Planet Earth is a treasure trove filled with natural marvels and man-made oddities just waiting to be explored by budding adventurers. Forget fantasy, one day you might like to visit one of these wondrous destinations to see it for yourself. Don’t forget to send us a postcard!

Image ©marekuliasz/Shutterstock

Carhenge, USA
Inspired by famous ancient Stonehenge in England, Carhenge is made out of – you guessed it – cars. American artist Jim Reinders decided to memorialise his father with this towering tribute. Dedicated in 1987, the ginormous sculpture is made out of 39 classic American automobiles. These cars were painted grey and assembled in the exact same formation as Stonehenge, except we definitely know who built Carhenge – and how!

©Exequiel Schvartz/Shutterstock

The Swing at the End of the World, Tungurahua Province, Ecuador

Way up high in the Ecuadorian jungle is the world’s most perilous treehouse. Perched on the edge of a canyon, the Casa de Arbol is actually a seismic observation station. It’s there to keep an eye on its next-door neighbour Tungurahua, an active volcano. But the best part of the treehouse is its swing. Hanging from a tree branch, it’s just a little plank of wood suspended by two ropes. And unlike the swings at your local playground, there’s no harness, net or any safety features at all. People who do brave the swing, though, are rewarded with an incredible view of the canyon.

©seawhisper/Shutterstock

The Crooked Forest, Poland

THIS EERIE FOREST IS a mystery. The C-shaped trees here look so unnatural you might wonder if witchcraft was responsible. Some say a heavy amount of snow bent the trees when they were still young. Others say Crooked Forest Nowe Czarnowo, Poland tanks blasted through during a long-ago war and ruined their growth. But the most likely culprits were some inventive farmers. Trees shaped like this would have been very useful for building ships. Could it be that a clever farmer figured out how to make them grow this way? If so, no one is admitting to it, and the trees are keeping their secret to themselves.

©Nataliya Nazarova/Shutterstock

Kaleto Fortress, Belogradchik, Bulgaria

YOU COULD BE FORGIVEN for walking right past the Kaleto Fortress without seeing it. The citadel blends into the rocks on the northern slope of the Balkan Mountains. And this wasn’t a mistake. The building’s camouflage made it an ideal stronghold for over 200 years, starting in the late 1100s. From the ramparts, you would have been able to see an enemy army marching towards you across the hills. Today you can wander among the rocks and wonder at all the years of history they’ve seen.

©Martin Vlnas/Shutterstock

Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

AT 85 LETTERS LONG, Taumatawhaka- tangihangakoau- auotamateaturi- pukakapikimaun- gahoronukupokai-whenuakitanatahu or Taumata Hill (as it’s known by locals) has been listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest place name in the world. As the legend goes, the great Maori explorer Tamatea fought a battle on the hill. His beloved brother died in the clash, and Tamatea mourned his death by playing a koauau (a Maori flute) on the hill. The long name translates to “the summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the slider, climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one”. Okay . . . now you try saying it!

Edited excerpt from Hidden Wonders: A Guide to the Planet’s Wildest, Weirdest Places published Lonely Planet Kids. HB £14.99. Reproduced with kind permission from Lonely Planet © 2019.

Nadia Duncan

Author: Nadia Duncan

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