Mountain vacations are loved by most of us, but not all mountains are ‘storybook perfect’. Here is a list of 21 such mountains around the world that are unique in one way or the other, some indeed unbelievable, others magical or otherworldly. But one thing is common to all of them, each one deserves a visit at least once in the lifetime of every traveller.
1. Chocolate Hills, Bohol, Philippines
Can you imagine being in a forest of numerous chocolate mounds? Yes, the Chocolate Hills offers you such an incredible experience. They are located in the Bohol Province of Philippines and there are about 1,268 such hills spread across 50 sq km of land. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, these are popular tourist attractions. They are conical shaped with a height of 30-50 meters and evenly covered with green grass. These grasses, when dried up, turn chocolaty brown in color. Therefore, tourists visit usually when the grasses dry up, rather than seeing it all green, which is not in harmony with its name. It is believed that these hills were formed ages ago, with mixed actions of coral deposition, dissolution of limestone by rainfall, works of ground water, surface water and erosion. There are several caves and springs in them and are divided by well-developed flat plains. Despite the many fairytale legends describing their origin, the actual reason of formation of these hills remains a mystery to the geologists till date. They look so alike each other that it is very difficult to believe that these hills are actually not manmade. Apart from being uniform in shape, they also have almost same heights.
2. Magnetic Hill, Ladakh, India
The super astonishing Magnetic Hill is situated near Leh in Ladakh at an altitude of 11,000 ft. Tourists crowd this place every now and then to witness the magic of nature. This hill is said to have magnetic power to pull cars up the hill without any engine-power. The hill is sometimes also termed as Gravity Hill or Mystery Hill and is indeed one of nature’s mysteries and the natives have a number of stories to tell about the magical magnetic power or spiritual power behind it. However, study suggests that this hill has no magnetic disturbance at all. It is simply the Optical Illusion Effect, the Illusion similar to that of Ames room. Objects on a perpendicular plane seem leaning upwards may actually be downward sloping creating a visual illusion. Upon the hill, there is a mystery spot where the outline of the adjoining land creates an optical illusion of an uphill slope which actually is a downhill slope. This mysterious route is known as the gravity road. Hence, the cars seem to roll up which actually is rolling down from the mystery spot through the gravity road simply due to gravity. Located on the Leh-Kargil-Srinagar national highway, this place is popular with tourists.
3. Pancake Rocks, New Zealand
The Pancake Rocks are one of the greatest forms of nature’s art one could ever imagine. Huge piles of pancakes lying on the Earth’s plates and walking on those could surely be an adventurous journey. Hence, thousands of visitors flock this place to experience yet another mysterious creation of nature. These are actually eroded limestone structures that layer the sea surface and present the look of pancakes. Situated in the West Coast of South Island in New Zealand, on the rim of the west edge of the Paparoa National Park, these giant pancakes of nature took a long time in formation, an estimated period of 30 million years. Interestingly, the unique rocks have numerous huge blowholes in them and during high tides it is a thrilling experience to watch the tides break through the holes. Hundreds of natural sculptures are formed by the work of enormous forces of wind, waves and rain. There are several hundreds of huge stacks of pancake formations lying on the coast ready to be feasted on, albeit, with eyes. Currently, this place is a major tourist attraction and has many twisting paths around the rock formations and staircase like ways, yet to be explored.
4. Five Finger Mountain, Azerbaijan
The Five Finger Mountain or the Besh Barmag in Azerbaijan is a legendary tourist place. The view of a rock, mounted with five tall peaks almost resembling a human’s five fingers spouting out, is indeed a wonder. Driving on the Baku - Quba Highway, a traveller’s eyes would definitely get struck with the marvellous view of this nature’s 1,253ft gift. It is situated in Khizi Rayon and near distant to the Caspian Sea. The mountain is ages old, as estimated with the water marks that are found on its body. These tidal marks which tourists flock to view are from the Ice Age. This mountain is a popular pilgrim’s attraction and has many religious sagas woven around it. The fingers were, according to sagas, of a local boy called Sum, a Jew, who died while fighting a monster. There is also a tank right at the foothill of this mountain, a popular one as it was believed to be filled with tears of the lover of Sum. Among several other stories, it is believed that the Prophet had received the sacred 10 commandments on this mountain. Hundreds of tourists gather to witness this holy wonder and unique five-finger-like rock headed mountain.
5. Rainbow Mountain, China
Forming a part of the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park of Gansu Province in China, these multicoloured mountain peaks look more like an artist’s canvas, full of bright colours. These otherworldly mountains are often revered to as the most colourful mountains in the world. The mountains were formed millions of years ago by layers of sandstone and mineral deposits. The geological park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009.
6. Sugarloaf Mountain, Brazil
The famous Sugarloaf Mountain at Rio de Janeiro stands 1,299 ft above the sea level. Lying at the mouth of Guanabara Bay of Atlantic Ocean, this mountain is a very popular tourist destination. The shape of the mountain is in semblance to a concentrated sugarloaf, hence the name follows. It is also known as Pao de Acucar which means ‘a sugarloaf’ in Portuguese. From the Sugarloaf, one can experience the mesmerizing view of sunset in the ocean with the view of the entire city with startling night lights making this a romantic affair. It is not just the sunset or the drink or the food here that attracts millions of tourists every year, but also the glass-walled cable car going atop the mountain which is a great attraction. This cable car was built way back in 1912, though rebuilt couple of times afterwards, a ride on it remains memorable for anyone who takes it. It ascends the mountain fall of 1400 meters and gives an excellent view of the ocean touching the bay and the Rio city. The cable car leaves from the ground at Babilona Hill and goes to Urca Hill, another beautiful peak, and then finally to the Sugarloaf once every 20 minutes.
7. Superstition Mountains, Arizona, USA
For those who believe in fairy tales, the Superstitions Mountains of Arizona is their ultimate destination. This is a range of mountains in the east of Phoenix in Arizona. It is a major amusement place for the natives of Phoenix metropolitan area. This range falls in the officially elected Superstitions Wilderness Area. There are multiple natural features embedded in this area to make it a leisurely place for visitors. Especially this place can be real delight for those who love trekking. Fairy-tale landmarks make it more romantic and interesting. Every spot has its own significance and treasure to be explored. The spots have strange names like Weaver’s Needle, Miner’s Needle, Peralta Canyon, Freemont Saddle and so on and they attract thousands of visitors. Rock climbing, trekking and hiking are the major events that people seek in here. Revolving around the folklore of the Lost Dutchman Gold Mines, every landmark is designated in connection with a sequence in the story. Mainly with a desert climate, this area has very less sources of water, and the temperatures rise high during summer. Interestingly, this mountain was once known as Sierra de la Espuma which means ‘mountain of foam’ in Spanish.
8. Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa
The Table Mountain is located close to Cape Town in South Africa. It is a natural wonder and a major tourist attraction in the country. This flat-top mountain was voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in November 2011. It forms a part of Table Mountain National Park and is featured in the National Flag of Cape Town. The Table Mountain is one the oldest formations of Earth, six times older than the Himalayas and five times as old as the Rockies. The process of formation is believed to have taken over 300 million years. The cliff of this mountain is very steep around the summit and hiking of different difficulty levels is a popular sport here. There are various pathways on the side of the mountain and is therefore a sought after trekking destination for many adventure seekers around the world. The Platteklip Gorge route is the most popular with tourists and making it to the top through this route is quite an achievement as it is an extremely steep climb. Also, a major crowd pulling attraction of this flat-top mountain is the cable car ride, which gives a breathtaking aerial view of the beautiful Cape Town City and further into the Atlantic Ocean.
9. Valley of the Ten Peaks, Canada
This unique valley in the Banff National Park of Canada is one of nature’s glorious beauties. Anybody can get lost in nature’s paradise by counting truly what nature offers in this valley. The Moraine Lake in the centre is crowned by ten beautiful mountain peaks giving it a picturesque view. The ten notable peaks were originally named by numbering them from one to ten in the Stoney First Nations Language by an early explorer named Samuel Allen. Gradually, the mountains were renamed. The valley of the ten peaks is almost secluded but is nonetheless a popular tourist spot. The Moraine is a glacially fed lake. It is half square kilometer in area and lies 6,183 ft above the sea level. When the glaciers melt down and fill the lake almost to its brim, the reflection of the ten peaks on the lake makes this a panoramic affair. The color of the lake is blue, which is due to refraction of light off the rock floor sediments. The Canada Parks authority provides various trail conditions which are timely varied with different restrictions. The valley has several hiking and trailing options for the adventurers, however, many a times restricted due to grizzly bear threats.
10. Mount Roraima, South America
Mount Roraima which is also known as Monte Roraima in Portuguese and Cerro Roraima in Spanish is a giant flat topped mountain in the Pakaraima Range of Mountains in the Guiana Highlands The Pakaraima mountains are a chain of tepui plateaus in South America. The giant flat topped mountain is a magnificent sight to behold, but that’s not the only reason why it is significant. It has another unique claim to fame and that’s precisely why the mountain has found place in this issue of Touriosity. Mount Roraima is about 14 miles long, 9,094 feet high and 31 square kilometre in area, making it quite a gigantic structure. It is bounded on all sides by cliffs that rise about 1,300 feet tall. There are many waterfalls that originate from here thus making it the source of many rivers in South America including that of the Amazon and Orinoco river systems. In addition, it is the highest point in Guyana, while Brazil and Venezuela have higher mountains. Part of the mountain falls in the Canaima National Park in Venezuela. Mount Roraima is also significant because it is at the foot of this giant mountain that the three South American countries of Brazil, Venezuela and Guyana meet, thus making it an important tri-point international border. 85% of its territory comprises of the Venezuelan border, 10% of the territory comprises of the border of Guyana and only 5% of it falls along the Brazilian border. The mountain has very unique flora and fauna. It has also held a significant role in the culture and local legends. Some indigenous people consider the mountain to be the stump of an ancient giant tree (it quite looks so) that bore all the fruits and vegetables of the world. Mount Roraima presents unparalleled beauty that is unique in every sense. The tabletop mountain structure is regarded by scientists as one of the oldest geological formations of the earth dating back to around two billion years.
11. Moose’s Tooth Mountain, Alaska, USA
For those who love challenging treks, the Moose Tooth Mountain offers several trails of various difficulty levels. The Moose’s Tooth is a rock peak in the East of Ruth Gorge in Central Alaska Range. It is a famous mountain peak among the mountaineers. It has a low elevation as compared to some of the major peaks in Alaska. Nevertheless, it is not very easy to climb. The other mountains in the complex also have rather interesting names like ‘Eye Tooth’, ‘Sugar Tooth’ and ‘Broken Tooth’. What makes it all the more interesting is that the shapes of these peaks have a vague resemblance to their names. The climb from west ridge to the east ridge is difficult but, normally is reached by the south western side of the peak. The Moose’s Tooth was first climbed by four Germans, through the Northwest Ridge in 1964. In the July of 1975 three climbers, Jon Krakauer, Thomas Davies and Nate Zinsser discovered a relatively convenient route to the main peak, through couloirs on the south face. They named the route as ‘Ham and Eggs Route’ which is the most popular route on the mountain till date.
12. Ore Mountains, Germany
The Ore Mountains in Central Europe forms a border between Saxony and Bohemia. This is indeed a must visit place for those who want to acquire an idea about Earth’s abundance of mineral-treasure. This mountain has grown over time, from the ancient age to the modern and has witnessed several human strategies to mining, exploration and industrialization. The border between Germany and the Czech Republic is to the north of this mountain. Tourists flock here in quite large numbers. The beauty of the mountain lies in its natural ores. Also the unique Bohemian Forest which was discovered in the 12th century is a great tourist attraction. These mountains are one of the most geologically researched into mountains in the world. Following the discovery of large number of ore mines, this place has acquired top interest with geologists. The formation has taken a long time and has gone through the process of dissection, by which the entire range has been added up with river valleys and also a strange steep towards Bohemia which is steeper than the German border. There are various protected nature reserves and natural monuments in these mountains.
13. Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Israel
Mount of Olives or Mount Olivet is located in the east of Jerusalem’s Old city. It used to be covered with olive groves once, hence the name. This mountain holds a lot of importance for Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. It is believed that Jesus Christ gave a final prophecy here. It has been also referred in the New Testament as the route to Jerusalem and it was here that Jesus stood and wept over Jerusalem. This unique mountain is visited by thousands every year not for its unusual beauty or religious significance but also for seeing the graves of many historically significant personalities. The mountain has also been used as a Jewish cemetery for long and has about 150,000 graves in it including those of many significant Jewish personalities. There are also several man-made burial caves. On the upper slope, the tombs of Prophets are situated, while down under various soldiers and notable officials are also buried. Apart from the graves there are more to see in this mountain, like the Church of all Nations, Tomb of Zechariah, Mary’s Tomb, Seven Arches Hotel, Emek Tzurim National Park and Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation among others.
14. Black Hills, South Dakota, USA
An aftermath of a volcanic eruption can never be imagined to be so stunning. Burnt trees, burnt rocks, resulting in a unique hill and a popular tourist spot are the Black Hills in the USA. These are a series of hills ranging from the Great Plains of North America in western South Dakota to Wyoming, USA. They appear gorgeous in black, and create several interesting options to explore in its cradle. There are quite a few tourist spots in the hills. The historic town of Deadwood is situated here. The largest monument in the world, the Crazy Horse memorial, also stands here. There are National parks, beautiful enormous peaks, coal mines, gold mines, specialty mineral ore mines and dense forests. The Ponderosa Pine Forest is located close by. Tourism is currently a flourishing industry, and many people reside here to explore the complex and unusual vegetation on the hills. The main tourism towns are Deadwood, Hill City and Custer. Several cultural events like motorcar or bike rallies are held here from time to time. Biking on the hills is a true pleasure. The scenic beauty of the hills has now indeed made it a tourist paradise.
15. Zhangjiajie Pillars, China
There are as many as 3,000 pillars of karsts, that look like unique pillar mountains, at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Zhangjiajie National Park. The park consists of quartz-sandstone peaks that were formed during Middle and Upper Devonian period. Erosion and weathering has resulted in the unique pillar-like shape of the mountains. The highest pillar here was the inspiration behind the Hallelujah Mountain in the Hollywood movie of Avatar, and had accordingly been named Hallelujah Mountain thereafter.
16. Rainbow Mountain, Peru
This mountain, thanks to the immense popularity on social media of late, is on its way to become the second most visited tourist attraction in the country of Peru after Machu Picchu. Variously known as Vinicunca, Winikunka, Montaña de Siete Colores and Montaña de Colores, this unique mountain is an easy day-trip from Cusco. The mountain is covered by shades of red, yellow, orange and blue, giving it the popular name of Rainbow Mountain. Until very recently though, the existence of this unique mountain was not known as the mountain was always covered by Andean Snow. But due to climate change, the snow started melting about 5 years back revealing its beautiful colours. While the phenomenon was actually alarming and environment concerns should have taken over, instead it drew attention of the tourists who started flocking here for photo ops. The beautiful striping of colours here is mainly due to mineral deposits and weathering. To reach here one must drive or take a bus from Cuzco and then trek for 7 km roundtrip.
17. Unique mountains of Moorea
Moorea is an island of volcanic origin that is dotted with mountains of unique sizes and shapes. It is located in the archipelago of Society Islands in French Polynesia, 17 km from Tahiti. The mountainous landscape presents a very unique picture of the island. The highest mountain in the island is Mount Tohiea (1,207m), followed by Mount Rotui (899m), Mount Mouaroa with the evocative shape (880m), Mount Mouaputa (830m) that has a hole on the top, Mount Tearai (770m) and Mount Tautuapae (769m). All these mountains resulted from a volcanic eruption of a larger mountain here which made parts of the original mountain get scattered on the sea. Today it presents a unique landscape.
18. Brown Bluff, Antarctica
It is a unique volcano mountain in Antarctica with a flat top. Being situated on a beach that is frequented by Adélie and Gentoo penguins for breeding, this mountain becomes all the more important and favourite with tourists.
19. Kirkjufell Mountain, Iceland
This mountain is one of the most photographed places in Iceland. It is a uniquely conical mountain in Iceland that is often referred to as the Church Mountain. Due to its sheer beauty, it even made to one of the episodes of Game of Thrones. In the vicinity of the mountain are beautiful beaches and the famous Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfalls making the trek to the mountain all the more rewarding. The one and half hour trek to the top of the mountain can be very challenging, but those bravehearts who make it up there, are often rewarded with the view of breathtaking dancing northern lights, especially in autumn or winter.
20. Preikestolen, Norway
Not technically a mountain, this is a flat rocky cliff top overlooking the abyss rises to an altitude of 604m. To maintain the natural look of the place, no fences have been placed here, consequently this may become a little dangerous. However, the place is frequented by tourists all year round.
21. Trolltunga, Odda, Norway
It is a rocky cliff that juts precariously out of a mountain horizontally (like a tongue, and hence the name) over the Ringedalsvatnet Lake in Odda in Hordaland County of Norway, 84 km from Bergen. While the altitude of the cliff is 1,100m in total, it hangs at a height of 700m from the lake. This is one of the best places for hikers and trekkers.