(Image credit: Flickr user Pablo Necochea)
Four must-see locations for those in search of some local color.
1) CHILE’S MOST VIBRANT CITY
Hugging the Pacific coast, Valparaíso (shown above) was South America’s greatest international waterway until the Panama Canal stole the spotlight. The city is home to Latin America’s first stock exchange, Chile’s first public library, and the world’s oldest continuously running Spanish-language newspaper. Colorful homes dominate, mostly perched on hillsides in a maze of cobblestone alleys. In 2003, its historic quarter was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2) WYOMING’S PSYCHEDELIC HOT SPRING
(Image credit: James St. John)
Photosynthetic cyanobacteria really know how to dress up a place. Yellowstone National Park’s Grand Prismatic Spring gets its signature look as different bacteria produce color-altering carotenoids, which help the microbes survive the heat and protect themselves from sunlight. (Since it’s cooler as you move near the edges, the carotenoid colors change.) The result is a vivid prism of color surrounding the 189°F blue center.
3) INDIA’S FLORAL WONDERLAND
(Image credit: Flickr user Prashant Ram)
Trek to the Valley of Flowers, part of a national park in the west Himalayas, and you’ll understand why yogis have long meditated here and why, according to Hindu myth, it’s a place of healing. For most of the year, the site is covered in snow. But in summer, more than 600 types of flora make their entrance: Orchids, poppies, and daisies of all shades blanket emerald meadows. Situated at the core of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, it is recognized by UNESCO for having “outstanding universal value.”
4) ETHIOPIA’S VOLCANIC VENTS
(Image credit: Flickr user Andrea Moroni)
With sulfur hills, boiling hot springs, and bubbling pools of green acid, the Dallol Hydrothermal Field, in the Danakil Desert, looks like something out of a Seussian nightmare. A constant flow of super-salty hydrothermal water -heated by magma and mixed with mud, iron, and algae- gives the area its fantastic colors. At nearly 400 feet below sea level, it’s the world’s lowest terrestrial volcanic vent. It’s also one of the hottest places on earth, averaging 94°F year-round.
The above article by Amanda Green is reprinted with permission from the June 2015 issue of mental_floss magazine.
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