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Weird and Wonderful Backpacking Destinations

The world is a beautiful place and offers some of the most unusual, weird and wonderful sights to experience. We've hand-picked some of the most amazing backpacking destination ideas that you should definitely consider visiting on your next adventure. Wondering where to go on your gap year? Look no further!

Pamukkale, Turkey

Pamukkale, meaning cotton palace, is a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site in the southwest of Turkey overlooking the ancient ruins of Hierapolis. The white pools are caused by a high concentration of water calcite and travertine sedimentary deposits. An underground volcano heats the 17 hot springs that make up the surrounding landscape making it hot enough to be used as a healing spa, and has been for thousands of years. The believed healing properties of Pamukkale attract thousands of visitors each year, and the best way to get there is to hire a car. Alternatively there are coaches and day trips that you can join to experience the hot pools for yourself.

The White Desert, Egypt

This is justifiably the most well-known desert in Egypt and not to be missed on your backpacking adventure. The stunning chalk statues of The White Desert have been sculpted by the wind over many thousands of years, and often change shape and colour depending on where the sun sits in the sky. It’s definitely one of the main attractions for tourism to the area, and specialist bus tours can be easily arranged! The site is now protected as a national treasure.

white desert

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Everyone knows of the Grand Canyon, but Antelope Canyon in Arizona is the lesser-known mysterious and spectacular canyon for the adventurous traveller. If you like photography this destination couldn’t be more perfect for you. Visitors are able to walk freely through the striped sandstone cave, allowing you to capture the most incredible images of its stripes and colours. It was created by sandstone erosion from streams and rivers which formed a breath-taking experience for all who pay a visit.
Further reading: A guide to backpacking in the USA

antelope canyon

Hell's Door, Turkmenistan, Asia

If you happen to visit the Kara-Kum desert, Hell's Door as locals call it, is a spectacular sight to see. Located near Darvaz, visitors commonly only stay there for no longer than 5 minutes due to the amount of gas at the site. The story of Hell's Door begins 35 years ago. Geologists were drilling in to the Earth's surface looking for gas and upon finding a gas cavern, they ignited it so that no poisonous gas could cause any harm. It has since collapsed into a natural gas crater and to this day it is still burning. The amount of gas burned over those 35 years is unknown, however it doesn't appear to show any signs of stopping!

hell's door

The Ice Hotel, Sweden

The Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden covers 300,000 square feet and was originally built in 1989. The hotel is rebuilt every winter due to the ice melting in the warmer spring months, and takes approximately 5 to 6 weeks to rebuild. The nearby Torne River provides the ice to build it and when it melts the water from the river runs back to its natural source, and so the circle goes on. The hotel is also home to many outstandingly realistic sculptures, such as polar bears and deer. The Ice Hotel is all about creating a setting for life-enriching moments and is definitely a destination you should consider if you want to stay somewhere weird and wonderful!

ice hotel (1) (1) (1)

Lake Hillier, Western Australia

Discovered in 1802 by a man called Matthew Flinders, Lake Hillier sits on the largest of the islands in Western Australia’s Recherche Archipelago. The lake is saline and keeps its deep pink colour all year round which is due to the levels of algae and bacteria present, along with the surrounding forestry. There are very few ways to reach this lake, but if it’s something you can’t go without seeing you can get a helicopter and see it from above, or take a cruise to visit it in person. Believe it or not the lake is safe to swim in.
Further reading: A guide to Australia for the budget backpacker

lake hillier

The Hand in the Desert, Chile

This is one for the art lovers out there. Sculpted by Chilean sculptor Mario Irarrázabal, the huge hand combined with its desolate and barren surroundings create a feeling of loneliness. This is typical of the artist’s works which focus on human suffering and emotional provocation. Sitting 46 miles outside of the city of Antofagasta it is reachable by car and isn’t too difficult to get to. A one off experience!

hand in the desert (1)

Red Beach, Panjin, China

The Red Beach is indeed a weird and wonderful backpacking destination to add to your list. Covered in a type of seaweed called Sueda, this is green during the summer but turns a vivid red in autumn. It hosts the most completed ecosystem in the world and is home to many types of birds and wildlife, including some endangered species. Because of this reason it’s a protected area and only a small section of the beach is open to the public, but a wooden walkway has been built that enables visitors to explore the beach from above. Rest assured this is one amazing backpacking destination.

red beach

There may be many weird and wonderful destinations to visit in the world, but weird and not-so wonderful things can happen while you’re there. Make sure you’re covered with some backpacking travel insurance so that you can enjoy the wonderful side of travelling with peace of mind. Get yourself a quote now.

Related backpacking articles:
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South Africa for the Animal Lover -
Most Popular Gap Year Routes and Destinations -

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