The Best Places To Ride Out The Mayan Apocalypse

etna volcano eruption sicily end of the world

Photo: Wikimedia/Fabricius

So the apocalypse is nigh, according to some.With the end of the world approaching, as predicted by the Mayan calendar, there has been panic candle buying in Sichuan, China, reassurances issued from Sydney to Moscow, and plenty of tourist dollars made in Mayan parts of Central America as visitors gather for a front row seat of the cataclysm.

Here we round up other apocalypse-themed places and trips around the world…

Bugarach, France

Of course if you really want to scare yourself, then head to this French village in the Pyrenean foothills, which the apocalypse will somehow bypass, internet rumour-mongers would have you believe.

The problem is, it will apparently be closed on December 21, when the alleged end of the world is scheduled to occur.

The flat top mount that is supposed to be the only place left standing will be out of bounds, if the village authorities have their way...

Copan, Honduras

Those going to the nearby Copan on the Guatemala and Honduras border will realise apocalyptic endings are nothing new to Central America, at least when it comes to this beautiful expanse of abandoned temples, once the biggest city state in all of the Americas.

At its busiest and most thriving, the city is thought to have been over farmed and been hit by disease, suffering a rapid demise during the ninth century AD.

Luzon, the Philippines

The Congo River

Apocalypse Now was an adaptation of Joseph Conrad's book, The Heart of Darkness, about an ivory trader operating in deepest Africa.

For a real sense of foreboding, how about a cruise up the Congo River, while reading Conrad's dark tale of madness and despair?

Crater tourism

The Mayan apocalypse is, let's face it, not the most likely thing to end all of our days.

More dangerous is a high velocity meteorite that could create a scale of destruction way beyond its size.

Vredefort crater in the Free State Province of South Africa is the largest confirmed impact crater on Earth at almost 200 miles across.

The one pictured is Meteor Crater in Arizona, which gives a small sense of the destruction that could be wrought by the impact.

Yucatan, Mexico

If you want to see the crater that may have doomed the dinosaurs, you will have to go beneath the waves.

The Chicxulub crater, which was formed millions of years ago, and now lies beneath the Yucatan Peninsula, is thought by many scientists to have triggered many mass extinctions, including that of the dinosaurs.

Lake Nyos, Cameroon

It may look benign in this image, but this lake in Western Africa -- also formed by a crater -- caused local residents to fear the end of the world, after it released a large cloud of CO2 gas in the 1980s.

It killed around 1700 people in nearby villages, as well as swathes of local livestock.

Now scientists realise it is one of three known exploding lakes; it has a pocket of magma beneath, which causes the lake to be saturated with carbon dioxide.

Tubes have since been installed into the lake to allow the gas to leak out in safe quantities.

Deccan traps

On a similar theme, colossal eruptions created the Deccan traps in the Deccan plateau in India.

This generated some of the longest lava flows ever seen, along with thousands of billions of tons of noxious gases.

Species that couldn't adapt to this hell promptly became extinct.

Darvaza gas crater

Gas is also a cause of another apocalyptic scene that can be witnessed constantly in Turkmenistan.

Soviet geologists drilled to exploit the area's natural gases in the 1970s.

They decided they should burn the remaining gas off to make the area safer, but the burning still hasn't stopped, creating a seemingly never-ending inferno.

Locals have dubbed it the Gates to Hell.

Hell, Trondheim

This is for those who approach the apocalypse with tongues in cheek: a visit to the town with the end-of-the-world name in northern Norway.

Not too many scenes of death and destruction here though.

Most active volcano

A slightly more real sense of doom will be felt on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, which is known as one of the world's most active volcanoes.

And Mount Doom in New Zealand

Even more high-profile are some of the active volcanoes in New Zealand's North Island, which have gained widespread recognition having doubled as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

As though the Hobbit needed any more publicity, the volcanoes have spewed out gas and debris recently.

Apparently local tour operators think this is a good thing

Pompeii, Italy

But for a dramatic, sobering sense of how swiftly volcanoes can make the world around crumble, tourists should head to Pompeii, where the citizens of the city are preserved in perpetuity after the devastating eruption of Vesuvius almost two millennia ago.

Atacama desert

While volcanoes give you a sense of our volatile world, and how quickly it may change, these places may make you question how life ever began in the first place.

The Atacama desert is one of the world's driest, with some areas having spent almost 1,000 years without a drop of rain.

Dry Valleys, Antarctica

But the South American desert is not even the driest place on earth.

That honour goes to the aptly named Dry Valleys in Antarctica, which are snow free, and where there are never any sign of moisture.

Look upon this landscape and it is easy to imagine a post-apocalypse world without hope of sustaining life.

Gunkanjima, Japan

Pripyat, Ukraine

This was the worker's village near the nuclear power station of Chernobyl in Ukraine.

It was within the exclusion zone that was imposed after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, when it was abandoned. Its population was almost 50,000 when the plant went into meltdown.

Now it is eerily empty, the buildings having been looted and vandalised since the population was evacuated.

A dark tourism trend meant visitors came to see the devastation, but local authorities clamped down on visits to the site, amid concern that the money generated by tourists was not helping the area.

Bikini Atoll

Scene of controversial atomic testing in the 1940s, this Pacific atoll seems to have recovered substantially these days.

The nuclear destruction now has to be imagined from the palm trees and white-sand beaches.

Hiroshima

On a serious and sombre note, this city is bound to cause visitors to question how close the world has come to witnessing the apocalypse.

People in this Japanese city must have thought it had arrived.

One of only two places in the world attacked by atomic bomb (along with Nagasaki), it was utterly devastated in August 1945.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial

One hollowed-out building has been turned into a peace site, as a symbol for what happened, and as a plea for the world to avoid a repeat.

Google street view allows you to explore the site virtually.

Post-apocalypse London

For a sense of the world abandoned in London, you will have to get up early, and on a summer's night.

Danny Boyle's horror flick 28 Days Later was filmed very early in the morning -- and the atmosphere he captured eerily conveyed the mood of the world coming to an end.

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