The Crooked Forest
Poland’s Crooked Forest has long beckoned visitors with a penchant for the unusual. Science suggests that the J-shaped trees that are growing within are an impossibility. Yet they’re here for all to see, even if a reason for their misshapen nature cannot be explained.
There are countless theories about the Crooked Forest, but so far none has been proven or disproven. Known to local people as Krzywy Las, the forest can be found in Poland’s western fringes, not far from the border with Germany. Some believe that invading tanks flattened young saplings during World War II, causing the recovering trees to take such a strange shape.
But others have blamed aliens, gravitational fluctuations, and the thick snowfall for which the region is renowned, all without evidence or a convincing argument. It’s possible that the truth is more mundane. Some claim the trees were manipulated by human hand to create tailor-made shapes for construction purposes.
The active Kawah Ijen Volcano in Banywang Regency, Java is one of the world’s most extraordinary volcanoes. Instead of producing the usual red lava and black smoke, its underground activities result in electric blue lava and flames rising into the air.
Kawah Ijen’s fabled blue lava has long drawn the curious to Java. Here, on this stunning Indonesian island, the volcano’s spectacular eruptions are a sight to behold. The phenomenon has long fascinated scientists. But although the colours cannot be questioned, the underlying cause is not as most believe. The lava here is not originally blue but becomes it due to a natural phenomenon. Indeed, the volcano has some of the highest levels of sulfur in the world and when the volcano’s sulfuric gases meet air temperature above 360’C, the lava turns blue.
Another interesting fact about this place is that it’s home to one of the world’s most dangerous sulfur mining operations in the world. The working conditions are precarious, and the workers being exposed to the toxic sulfur gases for long periods of time develop long-term health issues. Interested in visiting? Don’t adventure here on your own. An exciting thing to do is a night guided group tour to the volcano to see the blue flames phenomenon.
The Hessdalen Lights are beautiful, but baffling. Scientists have long pondered their cause. But despite numerous investigations and research galore, the reason for this Norwegian phenomenon remains unknown.
The Lights were first reported in the 1930s and have captivated visitors ever since. Sometimes the show lasts for just a few short seconds. But on occasions, the bright yellow, white, red, green, and blue lights can shine for well over an hour.
Located in rural Norway, the Lights illuminate a 7.5 mile stretch of the Hessdalen Valley. They can appear during the daytime or at night and appear to drift and float. But no-one knows why, with scientists struggling to find an answer or offer an explanation. The Hessdalen Lights are more prevalent during some periods than others, with sightings spiking in the 1980s, but proving less common in recent times. This just adds to the mystery in a place that continues to confound.
Planning a trip to Russia? This is a spot to avoid at all costs. Lake Karachay’s scenic shoreline is considered the most polluted place on the planet. In the 1990s, tests revealed that just standing close to the lake for a single hour would, likely, result in death.
The big problem here is radiation. For decades, the Soviets worked on a top-secret atomic bomb project in this remote region. The radioactive waste? It was all dumped into Lake Karachay. Convenient, perhaps. But this came at quite a cost.
The landscape here might be beautiful, but it’s also deadly. Science might suggest that such levels of radiation are impossible, but the slapdash Soviets have proved otherwise. The lake has since been filled in, but risks remain, with the soil here presenting grave dangers to human health. The Russian government has restricted access, meaning it’s impossible to visit, not that you’d want to.
Science suggests that the Bermuda Triangle is a little more than a myth. Rational researchers are adamant that this is the stuff of folklore, but doubts persist, and anything seems possible. The Bermuda Triangle covers a huge area in the North Atlantic Ocean, spanning more than 500,000 square miles.
It’s also known as the Devil’s Triangle or Hurricane Alley, as countless ships and planes are said to have disappeared without a trace whilst in this area. But does this mean that the legend is true? Science suggest that the legend of the Bermuda Triangle is a manufactured mystery, perpetuated by writers who either purposely or unknowingly made use of misconceptions, faulty reasoning, and sensationalism. One explanation pins the blame on leftover technology from the mythical lost continent of Atlantis when another says that unusual local magnetic anomalies may exist in the area, confusing compasses, and leading ships to get lost. There is also the myth that violent storms occur in the triangles, sinking ships.
The Triangle is one of the busiest shipping lanes on Earth and experts think it’s not unusual that vessels are lost here from time to time. But still, those entering the Bermuda Triangle often do so with a deep sense of unease, the triangle legend enduring and not entirely proved wrong.
Tourists flock to Piedmont to see Italy’s famous Double Tree. Here, on a much-visited site, between Grana and Casorzo, a cherry tree grows atop a mulberry. Science suggests that such a thing should not be possible. But there can be no disputing the facts. This place, and these trees, do actually exist.
Called the Double Tree of Casorzo, or Bialbero di Casorzo, this is quite an anomaly. It isn’t unheard of for one tree to grow on top of another. But growth tends to be limited in such instances, with neither tree able to thrive or to reach a significant size.
This is where Bialbero di Casorzo stands out, defying science and proving that anything is possible. It is thought that, long ago, a bird must have dropped a cherry stone onto the mulberry tree when flying overhead. This sounds plausible, but no-one could have imagined that it would turn out quite like this.
Science suggests it isn’t possible for a river to reach such temperatures. Yet hidden deep in the Peruvian Amazon, researchers have uncovered evidence to the contrary. Here, in Puerto Inca, the Boiling River continues to defy scientific norms.
It isn’t quite boiling. But it is very hot. Located in Peru’s dense jungle, the Boiling River reaches temperatures close to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Tempted to take a dip? You shouldn’t. The waters here are hot enough to burn, and in some instances, kill.
The Boiling River is a sacred place and local shaman believe the waters have healing powers. Scientists have long been baffled and explaining this place is difficult. But it’s thought underwater fault lines are responsible, the waters being heated deep underground before being pushed back to the surface. The Boiling River ranks amongst the largest geothermal features on Earth. It’s hard to believe such a place exists, but there’s no arguing with the evidence.
The Petrifying Well
It was once thought that witchcraft was at play in North Yorkshire. Here, not far from Knaresborough, a well that was said to turn objects to stone appeared to be doing the impossible. Mother Shipton, a much-feared local witch and oracle, was blamed for such sorcery. There are still some who think that not all is as it should be here, although science suggests otherwise.
Mother Shipton was associated with several tragic events having made it her business to predict certain horrors that she claimed would befall England’s Tudor reign. The Petrifying Well left local people terrified in the 1600s.
Items that met its waters, it was said, would turn to stone. It has since been discovered that the water’s high mineral content can have a petrifying effect. It doesn’t make for such a good story, but it’s a more likely explanation than witchcraft.
The Blue Pond of Hokkaido
The Blue Pond’s fabled waters are almost impossibly colourful. Located close to the popular hot spring town of Shirogane Onsen in Japan, this is a place that beckons those with an eye for the unusual. The pond itself is man-made, but the intriguing bright blue waters within are all natural.
Yet they also seem supernatural, and we could definitely add this lake to our list of places that look like from another planet. The pond’s origins date back to the 1980s, when nearby Mount Tokachi erupted, threatening the small town of Biel. To reduce the risks that were posed by lava flows and mud slides, a dam was built to help strengthen Biel’s defences. This led to several ponds forming, including the Blue Pond.
The main reason for the vibrant hue that provides the Blue Pond’s name is the high level of aluminium hydroxide that can be found in the water. The white birch and Japanese larch trees which stand in the middle of the lake are adding to the Blue Pond mystical aura, and it’s certainly a spot you want add to your travel bucket list.
We all heard the saying ‘lightning never strikes the same place twice’. Well, at lake Maracaibo in Venezuela, lightning can strike up to 280 times an hour and last for 10 hours a day. Called Catatumbo Lightning, this is an atmospheric phenomenon that just goes on and on and on.
It is thought the region’s unique topography and wind patterns contribute to this unique phenomenon, but the precise reason is unclear, with this an occurrence that continues to puzzle the country’s brightest scientific minds. When the storm clouds gather high above the mouth of the Catatumbo River, you know you’re in for a show.
There’s more. There’s no thunder, with the lightning strikes taking place in a deafening silence that can be a little eerie. Then there are the colours, with the darkening skies here lit in red, orange, pink and blue. Catatumbo Lightning can be seen, on average, on 160 days a year, making for a natural phenomenon that demands to be seen. Interested? You can join a guided night tour to witness the spectacle and explore the tropical savannas nearby. Make sure to pack your camera!
The Devil’s Kettle Waterfall
The Devil’s Kettle waterfall, also called Disappearing River, has long fascinated visitors to Minnesota’s Judge CR Magney State Park. Located on Lake Superior’s scenic northern shores, there’s a great deal to see and do in this beautiful park, but most are drawn to this wonderful wilderness to see its extraordinary waterfall.
The fast-flowing river defies the laws of nature and puzzles scientists and explorers alike. It splits in two, with one side dropping over a standard 50-foot waterfall, whilst the other vanishes without a trace.
Scientists think the river must drain somewhere beneath Lake Superior but they’ve been unable to prove it. Another hypothesis is this portion of the river plunges into a vast pothole that cannot be seen from the surface, before re-joining the main flow a little further downstream. Researchers and other curious visitors have dropped various objects into the hole and searched for signs of them in an attempt to solve the mystery, but so far, none have been found.
Ringing Rocks of Pennsylvania
This place gives a fresh meaning to the term ‘Rock Concert’. Here, in northern Pennsylvania, not far from the scenic Delaware River, those with a penchant for the inexplicable gather to experience a genuine scientific oddity.
The large rocks that litter the ground here ring like bells when struck. Our advice for anyone planning a visit, make sure to bring a hammer. Scientists have long studied Pennsylvania’s remarkable Ringing Rocks, but a clear explanation remains elusive.
Make no mistake about it: this is something that shouldn’t be possible. But there’s no question that the rocks here do ring, although not all are audible. It was once thought that just one third of the rocks made their distinctive sound. Yet research in 1965 discovered that all the rocks here ring, but some sound at a pitch that is lower than the human ear can detect. That research didn’t, alas, determine the cause.
The Sea of Stars
The stunning Sea of Stars is a sight to behold. This might appear to transcend the possible, but there can be no question that this phenomenon is in rude health.
Found in the Maldives, the lapping waves look like the night sky, filled with bright lights, twinkling like stars in the ocean. It’s all down to plankton, microscopic organisms that make the impossible possible. The dazzling effect could not be more magical.
Like to see the ‘stars’ for yourself? Vaadhoo Island, part of the picturesque Raa Atoll, is a prime spot, with the late summer months the best time to visit. The bioluminescent plankton are often at their brightest here, with the movement of the waves prompting a chemical reaction that causes the ‘stars’ to shine. It might seem too good to be true. But the Sea of Stars is there for all to see. Far from impossible, this is a destination that demands a visit.
There can be no question that Lake Hillier is a scientific oddity. It takes just a quick look to realise that this is a body of water with a difference. Most lakes appear blue, or maybe green. But the shimmering waters that lap Lake Hillier’s scenic shores?
They’re bubble-gum pink. Located on Middle Island, in Western Australia’s picturesque Recherche Archipelago, this is a puzzle that has long baffled scientists. It shouldn’t be possible for a lake to be bright pink. But Lake Hillier? It most certainly is.
There are various theories, the main one being that the lake’s high saline levels, coupled with a rare algal species, are responsible for its most notable feature. Yet Lake Hillier remains pink all year round, and even when removed from the lake and bottled, the water’s distinctive colouring stays as vibrant as ever. Such things ensure that Lake Hillier is a scientific oddity.
Hum Of Taos
Science has been unable to solve the so-called ‘Taos Hum’. This is a persistent sound that has troubled people here since the 1990s. No-one knows what it is or where it comes from. It might seem scientifically impossible, but there can be no doubt that this is a real phenomenon.
The Hum, which has also been described as a rumble or drone, is a low-frequency sound that isn’t audible to all. Research suggests that just 2% of people in Taos can hear it, and this just adds to the mystery.
Scientists have spent much time in this small north-central New Mexico town, but still an explanation remains elusive. There are some who believe this to be a paranormal phenomenon. That the Taos Hum once featured in the X-Files, as well as other sci-fi TV shows, has nothing to deter the conspiracy theorists. Still, though, scientists continue to ponder this persistent problem and it’s a conundrum that is proving impossible to solve.
Circles Of Namibia
Countless theories abound, but Namibia’s famed Fairy Circles continue to confound. Located in the arid Namib Desert, these distinctive bare patches have long puzzled the scientific community. Various explanations have been put forward, but none has yet been proved possible.
The indigenous people here believe the circles are caused by the poisonous breath of a subterranean dragon. It seems as likely an explanation as the others put forward. The barren circles measure between two and 15 metres in diameter. There’s no missing them. But understanding them is another matter. Some think rampant termites are responsible.
But others point to the region’s inhospitable nature and argue that the efficient plant life has organised itself in order to best access the desert’s scarce water reserves. Regardless of the reason, the precision of the perfect circles makes them impossible to comprehend. Could it be the dragon, or maybe the other myths that are commonplace here? As things stand, science has failed to find a better answer.
The Nazca Lines of Peru
Peru’s puzzling Nazca Lines have long baffled scientists seeking a plausible explanation. Etched into the hot desert sands, these ancient geoglyphs are enormous. Some dating back to 500BC, their sheer size alone makes them all but impossible to understand. But these head-scratching symbols are real, as all those fortunate enough to have seen them in person can attest.
Comprising more than 10,000 individual lines, there are over 300 figures to find in an area that spans 1,000 square kilometres in this remote corner of South America. It’s hard to believe, but new geoglyphs are being discovered all the time.
Indeed, in 2019, a further 100 figures were found, adding to a tally that was already impressive. Some depict animals and other plants, but all continue to confound those determined to fathom their purpose. Best seen from the air or the neighbouring hilltops, it’s hard to believe that these Peruvian treasures are even possible. But make no mistake about it: the puzzling Nazca Lines are all too real.
It should not be possible for life to exist in Romania’s so-called ‘Poison Cave’. But deep beneath a featureless plain in Constanta, not far from the Black Sea and Bulgarian border, creatures that have never seen sunlight lurk in an environment that could not be more alien.
Discovered in 1986, Movile is believed to date back more than five million years. The eco-system within is unique. This is a place that verges on the impossible. The air is different down here, containing one-third to a half less oxygen than that which we breathe on the surface. The internal atmosphere is rich in hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide.
Separated from the outside world, life here is based upon chemosynthesis rather than photosynthesis. Life shouldn’t exist here, but no less than 48 different species live in mysterious Movile, including leeches, spiders, and a weird and wonderful water scorpion. Hard to believe, perhaps, but this place does exist.
The Sargasso Sea
Sargasso is a sea within a sea, a body of water with no land boundaries, surrounded on all sides by four ocean currents. The North Atlantic waters in which it sits are cold and rough, but the Sargasso Sea is strangely calm and warm.
Some 2000 miles long and 700 miles wide, the Sargasso Sea is sizeable. But it’s not its scale that sets this place apart. The Gulf Stream, North Atlantic Current, Canary Current and North Atlantic Equatorial Current swirl around its fringes.
But within its watery boundaries, all is tranquil, the warm blue waters offering a sanctuary to countless creatures. The conditions here encourage the sargassum to grow, a type of seaweed that gives the sea its name. This attracts nesting sea turtles and ensures a unique environment that appeals to the inquisitive.
The Michigan Triangle
The Bermuda Triangle enjoys global renown, but in the United States, a similar phenomenon is little known outside Michigan. It too is triangular in nature, this an eerie area in which mysteries endure. Scientists have never managed to get to the bottom of what goes on in the Michigan Triangle. Like its more famous counterpart, this is a place that defies possibilities.
Stretching between Ludington, Benton Harbor and Manitowoc, Wisconsin on Lake Michigan, sailors entering the Triangle are taking a risk. The schooner Thomas Hume disappeared in 1891 with its crew, and no trace has ever been found.
But others have followed and paid a similar price. In 1921, the Rosa Belle was discovered damaged and upturned, its 11 crew members nowhere to be seen. Theories abound, but science has been unable to find an answer. Some think there is a time portal here, whilst others believe UFOs are responsible. Like the Bermuda Triangle, this is a seemingly impossible place that exists.
The Baltic Sea Anomaly
Scientists are very confused by the Baltic Sea Anomaly. Discovered in the dark depths of the Gulf of Bothnia, this is an underwater find that has long stoked debate. Some think that it’s a natural geological formation, whilst others insist it’s a sunken UFO. Either way, this is a strange find that continues to push the realms of possibility.
Treasure hunters combing the ocean floor for historic artifacts happened upon the Anomaly in June 2011. Known as the Swedish Ocean X team, they even produced a sonar image. But this is indistinct and so unclear that experts remain divided on what, exactly, it shows.
The most rational continue to argue that, whilst unusual, it is possible for volcanic rock to have settled in such a formation. But those pursuing a more far-fetched explanation are adamant this is evidence of life in Outer Space, even pointing out clear similarities in shape with Star Wars’ Millennium Falcon.
The Julia Sound
The Julia Sound was an inexplicable underwater noise that caught those listening off guard. It happened on March 1st, 1999. No-one has heard it since. This might sound mysterious, but such things are far from unusual in the oceans’ murky depths.
Indeed, there are countless sounds that have never been fully explained. Like Julia, these all have official names, including The Bloop, Upsweep, Slow Down, Whistle and Train. Experts at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recorded Julia, but a definitive explanation remains elusive. Julia lasts for around 15 seconds and is eerie indeed.
The likeliest cause is a great iceberg, either breaking up or running aground in the frigid waters of Antarctica. Regardless, Julia could be heard underwater for many miles around. Like The Bloop, Upsweep and all the others, Julia happened, but none can explain why, or predict when or if such a sound will be heard again.
Gruner See means Green Lake. It’s an apt description. But it doesn’t tell the full story. For those visiting Gruner See during the winter months, this doesn’t seem like a great destination for diving. But the possibilities here are hidden during such times, with Gruner See’s other side not being revealed until spring.
For much of the year, the so-called Green Lake is little more than a shallow pond. But once the mountain snows begin to thaw, the landscape changes in dramatic fashion and the transformation is magical.
The entire basin is flooded, with Styria’s trees, benches and bridges submerged beneath waters that can be up to 40 feet deep during summer. It is a phenomenon that has long attracted divers keen to glimpse this impossible underwater world. The Hochschwab’s mountains and forests have long beckoned outdoor adventurers. But take Gruner See’s other side into account and the possibilities here are endless.
Devil’s Pool of Australia
Queensland’s Devil’s Pool might look like the perfect place to take a dip. But this is a dangerous spot indeed. Located close to Babinda, not far from Cairns, this is a destination that beckons backpackers and sightseers alike.
The days here can be hot, so the temptation to swim is strong. But the waters here have been described like a ‘washing machine’, with the currents strong and the conditions like nowhere else on Earth. Indeed, Devil’s Pool boasts deep waters that are fast flowing through the boulders and gullies, with a ‘rock chute’ that punishes the unprepared.
Impossible phenomena or haunted pool? Legend has it that a young woman jumped into the Devil’s Pool after being torn from her lover. It’s said she’s still looking for her true love today and luring young men to their deaths in the pool. More than 17 people are known to have drowned here in the past 50 years.
The Door to Hell, Turkmenistan
The Darvaza Gas Crater is better known as the Door to Hell. It is a fitting nickname. Located close to Derweze, a small village in Turkmenistan’s barren Karakum Desert, this is a place that does not seem possible. Yet countless visitors have travelled here during the last four decades or so, and all can attest that this is all too real.
Calling it the Door to Hell ascribes this place a mythical status. But science has an explanation that is rather more prosaic, the door to hell is in fact a product of men. It was opened in the 1970s and happened by accident, when careless Soviet engineers caused a natural gas field to collapse into a vast underground cavern below.
The fire is said to have been started deliberately, to prevent methane escaping. The result is spectacular, with immense flames and boiling mud beckoning tourists galore. The fire has raged ever since and no-one knows how to put it out. Looks more like the product of hell to us.
Located close to Zhangjiajie, in China’s Hunan province, Tianzi proves popular amongst those with an eye for the unusual. Thinking about paying a visit? You’ll never have seen anything quite like this before and you might question whether you’re still on Planet Earth.
Indeed, when James Cameron was making the movie Avatar, he took inspiration from the alien landscape here. Stranger than fiction? Take our word for it: such places do exist. Reaching 4,000 feet into skies that are often thick with fog, Tianzi’s quartz sandstone towers are ancient. These are thought to date back four million years. But with weathering and erosion having taken their toll, the fabled peaks look nothing like they once did.
Scientists say the peaks are the product of erosion, but according to legend, the mountain gets its name from an ethnic man named Xiang Dakun. Xiang Dakun fought against the emperor soldiers until he was forced back to the edge of the mountain’s cliff and then fell to his death. After his death, his lover covered the cliff with flowers, which explains the flowers that cover the ledges today. Legend also states that the Tianzi peaks are Xiang Dakun writing brushes, which turned to stone after his death. Which explanation do you like most?
The Black Forest
Germany’s beautiful Black Forest appears impossible in its scale and its splendour. Make no doubt about it: this is a natural wonderland that is seriously big. Enjoying a stunning location in Baden-Wurttemberg, in Germany’s south-eastern regions, the thick forest stretches as far as the eye can see.
But there’s rather more here than the trees alone. Mountainous and marvellous, the Black Forest even blankets Feldberg, Germany’s highest summit. It might not seem possible, but there’s no question that this picturesque place is real.
Known to local people as Schwarzwald, the Black Forest inspired the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales and covers 2,320 square miles and boasts countless rivers and lakes amongst its geographic treasures. Beckoning all with a penchant for outdoor adventures, this is a place that demands a visit. But getting lost is always a possibility, so do take care not to lose your bearings.
Have You Heard of These Strange Phenomena?
– In 2013, a strange phenomenon occurred in the village of Kalachi in Kazakhstan. Several people fell into a sudden state of deep sleep that could last for days! The village had to be entirely evacuated as no one knew how to stop the issue. The world’s scientists have their theories but aren’t certain of the explanation.
– Mount Roraima looks like it’s floating in the sky, sitting on the Venezuela-Brazil-Guyana border. This exotic place is said to have been one of the inspirations for Arthur Conan-Doyle’s – The Lost World, in which dinosaurs and ape men are discovered living atop an isolated mountain. Some people even believe that dinosaurs still live in the lush forest… What do you think?
– On the Abraham Lake in Canada you can see thousands of magical frozen bubbles. However, you wouldn’t want to be too close to one if it popped. The bubbles are in fact frozen pockets of methane, a highly flammable gas. We don’t recommend lighting a match around here!
– Ah-shi-sle-pah in New Mexico is a natural landscape peppered with clusters of bizarre, otherworldly formations that seem to defy gravity. Scientists can’t explain their unusual shapes, let alone in large numbers… Could they come from aliens visiting earth?