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Monday
Dec292014

10 natural phenomena worth travelling to see

Human creations may be beautiful and inspiring, but when it comes to sheer scale, nature still beats us hands down. Here is a list of 10 beautiful natural scenes that are definitely worth a detour.

Volcanoes

Image courtesy of Frontier Tanzania Climb Mount Kilimanjaro project

Fire-breathing mountains – what more could you ask for? These geological giants have fascinated and terrified mankind for millennia, and are found all over the world, from active volcanoes like the Popocatépetl in Mexico to dormant ones like Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania.

Sinkholes

Image courtesy of Eric Pheterson

Sinkholes are, basically, a natural hole in the ground. Doesn’t sound that impressive until you consider some of their depths! From a mere 30m (Bimmah sinkhole, Oman) to 400m (Pozzo del Merro, Italy). The Great Blue Hole (pictured), in Belize, and Dean’s Blue Hole, in the Bahamas, also deserve to be mentioned, with depths of 124m and 203m respectively… but underwater.

Bioluminescent Plankton

Image courtesy of BMC Ecology

When considering light-producing sea creatures, forget about the unseemly anglerfish and focus on this incredible phenomenon instead. Disturbing some types of plankton at night causes them to release energy as visible light – walking through knee deep water in the dead of night creates the eerie sensation of walking in boots made of living, shifting light.

Aurora Borealis

Image courtesy of Nick Russill

Incredible light shows also occur at a much grander scale in nature. Aurora australis are the southern companion to aurora borealis, incredible displays of red, blue or even green lights at the Earth’s magnetic poles. These are visible from countries like Norway or even New Zealand or Australia – and evidently, from the North Pole and Antarctica.

Animal Migrations

Image courtesy of DIBP Images

Everyone knows that swallows go South for winter, but did you know about other, spectacular animal migrations? For instance, red crabs on Christmas Island migrate en masse from the forests to the coastline every year to breed, even crossing roads and causing some cars to puncture tires over their strong claws!

The Giant’s Causeway

Image courtesy of Ty

The Giant’s Causeway, in Ireland, may not seem as exotic, but remains an interesting geological formation. Resulting from a volcanic eruption 50 to 60 million years ago, this series of roughly 40 000 basalt columns deserves its name: it indeed looks like a huge paved road crafted by giants, leading off a cliff and into the sea.

Waterfalls

Image courtesy of Frontier Zimbabwe

Water endlessly falling off a cliff is bound to be impressive regardless of context, but there are some notable waterfalls that trump the rest. Victoria Falls (pictured), at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, is stunning by its sheer magnitude, and is twice the height of the famous Niagara Falls in North America. Angel Falls take the trophy as the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall, standing 979m tall in Venezuela.

Hot Springs

Image courtesy of Bill Ward

Hot springs are often more than just comfortable; they are also wonders of nature! Steam and mud emerge from the earth in a cloud of sulphur at Hverir in Iceland (pictured), while tourists and locals alike relax in the many natural onsen in Kusatsu, Japan. Take your pick!

Penitentes

Image courtesy of ESO

These oddly shaped snow formations occur at high altitudes in the Andes, and can reach up to 5 meters long. Their name comes from their resemblance to a crowd kneeling in penitence.

Door to Hell

Image courtesy of Stefan Krakowski

This aptly named Turkmen structure may seem terrifying at first, and is actually a combination of natural formation and human ingenuity. This pit is constantly streaming natural gas, and was set alight in 1971 by Soviet engineers. It has been burning ever since.

By Marion Thibaudeau

Want to try experience nature’s power firsthand? Why not climb Mount Kilimanjaro, go diving in Belize, explore the wild lands of Antarctica, cuddle up to black rhinos and elephants in Zimbabwe, or any other of Frontier’s amazing experiences?

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