Kondyor Massif, Siberia

Kondyor Massif

The Kondyor Massif is a unique circular igneous intrusion massif with a diameter of around 10 km and about 600 meters high, formed one billion years ago after erosion shaped the molten magma crystallized under the earth’s surface.

Located in Eastern Siberia, Russia, the massif is surprisingly rich in rare and precious minerals such as gold, silver, platinum, plutonium, uranium, and it has even its own mineral, the Konderite, a mixture of platinum, iridium, rhodium, copper, lead and sulfur.

Formerly named “Urgula” by the indigenous population, as they believed the mountain to be sacred, it is more than a thousand km far from the nearest city, Khabarovsk, and definitely not a handy place to be visited. There are no tourist infrastructure and visitors need a special permit to access the surrounding area.

Image © NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Lough Tay, Ireland

Lough Tay, Ireland
photo © mytouristmaps
 

The Lough Tay, located in the Wicklow Mountains, about 50 km south from Dublin, is also known as the Guinness Lake due to its shape and colours.

The white sandy beach on the northern coast makes the Guinness foam. The brown colour of the water close to the beach (due to the water coming from the streams that rise on peat covered uplands) complete the incredible visual similarity to the famous Irish pint.

You can see the lake from the R759 scenic route, or if you want a better view from the top, take the walking trail towards the Luggala mountain (accessible from the R115 — the best scenic drive in the Wicklow mountains) or the Djouce mountain, one of the most spectacular walks in the Wicklow Mountains, from which you can see the whole Dublin bay and, on a clear sky day, also the Welsh coastline.

The Lough Tay beach was chosen in 2013 as the set for the village of Kattegat in the Vikings tv series.

Mauna Kea: the tallest mountain of the world

 
With its 8.848 meters above the sea level, Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on the earth, but if we consider measuring mountains from the bottom of the ocean, the highest mountain is the Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano located in the Hawaiian Big Island, with 10.210 meters (more than a km taller than Everest!).

Owing to the dry atmosphere, elevation and stable climate, Mauna Kea is one of the best sites in the world for astronomical observation.
On its summit, there are observatories useful for scientific research, despite not well considered by Native Hawaiians, for whom the summits of the Hawaiian mountains are sacred places.

The MKVIS Maunakea Visitor Station is accessible for tourists.

Croagh Patrick, Ireland

The Croagh Patrick (also known as “The Reek”), whose names means (St.) Patrick’s stack, is considered the holiest mountain in Ireland.

It is located in County Mayo on the Wild Atlantic Way, overlooking the Clew Bay; 764 meters high, it is the 4th highest mountains of the region.

Since the Stone Age the mountain carries on a tradition of pilgrimage; still nowadays every year (the last Friday and Sunday of July and the 15th of August) thousands of pilgrims ascend to the summit, where is believed Saint Patrick fasted for forty days in 441 AD. According to the tradition, the pilgrims should climb the mountain barefoot.

The view of the Clew Bay and the charming town of Westport from the top is absolutely outstanding. The 7km round trip walk trail starts from the Murrisk car park.

Irta’Ale volcano, Ethiopia

Irta'Ale volcano
photo © Petr Meissner
The Irta’Ale (or Erta Ale) volcano, located in the northern area of Ethiopia, Danakil depression, is one of the few existing volcanoes with permanent lava lakes (since the beginning of the 20th century). 
 
613 meters high, it is one of the most spectacular formations of Northern Africa (like the nearby Danakil depression).
 
From Addis Abeba and Makelle there are organized tours for tourists: the ascent is about 3 hours, rather easy, but pay attention to the hot temperature.

Prayer Flags, Tibet

 

The colorful flags, originated with the ancient Tibetan religion bön and typical of the mountain areas of Tibet and Himalayas are not ornaments or even simple flags: they spread wisdom, peace, strength and wellness to all living beings.

Horizontal prayer flags are called lung-ta (small and rectangular or square shape) and vertical flags are called darchor (rectangular and large, attached to vertical posts).

 
Their high altitude position is not accidental: the blow of the wind touches the prayers printed on the flags and the air is purified by the mantra, spreading all the virtues in space. 
 
The five traditional colours are placed in a specific order from left: blue, white, red, green, and yellow. They represent the five elements, which balanced, produces harmony and health:

 

  • blue: sky 
  • white: wind
  • red: fire
  • green: water
  • yellow: earth
 

Tibetans continually arrange new flags alongside the oldies, symbolizing a welcoming of new life.

Since they are sacred, the flags should be treated with respect: they should not be placed on the ground or used for other purposes.

Mount Roraima, Venezuela

Mount Roraima
© Tadashi Okoshi
 

Located at the punto triple, the border between Brazil, Guyana and Venezuela, the Mount Roraima (Roroi-ma) is, along with the Auyantepui (where is the Salto del Angel,  the world’s highest waterfall), the most famous Tepui in South America.
The Tepui (in Pemòn language “house of the Gods”) are table-top mountains formed after the erosion of the sandstone plateau that once covered the granite base between the Amazon forest and the Orinoco River, and between the Atlantic coast and the Rio Negro.

According to the beliefs of the Pemòn (people who inhabited the Gran Sabana area for centuries), Mount Roraima was originally a huge tree which bore all the fruits and vegetables of the world. After the tree fall, his stump, turned to stone, later became the house of the Gods. Due to his sacred status, the Pemòn people never attempted to climb the Roraima, so the mountain remained unexplored for many years.

The first exploration was led by Walter Raleigh, in 1596; later, the legend of Mount Roraima was the inspiration for the Scottish writer Arthur Conan Doyle in his novel The Lost World (1912) and for the Werner Herzog‘s movie The Wild Blue Yonder (2005).

Today the Mount Roraima can be visited (joining a guided tour) by travelers and tourists: with its beautiful natural landscapes including the Valley of the Crystals, the sinkhole El Foso and the Labyrinth it is one of the most fascinating destinations of the American continent, although there are no lost world’s dinosaurs.