Used as an inspiration for the movie Avatar, the unusual geography of Wulingyuan creates a distinctly alien feel. Featuring 3,000 sandstone pillars that stretch up to 300 metres into the air, natural rock bridges, caves, streams and waterfalls, the vaguely M.C. Escher-ish landscape is a visual feast for tourists. However the locals who have been there for over 100,000 years are known as ‘the Wuling Rude people’ because of their dislike of visitors.
The spiritual home of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, the Galapagos Islands showcases the potential of life to adapt to whatever niche in an eco-system it can find. Now a pretty well established tourist route it’s still a great place to get in touch with the wild diversity that nature encourages.
Down on the bottom of the planet, the large snow covered landmass that is Antarctica experiences the coldest, windiest and rather surprisingly, the driest conditions on earth. Politically it’s been sliced up like a giant earth pie with Chile, Argentina, U.K., Norway, Australia, France and New Zealand taking healthy chunks. Oddly though, that leaves a good 15% (visually guestimating) unclaimed!
Down the bottom end of New Zealand’s South Island, Fiordland is as wild and rugged as it is beautiful. So rugged and wild, that despite its beauty, it’s never had any permanent human population. Today, the roads around the region are still vulnerable to slips and bad weather so even the most jaded tourists need to be wary.
Home to Oymyakon, the coldest inhabited place on earth, the locals occasionally chalk up such record temperatures as -67 °C. For kids this can be good news as once it gets below -50°C, school is officially closed. However in summer, temperatures have been known to shoot up to 34°C, meaning Oymyakon is one of the few places on earth to have a temperature amplitude greater than 100°C. They must have big wardrobes.
With temperatures occasionally reaching 63°C, this settlement in Northern Ethiopia is the hottest inhabited place on earth. But that’s not the wildest thing about this location; geographically it often resembles a Star Trek backdrop, being speckled with acidic hot springs, sulphur, salt and iron oxide. In fact locals have been known to build houses out of blocks of salt, as it was the most convenient material available. To top it all off, currently the easiest way of getting to Dallol is by camel caravan.
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