Personalize your bucket list for a whirlwind travel experience
Ever wonder what it is like to embark on a quest or voyage to the farthest reaches of the Earth? Now you can visit some of these extreme ‘out-of-this-world’ places without having to spend a fortune or risk losing your life. Among the many unique wonders of the world are the intriguing places and sacred sites that have inspired blockbuster movies such as Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider and Mission Impossible. But that is a story for another time. Meanwhile, if you fancy taking the ultimate vacation or holiday retreat of your lifetime, you might want to check out the following seven most fascinating must-visit places on Earth. A word of caution though, be prepared to be spellbound and awe-inspired by the most beautiful scenes & scenery humans have ever laid eyes upon. C’est la vie and bon voyage!
Reunion Island, France
Reunion is a French island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar. Wildly popular for its string of volcanoes, diverse menagerie, offshore reefs, pristine beaches and Creole culture are some of its hidden treasures as well as iconic landmarks. Piton de la Fournaise, is an active volcano which is bound to excite thrill seekers and volcanologists alike. The extinct volcano, Piton des Neiges, including cirques & calderas, are cool destinations worth sight-seeing. Apart from virgin jungles and majestic volcanoes, visitors also get to experience the exquisite beauty of the island itself – of lush greenery and dreamy lagoons. A worldly paradise indeed for discerning travellers as well as globe-trotting enthusiasts.
Great Blue Hole, Belize
The Great Blue Hole is actually an underwater sink-hole off the coast of Belize. It measures some 300 metres wide and 125 metres deep. It is also one of the most renowned spots on Earth for scuba diving as well as free-range diving. The insane popularity of the place is affirmed by the fact that it has been consistently ranked among the most amazing places on Earth since its induction and nomination. The so-called “submarine hole” garnered worldwide attention in 1971 when Jacques-Yves Cousteau, a pioneering marine conservationist, first discovered its existence. The hole itself was actually formed above water, and subsequently flooded as sea levels began to rise gradually, a fact that was later confirmed with the discovery of stalactites within the submerged cave. A pride and joy of Belize’s eco-tourism, its unique marine diversity is another major selling point as well as fundamental driver and stimulus of the Belizean economy. Are you ready to take the plunge?
Cave of Crystals, New Mexico
Cueva de los Cristales located in the heart of Naica, New Mexico is the epitome of one of our most fantastic and awesome science-fiction hits or blockbusters ever – somewhat reminiscent of Superman’s lair in the North Pole. Primarily consisting of gypsum, these gigantic salt crystals grew overtime in a span of 500 thousand years to their present gargantuan state. The giant crystalline structures seemed destined to be preserved for eternity as relics of deep earth until commercial mining came about in 2000. It is now designated as a UN World Heritage Site.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Salar de Uyuni, situated amid the Andean mountains in Bolivia, is the world’s largest salt plains. Its legacy is a prehistoric lake that dried up over millions of years leaving a desert-like environment. The physical expanse and pure vastness of its majestic scene or setting is truly awe-inspiring and mind-blowing. Although depleted of major flora & fauna, it does play host to a great many flocks of pink flamingos during the annual migration season. A truly remarkable sight to behold witnessing eerie panoramic reflections cast via the mirror effect of its crystalline landscape. Some might even claim it is the closest representation of heaven!
Socotra Island, Yemen
Do you sometimes get the urge to visit an alien planet and experience foreign life-forms? If you think you have seen it all, you have yet to visit Socotra Island, a largely secluded isle off the coast of Yemen. Socotra is widely regarded as the jewel of biodiversity within the Arabian Sea region with its unique land & marine species. It is home to the Dragon’s Blood Tree, a peculiar plant native only to Socotra. Cutting its bark will literally ooze or yield a dark red blood-like fluid. Also endemic to Socotra is the Desert Rose, a plant resembling an over-sized elephant leg with leaves & flowers. Without doubt, Socotra is a modern-day Jurassic Park!
Crescent-Moon Lake, China
If you should find yourself stranded on an isolated desert and stumble upon a temple with a crescent-shaped lake, you are definitely not seeing mirages. The lake in question is none other than Yueyaquan, a tiny village situated just south of Dunhuang, China. The village itself is built around the 2,000 year-old oasis which is accessible by camel rides and via 4×4 (i.e. 4wd pick-ups). Its remote location and exclusive hospitality is indeed worth the visit. Imagine a traditional inn serving sumptuous meals and indigenous delights, all smacked right in the middle of a scorching and sweltering desert. There is no other place on Earth quite as bizarre or intriguing as this. The prospect of a long-term retreat or stayover is somewhat a distant dream, since it is quite an arduous and exhausting trip or journey to begin with. Still, this presents an interesting yet worthwhile challenge for the hardcore. So is anyone gamed for a real trekking adventure in China?
Ilulissat Icefjord, Iceland
The spectacular view of the glacier, its enormous and behemoth ice sculptures, is truly breathtaking, particularly the tremendous roar of huge ice blocks breaking and shattering. During a flyby over the designated area, ensure you get a window (instead of aisle) seat on your next flight to Ilulissat Icefjord. The sight and sounds of the Icelandic fjords and glaciers are simply magnificent. The ubiquitous “Northern Lights“(i.e. Aurora borealis) are common occurrences throughout the Northern hemispheric regions, particularly in Scandinavian countries such as Norway, Finland and Iceland, as well as Greenland. It is a grand event of stellar proportions unlike any other – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not to be missed!