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The Chart & Map Shop
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The world's most awesome peddler of charts, maps and books plus loads of other stuff vaguely related to travel, boating and the outdoors.
The world's most awesome peddler of charts, maps and books plus loads of other stuff vaguely related to travel, boating and the outdoors.

58 followers
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Just outside Farafra in the middle of Egypt’s Western Desert is a 300-sq-km national park of snow white chalk rock called the White Desert. The bizarre landscape is littered with these huge white rock formations, eroded by centuries of sandstorms. All manner of shapes have been created and many of them have been named for resembling things. This is easily my favourite, called the ‘Chicken and Tree’.

The monoliths are best viewed at sunrise or sunset, when the sun turns them hues of orange and pink, or under a full moon, when the whole place looks like the Arctic. You can organise to camp there, so all these things are possible.
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This is Horsetail Fall in California’s Yosemite National Park. It’s not a particularly big waterfall and it’s seasonal, which means it only flows in winter in early spring. But, if it’s still flowing as late as February (as it was this year) and conditions are just right, this happens. Just as the setting sun dips below the horizon, just for a moment, the sunlight lines up and shines only on the falls, turning them into what looks like fluid fire. It only happens every few years, so unfortunately a visit is no guarantee of witnessing the spectacle.
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If you’re in Belgium right now, you might be just in time to catch this annual spectacular. Hallerbos (‘The Blue Forest’) is a 555 hectare woodland just outside of Brussels and every spring huge swathes of it bloom into a dense carpet of these fairy tale bluebell flowers. The bloom only lasts for a couple of weeks and happens sometime towards the end of April, so you have to time it just right.

Also, be sure to stick to the paths, trampling into the flowers for a selfie is rather aggressively frowned upon (plus it takes decades to repair the damage). Expect stern words from a bloke on a bicycle.
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Japan’s Ashikaga Flower Park in the Tochigi Prefecture is a pleasant place to visit all year round, but right now is definitely the best time to go. The park is particularly famous for its wisterias (of which there are more than 350) which are in bloom right now.

The park’s highlights include a sprawling 140 year old purple wisteria (the Great Miracle Wisteria) and an 80 metre wisteria tunnel where, according to tourism Japan’s website, visitors can “enjoy the beauty of the pendulous racemes from below” (which, while technically correct, could probably use some work on the phrasing). And starting tomorrow, the park is open late into the night for the ‘lighting up period’, where everything gets lit up after dark and all looks pretty spectacular.

I have a modest wisteria at home that I’m quite partial to, but I don’t envy whoever has to rake this place up in a few weeks’ time.
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This unassuming pile of rocks is, if confirmed, the northernmost land in the world!

Discovered by Dennis Schmitt in 2003, the 15 x 35 metre outcrop is only 699.8km from the North Pole. While it’s not officially recognised as an island yet, Schmitt’s expedition found it covered in lichen which suggests it isn’t one of the temporary gravel bars commonly found in this area. Schmitt never named it because he thought that right should belong to Greenland, so it’s become known as 83-42 – it’s latitude.

If you’re super into remote piles of rocks and you’re planning a visit, be prepared for a rather long and largely unpleasant hike (the only way to get there) through slushy sea ice in temperatures that generally fall dismally short of 0. 
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You’ll find these guys on an island somewhere in the Outer Exumas in the Bahamas. Officially the island is known as Big Major Cay, but everybody calls it Pig Beach. There are no people, only this colony of 20-ish feral pigs! It’s unsure how the pigs arrived on the island, some say they were left there by a group of sailors who planned on returning to eat them, while others believe they are shipwreck survivors.

Whatever the story, these pigs are winning - they spend their days lounging in the shade of the palm trees, occasionally swimming out to passing tourist boats to cool off and pilfer some food. Is it weird to envy the life of a pig? Because I do. 
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