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5 Unique Travel Experiences Around The World

Travel is so much more than collecting passport stamps and checking countries off your list. It’s also much more than taking beautiful pictures to show off to your Instagram followers. There is no “best” way to travel, but many can agree that honestly experiencing a country brings much more value than quickly rushing through a visit. These 5 unique travel experiences around the world are sure to broaden your mind, albeit at the expense of creature comforts.

1. Seeing the blue fire of Kawah Ijen, a volcano in Indonesia

Kawah Ijen

Attribution: Alona Tiunina from Jet Set Together

There are many worthwhile volcanoes to see around the world, but only one spouts blue flames thanks to the high concentration of sulfur gas in the mountain. Getting to Kawah Ijen is not easy. According to travel blogger Alona Tiunina from Jet Set Together, visiting Kawah Ijen takes hours on a bus, ferry, and tuktuk, not to mention the hours long midnight hike into the crater.

However, once there you’ll see something you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Miners carry baskets full of solid sulfur from deep in the crater to be processed. The neon green acid lake is beautiful from the edge, and the blue flames are entirely unique to this one spot. A guide into the crater will run you about $20 but they definitely earn their fee by providing gas masks and keeping you safe.

2. Socotra


Attribution: Boris Khvostichenko (User:Boriskhv), CC BY-SA 4.0

One of the most difficult places to get to in the world is the island of Socotra. Located off the coast of Yemen, visitors to this island must acquire a special permit visa to enter. Even with the permit, only a select few countries have flights to this unique island, and the best way is to go through a tour agency.

The flora and fauna of this island is unlike anywhere else in the world, and the most famous of which is the dragonblood trees. These iconic trees dot the island and are one of the main things to see. Anil Polat from FoxNomad writes about his trip to Socotra with great advice for those looking to make the journey themselves.

3. Look in awe at the “Avatar” mountains in China


Attribution: cncs, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

China is home to some of the most unique geological formations in the world, and Zhangjiajie national park is one of the most amazing. Located in the Hunan province, this mountain range was made famous by James Cameron’s blockbuster film Avatar.

Even though it’s extremely popular, it still is a bit of a trek to get there. Anita from The Sane Travel blog writes a thorough guide to visiting Zhangjiajie filled with plenty of great tips and tricks. There really is no “best” time to visit as there are crowds year round, but avoiding the national Chinese holidays will definitely allow you some breathing room on your trip.

4. Take a polar bear safari in Svalbard


Attribution: Alan Wilson, CC BY-SA 3.0

The northernmost inhabited island in the world is Svalbard, off the coast of Norway. Located in the arctic circle, this island archipelago is not a travel destination for the faint of heart. With rough summers, and near unbearable winters, visitors to these islands are usually a unique type of tourist.

Taking a safari here is far more expensive than one you would take in Africa for example, but you can’t see polar bears in the wild in Africa. You can’t really explore this region on your own, so it’s inaccessible for a regular backpacker. Prices for tours start in the thousands of dollars, but will surely give you a once in a lifetime unique experience. One of the best providers is Natural World Safaris which offers ships going further north than most even have the ability.

5. Visit Prypiat to see the remains of the worst nuclear disaster in history


Attribution: Scott Harris, used with permission

Increasing in popularity due to the fantastic HBO miniseries Chernobyl, the city of Pripyat in Ukraine is the place to visit to see the negative side of nuclear energy. In 1986, when Ukraine was still a part of the Soviet Union, the Chornobyl reactor collapsed and released radiation throughout the northern hemisphere.

Visits to the site are closely monitored and you are required to go with a professional guide. Day trips can be arranged from the capital, Kyiv, and will cost about $100 for foreigners, half that for locals. Visitors are loaned a Geiger counter to measure radiation around the site, and can see sights like the Duga radar, Azure swimming pool, and concrete encased power plant.

Ownership of all photos remains with their respective owners and should not be re-used without express permission.

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