Angkor Wat, the Grand Canyon, the Blue Lagoon: just a few of the natural and man-made wonders many of us, if we’re lucky, get to experience during a lifetime of travel. In most cases, visiting them is as easy as just showing up. But what about the countless other jaw-dropping sites we’ll never get to see? Whether too remote, or frozen under ice, or sunk at the bottom of the ocean, here are a few “hidden” sites that no technological advancements – or wishful thinking – can ever bring us closer to.
Earlier this month, a team of scientists discovered a previously-unknown volcano, located deep under the Pacific, 1,000 miles off the coast of Japan. Confirmed as the largest volcano in the world (about a hundred times bigger than Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, which previously held the title), the rock mound, nicknamed Tamu Massif, would make for a pretty impressive sight – too bad its summit lies 4,500 feet below the ocean’s surface. Evidence shows that the 124-million-year-old volcano likely went dormant shortly after it formed, though that doesn’t bring us any closer to traversing its wide, craggy surface.
Type in “Underwater City Of Cuba” on YouTube, and you’ll find a 3.5-minute clip detailing the findings of two deep ocean engineers, who in 2001 released a series of radar images that appeared to depict a lost underwater city that they (and, for a minute, National Geographic) believed to be Atlantis. Of course, the hypothesis was disproved within a few years. But that doesn’t lessen the significance of the city-like geometric stone structures sitting 2,000 feet below sea level somewhere between Cuba and Cancun. The idea of exploring an ancient, once-inhabited city sounds pretty neat; however, due to the logistics of getting all the way down there, that might not be happening for quite some time!
In August, a discovery in Greenland gave the USA’s biggest tourist attraction a serious run for its money: according to NASA, stretching from the middle of Greenland all the way up to its northern coast is a massive 415-mile long canyon. Cool! The only problem? Like the majority of the country, the canyon is snugly buried under a 2-mile-thick sheet of ice. The unseen canyon, which, scenery-wise, we picture to look like something out of Lord of the Rings with a dash of Four Corners otherworldliness, is an unbroken formation that suggests an old river system dating back over 4 million years.
What many Norwegians believe to be an important archaeological site – a 119 foot long Norwegian ship known as the Maud that was built in 1916 for an Arctic expedition – remains inaccessible for two reasons: one, it currently resides in Cambridge Bay, Canada, and consequently requires a permit from the Canadian Heritage Minister to be exported back to Norway; second, it sunk to the bottom of the bay in 1930. While controversy surrounds the rightful ownership of the vessel (Norwegians say it’s theirs, but Canadians are reluctant to give it up), both of these factors have prohibited anyone, Canadian, Norwegian, or otherwise, from actually getting to view the historic ship up close.
If you’re still hoping to live out your childhood fantasy of visiting Santa’s house in the North Pole, we have some bad news for you: there’s no such thing. Not only are you unlikely to find any traces of Mr. and Mrs. Claus themselves, the very notion of the North Pole as a destination is pure fiction. Unlike the South Pole, which sits on terra firma, the true North Pole (as in, the point of the earth’s axis of rotation) is located amidst a sea of floating ice. No roads, paths, or reindeer for that matter, would be able to access it as there is no physical land to stand on. Guess you’ll just have to settle for Google-spying on its cousin, the South Pole, instead!