Categories
Nature Travel

Norway’s stunning obelisk-shaped Stetind mountain

Stetind is a stunning obelisk-shaped mountain in Nordland county, Norway.

Author and mountaineer Peter Wessel Zappfe once described its smooth, vertical, and overall distinct shape as “an anvil whereupon the Gods can hammer.”

The 4,566-foot wonder became the official mountain of Norway in 2002. Sailors often use the mountain as a landmark because it rises majestically from the sea along the north coast.

Pro skydiver Bjorn Magne Bryn shocked the world when he jumped down the iconic Stetind mountain with a wingsuit in July 2020.

Since there’s no simple approach to the summit, Bryn used a helicopter to free-fall onto the top of the mountain before base-jumping down 4,567 feet.

Stetind mountain, norway
Stetind mountain, norway
Stetind mountain, norway
Categories
Nature Travel

Iran’s mesmerizing rock salt formations

Who knew salt could look like beautiful snowcones?

Mountains of rainbow-colored rock salt formations dominate the Zagros mountains of Iran.

The Jashak salt dome formed when the Persian Gulf evaporated millions of years ago and left behind massive quantities of salt.

Salt and other evaporites have since risen upward through the overlying layers of rock. Rain also washed down mountain sediment over the years which helped compact the salt glaciers.

Thanks to the monstrous salt accumulation that transpired when the ocean turned to mountains, ocean life has flourished.

Jashak salt dome
Photo: Flickr/sipos.szandra
Categories
Architecture & Design Travel

This mythical bird statue in India is the world’s largest

Jatayu Nature Park in Kerala, India, holds the largest bird sculpture on Earth, occupying about 15,000 sq feet and standing at the height of about 1200 feet above sea level. It is five times the size of the Pyramid of Giza.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/The Ganesh Shivaswamy Foundation, Bengaluru

Opened in 2018 as a tourist destination, the 70-foot tall giant concrete figure pays tribute to the famed divine bird, Jatayu, from the Hindu epic Ramayan.

It was built over a decade by filmmaker and sculptor Rajiv Anchal, who wanted to make the mythology come alive.

According to the legend, this is the jungle hilltop where Jatayu once fell and injured his left wing at the location in an attempt to save Sita from the clutches of evil kidnapper Ravana.

The stone-cut eagle now serves as a tribute to nature’s splendor and a symbol for the protection of womankind. Visitors must use a passenger ropeway to reach the top.

View more of the sculpture in the videos and images below.

Jatayu
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/athulnair
Jatayu
Construction of Jatayu (2013) Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Kumar.kisalaya
Categories
Nature Travel

The gorgeous Great Blue Hole of Belize

The Great Blue Hole is a flooded sinkhole that lies 50 miles off the coast of Belize. The hole is 1,000 feet wide and about 410 feet, the bottom of which is so murky and limited in oxygen it’s claimed to be unlivable for most creatures.

The Lighthouse Reef surrounding the hole is so much lighter in color that the hole visibly stands out as seen from space.

The Blue Hole formed as a limestone cave during the last glacial period. As sea levels rose, the cave collapsed and thus created the mysterious-looking blue hole.

Undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau made the site popular when he declared it one of the top diving sites in the world in 1971. It is teeming with magnificent marine life. Hello, sharks!

A team of scientists and explorers led by Richard Branson used two submarines to help map the hole for the first time in 2018.

The Blue Hole is now part of the Belize Barrier Reef System, a 190-mile-long swath of coral that UNESCO declared a World Heritage site in 1996.

Great Blue Hole of Belize
Great Blue Hole of Belize
Great Blue Hole of Belize
Great Blue Hole of Belize
Categories
Architecture & Design Travel

Impossible heights: Lighthouse of Thridrangar, Iceland

Want to get away? There’s a lighthouse off the coast of southern Iceland that sits 120 feet upward on the highest of three steep rocks. It is one of the most remote lighthouses in the world.

Built in 1939, the Thridrangar (Þrídrangar) Lighthouse, Þrídrangar means “three rock pillars,” is undoubtedly one of the most challenging lighthouses ever built. Given the swirling winds and crashing waves, climbing the precarious pillar must have been one Herculean task.

Today, Thridrangar lighthouse is only accessible by helicopter for service needs. The helipad sits on top of a jagged rock that sticks out to the Atlantic ocean.

Categories
Nature Science Travel

Natural erosion takes down famed Darwin’s Arch in the Galapagos Islands

The top of Darwin’s Arch, a rock formation located in the Galápagos Islands, collapsed into the sea from erosion.

The Ecuadorean Environment Ministry reported the destruction of the unique 141 foot high, 230-foot long rock on May 17.

“The collapse of Darwin’s Arch, the attractive natural bridge found less than a kilometer from the main area of Darwin Island, was reported,” said the ministry.

A tour group traveling with tour company Aggressor Adventures witnessed the collapse right in front of their eyes.

The natural stone bridge was named after the English biologist Charles Darwin who visited the Galápagos Islands in 1835. Among the smallest of the 19 islands in the Galápagos Archipelago, Darwin’s island is located 621 miles from the coast of Ecuador.

The island hosts a rich array of plants and wildlife, many of them endemic, including some of the largest shark communities in the world.

The rich diversity of wildlife in the surrounding areas (re: Darwin’s finches) became the cornerstone of Darwin’s theory on evolution.

Take a look back at the world-famous Darwin’s Arch before the collapse took place.

Darwin's Arch
Darwin's Arch
Darwin's Arch
Categories
Nature Photography Travel

The mushroom-shaped Kannesteinen Rock sculpted by the sea

Above the coast near Måløy, Norway exists one of the most elegant rocks you’ll ever see.

Known as the Kannesteinen Rock, the mushroom-shaped rock took thousands of years to be sculpted by the sea.

Strong westerly winds, ice, and strong waves shaped this natural wonder over time. As the waves crashed on the rock, they carved away the edges, making it look like a mushroom cloud.

The Norwegian locals, however, call the stone sculpture “kannestolen” (“stolen” means chair in Norwegian) because it resembles a one-legged chair.

The Kannesteinen Rock is quite famous, and it is not hard to see why. Although the location remains protected under Norwegian law, Instagrammers can still climb atop the rock during low tide and capture stunning photographs.

The Kannesteinen Rock is an example of how the Earth changes over time, and in this case, evolving into a more interesting and beautiful place.

Kannesteinen Rock
Kannesteinen Rock
Kannesteinen Rock
Categories
Nature Travel

Hiking Rainbow Mountain in Peru

17,000 feet above sea level in the Andres of Peru lies one of Earth’s geological wonders, Rainbow Mountain.

Vinicunca, the rainbow mountain in Peru’s Cusco region, gets its coloration from the intermixing of oxide rust — which causes the red color — and iron sulfide — which produces the orange and yellow hues.

Discovered in 2015, the rainbow mountain emerged from leftover mineral deposits from ice sheets that once filled the area. As the ice melted, the mineral deposits were exposed to the sun, causing them to oxidize and ultimately develop their vibrant colors.

How and when to hike Rainbow Mountain

Climbing the spectacular mountain requires endurance — it takes about 2 hours to get up and another 1 hour to get down. The trek to get there is a challenge in itself! But you can also hire a horse to take you up.

The best time to visit the mountain is the dry season, from May to October. The rainy season, lasting from November to April, can make it difficult to hike.

The Rainbow Mountain is a stunning geological phenomenon and one of the most spectacular sites to see in the Andes.

Rainbow Mountain in Peru
Rainbow Mountain in Peru
Rainbow Mountain in Peru
Rainbow Mountain in Peru
Categories
Nature

Mount Roraima: An island in the clouds

Mount Roraima is a tabletop mountain located in the deep rainforest of Venezuela’s Canaima National Park. It serves as the tripoint of Venezuela, Guyana, and Brazil.

One of the series of Pakaraima chain plateaus that rise above sea level, Mount Roraima is the highest peak at 9,200 feet with a 12-square-mile summit area with 1,300 foot high cliffs. Roraima and the surrounding plateaus look like islands floating in the sky.

A roaring beauty that dates back two billion years to the Precambrian era, it is no wonder that Mount Roraima has become known as a lost world. It’s commonly perceived as a home for living dinosaurs to this day so high, flat, and rich in unusual species of plants and animals.

At the top of the mountain also lies rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and caves looking like a picturesque scene out of Jurassic Park.

Categories
Nature Travel

The beauty of Madagascar’s giant Baobab trees

The Grandidier’s Baobabs (Palmate adansonia) are giant trees indigenous to Africa, predominantly on Madagascar’s beautiful island.

Baobabs can live up to 800 to 1000 years with their unique ability to act as a water storage tank—the trees can store up to 32 gallons of water in their thick trunks. Both the animals and locals tap the trees for H20 during the dry season.

The heart of many African remedies and folklore, the iconic Baobab is often referred to as the “Tree of Life.”

The beauty of Madagascar’s giant Baobab trees
Photo: Beth Moon

The 80-plus foot trees have a circumference of 108 feet. They also feature on a 250-meter path called the Avenue of the Baobabs in Madagascar’s Menabe region. The tree is famous for producing surreal white, bat-pollinated flowers as well.

“A Caliban of a tree, grizzled, distorted old goblin with the girth of a giant, the hide of a rhinoceros, twiggy fingers clutching at empty air and the disposition of a guardian angel,” once wrote the novelist Ernestine Hill about the Baobab’s immensity.

Unfortunately, baobab trees are at risk of extinction due to climate change, with more than ten thousand disappearing each year.