One year and seven days ago, I wrote a post called “10 Ridiculously Offbeat Destinations.”
It was a fun list to put together.
Lucky for all you wild and crazy travel junkies (myself included), there are plenty of other wacky, ridiculously offbeat places around the world. Cheers to this second gathering!
Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve: Madagascar
Known also as Madagascar’s Stone Forest, the Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve is a wild expanse of limestone cliffs, housing a remote and mostly inhospitable terrain–strange species of lemurs, wild birds, slotted canyons and preserved mangrove forests. The deep and brittle precipices were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990. Check out more information and photos in this National Geographic article.
[photograph from National Geographic’s Stephen Alvarez]
Mount Huashan Hiking Trail: China
The ascent of Mount Huashan in China’s Shaanxi Province can be done in one of two ways–easy…or ridiculously and terrifyingly difficult. Deemed one of the most exhilarating (and dangerous) hikes in the world, it is estimated that the ascent claims the lives of 100 people each year. The Chinese government has made considerable improvements to the trail, but hikers must still scale narrow and unsteady planks, nearly vertical staircases, and ladders that would make even Indiana Jones cringe in fear.
The wildest part of the Huashan Trail is the “Changong Zhandao,” a 13 feet long, 1 foot wide wooden path. I believe that is what is pictured above.
[photograph from Flickr user Verde PR]
Three Camel Lodge: Mongolia
One of the world’s most remote hotels, the Three Camel Lodge may not have 4 stars…but it’s got a heck-of-a view. Guests can stay in one of 45 hand-made gers, traditional Mongolian tents used by nomadic herders. Felt carpets, indigenous furnishings, and wood-burning stoves can be found inside, and guests can participate in a variety of activities–camel trekking, horseback riding and visiting nomadic Mongolian families.
Make sure to allow enough time to get there. After a two hour flight from Beijing to Mongolia’s capital, Ulan Bator, you must take a 60-minute prop-plane to Dalanzadgad, followed by a 90-minute drive along a remote dirt road.
[photograph from Flickr user jennifer_schuetz]
Lac Assal: Djibouti
Lac Assal, a crater lake in central Djibouti, is the deepest point in Africa and, behind the Dead Sea the second lowest land impression on Earth. Also, outside of Antarctica, Lac Assal is the most saline body of water in the world with nearly 34% salt content. Nearby, the original Planet of the Apes was filmed.
Mataveri International Airport: Easter Island
The only airport on Eastern Island, Mataveri International Airport in the South Pacific is considered the most remote airport in the world. The closest major city that can be reached by plane is Santiago, over 2,000 miles away. Travelers can also come via Mangareva (GMR) in the Gambier Islands.
[photograph from Flickr user peace-on-earth.org]
Tanggula (Dangla) Railway Station: China
At 5,068 meters (16,627 feet), the Tanggula Railway Station is the highest railway station in the world. The region is completely uninhabited, therefore recently no passenger transport system has been available.
[photograph from Flickr user Calem]
La Rinconada: Peru
Another one of the world’s most extreme places, La Rinconada in the Peruvian Andes (5,100m or 16,732 ft) is officially the highest inhabited city in the world. Just over 30,000 people live here, many of them working at a gold mine nearby. The city has no running water or sewage system.
[photograph from Hildegard Willer]
Socotra Island: Yemen
One of the most alien looking places on Earth, Socotra Island lies in the Indian Ocean, between Somalia and Yemen, geographically isolated from mainland Africa for the last 6 or 7 million years.
Similar to the Galapagos Islands, the island flourishes with rare species of flora and fauna. Check this–a third of the plants and animals on Socotra Island are endemic…as in, they aren’t found anywhere else in the world.
Despite the fact that Socotra, one of four clustered islands, has around 40,000 inhabitants, the Yemeni government only recently built roads. Socotra is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.
[photography from Flickr user Martin Sojka]
Pripyat, Ukraine is an abandoned city within the “zone of exclusion” near the former Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, around 50,000 residents abandoned Pripyat, many of them dying from radioactive exposure.
Pripyat’s buildings haven’t been maintained for over two decades, giving the city an eerie, post-apocalyptic feel. Visitors can walk through an abandoned school, amusement park and hospital–seeing peeled paint, broken glass, rotting floorboards, and all kinds of interesting Soviet relics.
Guoliang Tunnel: China
Through the Taihang Mountains in China’s Henan Province, the Guoliang Tunnel twists and carves its way through towering rock. The tunnel is nearly a mile long and was opened in 1977 to traffic.
[photographs from Flick user Toxane]