Panama’s El Valle de Anton – The Valley of Square Trees

A few miles north of the Panama Canal Zone lies the Valley of Square Trees, a unique tourist attraction where trees of the cottonwood family have rectangular trunks.

Unique in the entire world, this group of square-shaped cottonwood trees grows in a valley created from the ashes of a giant volcano – El Valle de Anton. Featuring hard-right angles, the trunks of the square trees have baffled tourists and scientists alike for several years. Experts from the University of Florida took saplings of the mysterious trees to see if they retain the same characteristics in a different environment, and concluded that their square shape must have something to do with conditions unique to the valley in which they grow. Evidence that the cause of this bizarre phenomenon is deep-seated is indicated by the fact that their tree rings, which represent its growth, are also square.

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Areia Prata – Brazil’s Radioactive Beach

The Areia Preta beach in the Brazilian city of Guarapari is famous for its black sand which has external radiation levels of almost 400 times the normal background radiation recorded in the US.

Brazil has hundreds of miles of beaches, but none are quite like “Praia Da Areia Preta”, in Guarapari. The sand in this region, particularly the black sand, contains moderate quantities of monazite, a phosphate mineral rich in several rare-earth elements, including uranium and thorium. Research has shown that background radiation on Areia Preta can reach 175 mSv per year, or 20 μSv/h, while some spots, particularly those with lost of black sand, have radiation levels of up to 55 μSv/h. To put that into perspective, the average radiation exposure level across the United States is about 0.34 μSv/h, while an X-ray gives people a one-time exposure to about 100 μSv.

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Centuripe – A Small Italian Town Shaped Like a Person

Centuripe, a small town tucked in the hills of Sicily, is known as “the balcony of Sicily” for the stunning views it offers across to Mount Etna, but few know that, from the air, the town itself is quite the sight.

Pio Andrea Peri, a 32-year-old local photographer, recently used his drone to capture the unique shape of Centuripe from high up in the sky. After first discovering the unusual shape of his town while looking at it on Google Earth, Peri decided to take his drone and check it out for himself. He was so surprised by what he saw on his monitor that he snapped a few photos and shared them on social media, where they went viral almost instantly. From the right angle, Centuripe looks like the silhouette of a person with their arms and legs stretched out.

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The Trembling Rock – A 132-Tonne Boulder That Anyone Can Move

The famous Trembling Rock of Huelgoat forest, in northeastern France, is a 7-meter-long, 137-tonne block of granite that anyone can move with their own hands, as long as they know how to push it.

The forest of Huelgoat is home to numerous large boulders and geological wonders, but Trembling Rock is by far the most popular of them all. The oblong boulder is so large and heavy that no human could ever hope to move it by themselves, and yet anyone, regardless of how skinny or weak they are, can gently rock it up and down just by pushing on the right spot. Left perched atop a much wider rock base in a unique position, Trembling Rock can make even the most feeble person on Earth look like the strongest person in the world.

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Creepy Doll-Filled Balcony in Caracas Looks Like the Set of a Horror Movie

The “Balcony of the Dolls” is an eerie landmark in central Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. It consists of a large balcony lined with old doll heads that seem to follow people with their eyes as they pass by.

Located in the middle of Avenida Este 12, between Fuerzas Armadas and Sur 5, in a place known as “El Muerto” corner, is a two-storey building that has captured the imagination of both locals and visitors of the Venezuelan capital. It’s the sort of thing that’s easy to miss if you simply walk by in a hurry without looking up, but if you’re the kind of person who likes to take in the sights, there’s no way to miss the hundreds of creepy doll heads looking back at you from above.

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This World War I Refuge Dug Into the Side of a Mountain Is a Spectacular Sight

Carved into a vertical rockface in the Monte Cristallo massif, in Italy’s Dolomites Mountains, this incredible shelter sits at 2,700 meters (8,858 feet) above sea level.

Mountain climbers brave enough to take on the Via Ferrata Ivano Dibona in the Italian Dolomites are treated to many memorable sights, including that of a unique structure embedded in the side of a vertical rockface. The iconic location, known as Buffa di Perrero, is believed to be a shelter built by Italian soldiers during World War I. It features brick walls, a slanted roof, two doorways, and four windows framed in wood. It’s hard to believe, but someone had to carry all those building materials up the side of the mountain, as there is no backdoor to an easier access route.

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Secluded New Zealand Waterfall Doubles as a Playground For Young Seals

The picturesque Ohau Waterfall on New Zealand’s Kaikoura coast is the only waterfall in the world that doubles as a seal creche, a place where the young marine mammals can play and socialize without having to worry about predators.

Ohau is a 15-meter-high horsetail waterfall (the water maintains contact with the bedrock as it falls). It’s not the most eye-catching waterfall in the world, but it has something that no other land waterfall has – adorable seals. For one to three months a year, the shallow pool at the bottom of Ohau waterfall acts as a creche for dozens of New Zealand fur seal pups. By playing and interacting with each other, the young seals learn important behaviors and develop social skills, all while putting on an unforgettable spectacle for human visitors.

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This French Bookstore Is a Cat-Lover’s Dream Come True

You know what a good book goes great with? Well, apparently cats, and this new bookstore in Aix-en-Provence, France is all the proof you need.

Mon Chat Pitre opened its doors in June of this year, and it has already become somewhat of a local attraction in Aix-en-Provence, especially among cat lovers. It has a nice selection of books to choose from, but what really sets it apart from other bookstores in the city, or anywhere else in France for that matter, is the “decor”. As you walk around the bookstore looking for your next read, you have the opportunity, nay, the privilege, to stroke six furry felines that love nothing more than to lay on the books on offer and beg visitors’ attention.

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The New York Earth Room – An NYC Apartment Filled With 140 Tons of Dirt

The New York Earth Room at 141 Wooster Street is a unique NYC attraction created in 1977 by local artist Walter De Maria by filling an apartment with 140 tons of dirt.

Consisting of 250 cubic yards of fertile dirt covering the floor of an apartment located on the second floor of a building on Wooster Street, The New York Earth Room is one of NYC’s most unusual artsy attractions. The Dia Art Foundation commissioned local artist Walter De Maria to create it in 1977, and it was opened to the general public in 1980. De Maria had previously created two other earth rooms in Germany, but the one in New York is the only one in existence today. Art lovers can visit the unusual attraction, gaze upon the mass of dirt and take in its earthy fragrance, but they are forbidden from stepping on the dirt or even touching it.

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The Rig – Saudi Arabia Turns Offshore Oil Platform Extreme Theme Park

As part of its ambitious efforts to attract tourists from across the world, Saudi Arabia has announced plans to turn an abandoned offshore oil platform into an oil-themed extreme theme park.

Named ‘The Rig’, the upcoming offshore theme park is part of the Saudi Vision 2030’s strategy, which aims to diversify the country’s economy and boost its tourism industry in particular. The 1.6 million-square-foot extreme theme park will feature roller-coaster rides, submarines, bungee jumping, and sky diving, among other adrenaline-inducing amenities, as well as three hotels and 11 restaurants across The Rig’s interconnected platforms.

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Pressing 1,000 Buttons Is the Perfect Way to Complete an Elevator Button Factory Tour

An elevator button factory in Japan allows visitors to test its vast collection of buttons by pressing no less than 1,000 of them on a specially designed display.

Shimada Denki Seisakusho is a specialized manufacturer of custom-made elevator buttons and arrival lights based in Tokyo, Japan. Founded in 1933, the factory is a piece of Japanese industrial history and conducts guided tours for people interested in its early beginnings and the way it makes its vast array of elevator buttons. It’s a fascinating visit, I’m sure, but the highlight of the tour has to be the ‘1,000 Buttons’ display, which, as the name suggests, is made up of rows upon rows of different elevator buttons that light up when pressed.

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This Indian Temple Is Home to a ‘Vegetarian’ Crocodile

Sri Ananthapura temple in north Kerala’s Kasaragod district is allegedly home to a vegetarian crocodile named ‘Babiya’ who has been living there for over 70 years.

Pictures of a large crocodile inside the Sri Ananthapadmanabha Swamy Lake Temple made international news headlines last year, boosting the small Hindu temple’s popularity. But in reality, this was one of the few times that the giant reptile had entered the temple, as it spends most of its time in an adjacent pond, waiting for the priests to bring it the daily meals, which are always vegetarian. If the priests are to be believed, Babiya the crocodile has been living solely on cooked rice for as long as he’s been at the temple, which adds up to over seven decades.

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The Dancing Mangrove Trees of Sumba Island

Indonesia’s remote Sumba Island is famous for a great many things, but above all its uniquely shaped mangroves, dubbed “dancing trees” for the way they seem to sway with the setting sun in the background.

Calm waters, a white sandy beach, and inviting waters are all things you can expect to find at Walakiri Beach, one of the top tourist spots on Sumba Island. But that’s not why people flock to this small tropical paradise, as they can all be found somewhere else as well. What draws people to Walakiri are the dozens of unique mangrove trees lining the beach, some of which are so bizarrely shaped they almost look like they are frozen in a dancing motion.

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Gaet’ale Pond – The Saltiest Body of Water on Earth

Located near the Dallol crater in Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression is Gaet’ale Pond, a small pool of water with a salinity of 43%, making it by far the saltiest body of water on Earth.

To put into perspective just how salty Gaet’ale actually is, you should know that the Dead Sea, the world’s most famous hypersaline body of water, has a salinity of 33.7%, while the world’s oceans have an average salinity of 3.5%. The water in this small pond is so overly saturated with iron salts that it feels greasy on the hand, as if it were oil. The locals in this part of Ethiopia sometimes call it “oily lake”, because of how oily the water feels. But some call it “killer lake”, because of the toxic gases emitted through the surface of the water, and the perfectly preserved carcasses of birds and insects on its shores are warning of the danger of getting too close to the water.

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The Hitachi Tree – A Beloved Japanese Corporate Symbol That Grows in Hawaii

Ever since 1975, a majestic monkeypod tree growing on the Hawaiian island of Oahu has been the symbol of electronics and technology giant Hitachi, making it one of the most beloved corporate symbols of Japan.

The so-called “Hitachi Tree” is one of the several monkeypod trees growing in the privately-owned Moanalua Gardens, once the childhood home of King Kamehameha the IV, but it gets by far the most attention from tourists, with staff members claiming that around 1,000 people visit it every day. Most of them are Japanese, and there’s a good explanation for that. The tree has been used as a symbol by the Hitachi Corporation for nearly five decades, and millions of Japanese grew up seeing its beautiful crown on TV every day and humming its very own catchy jingle.

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