The fantasy genre is ripe with brilliant locations touched by magic.
Whether it’s vast worlds of high fantasy or the reimagining of cities like London, fantasy is a genre that makes our world look dull. That makes sense. How could our suburbs, countries, cities, and towns ever match to the wonders of Narnia? That’s a question my child self asked. As GRRM puts it:
“The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real … for a moment at least … that long magic moment before we wake. Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab.
We read stories of crisp and detailed fantasy worlds. Because of that, we end up believing our reality is inadequate. As if it lacks magic. But over the years, my approach changed.
As I researched more into geography and history, I realized that our world is rather fantastic. That’s partially the reason Snowy Fictions exists. I want to show the beauty that exists in both fact and fiction. Unlike previous blog posts where I discuss man-made wonders, I’ll focus on nature and wildlife. Here are the magical places that truly exist.
Straddling over China, Tibet and Nepal, Everest represents human curiosity. However, the natural beauty is what makes Mount Everest akin to a fantasy landscape. It’s spellbinding.
Despite minimal flora and fauna, Mount Everest observes the Himalayan jumping spider, the bar-headed goose and the red panda. Mount Everest is shrouded in secrecy, painted with puzzles and a challenge to conquer. It’s both a nightmare and a luscious dream. Like a finest fantasy fable, Mount Everest offers a journey like none other.
Aurora Borealis Viewpoints
Okay, it’s not a location. The famed Northern Lights are viewed in countries such as Iceland and Canada. Every year, people watch the phenomenon and bristle among the chilly temperatures.
Yet it is an odd and magical experience. As the night sky comes alive with the synergy of the Northern Lights, it’s difficult to not find yourself captivated. Personally, I’m fascinated by them. They wouldn’t seem out of place in a Madeleine L’Engle story.
Panjin Red Beach, China
There are places that you visit and, overwhelmed by the sights, you can only say ‘there’s nothing like it.’ China is such a place. Regardless of whether we are discussing man-made or natural wonders, China intrigues.
The Panjin Red Beach, in the province Liaoning, is the biggest wetland and reed marsh in the world. It’s also home to hundreds of animal species. Optimal viewing time is in Autumn, where the red shade is both lush and bright. Please note that significant portions of the Panjin Red Beach are closed to the public.
Darvaza Gas Crater, Turkmenistan
It’s blazing hot, and is nicknamed ‘the door to hell.’ Welcome to Darvaza, where a natural gas field collapsed into a cavern. Although not entirely a natural wonder (geologists set it on fire!), it’s hard not to think of the blazing Mordor hell when studying the gas crater.
Allow your imagination to run wild at this sight. I know myself and plenty of fantasy writers will!
Marble Arch Caves, Northern Ireland
“The arch over my head was 20 feet high, continued with a little landing for 100 yards to the other great pit, by the light of which I could observe the river flowing gently along…” Rev. William Henry, A Natural History of the Parish of Killesher (1732)
The limestone caves series are the longest in Northern Ireland, and within them, bury secrets yet to be discovered. It also has an a compelling exploration history, as early explorers would navigate deep lakes and find odd passageways. The very best fantasy encourages us to keep looking and to indulge in both darkness and light. And with the Marble Arch Caves, your eyes remain wide open.
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area, United States of America
With crayon coloured landscapes and a desert climate, Utah and Arizona’s famed Wilderness Area is remarkable. For one, it’s home to rich canyons, vast plateaus and great escarpments. But more than that, it’s also huge, covering over 100,000 acres of land.
The spell-binding swirls and stunning scenery will make this a trip to remember. On a side note: I could have littered this list with national parks from the United States of America. I also recommend reading about Yosemite and the Grand Canyon for beginners to North American geography.
On the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe, any nature lover would be a fool to not study Victoria Falls. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Victoria Falls (or Mosi-oa–Tunya, aka “The Smoke That Thunders”) is a must-see. The wildlife is also spectacular, with elephants, buffalos, giraffes, and vervet monkeys.
What will capture any thrill-seekers imagination is the ‘Devil’s Pool’ where individuals swim… next to a waterfall. That’s scary!
‘Oh, it’s just ice,’ I hear people say. Well… that’s not true. Antarctica is home to extremophiles, creatures that adapt to dryness, low temperatures and high temperatures. And of course, Emperor Penguins!
Not only that, but Antarctica features numerous natural wonders, crisp views of ice glaciers and active scientific research. Although Antarctica is on our planet, there is alot we don’t know about it. Personally, that makes me even more interested!
Well, of course! We live in a galaxy, a universe, that we don’t know everything about it. Our understanding of physics, nature and humanity itself could possibly be challenged by the stars above.
Space challenges our perceptions, causes us to dream, to ponder, to think and to ask bold questions. Are we alone? Could humans move to another planet? Is there flora and fauna elsewhere?
Great fantasy is unafraid of asking bold questions. That’s why space is worth watching, because like a great fantasy novel, it will challenge the expectations of everyone.
What natural wonders inspire you? Any thoughts? Comment below!