Editor’s Note: What, you’ve never heard of the Atlas Obscura? The founders – Dylan Thuras and Joshua Foer – have created a compendium of the world’s wonders, curiosities and esoterica. It’s a user-generated, curated website with the goal of introducing curious travelers to the wonder-inspiring, off-the-beaten-path places that don’t make it into traditional guidebooks.
Hello Viatorians! We at Atlas Obscura are excited to team up with Viator to feature strange and wondrous places for the Viator Travel Blog. This week’s installment – two of our favorites from South America.
Ilha de Queimada Grande, Brazil
Ilha de Queimada Grande, also known as “Snake Island,” is off the shore of Brazil almost due south of the heart of SÃ o Paulo. The small island is untouched by humans, and for very good reason. The island is packed with snakes. Researchers estimate that there are between one and five deadly golden lanceheads per square meter.
The golden lancehead is a particularly nasty snake that grows to well over a foot (.5 meter) long, and possesses a powerful fast-acting poison that melts human flesh. (Yes – we did say it melts human flesh.)
Golden lanceheads are so dangerous that, with the exception of a few scientists, the Brazilian Navy has expressly forbidden anyone from landing on the island. But that hasn’t stopped some people from trying.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Or maybe you prefer a snake-less holiday in total desolation? We’ve got just the thing: Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world.
It’s a seemingly never-ending sheet of hexagonal tiles (created by the crystalline nature of the salt), spread out across 3,800 square miles in Bolivia’s remote southwest.
In the middle of this enormous salty lake is a hotel built entirely out of salt bricks, held together with salt mortar. Nearly everything in the hotel, including the chairs and tables, is made from salt. While the Hotel Playa Blanca has no electricity, little in the way of amenities, and no running water, what it does offer is even better: utter silence, austere beauty, and an astonishing view of the night sky.
More strange and wonderous places coming soon from the Atlas Obscura!
-Dylan Thuras and Joshua Foer