Life on the Edge With Earth’s Extreme Travel Destinations

By Robin Mei - November 27, 2016
Credits: Bolivia relies on Salar de Uyuni for both salt and lithium production. Image: Chechevere

Atacama Desert, Chile

Credits: The soil in the Atacama closely resembles that found on the red planet, which is why NASA uses it as a testing ground for missions to Mars.

Chile’s Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on our planet and a definite must-visit locale for anyone who considers him or herself a true adventurer.

This breathtaking place covers about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) along the Pacific coast, west of the Andes mountain range.

The average rainfall in the Atacama Desert is only 1 millimeter per year, but there are even some spots in this desert that allegedly have never seen a single drop of rain, ever.

Source: 10 Facts About The Atacama Desert

Teahupo'o, Tahiti

Credits: If it's easier, Australian visitors call this place 'chopes.'

Probably the biggest wish of all hard-core surfers in the world is to ride Teahupo’o waves, but the only way to do it is by visiting this small village on the south-east coast of the island of Tahiti.

Teahupo’o is famous for its out of this world (and sometimes deadly) waves that break below sea level and only feet above a sharp coral reef, providing thrills for both amateur and professional surfers.

Source: Teahupo’o, Tahiti: The world’s heaviest wave

Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica

Credits: Sudden pressure drops can see winds topping out at 240 kilometers an hour coming and going in minutes. Image: Frank Hurley, State Library of New South Wales

Even the most hardened adventurers who don’t really mind being outside in freezing weather may find this place a bit too extreme. Welcome to Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica — the windiest place in the world.

These gusts which carry high -density air that slam this icy place are known as katabatic winds. Commonwealth Bay is not the only location with these kinds of strong winds, but it’s the only place where katabatic winds blow at a mean average speed of 22 meters (72 feet) per second.

Source: Katabatic Winds At Commonwealth Bay

Oymyakon, Russia

Credits: Indoor plumbing for bathrooms is rare and the ground has to be thawed before a funeral in order for a body to be buried. Image: Maarten Takens

If you have ever wondered what is officially the coldest inhabited place on planet Earth, here is the answer: Oymyakon, Russia.

This iced-over town is the most populated permanently frozen location in the world. Its lowest temperature of -71.2°C (96.16°F) was recorded in 1924, while average temperatures during winter months sit around -50°C ( -58°F).

A warning to vegetarians — because of the permanently frozen ground, locals survive mainly on meat.

Source: Breathtaking Photos of the Coldest City in the World

Volcano National Park, Hawaii

Credits: The park is both a World Heritage Site and an international biosphere.

If visiting an active volcano isn’t thrilling enough for you, you may want to consider going to this place: Volcano National Park in Hawaii, home of two active — and from time to time, dangerous — volcanoes.

Situated on the “Big Island” of Hawaii, this location offers a unique view over Kīlauea and Mauna Loa – two of the world’s most colorful (and very active) volcanoes. The lava from these glowing fiery mountains flows directly into the Pacific Ocean, creating a breathtaking molten view.

Source: Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Mount Everest, Nepal

Credits: Only one individual has managed to climb all four of Everest's sides. Image: Papa Lima Whiskey 2

Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, is located in Sagarmatha National Park in the Solukhumbu District of Nepal. The people of Tibet call it Chomolungma, the Mother Goddess of the World.

Ever since it was discovered by George Everest, a Surveyor General of India from 1830 to 1843, this astonishing place attracts climbers from all over the world. Over 200 frozen dead bodies now litter Everest’s surface, and some even act as guide marks for climbers.

Source: 23 Amazing Mount Everest Facts that will Shock You

Angel Falls, Venezuela

Credits: Pilot Jimmy Angel was on an aerial mission looking for gold when he spotted the falls for the first time. Image: Jeanpaul Razzouk

About 15 times higher than Niagara Falls, Angel Falls of the Guayana highlands is the world’s biggest uninterrupted waterfall.

The water from the river Churum cascades over the edge of a table mountain known by as Auyantepui, or the “Devil’s Mountain,” and falls into a 979-meter-deep (3,212 foot) “abyss.”

Angel Falls was named after an adventurous pilot from Missouri, Jimmy Angel, whose aircraft was trapped on the top of Auyantepui after an emergency landing.

Source: Angel Falls – Venezuela

The Dead Sea

Credits: The water is too salty for any wildlife to survive, so you'll only find humans and bacteria in the Dead Sea. Image: Yair Haklai

Floating in the Dead Sea might not be the most extreme activity one can think of, but the Dead Sea itself indeed is one of the most extreme places on Earth you can visit.

Situated between Jordan to the east and Israel to the west, the Dead Sea offers an unusual opportunity to swim in the saltiest water there is, with its 33.7% salinity.

That means the Dead Sea is over 8.5 times saltier than any of the planet’s other oceans and a truly unique place to discover.

Source: 9 Deep Facts About the Dead Sea

Harajuku Takeshita Street, Tokyo

Credits: It's known for its fashion, but there are other reasons to visit here as well. Image: Jakub Hałun

Although it’s hard to decide whether to showcase Japan’s current or historic culture trends, this time we’d like to focus on the latter with Tokyo’s Takeshita Dori (Takeshita Street), the city’s busiest fashion hub.

This super-crowded street is also known as the epicenter of teenage kawaii culture that has taken the world by storm recently. Endless shops, boutiques and restaurants fill the Takeshita neighborhoods, and it’s only a short walk from the Meiji Jingu shrine for those that need to escape the sensory overload the area provides.

Source: Harajuku

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Credits: Bolivia relies on Salar de Uyuni for both salt and lithium production. Image: Chechevere

A location where the sky truly becomes one with the earth is Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat.

This one-of-a-kind place covers an area of 12,106 square kilometers (over 7,500 square miles) of dry white desert, but when there’s a little bit of water sitting on the ground, the whole place transforms into a reflective mirror.

Salar de Uyuni and the sky grow together into this utterly unrealistic landscape that needs to be experienced to be believed.

Source: Salar de Uyuni