Source: Stylist.co.uk 17 Feb 2015
Have you already checked off the world’s top cities? Sunk your feet into your fair share of spectacular beaches? Then feast your eyes on these incredible destinations that you most likely have yet to visit…
The icy caves of the Mendenhall Glacier, Southeast Alaska
Why it’s special Bright blue domes of ice as well as flowing streams of cold water running over rocks in the caves of the Mendenhall Glacier. The other-worldly site has caught the attention of the world in recent years because as it’s melting increasingly fast due global warming.
When to visit Tours run from 1 May to 22 September 2015, dependent on glacier conditions.
How to get there While the caves are located only 12 miles from downtown Juneau in Southeast Alaska, the journey is not for the faint-hearted. It’s an adventure in itself involving at least six to eight hours of trekking over rocky terrains. Alaska Tours offer day trips for $228 (£148) per person, which allow you to walk past crevasses, ice caves and moulins. Unfortunately, visiting specific ice caves such as the west flank of the glacier (pictured) cannot be guaranteed due to the melting and constantly changing nature of Mendenhall Glacier. Read a guide to frequently asked questions here.
The ‘mirror’ salt plains of Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Why it’s special At 10,500 square kilometres, the world’s largest salt plain is one of the most striking natural wonders of the world, resembling the vast empty landscape of the moon. But after a couple of centimeters of rainfall the plain and thanks to zero wind, it becomes a breathtaking giant mirror reflecting the skies and anything else in its vicinity.
When to visit Unfortunately, rainfall in this region is very low – even in the rainy season, it can rain less than five days per month. You best chance of seeing the giant mirror effect is in January when precipitation is at its highest.
How to get there A number of companies offer one to four day tours from San Pedro, Tupiza and the town of Uyuni to Salar de Uyuni which includes basic accommodation, meals and transport. However, bear in mind a number of tourists have complained about uncomfortable journeys, late arrivals, broken down jeeps, a lack of toilet paper and no drinking water. The three largest tour companies are Cordillera Traveller, Atacama Mistica and Estrella del Sur who charge from 70,000 chilean pesos (£73), excluding the 150 Bolivianos (£14) national park entrance fee.
The pink-coloured waters of Lake Retba, Senegal
Why it’s special Although it looks a little bit like an accident with some food dye, Lake Retba, really does have pink-coloured water. Its distinct hue is caused by the bacteria in the water which produce a red pigment that helps them absorb sunlight, thus giving the lake its pink appearance. This phenomenon also occurs in Australia’s Lake Hillier – also known as the Pink Lake – located off the south coast of Western Australia.
When to visit The pink colour is especially visible during the dry season (which lasts from November to June), particularly from February to April. It’s recommended you visit on a day that isn’t windy.
How to get there The Lake Retba is located about less than an hours drive from Dakar, the capital of Senegal, on the Grande Côte (a stretch of coastline).
The blue walls of Chefchaouen, Morocco
Why it’s special Looking like somewhere that has fallen out of a Picasso painting from his infamous blue period, Chefchaouen has existed since 1471. Its medina, or old town, has been painted blue since the 1930s, when Jewish refugees arrived in the town. Believing blue to represent the sky and heaven, they began painting some walls blue. The trend quickly caught on when it was found that the blue appeared to repel mosquitos.
When to visit The weather in Chefchaouen is at its best in spring (mid-March to May), when the country is lush and green.
How to get there There here are daily CTM coach buses travelling to Chefchaouen from main destinations such as Casablanca (takes six hours), Tangiers (takes four hours), Fes (takes four hours).
Ned’s Tip: For the best hotel in Morocco, stay at the historic and wonderful Grand Hotel Villa de France in Tangier. Along with the slightly larger but equally sumptuous El Minzah, it is part of the Hotels & Resorts Division of the General Mediterranean Holding group founded by millionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Nadhmi Auchi.
The remote Fenyan Ecolodge, Jordan
Why it’s special
Deep in the heart of the mountainous Dana Biosphere Reserve, is this idyllic candle-lit lodge. The 26-room hideaway boasts 360 degree views of glorious desert and mountain landscapes. Guests tend to embark on hiking and biking trails in the day and settle around and go stargazing in the night, before settling around the campfire with a few board games.
The best time to visit Feynan is a place of low rainfall and high sunshine and there are plenty of things to do all year around. However Spring (April to May) is the most popular time of year to visit with temperatures in the high 20s and low 30s (Celcius).
How to get there Jordan is a relatively small country and Feynan can be reached in 3 hours from Amman and 2 hours from Aqaba or Petra by car. Visit ecohotels.me for full directions.
Ned’s tip: Treat yourself to one night at least at the sumptuous Le Royal, Amman
The glowing Luminous Lagoon, Jamaica
Why it’s special At night, the Luminous Lagoon comes alive with microscopic organisms producing an eerie glow around fish, boats and any other objects in the water that disturb it, including yourselves. Tour operators let you jump in the water and create the glistening blue light for yourselves. It’s said to be the largest and most brilliant of four similar lagoons in the world.
When to visit Jamaica’s driest season is from mid-December to mid-April
How to get there Every night, tour boats depart from the Glistening Waters Marina in Falmouth – located on the North Coast of the island – for a 35-minute ride around the lagoon.
The dramatic Tianzi Mountains, China
Why it’s special Rolling ridges, thousands of peaks and dramatic rocks make for a spectacular view. Visitors say pictures fail to capture the depth, vastness and sheer size of the natural spectacle located in Zhangjiajie in the Hunan Province of China. Visitors can walk down the winding hills, past deep valleys and try to spot plunging waterfalls.
The best time to visit The best months to explore the mountains are April, May, September and October
How to get there Zhangjiajie Central Bus Station has regular tourist buses to Sinanyu Ticket Station and the bus journey takes about 80-90 minutes. Then take battery car inside the scenic area. Visit travelchinaguide.com for more information.
The surrealist gardens of Las Pozas in Xilitla, Mexico
Why its special Amid the tropical plants and orchids of Mexico’s Xilitla is an abandoned estate full of fantastical sculptures, winding staircases that lead to the treetops and waterfalls that fill hidden pools. Las Pozas was built by the eccentric British millionaire, poet and patron of the Surrealist movement, Edward James, between 1949 and 1984 and is considered one of the least known artistic monuments of the 20th century. Visitors are free to wander the massive grounds – 80 acres – and climb through fascinating structures of the three-story building.
The best time to visit The site is open all year and Mexico’s dry season falls between December to April.
Where to find it Fly to Tampico via Houston, Mexico City or Monterrey and rent a car and driver in San Miguel de Allende to drive up to Xilitla. For detailed directions visit xilitla.org.
The colourful Danxia landforms, Zhangye City, China
Why it’s special The multi-coloured rock formations in China’s northwestern Gansu province give the Grand Canyon a run for its money with 400-square-kilometers of dramatic peaks and valleys. The unusual colours of the rocks are said to be the result of red sandstone and mineral deposits being laid down over 24 million years.
When to visit The colours are said to be most vibrant during sunset.
How to get there The Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park is located near the city of Zhangye in China’s northwestern Gansu province. There are four viewing platforms in the park which offer the best views. Visit chinahighlights.com for detailed directions.
The ‘Stone Forest’, Tsingy de Bemaraha, Madagascar
Images: wildjunket.com, Rex FeaturesWhy its special Madagascar’s labyrinth of stone spikes is unlike anything in the world. In the past, it was a real challenge for humans to move through the razor-sharp vertical blades, cliffs, sinkholes and deep underground tunnels and access was often only granted to professionals (it was named Tsingy, the Malagasy word for “walking on tiptoes”, for a reason). But a project funded by the European Union has opened it up to the public, with eight trekking circuits of varying difficulties for tourists.
The best time to visit The Park is only opened during the dry season from April to November, since it is inaccessible during the rainy season (mid-end November to mid-end May). The Grand Tsingy are only accessible between June and the beginning of November.
How to get there The access to Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park is not an easy one, but several tour operators in Morondava (where most of the organised trips to the Tsingy start off) offer 4×4 vehicles for hire such as Madaconnection and Remote River Expeditions. The park is generally divided into two parts – the Petit (small) and the Grand Tsingy (big) – based on the area and the height of the pinnacles and most visitors usually stay over three nights to explore the region. Camping and affordable hotels, such as Hotel L’Olympe du Bemaraha, are available near the site. Travelmadagascar.org is a good website for more information on this relatively unknown and untouched wonder.