Even small children know that monsters are something you run away from. Yet, there are adventurous grownups who rush toward them — and they’re willing to travel the world to do so.
A great way to spice up an international adventure is to go hunting for a mythical creature. You can roam the area where the creature is said to live. You can bring every camera you own in hopes of catching the kind of vague, grainy pic or video guaranteed to end up on a monster-hunting adventure show. And hearing the tall tales (some taller than others) about the creatures and their legendary exploits is a great way to get a taste of local color.
Sure, you’ve probably heard of the giants of the “mythical creature” genre, such as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. But the world is full of creepy creatures of the wild just waiting to be discovered by travelers. Here are some of them:
1. Bigfoot (a.k.a Sasquatch), the Pacific Northwest
America’s most famous mythical creature, Bigfoot seems to pop up all over the place. Still, he (allegedly) prefers to roam around the many woodsy areas of the Pacific Northwest and woodsmen trip over themselves trying to get a glimpse and an image of this legendary creature.
The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization hosts four-day Sasquatch hunting expeditions all year around the country. The hunt for Bigfoot has inspired numerous tales and even a TV show or two. But in terms of the sheer poetry of the legend, it pales in comparison to but one mythical creature…
2. Loch Ness Monster, Scotland
Yes, Loch Ness Monster sightings have been done to death. But this really is the Michael Jordan of mythical creatures; the discussion begins and ends with “Nessie,” and a Loch Ness quest in Scotland is a must for any global monster hunter.
In September, the organizers of the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon plan to make an expedition worth your while: they’re offering a $75,000 reward to any runner whose race day selfie is photobombed by the monster itself. Word of advice: if you’re running a marathon and you start seeing monsters, you don’t need money: you need oxygen.
3. The Ningen, Antarctica
Easily the youngest mythical creature of the bunch, the Ningen (Japanese for “human”) only started appearing in witness accounts in the last few decades. The waters off Antarctica are the most common location for sightings of the creature, which is said to be white and large, around 90-feet tall. After that, descriptions vary — some accounts have it with arms and legs, others describe it with fins. It’s been seen in the water and on the ice.
Not many tours venture out into Antarctica looking for the Ningen, but we suggest taking a cruise with Holland America and Seabourn, which operate Antarctica itineraries. Maybe you’ll spot the creature from your ship; that’d certainly give you something to talk about at the buffet!
4. Mongolian Death Worm
This creepy denizen of the southern Gobi Desert in Mongolia isn’t very big — a few feet long. But this isn’t some creature that creeps up on campgrounds and says “boo!” in the night. This is one mean worm: it spits venom, acid, or electricity, depending on whom you ask. It can zap you from a distance or kill you when you touch it.
GobiTours offers a number of excursions to the area the legendary Death Worm is said to haunt. But, mythical or not, this looks like one bad boy you definitely don’t want to run into.
5. Florida Skunk Ape
Oh, Florida — you had to put your unique Floridian spin on your legendary creature of the wild. The Florida Skunk Ape (a.k.a. “myakka ape”) is just like Bigfoot with extreme B.O. The creature is known for its foul smell, hence the name, and has been spotted in Dade and Sarasota counties.
Skunk Ape Research Headquarters in Ochopee is dedicated to the creature and occasionally offers Skunk Ape hunts, where you can go look for him. He’s probably not that hard to find; if the legend’s true you literally can smell him from a mile away.
6. Chupacabra, Central and South America
This creature really sucks. Really — its name translates into “goat sucker,” a nod to its legendary habit of sucking the blood of the livestock it kills. Any collection of dead livestock in Central and Latin America (and sometimes even in the U.S.) is enough to spark a chupacabra panic. This creature is said to resemble a small, bear-sized reptile, but sightings often turn out to be coyotes and other animals. The first sightings were reported in Puerto Rico.
If you visit Puerto Rico, tour guides with Sunset Tours may be willing and able to share with you the legend of the Chupacabra.
7. Yeti (a.k.a. The Abominable Snowman), the Himalayas
This big, ape-like creature has supposedly been roaming the Himalayas since around 300 BC. But his legend began growing in the West in the 20th century as more mountain-climbing tourists flocked to the region. His sightings and description closely mirror that of another mythical creature — Bigfoot.
Check out more of the best places to try to spot mythical creatures.
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