Header photo via Ezequiel Cabrera
Earth’s friggin’ crazy, you guys. In case you haven’t been paying attention, our little blue orb plays host to many wonders. Now, not all of these places are likely to have been on your short list for a fun travel adventure, and for good reason—there are some extreme destinations out there. Some of these are kinda pleasant, but others… well, only hardened adventurers need apply.
If you’re a thrill-seeker, look no further than these seven “most extreme” destinations on the planet below:
1. The Dead Sea in Jordan
The World’s Lowest Place—say hello to the Dead Sea in Jordan. It sits 418 meters (1371 ft) below sea level. Fortunately, it’s easy to access via automobile, and its waters and mud are rumored to have “mystic healing properties.” Regardless, because the sea is so salty, it is exceptionally easy to float in—and that’s no old wive’s tale.
2. Atacama Desert, Chile
One of the World’s Driest Destinations—the Atacama Desert in Chile. This spot is so dang dry that NASA opted to test its Mars rover here. In more than 37 years, it’s only rained four times. Despite this, the 41,000 square miles host grand dunes, gushing geysers, colorful cliffs known as the Rainbow Valley, and some of the best views of our galaxy from Earth.
3. Mt. Kilauea, Hawaii
The World’s Most Active Volcano—Mt. Kilauea in Hawaii. Believe it or not, from 1983 to 2018, this force of nature erupted continuously. Literally. For 35 years. Finally, after 90 days of inactivity in December of 2018, the 1983 eruption was finally declared as officially over. However, the volcano remains active to this day, partially destroying towns and even creating new beaches.
4. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
The World’s Largest Salt Flat—Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. Just look at it—this place is nuts. The remnant of a group of prehistoric lakes that have long since evaporated, the salt flat covers 4,000 square miles and consists of 10 BILLION TONS of salt. Oh, and the way it reflects the sky, serving as a giant, perfect mirror to the heavens? Magnificent.
5. Vostok Station, Antarctica
The World’s Coldest Place— Vostok Station in Antarctica. Antarctica is already the coldest and driest of Earth’s continents, but Russia’s Vostok Station, originally a Soviet Union outpost, played host to the coldest temperature ever recorded. On July 21, 1983, it dropped to an insane -89.2 degrees celsius (-128.56 F). As you might imagine, this remote spot is only accessible via ships strengthened to withstand ice.
6. Angel Falls, Venezuela
The World’s Tallest Waterfall—Angel Falls in Venezuela. Specifically, Angel Falls is planet Earth’s tallest uninterrupted waterfall, with a height of 979 meters (3,212 feet) and a plunge of 807 meters. Located on the edge of the Auyántepui Mountain in Bolívar State’s Canaima National Park, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and truly an absurdly gorgeous locale.
7. Death Valley, California
The World’s Hottest Place—Death Valley in California. The “yin” to Vostok Station’s “yang,” so to speak, Death Valley is arguably Earth’s hottest spot after setting the highest-ever temperature in recorded history. In 1913, the heat soared to a blistering and unfathomable 136ºF (57.7ºC). But it doesn’t take an anomalous day to drive home how hot Death Valley is—the average temperature during the warm season each year is 110ºF due to the valley’s narrow structure and resulting lack of air circulation.