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Thursday
Jun072012

Into the Wild: The Best Bizarre Sites Travellers Should See

Today Into the Wild is bringing you 5 of the most bizarre sites travellers should see. These aren’t your usual tourist attractions – so if you’re the kind of traveller that likes to take a step outside the travel guide and see some truly amazing and odd places then check these out...

The Sneaker Tree – United States:

 

Photo courtesy of The Pelczynski Family

Some may say that shoe trees are the greatest embodiment of the American Spirit that you can find along the highway. It all starts with one dreamer tossing forth their old footwear high into the sky in the hope that it will catch an outreaching branch. For many this is where the story ends with the dangling daps remaining unseen destined to hang alone but on rare occasions this triggers a shoe tossing cascade till the tree blooms with sneakers like a polymer work of art. One tree in particular had become somewhat of a sneaker tree mecca – the Amboy Shoe Tree, near Amboy on Route 66 in California was strewn with hundreds of shoes before it was sadly fell down. But fear not there are many shoe trees lining the highways throughout the United States and Canada. It is tradition that any passerby also throws a pair of shoes onto the trees but make sure your aim is good otherwise your sneakers could end up in the ditch with the rest of the fails.

Island of Dolls – Mexico:

Photo courtesy of Esparta

You might have thought hanging shoes on trees was weird well here’s something even odder it’s the Island of Dolls in Mexico where the trees are strewn with dolls. Just south of Mexico City the Island of Dolls is a very bizarre place indeed where creepy, mutilated and tormented-looking dolls hang from the trees. Legend has it, that three girls that went swimming in the canals around the island but that one girl drowned and that her spirit now haunts the island. The story follows that a man named Julian Santana then came to live on the island alone and as an offering to the dead girl hung dolls up around the island to appease her spirit. In 2001 Julian Santana was discovered drowned in the same canal where the little girl died and it is said that the eerie feel of death lingers over the island....are you brave enough to take a trip to the spooky Island of Dolls?

The Sailing Stones – Death Valley:

Photo courtesy of marc kjerland

These stones have been puzzling visitors for decades! The mysterious sailing stones of Death Valley have been discovered to move about the valleys however with the valleys being uninhabited the question remains if it’s not man power that’s moving these stones then what is? Sliding along the cracked mud flats of the valley the trails from the stones can be seen far in the distance leaving a shallow track in their wake. Some geologists have suggested that when the mud is wet the stones are moved around the valley by the wind however this does not explain how the stones move in the summer when temperatures soar and leave the mud as dry as a bone. Each stone has its own track that goes back over the past couple of years showing every twist and turn the stone has made but no one has ever witnessed a stone moving and no one know the speed at which they travel. Without a doubt this is certainly an odd sight worth seeing and who knows you could be the one to solve the mystery of the sailing stones of Death Valley?

Waitomo Glow-worm Caves – New Zealand:

Photo courtesy of Don Pugh Perth Western Australia

The Maori people have known about the Waitomo Glowworm Caves for many years however the caves were not extensively explored until 1887 when Maori Chief Tane Tinorau and English surveyor Fred Mace decided to set off underground to take a look. Heading into the cave on a raft made of flax stems with only candles to light their way, Tane and Fred, were astonished to see a myriad of tiny bright lights covering the ceiling of the cave. On closer inspection they discovered the cave was alight with the radiance of thousands of glow worms – jubilant at their discovery they returned to tell everyone about the magic of the cave. In 1889 Tane opened the caves to tourists and visitor numbers soon soared and he and his wife began to escort groups through the cave for a small fee until in 1906 the administration of the cave was taken over by the government. Today visitors are still able to witness the amazing spectacle of the Waitomo glowworm caves and as a happy ending to the tale the ownership of the caves has now been returned to the descendants of Tane Tinorau.

Hell’s Door – Turkmenistan:

Photo courtesy of Michael J Moss

In the middle of the Kara-Kum desert in Turkmenistan near to the village of Darwaza sits one of the strangest sights anyone will ever see – Hell’s Door. This burning pit of flames is a truly amazing spectacle and at night the red glow of the fire can be seen up to 25 miles away - but how did it all come about?  The story goes that in 1971 the state energy company was drilling near Darwaza when they accidently drilled into an underground cavern filled with natural gas. At that point the drilling released the massive amount of pressure the natural gas had been exerting on the cavern walls causing the ground beneath the cavern to collapse leaving a crater 25 meters deep and 60-70 meters wide. This certainly came as a shock to the energy company but a further surprise was in store when they realised that natural gas was still rising from the crater. Concerned that this gas could build up and pose a risk to the local communities they decided to set it on fire in an attempt to clear the crater. The crater has been burning ever since and is so hot that visitors can only bear to stand near the edge for a couple of minutes – so if you do want to take a peak be sure not to get too close to the edge!

By Hannah Jones

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