Destination: Unknown
By Srinka Datta Roy

Man is a nomad by nature. Until about ten thousand years ago, man did not have any permanent address. People travelled from place to place in search of basic necessities like food and shelter. So if you have been bitten by the travel bug, you can blame your ancestors!

Why does modern man love to travel? Obviously, most of our material needs are satisfied in the comfort of our own homes. It is for the much needed nourishment of one’s soul that man loves to travel far and wide, especially to places where the magic of Nature still manages to amaze us.

In the fast shrinking global village that is our world today, the once popular travel destinations like Rome, Paris and Milan are no longer enough to satisfy man’s thirst for adventure. The search for something new is taking us from the depths of the ocean to pristine beaches, from spectacular caves to mysterious forests.

For those looking for underwater adventures, the Silfra Rift in Iceland is just waiting to be explored! Located in the Thingvellir valley of Iceland, this rift was formed by the drifting apart of the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates. What’s more, diving into the crystal clear water gives you the chance to touch two continents at the same time! This is why the Silfra Rift is fast becoming a popular scuba diving destination!

If red is your colour, then Nature has something special just for you! A visit to the Taylor Glacier in Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys reveals the stunning Blood Falls. The falls gets its name from its unusual red water, which is due to the briny, iron-rich sub-glacial rivers and lake.

Another scarlet wonder is the Red Beach at Panjin, China. The word ‘beach’ usually conjures up images of stretches of golden sands. Located in the world’s largest wetland and reed marsh, this beach is like no other. A type of seaweed called Suaeda Salsa covers this vast landscape. Come autumn, this pocket of Nature blushes bright red, thus creating a spectacular crimson carpet.

If it’s not red, it’s glistening white. Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat, created by Lago Minchin, a prehistoric lake that evaporated long ago. Despite the dry surroundings, this region is home to many rare species of flora and fauna. With the arrival of the rains, this salt desert is transformed into the world’s largest natural mirror. A trip to the Salar de Uyuni would be incomplete without staying at one of the salt hotels, where everything from the walls to furniture is made from salt blocks. So if your dinner requires a little more salt, you can literally get it from the table!

What is adventure without a little mystery? The Asbyrgi Canyon in the Vatnajokull National Park of Iceland fulfils that requirement. The name itself means ‘Shelter of the Gods’. The geological explanation for the unusual looking canyon is a possible volcanic eruption under the Vatnajokull ice cap. According to Norse mythology, however, the horseshoe-shaped canyon was formed when Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse of Norse God Odin, landed one of its hooves there. The canyon is more than three kilometres long; so it must have been an impressive horse indeed!

Mythology is incomplete without a few dragon stories! One such legend leads us to the Socotra Archipelago off the Horn of Africa. According to the story, a battle between the mighty Hercules and a dragon named Ladon led to the first Dragon’s Blood tree being created. The tree is so called because of its red sap, which has great medicinal value.

Thus, from Iceland to Antarctica, from China to Bolivia, this has been a journey along roads less travelled, a journey of dreams waiting to be fulfilled. According to Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes fame, “It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy…Let’s go exploring!”

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