even have fish living in them. And this is a real miracle in the middle of a practically deserted area.

You can visit the park on a group tour by bus or van. But it is worth considering that guides choose the most popular routes and large lagoons, and this may interfere with enjoying unity with nature. An alternative is an individual tour with a guide on horseback or ATVs. You are also allowed to set up a small camp and stay overnight to admire this stunning place by the light of the moon.

To see the lagoons of the Lençois Maranhenses National Park in all their splendor, it is important to choose the right travel time. The dry season, when bodies of water disappear, is not suitable for it. It lasts from September to December. And during the peak months of the monsoon season (March to July), cloudy weather takes away half the charm of the landscape. Therefore, the best time to travel here is August and September.

Danakil Depression

Location: Danakil Desert, Ethiopia

the strangest and most unusual places in the world
Danakil Depression © Katja Tsvetkova / Shutterstock

The Danakil Depression is one of the strangest places in the world, because it was formed at the junction of three tectonic plates. In addition, this is the hottest zone on Earth, where in summer the air temperature rises to +63°C, and the soil heats up to +70°C. The region of Ethiopia in which the depression is located is called the “cradle of humanity,” since it was here, according to many paleontologists, that humans emerged as a species.

The landscapes of Danakil Depression look absolutely alien and resemble scenes from a sci-fi movie – smoking cracks, fumaroles, acid pools, sulfur and hot springs, mineral paintings and salt sculptures in all shades of orange, yellow, copper and green. The Dallol hydrothermal system, located around the volcano of the same name, looks especially amazing. There is a lake here, the water in which is light green in color and literally boils, reaching a temperature of +110°C. And its shores present a whole kaleidoscope of colors – from purple to lemon. In Danakil you can also see the unique Ertale volcano – the only one on the planet that has two lava lakes at once.

The depression is recognized as one of the most dangerous places on Earth. It’s not only hellishly hot here, but it’s also hard to breathe – the air is filled with carbon dioxide and toxic fumes. But the possibility of getting poisoned or burned does not deter thousands of extreme adventure lovers who want to get here.

Easter Island Heads

Location: Easter Island, Pacific Ocean

the strangest and most unusual places in the world
Easter Island statues © Skreidzeleu / Shutterstock

The mystical and mysterious Easter Island (Rapa Nui) is famous for its huge idols – moai statues carved from black stone boulders. This is one of the strangest places in the world, which faithfully keeps its secrets, despite all the efforts of anthropologists and archaeologists to study the ancient island civilization. The fact is that almost all traces of its existence disappeared in the 18th – 19th centuries, when the territory of Rapa Nui was captured by Europeans, and most of its indigenous inhabitants were forcibly taken to the continent by slave traders from Peru. But the stone idols of Easter Island survived all the hardships. Today, hundreds of thousands of tourists come to this remote stretch of land in the Pacific Ocean to see its largest ceremonial structure, Ahu Tongariki. This is a platform with 15 moai rising above it. And their image – stern idols against the blue sky – is very popular and recognizable.

Glass Beach

Location: McCarricher National Park, California, USA

the strangest and most unusual places in the world
Glass Beach © Jen Peterson Photography / Shutterstock

Glass Beach is located near the city of Fort Bragg and serves as a great example of what amazing and unusual places nature can create, getting rid of traces of destructive human activity. Its coastline is strewn with thousands of smooth glass pebbles. The waves gently roll over them, and the bright California sun makes them shine. Looking at this stunning spectacle, you want to think only about good things and stop wasting time worrying about problems.

But at the beginning of the last century, the beach was a simple city dump, covered with tons of trash. In the middle of the 20th century, the administration began cleaning the area, but the small shards of glass that densely littered the ground could not be completely removed. And then the Pacific Ocean took over. He carefully polished them with the dexterity of a professional jeweler and turned Glass Beach into the most amazing place in the world.

Darvaza Gas Crater

Location: Karakum Desert, Turkmenistan

the strangest and most unusual places in the world
Darvaza gas crater © AlexelA / Shutterstock

The Darvaza gas crater, which has been burning in the heart of the Karakum Desert for more than 50 years, is not for nothing called the “gateway to hell.” Its blazing hot funnel reaches a depth of 30 meters, and its diameter is almost 70 meters – it’s easy to believe that this is where the entrance to the Underworld is located.

And like many unusual places in the world, the crater was created by human hands, albeit unintentionally.

There are several versions of its origin. But the most popular one is that it arose as a result of oil exploration work that was carried out in the desert in the 1960s. The drilling rig was accidentally placed above an underground gas pocket. When the soil collapsed, natural gas began to emerge from the depths of the earth in large quantities. In order not to put the residents of the nearby village of Darvaza at risk, geologists decided to set fire to the crater, hoping that it would quickly burn out. This is how a famous landmark appeared in Turkmenistan. Two thirds of tourists who are lucky enough to get a visa to this rather closed country come to see it.

Zhangye National Geopark

Location: Gansu Province, China

the strangest and most unusual places in the world
Zhangye National Geopark © THONGCHAI.S / Shutterstock

Zhangye Danxia National Geopark has long been known as the most amazing landscape of the Celestial Empire, and in 2019 it received the status of a UNESCO global geopark. Its mountains, hills and rock formations look absolutely surreal, as if painted in all the colors of the rainbow by a giant brush of an unknown artist. But in fact, this geological wonderland was created by nature over millennia. Various minerals gave color to the layers of sandstone, and shifts of tectonic plates and the work of rain, wind and natural erosion revealed the most amazing reliefs and patterns.

The most visited part of the park is the Lingze Danxia Scenic Area. It is also worth admiring the scenery of Bingou, located on the northern bank of the Liyuan River, and visiting the scenic area of Sunan Danxia. For the convenience of visitors, there are many trails with wooden boardwalks throughout the park.

House-monument “Buzludzha”

Where is it located: National Park-Museum “Shipka-Buzludzha”, Bulgaria

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House-monument “Buzludzha” © Lukas Bischoff Photograph / Shutterstock

The Buzludzha Monument House, dedicated to the Bulgarian Communist Party, was created at the end of the Cold War according to the ingenious design of the famous architect Georgiy Stoilo. It adorns the top of the mountain of the same name and is a complex of a building shaped like a floating concrete plate and a 70-meter-high tower. The latter is equipped with an observation deck with beautiful panoramic views of the Balkan Mountains. And the ruby glass stars that decorate its northern and southern sides are 12 meters in diameter and at the time of construction of the tower were the largest in the world.

Now it is one of the little-known places in the world and a long-forgotten and gradually crumbling symbol of a bygone era. However, its former grandeur is still noticeable both in the decoration and in the strict lines of the futuristic building – its construction lasted from 1974 to 1981. More than 6,000 people took part in it – artists, engineers, designers, sculptors, as well as soldiers and volunteer workers. It took about 35 tons of glass to create the mosaics that decorate the interior of Buzludzh. At the moment, a fifth of them have been lost due to acts of vandalism and natural wear and tear. Other types of decor have practically not been preserved.

Fly Geyser

Location: Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA

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Fly Geyser © Lukas Bischoff Photograph / Shutterstock

Geyser Fly appeared on the territory of the ranch of the same name in the Black Rock Desert in 1964. 50 years earlier, the owners drilled a water well here, accidentally damaging the geothermal pocket. Over time, a small stream penetrating from a thermal spring filled the entire well and began to break out to the surface. The pressure of the hot stream became stronger and stronger, and soon three fountains saturated with calcium carbonate began to bubble up from under the ground. They created bizarre growth walls and pools filled with boiling water around themselves, forever changing the surrounding landscape.

Minerals, algae and bacteria give them incredible colors in shades of yellow, acid green and terracotta. All these formations continue to grow, and today the height of the capsule around the geyser reaches one and a half meters. Since the attraction is located on private land, you must obtain permission from the owner to see it.

Lake Hillier

Location: Middle Island, Recherche Archipelago, Australia

the strangest and most unusual places in the world
Lake Hillier © Vera Larina / Shutterstock

Lake Hillier is often called Bubble Gum Lake for its bright pink color. And in contrast with the surrounding eucalyptus forests, this shade becomes even brighter and more expressive. The waters of the lake contain a lot of salt – in this indicator it is not inferior to the Dead Sea. In such an environment, only special single-celled microorganisms can survive, which give Lake Hiller the color of a strawberry cocktail. They are safe for humans, so you can even swim in the pond. But many tourists prefer to admire this unusual place from a bird’s eye view. To do this, it is better to use special charter flights from Esperance Airport.

The uniqueness of Lake Hiller is that its color does not change or fade depending on the season. Therefore, you can enjoy its beauty at any time of the year, whenever you visit Western Australia.