People have long marvelled at the ‘Seven Wonders of the World’ (ancient, modern, natural or industrial) and often make them the focal point of a trip, such as going to Egypt for the Great Pyramid at Giza or to Jordan for the amazing city of Petra.
However, there are many other breathtaking places and awe-inspiring sceneries just waiting for you to go out there and explore.
The Flexicover Team has picked out some stunning sights and real wonders for you to visit – they may not have made any ‘official’ lists of wonders but are definitely equally enchanting!
Eisriesenwelt Cave; Werfen, Austria
The Eisriesenwelt is a natural limestone ice cave, about 40km south of Salzburg. The name aptly translates as ‘World of the Ice Giants’ as it’s the world's largest ice cave extending more than 42km through the Tenneggebirge section of the Alps. A visit here will change your perception of a cave! This is no dark, dingy, dirty hole; the entrance point is around 20m wide and spreads out to a dome about 18m high. Once inside you will be confronted by gigantic ice-crystals and walls of ice – the Great Ice Embankment, for example, is a massive formation rising up over 23m. A guided tour lasts approximately 75 minutes and it’s advisable to wear warm clothing (even in August) and use sturdy footwear as the temperature will be around or below zero degrees! Visit with the family and marvel at the sheer expanse of the cave.
Catatumbo lightning; Zulia State, Venezuela
You may have heard the saying “lightning never strikes twice” though it’s unlikely that any Venezuelan would agree with you. Where the Catatumbo River meets Lake Maracaibo in north-western Venezuela, you can experience possibly one of the most amazing natural phenomena on Earth. The powerful flashes of lightning, which have been recorded as far back as the 16th century, are more than 5 km in height and strike at surprising frequency – approximately 160 nights a year, 10 hours per night and up to 280 times per hour! Due to this frequency, and the fact it can be seen from hundreds of kilometres away (such as the island of Aruba), the local fisherman use it as a navigational aid, calling it the ‘Lighthouse of Maracaibo’. The flashes are frequent and there’s virtually no thunder in these storms. However, this isn’t just a natural light show; many scientists consider the ‘everlasting storm’ to be the single biggest generator of atmospheric ozone on the planet!
Door to Hell; Derwerze, Turkmenistan
At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking this was just some dramatic special effect from a science-fiction movie. But, despite its rather theatrical name, this isn’t some supernatural portal to the nether realms nor was it caused by volcanic activity or a meteorite impact. This 60m wide by 20m deep hole, spewing orange flames and boiling mud, in the heart of the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan is the result of a gas exploration accident 40 years ago when Soviet drilling tapped into a massive underground natural gas cavern, causing the ground to collapse and the entire drilling rig to fall in. To prevent escape of poisonous methane, the geologists decided to set it alight hoping all the fuel would be spent in a matter of days. Alas, this wasn’t the case and the crater is still burning!
The Grand Prismatic Spring; Wyoming, USA
The Grand Prismatic Spring, located in Yellowstone National Park, attracts interest for the myriad colours it displays. While the deep blue colour of the water at the centre of the pool is unsurprising, the mossy greens, bright yellows, fiery oranges and deep reds at the edges certainly are! The colours result from pigmented bacteria that thrive in the mineral-rich water. Geothermal activity varies the water temperature, which determines what colour the bacteria display, though the blue centre of the pool is sterile due to extreme heat (temperatures can vary between 64°C and 87°C during the year). The Grand Prismatic Spring sits just south of the Lower Geyser Basin along the Grand Loop (as does Old Faithful); other nearby attractions worth checking out include the Excelsior Geyser and the Turquoise Pool.
The Great Rann of Kutch; Gujarat, India / Sindh, Pakistan
The Rann of Kutch can sometimes look like snow-covered tundra but it's actually the world's largest salt desert. During the main monsoon season – June to September – it’s underwater but for the remainder of the year it's an enormous stretch of packed white salt measuring over 16,000 square kilometres. As it’s located in one of the hottest areas of the subcontinent, averaging 44°C and peaking at 50°C in summer, it’s best to head out into the Rann (meaning ‘desert’) in the early morning or even at night, otherwise the sun's glare off the salt can be blinding. For the most spectacular sight, arrange a visit during the full moon for a truly magical experience!
Wherever your travels take you this year and whatever sights you behold, we at Flexicover are committed to providing you the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away. Safe travels!