We all watch The Road to El Dorado and Atlantis: The Lost Empire and dream of visiting one day. But then we remember that those worlds aren’t real. They are created from someone’s imagination from thousands of years ago, passed down through the centuries to entertain us. Right? Well, maybe. Truth be told, many of these legends believed to be nothing more than a fairy tale are real.
Take the Bermuda Triangle, for instance. It’s not a lost world, but it’s the most mysterious area known to man. No one knows how it works, or where the people who disappear go. Every time someone thinks they know what’s up, their theory is bashed in the head by another disappearance. We’d like to think there’s some sort of portal only a few chosen ones are allowed through. Or some other sort of fantasy element that will make the disappearance bearable. God knows we wish that something from a video game would grace our presence, cause life can get redundant and monotonous. Video games and fantasy movies aren’t real, so we look to the lost worlds on Earth. These places are the closest we’ll get to that fantasy in our lives. So take a look at these fifteen mysterious lost worlds that were left undiscovered for thousands of years!
15 Mount Roraima
We've all seen Avatar and fell in love with the mountains of Pandora, known as the Hallelujah Mountains. Well, we don’t have literal floating mountains in our world, but what we do have is Mount Roraima, split into Tepuy Roraima and Cerro Roraima. The highest point is nearly 10,000 feet high!
The natives in the area in Venezuela believe the mountain is a stump of a mighty tree that once held all the fruits and vegetables in the world! That is, until a big monster Makunaima, the trickster, knocked it down and released a deadly flood… of life.
Very few have scaled the mountain because it is just so treacherous. Thankfully, a pathway has been installed to allow visitors to climb with ease. So, it’s just a difficult to climb mountain? Nope! It’s hard to spot from above and below due to its location. Plus, it looks like it’s floating in the clouds like something from A Neverending Story.
14 Shicheng City
Known as China’s Atlantis or Lion City, Shicheng was simply forgotten. It spent thousands of years forgotten by China. How could this happen? Well, a long time ago, this city was full of pristine white temples, lion sculptures, and life. That is until 1959, when for some reason, the Chinese government thought it was pointless and wanted a hydroelectric power station. In order to build one where they wished, they filled up the city with water to build a lake.
For 50 years, everyone knew of Qiandao Lake. But less than 150 feet under that lake was an ancient city that should have been preserved for mankind to admire. Whenever they did find it, they didn’t retract the water. Instead, they left it underwater and allowed tourists to view it as it is. Believe me, it is quite the experience to don your snorkelling gear and touch the lions for yourself.
13 City Of Thonis
Those well-versed in mythology know of this city. Thonis was an ancient Egyptian city located near the Canopic Mouth of the Nile. It was believed to be just that – a myth – until it was found thousands of years after it was mentioned by ancient Greek philosophers in the 12th century BC. How did it stay hidden so long? It’s underwater, much like Atlantis is believed to be.
Some called Thonis Hercaleion due to the belief that Hercules stayed there at one point. Before him, Paris and Helen of Troy, daughter of Zeus, and the queen of Sparta stayed there. It must have been a really, really nice resort. Or not, since Menelaus was the one that stranded them there, jealous that they found love. Since this city wasn’t discovered until 2000, it makes you wonder what other cities that mythologists believe in are real. Arcadia? Or perhaps el Dorado?
12 Movile Cave
Imagine a cave left undiscovered until 1986. This one was in Romania. Why was it left? Because the oxygen levels are practical non-existent, not allowing any unprotected human to enter. But, what’s even crazier is that chemosynthesis allows about 50 species of animals unique to this location to reside inside the cave.
Only about 100 people have been allowed in the cave due to the lack of oxygen and toxic gasses, which allow the animals to live. The only people who have entered were lowered 65 feet down the narrow passageway known as its entrance. Microbiologists allowed to enter have said the lake at the bottom is warm and full of sulphur, meaning it smells of rotten eggs.
Since it’s so dark, the animals have no need for eyes or skin pigment and are therefore born without them. This is fine, but for humans, it becomes hard to breathe. If you stay too long, you’ll receive kidney damage, followed shortly after by death.
11 Bimini Road
It may seem odd to see a road underwater. But how do you think the fish are supposed to visit one another? Via the Bimini Road, that’s how. And what better place than the Bahamas? The limestone road is half a mile long, which is definitely long enough for fish.
This was discovered in 1968, when three unassuming men went on a diving adventure. It was actually a row of large limestones. Near Bimini Road, two more similar structures can be found. It is believed they were once connected. Some individuals think that since the structure seems man-made, it is one of the very few structures left from the pre-flood era.
Atlantologists believe that there is more hiding underneath the bedrock that it is built on, much like an underground city, just waiting for an entrance to be found. All these theories and no one knows the truth; is it man-made or is nature/God playing Legos?
10 Son Doong Cave
Hang Sơn Đoòng is what the Vietnamese call this one. Since no one has ever explored the entire thing, it’s considered the largest cave in the world off-record. It wasn’t discovered until 1991, or at least entered. Everyone near knew of it, but it was too hard to reach because of the steep entrance. That and the loud sound of water rushing and wind blowing inside that scared away intruders. The first time anyone other than locals went near it was in 2009 when the British Cave Research Association conducted a survey. The Great Wall of Vietnam cut the visit short, however, which is what they called the 200ft calcite they met.
They found the largest cave pearls in history. Today, you may enter, but it will cost you $3000, and you may only enter in the spring and summer. Oh yeah, and you need a Vietnamese permit.
9 Challenger Deep, Mariana Trench
Challenger Deep is practically the deepest point on earth at 35,000ft below sea level. Only four people have ever tried to reach the bottom, one including James Cameron. Guess he needed inspiration for Avatar 2. The bottom is still not discovered and it is unknown just how deep it goes.
Sadly, he was the last one to attempt it, as most scientists or others authorized people believe it’s far too dangerous. Every descent thus far has had technical difficulties or sub malfunctions that forced them to rise early. It’s possible this is the Bermuda Triangle of the ocean. But no one is brave enough to further exploration. We don’t even know what sort of life resides down there. No one has been down there long enough to see. Perhaps there is life there that no human has ever laid eyes upon.
8 East Scotia Ridge
The Scotia Plate is a tectonic plate where the South Atlantic and Southern Ocean meet. Well, this is no normal plate. This one is full of strange life that can be found 8000ft below sea level. Because of hydrothermal vents, temperatures can reach up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit! That’s hotter than coal or a fire that’s just beginning to burn. Just next to this beyond boiling water is Antarctica, where temperatures reach 90 degrees below zero! Even more amazing than that is that new creatures have been discovered there, such as a new type of Yeti crab, which are furry-looking crustaceans. Along with that, octopuses that are so pale they look like ghosts are indigenous to the area.
Cindy Van Dover, director of Duke University’s marine laboratory says it best with, “It’s remarkable that we can be in the 21st century and still not know fundamental things about what lives on our planet. This is really exciting because it keeps open the door for even more discovery down the road.”
7 Indus Valley
The Indus Valley Civilization, or Harappa, is known as one of the oldest standing in the world. It is likely five thousand years old.
In today’s world, it’s an extension of Afghanistan to Pakistan. It is one of the only three cities from the old world, the others being in Egypt and Mesopotamia. There’s something strange about this city, though… it was abandoned thousands of years ago and no one knows why. Perhaps the acidification of water coming from the Indus River. But… could that cause five million – yes five million people – to flee? In the old world, five million people was a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. So big that much of the technology we use today was invented there. They are most known for their construction techniques.
Even though it’s thousands of years old, no one knew of it until the 1800s when an author spoke of a city that stretched 25 miles across. Still, everyone refused to explore it until it was too late. By 2010, much of what was salvageable earlier had been flooded and ruined. And now we’ll never know why a city twice the size of Houston was evacuated.
6 Sima Humboldt & Sima Martel
No, this isn’t a new sister duo to rival the Kardashians. These are two sinkholes that can be found on Cerro Sarisariñama, a flattop mountain range in Jaua-Sarisariñama National Park, Venezuela. The natives say that an evil spirit lives in the caves on the mountain that devour human flesh, calling, “Sari, sari, sari!”
But that isn’t the mysterious part, believe it or not. That would be Sima Humboldt & Sima Martel. Humboldt is over 1000ft deep and over 1000ft wide! Imagine a sinkhole that big appearing in town. Each sinkhole base has its own ecosystem, which is crazy! The weight of what this means isn’t known to many. There is an entire forest and in this forest, there are creatures and other living things that need each other, but live independently from the outside world. A human could likely live in this sinkhole, but it isn’t recommended. In fact, only scientists are allowed to descend into this protected territory.
5 Melville Range
Cape Melville is a piece of land found on the Cape York Peninsula in Australia. The range on this land is called Melville Range because the creatures on it are exclusive to the range and have survived for thousands of years there alone; it is considered one of the most amazing lost worlds on earth. Its most unique feature is a field of granite boulders. Yes, that’s much more expensive than a field of dandelions. They don’t just look cool, and they’re not just potentially profitable. They are there naturally to prevent fires from destroying the area. This is one of the reasons the life has been sustained there so well.
To retain the life there, very few have been allowed to step onto the Melville range. The Cape Melville shade skink, the Cape Melville leaf-tailed gecko, the Foxtail Palm, and the Blotched boulder-frog are all found solely on this misty range of rainforests.
4 Palawan Highlands
Palawan?! This has to be out of a video game! Palawan is a province of the Philippines that is considered the most mysterious area in the world, aside from the Bermuda Triangle.
Some of the province wasn’t explored until 2007. This is when botanists found things that they never knew existed, such as pink ferns, blue mushrooms, and a carnivorous pitcher plant big enough to devour large rodents or small monkeys.
Much of what they found, they thought was extinct, but it was really just hiding in Palawan. It seems Merlin had visited and created purple crabs, lizards longer than the Komodo Dragon, and pigs with beards. In the end, the most mysterious thing about Palawan is that it held things we never knew existed. Makes you wonder what else is hiding on our own planet that we’re completely unaware of.
Remember how Indus is, like, 5000 years old? Well Catalhöyük is more like 10,000 years old, located in modern day Turkey. Despite being 10,000 years old, it wasn’t explored until 1958. But the Dorak Affair got the leader of the excavation party banned from Turkey for good. Yikes!
During his short stay, he discovered almost twenty layers of eras and technology. For example, imagine a stone tablet, buried under an analog television, buried under a Walkman, buried under an iPod, buried under a Wii, buried under the newest Android phone. That is what he found. Not electronics, but an evolution of ancient technology spanning over two thousand years. It is believed about 10,000 people lived here and worked together to sustain the life they had as a community. The dead were buried under the houses and they traded with each other rather than made money via the outside world. It is also believed to be the only old world that had an “equal opportunity/equal income” lifestyle.
2 Bosavi Crater
Long ago in Papua New Guinea, a volcano known as the Bosavi volcano lived on the Great Papuan Platea. One day, the volcano collapsed out of thin air, leaving a crater in its wake. Today, rather than a dry volcano, a rainforest lives in its honor, showing that beauty can literally come from the ashes. Oddly enough, even though the volcano turned rainforest would seem unable to sustain life, it has over 40 unique animals found only there.
It took until 2009 for people to touch that rainforest. They needed the indigenous people to guide them, people who had chosen to leave the area alone, fearing it was too dangerous. And it was. At times, the researchers had to spend weeks in the crater when helicopters were not allowed to access it, due to the weather. One of the campers said it was so stinky and hot in there that they almost didn’t make it!
1 Lake Vostok
Did you know there are 400 lakes in Antarctica? Well, the largest of those lakes is Lake Vostok. It’s at a place that’s literally called Pole of Cold, beneath Russia's Vostok Station. Oddly enough, the station is 11,000ft above sea level. But… the lake is 13,000ft under the surface of the ice at the station. It’s less than 2000 feet below sea level, but harder to reach than the bottom of the ocean.
For nearly half a million years, it was left untouched, pure as white snow. In 2012, an ice core record was broken that reached 12,400 feet and finally pierced the surface of the frozen lake top. But, it didn’t last long. The lake’s freezing water gushed out the hole and mixed with the anti-freeze… meaning, the hole froze up again. Most scientists believe there are creatures down there never before seen by humans living today. But, to this day, we haven’t been able to explore.