There’s something so compelling about an unsolved mystery.
From Cleopatra’s ancient Egypt and the blood-lusting Dracula, to the cartoon escapades of ‘Scooby Doo’ - the seemingly supernatural or superhuman mysteries of the world have long captured imaginations and inspired some great literary works.
So for those of you who like playing detective, travel company Adventure World has picked the world’s top sites of unsolved mysteries and unproven myths.
Nazca Lines, Peru
Amid the rock-strewn and empty landscape in Peru lie 800 straight lines of rock. From the ground, the lines are nondescript. But from the air, these carefully formed lines reveal a mind-blowing tapestry crammed with hundreds of geometric figures, animal and plant drawings.
Enigmatic and seemingly unexplainable, these designs in the middle of the barren dessert have puzzled culturists since their accidental discovery in 1939. Why were they drawn? What did they mean? And how on earth are they so perfectly straight and proportioned, without have been seen from above?
Wrapped in a web of conspiracy theories – from the well-thought-out, to the paranoid, to the downright delusional – the remote and mysterious town of Roswell has long attracted the attention of alien-hunters and UFO-buffs.
Since the arrival of a mysterious metal disk in 1947 in this small town in New Mexico, accusations of government cover-ups have fuelled intrigue and speculation from the small, yet vocal community of extra-terrestrial enthusiasts.
Whether you’re a believer, a nay-sayer or simply a lover of kitsch paraphernalia, Roswell’s alien-themed streets and museum are a must-see as one of the most-hyped mysteries of modern-day.
Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
The only Seven Wonders of the Ancient World left standing, the Great Pyramid of Giza has intrigued and mystified for centuries.
Constructed as elaborate tombstones and monuments for the old pharaohs past, the pyramids still confound historians due to the sheer task and technique involved in stacking the two tonne stones into what were the tallest manmade structures in the world for over 3,800 years. And the meaning of the instantly recognisable Sphinx, sculpted from one smooth stone, is still unknown.
Experiencing a sunrise at the pyramids is a once in a lifetime sight – and you can’t help but wonder at the seemingly superhuman feats of the awe-inspiring ancient civilisation.
Easter Island, Chile
Floating more than 2000 kilometres away from the nearest land and surrounded by its silent and hauntingly eerie stone guardians, the moai, the land and legends of Easter Island have long been shrouded in mystery.
The moai, with their instantly recognisable chiselled brows, sparse features and short torsos, cast a sombre and silent air across the island – some tower high, scowling at the horizon, while other lie broken on the grassy hillsides. Like Stonehenge, the sheer logistics of how the ancient people managed to move these colossal sculpted stones – with some weighing over 80 tonnes and rising to over 20 metres tall – to their final resting places is mind-boggling.
With an untraceable ancestry that has advanced in extreme isolation, the mythology and traditions that have forged the island’s history are unlike any other in the world. From the stony sculptures, to ancient superstitions, aged temples and half-remembered stories, Easter Island is an eerie place – and a mecca for curious culturists.
Chichen Itza, Mexico
Rising above the ruins of Chichen Itza is the 365-step pyramid which marks the days of the Mayan calendar.
The dates set by the Mayans still transfix people today, with frenzied speculation in the lead up to their end of the world predictions. And even sceptics will be hard-pressed not to be impressed by the shadow serpent that slithers up and down El Castillo’s staircase at each equinox.
The old capital of the Mayan empire, home to the Toltec history of bloodied human sacrifices and adorned with mystifying carvings, is an intriguing place to say the least.
Humans have been fascinated by blood-sucking vampires long before ‘Twilight’ hit the scene. In fact, they’ve been traipsing around Transylvania – a small and spooky district in Romania – in search of its famous resident vampire Dracula, for over a century.
Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel ‘Dracula’ launched the legend of the nocturnal blood-lusting Count, which is said to be based loosely on the life of Vlad the Impaler, the vicious prince of Vlad who had a penchant for killing his victims using wooden stakes.
Unravel the myth of Vlad, from the haunting 14th-century Bran Castle he inhabited to the isolated Snagov Monastery, which is said to be his final resting place.
Even if you don’t believe in vampires, Transylvania - with its dense forests, mist-shrouded mountains and gothic architecture – seems to be teeming with eerie secrets and hidden pasts.
- Adventure World offers tours that visit all of the above destinations. For more information call 0800 465 432 or go to www.adventureworld.co.nz