The Atlas is full of remarkable places that most everyone wants to go, as well as remarkably remote or obscure places that few have even heard of. And then there’s a very curious bucket of places that exist at the intersection of the two: places that hundreds people in our community of travelers want to visit, but not one has actually been.
These eight places are by our count the most desirable of the utterly untrodden. If you are one of the lucky few to have witnessed the glowing Milky Seas or venture across Devil’s Bridge, let us know! These incredible places are waiting for their first explorer.
Neutrinos are some of the most abundant yet mysterious particles in our universe, and also frustratingly difficult to detect. Thus neutrino detectors are often built in isolated places where they are protected from cosmic rays—which is why Japan’s Super-Kamiokande detector is hidden in a mine 3,000 feet underground, deep under Mount Kamiokakō.
Considering this, the “Super-K” is, unsurprisingly, not exactly an easy place to visit. However groups are sometimes permitted to tour the lab for educational purposes or scientific research, so it’s not impossible to see this incredible machine as it works to solve some of the mystery of the universe. The detector itself is surely a sight to behold, for those that manage to behold it. It’s an enormous steel tank holding 50,000 tons of water, ensconced by a stunning array of 11,146 photomultiplier tubes used to detect the light produced when neutrinos interact with the surrounding water.
For beer lovers, Starkenberger’s Castle is one of only a few places in the world where they can truly, literally, immerse themselves in beer. As such it is a obviously a desirable travel destination. So why have no Atlas users bathed in the hoppy aroma of “world’s only beer-swimming-pools?” These 13-foot pools, each containing 42,000 pints of warm beer (with some water) are the most unique attraction at the beer-themed castle—and not just a gimmick.
The beer is rich in vitamins and calcium, and it is said that sitting in it is good for the skin and helps cure open wounds and psoriasis. If it all makes you a little thirsty, you can order a cold brewsky to imbibe while you bathe (drinking from the pool is ill-advised). The dearth of visitors to this beer spa remains a mystery.
Technically speaking, is no longer possible to visit the Drowned Church of Potosi — per se. Because it is no longer drowned. Today, a towering gothic church stands in the Venezuelan town of Uribante, but this is only a relatively recent occurrence. For over two decades—from 1985 to 2008 —the Drowned Church of Potosi was almost completely submerged. All that was visible was a lone and mildewed cross rising crookedly out of the water.
But then something curious happened. Severe droughts and water shortages in Venezuela resulted in the effective draining of the reservoir, and the cross started to rise higher and higher out of the water, revealing more of the gothic structure below. By 2010, the water had receded almost entirely, revealing a large stretch of flat land, and the entire church is now visible, a haunting sight.
Bulgaria’s “Devil’s Bridge,” despite being the most stunning of the humpbacked bridges that cross the Arda River, is as of yet uncrossed by any Atlas traveler, perhaps because it is not for the faint of heart. Its span is 185 feet long, 11.5 feet wide, and at its gravity-defying central arch stands 37.7 feet high.
But the reason some locals are hesitant to cross the Devil’s Bridge at night is rooted in dark lore. One story is that the head builder’s wife passed away during construction, so her shadow was encased in the structure. Another tale has it that the devil’s footprint can be found somewhere on the rocks. While this is all folkloric myth, its towering form does make for a somewhat unsettling vista in the darkness.
No one in our community of travelers has claimed to have visited this forgotten remnant of old London, but in fact many of you probably have been here, albeit unknowingly. The buried remains of Little Compton Street are hiding in plain sight beneath a sewer grate on an anonymous-looking traffic island in the middle of one of London’s busiest streets, Charing Cross Road.
If you look down at the metal grate covering the island you will see two tiled, Victorian street names set into the wall below ground level. Bearing the faded name of Little Compton Street, it is a beguiling glimpse into a long lost road. Maps from the 1790s show Little Compton Street connecting Old and New Compton Streets at the time when the street level was much lower, running at the height of the basements of today’s buildings. Most traces of the secret London street have long gone, but you can still see two perfectly preserved road signs, if you know where to look.
There are many reasons to want to visit Margalef, a tiny rustic village in Spain nestled in a remote and fantastically climbable conglomerate rock formation. The town is literally tucked in the crevices of the mountainous rocks that surround it, sometimes with only a few feet of space between someone’s front door and the solid rock across from it. This all adds up to be a mountain climber’s dream destination. The unique village is also attracts travelers looking to get back to nature and experience a lifestyle that’s literally a part of nature. So dear Atlas readers, who will be the first?
7. Red Seabeach
Red Seabeach is one of those places that’s easy to fantasize about seeing with your own two eyes, but much harder to actually do so. If you live in the Americas, you first you have to get yourself to China, about as far away as you can travel without circling back around. From there it’s a bus or train ride from Beijing out to Dawa County, where you’ll find the world’s largest wetland area and a swath of marshy flora glowing an otherworldly red. This bright red grass of this sprawling, alien-looking landscape is unlike anything else you’ll find on Earth.
Who doesn’t want to witness a swath the ocean roughly the size of Connecticut glowing blue? No one. But in the case of the so-called “Milky Sea,” the largest bioluminescent area in the world, you’d have to get real lucky. This unusual phenomenon is so rare that for years it was just a subject of folklore within the sailing world. It even showed up in Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Then a scientist named Steve Miller decided to double check. Sure enough he discovered a huge bright area off the horn of Africa.
Believed to be caused by the bioluminescent bacteria Vibrio harveyi, the glowing area is over 15,400 sq km and was seen by satellite glowing for three nights in late January. The illuminated stretch of sea is so large, the only way to experience its full effect is from space.