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Scenic splendor: Unbelievable places that really exist!

Hanan Mohammed

The great variety of dramatic natural phenomena proves that Mother Nature can surprise even the most seasoned traveler. Some destinations are made especially for those who love to relax, explore and appreciate nature. Arab News lists some of the prettiest places that are works of nature around the world: Cave of Crystals, Naica, Mexico: This cave showcasing giant crystals, some several feet thick, was discovered deep within a mountain in 2000 by miners. The cave holds the largest selenite crystals ever found, but at nearly 300 meters below the Earth's surface, this marvel is not easy to see, only heroic people who can handle the miserable conditions and dangerously oppressive heat can do it. You will need to wear ice packs, a special thermal suit, and carry breathing apparatus. Mountain Roraima, South America: Mouth Roraima, which is a triple border point of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana, is the highest of Pakaraima chain of tepui plateau is South America. Its 31 km sq. summit area is defended on all sides by tall cliffs rising 400 meters. It is at the southeastern corner of Venezuela's 30,000 km sq. Canaima National Parl, forming the highest peak of Guyana's Highland Range. Tianzi Mountains, China: Located in the northern part of Wuligyuan Scenic Area in Huan Province, Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve is one of the four scenic sports there. Covering an area of 67 km sq., with the highest peak at 1,262 meters above sea level, the mountain provides stunning views, which change with different seasons. Blood Falls, Taylor Glacier, Antarctica: This deep red waterfall flowing down over the unspoiled white ice and snow makes for an almost dreadful sight, as if the glacier is bleeding. But in reality, the crimson water comes from a two-million-year-old lake trapped beneath Taylor Glacier; its color is due to ancient microbes still living within the underground iron-rich water and a crack in the glacier allows the blood-red water to flow out. Lake Hillier, Australia: Lake Hillier on Middle Island of the Recherche Archipelago, Western Australia is about 600 meters long. A narrow strip of sand dunes covered by vegetation separates it to the north at the Southern Ocean. It is speculated the pink color comes from a dye created by the organisms Dunaliella salina and Halobacteria or from red halophilic bacteria in the salt crust. Spotted Lake, British Columbia, Canada: Just by looking at it, you would think it's a piece of modern art, but the multicolored spheres of the Spotted Lake are mineral deposits, left behind when the lake vanishes each summer. Located near Osoyoos, not far from the Washington state border, these days you can't get too close to the lake because the area is sacred to the First Nations of the Okanagan Valley and now privately owned, but you can get a good view from the nearby road. Solar De Uyuni, Bolivia: When a giant prehistoric lake dried, it left behind two modern lakes and two major salt deserts, Solar de Coipasa and Solar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat at 10,582 km sq. It is covered with a few meters of salt and when covered with water, this extraordinary place becomes one of the largest mirrors on Earth. Socotra Island, Yemen: The magical Socotra Island is located off the coast of Yemen in the Indian Ocean. Many say it looks like an Alien territory because it has more than 900 kinds of weird looking flora and fauna and one-third of those cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. The unique plant and tree species, such as The famous Dragon's Blood trees, have evolved to handle the island's harsh climate, and many are varieties that existed in ancient Africa but have long since disappeared. Antelope Canyon, US: Located on Navajo land near page, Arizona Antelope Canyon includes two separate, photogenic slot canyon sections, Upper Antelope Canyon and lower Antelope Canyon. It was formed by erosion of Navajo sandstone, mostly due to flash flooding and other sub-aerial processes. As the Navajo Nation gates it, entry is restricted to guide tours. Eaglehawk Neck Tessellated Pavement, Tasmania: This geometric majestic lake looks like it is man-made, but this stretch of rock formations is the work of nature. Erosion and seawater compress the rocks and the process of salt water flooding the rocks, then the rocks drying out when the tide retreats has created the shallow sinks. Closer to the shore, you can see the rocks are covered by water for longer periods of time, there are more loaf-shaped formations. Zhangye Danxia Landform, China: The colorful rock formations at the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological park in Gansu Province are otherworldly. The unusual stunning layers, of colors of the "Rainbow Mountains" are the result of red sandstones and mineral deposits being laid down over 24 million years. Mendenhall Ice Caves, US: The 12-mile long Mendenhall Glacier in the Mendenhall valley, near Juneau in southeast Alaska, is one of the few places where you can experience every single stage of the water cycle at once. The Ice Caves are inside the glacier, accessible only to those willing to kayak to and then ice climb the glacier. It is retreating increasingly fast due to global warming, so visit while you can. - Email: [emailprotected]

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Dec 17, 2014
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