40 seemingly impossible places that actually exist
The world is filled with beautiful places to visit from shore to shore. But what about the anomalies of the world? Nature doesn’t always do things by the book, and there are a few creepy, strange, and seemingly impossible places to prove it.
1. Sea of Stars
A shore that shimmers might as well just be called heaven on earth. The glittering shores in the Vaadhoo island of the Maldives glow blue at night. Though the island only has a population of 500 people, tourists will come from all over the world to bask in the presence of the body of water, known as the Sea of Stars, with a natural sparkle.
Scientists say that the water’s sparkling abilities come from a chemical reaction called bioluminescence. The Sea of Stars contains a type of phytoplankton called dinoflagellates. When scientists researched the organisms, they found a cell membrane that reacts to electrical impulses, causing the dinoflagellates to light up the water.
2. Lake Hillier
Whoever said that water is blue must never have heard about Australia’s Lake Hillier. Discovered in 1802 by British navigator and cartographer Matthew Flinders, this bubblegum-colored lake has been leaving people in awe for centuries. The dazzling color of this water is not temporary, as it stays pigmented even when bottled in a container.
What makes this lake interesting is that no one knows for certain why the lake is pink, although scientists have hypothesized that it must have something to do with the type of bacteria that resides in the water. That being said, the water is still safe to swim in and is now becoming a popular tourist destination. The lake is hard to get to, but if you manage to make the trek, the experience will be worthwhile.
3. The Door to Hell
For all of the horror-loving thrill seekers out there, Derweze, Turkmenistan is home to one of the most terrifying and hellish tourist destinations on the planet. The Darvaza gas crater, better known as the “Door to Hell,” has a diameter of 226 feet and is 98 feet deep. The crater was first discovered in 1971, when Soviet engineers thought it was an oil site.
Just after they began assessing the site to prepare for drilling, the ground collapsed into what we now know as the Door to Hell. Scientists then decided to keep the crater burning to stave off poisonous gases, though the Turkmenistan government hopes that the site will become a popular tourist destination over time.
4. Hum of Taos
Inexplicable sounds are nothing new, but an eerie hum that lingers throughout the small town of Taos has been baffling people for years. The sound was first reported in 1993, when a group of locals complained to Congress about it. In response to the noise complaints, a survey was conducted by Joe Mullins, professor of engineering at the University of New Mexico.
After interviewing the citizens of Taos, Mullins found that only 2% of the population were “hearers” of the sound. Although the source of the sound was never discovered, Mullins found that the “hearers” of the hum described it in different ways. While some reported it as a hum, others described it as a buzz or a whir.
5. Circles of Namibia
You will have to travel all the way to the Atlantic side of South Africa to see this peculiar collection of red circular patches on the sandy floor of the Namibia desert. For years, scientists have been trying to figure out where these patches originate from. They’re known as “fairy circles,” ranging from five feet to 130 feet wide and can only really be seen from a bird’s-eye view.
One strange feature about these circles is their bizarre low-level magnetism. If you drag a magnet across the circle, the magnet will pick up more soil in the inside of the circle than outside of its boundaries. While some scientists believe that the circles are caused by famished termites called Hodotermes Mossambicus, others have speculated that its cause is a toxic bush called Euphorbia Damarana.
6. The Nazca Lines of Peru
If you’ve never heard of a geoglyph, it’s a large design consisting of either an array of lines carved into the ground (negative geoglyphs), or an arrangement of materials (positive geoglyphs). The Nazca Lines in Peru are perhaps the most well-known collection of geoglyphs, etched deeply into the soil of the Nazca Desert. Scientists have estimated that they were made sometime between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500.
Of the designs in this collection of geoglyphs are animals, plants, and a series of straight lines that expand across the landscape. The Nazca Lines are best viewed from an airplane or helicopter, but some of the designs can also be seen from the foothills. Scientists have hypothesized that the lines have something to do with the Nazca people and their roots in astrology.
7. Movile Cave
For the past 5.5 million years, this Romanian cave has been isolated from the rest of the world, and it was only opened up when Socialist Republic of Romania workers were searching for a new area to build a nuclear power plant in 1986. You would think that the cave’s conditions would make it uninhabitable, but scientists were able to find 48 different species living in the cave, 33 of which are unique to the cave. Some of the creatures found were various spiders, scorpions, centipedes, leeches, and isopods.
Given the darkness of the cave, the species do not have sight. If a dark cave filled with scorpions and leeches sounds like your kind of vacation, good luck getting there, because it’s not very easy. Less than 100 people have actually ever visited the cave.
8. The Ringing Rocks of Pennsylvania
They may be heavy, dull, and inanimate, but a certain family of rocks in Pennsylvania has a mysterious musical ability. When struck, the sonorous rocks, also known as the “Ringing Rocks of Pennsylvania,” produce a distinctive, metallic clang. The sound is so baffling that people often question whether or not the rocks are really made of stone. These musical rocks cover roughly seven to eight acres of Ringing Rocks County Park in Pennsylvania.
How these boulders appeared is a true mystery. When geologists inspected the rocks, they found that they were composed of a volcanic substance called diabase, which is made up of iron and other hard minerals. Perhaps the most unusual thing about this rock family is the fact that it’s at the top of a hill, when normally, fields of rocks happen as a result of an avalanche.
9. Hessdalen Lights
Imagine being in Norway, staring out into the night sky, and seeing a giant ball of light coasting along the mountains. It may seem like a scene from “The Wizard of Oz,” when really it’s just one of many unexplained orbs that show up along the Hessdalen Valley in central Norway.
The lights, which are approximately the same size as a car, appear in bright white, yellow, or red varieties and can show up above and below the horizon. They can usually be seen for anywhere from a few seconds to an hour. Though the lights have been reported since the 1930s, the 1980s had the most frequent sightings, with reports up to 20 times a week. Tourists would flock to the mountains from all over to try and catch a giant, car-sized ball of light, but things have since changed. Curiously, since 2010, there have only been about 10 to 20 observations reported yearly.
10. Lake Karachay
Lake Karachay, located in the southern Ural mountains of Russia, is now the most polluted place on the planet. In 1990, just standing near the lake for one hour would expose you to a radiation dose of 600 roentgen, which is easily more than enough to kill you. The pollution comes as a result of its less-than-prime location: the Mayak Production Association, one of the biggest nuclear facilities in Russia.
The Russian government spent years throwing the remnants of their nuclear meltdowns into the river. Mayak was kept a secret until 1990, and by that point, there was already a 21% increase in cancer diagnoses, a 25% spike in birth defects, and a 41% incline of leukemia incidences in the Chelyabinsk region. 65% of the locals became sick because of the radiation, an illness that doctors labeled “special disease” in order to conceal the existence of the facility.
11. Gruner See
This accidental underwater park in Styria, Austria performs its own magic trick every year around the same time. Gruner See, which means “Green Lake,” is a popular spot for tourists trying to soak up some rays all year round, except for the month of June, when the park gets enveloped in 36 feet of water.
In the winter, the park only features a small pond of about three to seven feet. Every year in the spring, the snow on the surrounding mountains begins to melt, filling up the entire basin, and drowning tree trunks, park benches, and a bridge. For a while, this phenomenon would attract curious divers wanting to land their eyes on an underwater park, but in 2016, the park’s tourism office prohibited activity during this time.
Deep in the Amazon lives a boiling river by the name of Shanay-Timpishka. For a long time, scientists believed that the existence of this river was scientifically impossible due to its distance from volcanoes—until a local Peruvian geothermal scientist named Andres Ruzo decided to find out for himself.
His peers thought he was out of his mind, but when Ruzo discovered the boiling river, he realized that it is located in the sacred healing site of Mayantuyacu, under the control of a powerful shaman. This four-mile-long river is believed to be boiling because of a giant serpent spirit who can bring forth hot and cold water. This site is often visited as a traditional healing sanctuary.
13. The Double Tree of Casorzo
In Piemonte, Italy, the “Double Tree of Casorzo” exists, known as the “Bialbero di Casorzo” in Italian. This work of nature differs from other types of epiphytes; normally, the growth will only ever be small, and the plants won’t usually live very long due to a lack of soil and room to grow. This Italian anomaly is a mulberry tree with a cherry tree growing on top of it.
Also known as the “Grana Double Tree,” the cherry tree stands well above the mulberry tree. Scientists still are not sure how this came about, but it is likely that a bird dropped a cherry tree seed on top of the mulberry tree. Big epiphytes such as this one are usually only possible if the top tree is connected to the ground through its roots, so the Bialbero di Casorzo is truly a rarity.
14. The Petrifying Well
When you imagine a body of water that turns objects into stones, it kind of seems like something of a fairytale, but Mother Shipton’s Petrifying Well does just that. For many years, it was believed that the petrifying well was witchcraft on Mother Shipton’s behalf, as she was well-known and commonly blamed in her day for anything tragic and dark.
Since the 1600s, people have feared the waters that fill this well, while others have tested it by planting random belongings into the water to see what happens. People have left their hats, stuffed animals, toys, and other items in the well, only to return three to five months later and see that they are hard as a stone.
15. The Beacon of Maracaibo
A small area of Venezuela is exposed to 1.2 million lightning strikes a year. For about 160 days a year, this everlasting storm fills the night sky with bright colors of red, orange, blue, and sometimes even pink. This storm is unique in that it’s quiet—you can’t hear thunder.
The Catumbo lightning has been around for quite a while and has made its mark a few times in history. In 1597, the Spanish poet Lope de Vega composed a poem called “The Dragontea.” In the poem, Vega describes how the light produced from these bolts of lightning allowed them to see the English ships coming toward them to attack when Sir Francis Drake attempted to take over Maracaibo.
16. The Blue Pond of Hokkaido
A pond as blue as the one in Hokkaido, Japan is hard to come by. In fact, after a photograph of the Blue Pond made its way onto an iOS wallpaper, people couldn’t believe something so beautiful really existed, and many tourists sought out to see it for themselves. It has now become a popular Japanese icon.
The pond was born in an effort to stop volcanic eruptions from damaging the town of Biei. Once Mount Tokachi erupted in 1988, a dam was built on Biei River, aiding in the formation of a few ponds, including the Blue Pond. One cause of its shimmering blue pigment is the high levels of aluminum hydroxide in the water, which means swimming isn’t an option, but gazing admiringly from a distance is.
17. Kawah Ijen
The Kawah Ijen crater on the island of Java in Indonesia is one of a kind, with its blue lava-like rivers that flow through the crevices. Although a lot of people commonly mistake these flowing rivers of light for lava, it’s not necessarily true. The dazzling, blue glow actually comes from the combustion of sulfur-rich gases.
The sulfuric gas surfaces through the cracks in the volcano at a high temperature and pressure. Once the gases are exposed to the air, they ignite, which can send flames up to 16 feet high. Sometimes the gases can liquify and they will continue to burn the rest of the way down the slope; which is often why people confuse it for lava.
18. The Devil’s Kettle
Judge C.R. Magney State Park’s most sought-after feature consists of the Brule River and its waterfall that splits into two. One side of the waterfall continues flowing down the river, while the other one drops off at a deep, dark hole and vanishes. This vanishing waterfall is known as “The Devil’s Kettle,” and it lies along the north shore of Minnesota. For years, park visitors would marvel at the magic of this vanishing waterfall, sometimes even dropping objects into the fall in the hopes that they’d be able to follow its streamline.
Jeff Green, a scientist who specializes in hydrology, decided to get a team together to take a further look at this phenomenon. Upon doing so, they found evidence in the water volume that suggested that the water wasn’t being distributed elsewhere. Green seems to think that he cracked the code, but if that’s true, then what happened to all of the objects thrown in by visitors?
19. Crooked Forest
Tucked away in a West Poland woodland is a collection of pine trees with a 90-degree bend at the base, known as the Crooked Forest. The Crooked Forest consists of about 400 trees with trunks that grow sideways for about three to nine feet before bending straight up. Strangely, this pocket of crooked trees is a part of a bigger forest of normal, upright pine trees.
Scientists still have not pinpointed what it is that caused the trees to form this way. Some have suggested that the trees were deformed on purpose in order to use the naturally carved wood to build furniture or boats. Others have speculated that the trees’ curves could have resulted from natural causes, like a snowstorm.
20. Mendenhall Caves
Out of all the curious things that nature produces, the Mendenhall Caves in Alaska are perhaps the most beautiful. Tucked away inside this 12-mile-long glacier are mesmerizing blue ice caves that you would have to see to believe. The ice “caves” are actually formed from water that flows through the crater, creating a dazzling, long corridor.
The glacier has been around for around 3,000 years and is easily one of Juneau’s most sought-after tourist destinations, although almost 90% of the visitors don’t wander from the viewing section of the visitor center. If you’re interested in visiting the Mendenhall Caves, it’s suggested that you take a guided tour.
21. Rainbow Mountain of Peru
Highly regarded as one of the most spectacular geologic features on Earth, the Ausangate Mountain, also known as the Rainbow Mountain of the Peruvian Andes, is marvelously striped with colors of all kinds. It also serves as a testament to how spectacular geology can be, with each layer representing a different mineral composition.
From lavende to maroon and gold, this colorful mountain is believed to be holy and sacred, and is a site that many locals congregate at for daily worship. This “painted mountain” requires a pretty long and tiresome trek, as it takes multiple days to get to it. When you gaze at these Peruvian mountains, you are observing a product of centuries of erosion, weathering, and the magnificent talents of nature.
22. The Bermuda Triangle
The Bermuda Triangle is a section of the North Atlantic Ocean, also known as “The Devil’s Triangle,” or “Hurricane Alley,” that has instilled fear in people for years. The Devil’s Triangle covers 500,000 square miles of water off the southeastern tip of Florida. Since the first disappearance in 1950, several people have vanished while crossing over that section of water.
In 1952, Fate Magazine published an article entitled “Sea Mystery at Our Back Door,” after several more reports of missing planes and ships began to surface. While modern scientists have attempted to disprove the theory, the legend of the Bermuda Triangle lives on. To this day, many people believe that paranormal activity exists in the Bermuda Triangle.
23. The Sargasso Sea
The Sargasso Sea is 700 feet wide and stretches for 2000 long miles along the Atlantic ocean. With ocean currents on both sides, the Sargasso Sea is completely surrounded by currents. So what’s so special about this body of water? For one thing, the sea is extremely warm despite its neighboring currents and harsh, cold weather conditions of the North Atlantic.
The most peculiar and mysterious feature of this sea, however, is the seaweed that lays on top of it. While most other types of seaweed reproduce on the ocean floor, sargassum is a type of seaweed that reproduces in high waters, which is why you will find a layer of brassy algae blanketing the waters. This type of seaweed makes the waters habitable to various types of species, like sea turtles for example, who use it for nesting.
24. The Michigan Triangle
If you’ve been around long enough, you’ve probably heard about the legend of the Bermuda Triangle, but did you know that Michigan has its own version of this mysterious dark hole? This piece of Lake Michigan stretches from Ludington to Benton Harbor, Michigan, and to Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
It’s been a subject of mystery and speculation since 1891 when the first boat, Thomas Hume, disappeared there. The Thomas Hume disappeared overnight during a windstorm and it was never found—neither were its passengers. This was not the only account. Over the centuries, several other strange events occurred, with no scientific explanation, causing people to speculate outside of rational belief. Some have even recounted seeing UFOs and strange lights surrounding the area at different times.
25. The Baltic Sea Anomaly
The Swedish-based divers on the “Ocean-X Team” were shocked when they came across a Millenium Falcon–like formation at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. The self-proclaimed treasure hunters, who usually search for high-end alcoholic beverages and other types of historical artifacts, took a dive in 2011 to look for a sunken ship. Instead, they came within 200 meters of what appeared to be a UFO.
Mystified, the divers used sonar imaging technology to take pictures of what they saw. The pictures, though blurry, showed that the formations were inconsistent with anything nature could do. For example, aside from there being a trail, they found what appeared to be a staircase and a series of ramps.
26. The Julia Sound
For decades, there have been several strange sounds that have driven scientists crazy trying to detect their sources. One of these sounds, known as The Julia, was recorded on March 1st, 1999, was about 15 seconds long, and was so loud that it was picked up by the Equatorial Pacific Ocean hydrophone array.
The chilling sound resembled something of a human-like whine or moan, which is what caused listeners to scratch their heads. Of all of the strange sounds that have been recorded, The Julia is one that has no official cause, though some experts think that it could have been caused due to an iceberg breaking. Whatever the source, it produced quite the ominous audio sample.
27. The Devil’s Pool of Australia
Imagine being on a hike and coming across a swimming hole marked with a sign that reads “This creek has claimed many lives.” Would you still dare to venture in? An Australian creek in north Queensland, Babinda bears this very explicit warning sign at the entrance of the swimming hole due to the fact that 17 people have already died there.
Legend has it that many years ago, a young fleeing bride fell into the water and died, and she now haunts the swimming hole. Many people believe this to be the reason for so many young men disappearing here, despite the dangerous conditions of the water and slippery rocks.
28. The Black Forest
Germany’s Black Forest isn’t actually black, but its picturesque landscape and prime location make it comparable to something you would see in a fairytale. Walking through this luscious green forest that encompasses Germany’s massive mountain range, you might half expect to see a storybook cottage or Hansel and Gretel.
The Black Forest covers 2,320 square miles and stretches across the northeast for about 100 miles. This enchanting forest even covers the Feldberg mountain, which is Germany’s highest summit. The Black Forest is a beautiful place to visit all year round, no matter what types of outdoor activities you are into. And for those who would like to enjoy the forest from inside, the Baden-Baden spa is one of the most popular spas in Germany.
29. Tianzi Mountain
Millions of years of sedimentary rock are responsible for producing the Tianzi Mountain. Estimated to be about 300 million years old, these sandstone peaks are unique from most other mountains due to their tower-like shape. In fact, when coming up with the “Pandora” scenery in the movie “Avatar,” James Cameron drew inspiration from the Tianzi Mountain’s unique landscape.
Years of weathering and erosion have contributed to the colors and shapes of the mountains, causing them to look like an alien-like collection of skyscrapers. The flowers, brush, and other vegetation growing around the tower-like mountains attract all different types of birds and wildlife, making this site something to truly marvel at.
30. Icy monolith?
What’s depicted here is one of the most shocking things found in all of science. Okay, not really. It’s actually a giant icy monolith created by the particular icy conditions under which this glacier was formed. The conditions create what glaciologists call blue ice. This particular glacier is in Antarctica.
What conditions form this ice, you ask? Well, it’s primarily the thickness. The thickness of the ice prevents light from passing through to the other side. This, in turn, causes the ice to reflect back nothing but blue. Red light is naturally filtered out from these dense globs of ice.
31. Uyuni Salt Flats
Is that car driving on water? It certainly seems so, thanks to the illusions created by the world’s largest salt flats known as the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia.
The flat, salt crust, believed to be several miles deep, is the product of a massive, salty prehistoric lake drying up.
The remaining salt formed the plates as we know them today. Thanks to the reflectivity of salt crystals, the flats give a dreamy, mirror like illusion whose otherworldly appearance has been leveraged in films like Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and fantasy film The Fall.
32. Tumpak Sewu
We think of mountains as peak elevation. When we’re at the base of the mountain, we think of ourselves at the bottom. But that’s not the case at Tumpak Sewu, Indonesia. In fact, while at the base of Semuru, a massive active volcano in the Java mountains, you’re not to fall from the edge of a cliff.
What looks like a physics-defying rendition of a prehistoric landscape is a real place. To make things more interesting, that cliff also has numerous waterfalls pouring over its ledge. This one-of-a-kind place is yet another example of nature toying with our expectations.
33. Abraham Lake
At first glance, it might appear as though you’re looking at a huge school of jellyfish who are doing some kind of synchronized performance. But that’s not water – that’s solid ice. And those aren’t jellyfish – they’re methane bubbles.
Canada’s Abraham Lake is known for these unique, crystallized bubbles. However, it’s beautiful appearance is deceiving. Methane gas is a potent greenhouse gas, and as the lake melts, the methane is released into the atmosphere.
When water runs over rocks over time, it usually makes them super smooth. That’s probably what makes this jagged-yet-uniform background so intriguing. This waterfall is located in Iceland’s Vatnajökull National Park.
Iceland is an interesting place. It’s far north location make it a cold climate, but has an active volcanic system throughout it, which introduces hot lava during eruptions. The piping-hot, freezing-cold combo gives Iceland it’s unique geographic features, including the backdrop of Svartifoss waterfall.
There’s a general consensus among humanity that if aliens ever have or will arrive to planet Earth, it will be via New Mexico. As if the mysteries and conspiracies about Roswell, New Mexico weren’t enough circumstantial evidence, nonbelievers need not look any further than Ah-she-sle-pah.
This grandiose natural landscape is peppered with clusters of bizarre, mushroom-like formations that seem to defy gravity, and their unusual shapes don’t have immediately available explanations – let alone in large numbers.
36. Antelope Canyon
The smooth walls of Antelope Canyon look like ribbons curling and waving in the wind stuck in time. The warm colored walls have faint lines all twisting and turning with curvatures like nature’s gentle map telling you to go thataway.
As with most canyons, Antelope Canyon was carved out by moving water. But rather than a steady river (Like the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon) Antelope Canyon is the product of huge influx of water moving through the landscape, like the downpour from a monsoon.
37. Blood Falls
Though it looks like a very hungry polar bear just went to town on dinner, the Blood Falls of Antarctica as scary as it sounds. The creepy, blood-red color that oozes from just one corner on the tip of Taylor glacier is actually saltwater with a high iron-oxide content.
Comforting as that is, it still looks as scary as it sounds. The trickle runs down a 50-ft vertical face of the glacier, and conjures up imagery from The Shining. For all the beauty in natural landscapes, nature sure doesn’t mind some creep factor.
38. Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Maranhão, Brazil
While there’s nothing particularly unusual about seeing water and sand together, we don’t expect to see pools of water in the crevices of large sand dunes we associate with the world’s driest landscapes (like the Sahara desert).
And yet, in Brazil’s Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, that’s exactly what you see for miles and miles. Bizarrely, this unlikely pairing has so degree of uniformity. Many of the pools you see straddling the sand dunes are large too – lagoons in fact. Lençóis translates to bedsheets, which is what this impossible landscape looks like from an ariel perspective.
39. Catedral de Carmol
There’s something quite dreamy about the swirls of vibrant colored found in thee rocks that form that underground cave walls of Chile’s Catedral de Marmon. Even stranger is how they look from a distance: Massive, heavy rocks standing on what looks like toothpicks that wedge into the water.
Massive escarpments that are half underwater have been eroded over time, creating a tunnel-like system underneath them. The cave-like openings themselves amplified thee water sounds like an echo chamber, adding to the unusual experience.
40. Fly Geyser
Fly Geyser is a small geothermic geyser found in the Nevada Flats. The geyser is the product of a failed well dig. When the groundwater was discovered to be near boiling point, it was abandoned. But the warm water now had a clear path to the surface, so it continues to spout out geothermal water.
The rocks get their color from bright algae species that thrive in the warm water. The geyser was recently included in a private land sale, bought out by alternative cultural festival throwers, The Burning Man Project.