Whether it’s from the ancient Greek myths or the pages of a Harry Potter book, you’ll find tales of mythical beasts and magical creatures in locations as diverse as the Scottish Highlands and the foothills of the Himalayas. Whilst you probably won’t come across a yeti or the Loch Ness monster in the course of your travels, the chance to experience their mythical homes should be sufficient reward for your efforts. These are some of our favourite creatures of legend, and where you might hope to find them.
Legend tells of a long-necked creature that moves silently through the water, and various sightings have been proclaimed, photographed and debunked, but there are plenty of other Highland beasties to spot as you travel around this mysterious Scottish lake which Nessie supposedly calls home. Golden eagles circle the crags high above, while the grassy slopes that run down to the loch are shared by wild deer and docile Highland cattle. The loch contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined, and if you’re determined to be the one who finally confirms the monster’s existence, there can be few more enjoyable ways to stage a stake-out than by taking a relaxing afternoon cruise on its tranquil waters.
The largest of the Greek Islands, Crete is thought to have been inhabited for more than 130,000 years, with civilisations rising and falling across the years as fortunes have changed. The Minotaur was said to have been imprisoned within a labyrinth at the orders of its first king, Minos, and although the location of the labyrinth itself has never been confirmed, the ruins of Minos’ palace can still be explored at Knossos, near the Cretan capital of Heraklion. Elsewhere on the island, you’ll find further ruins as well as stunning beaches, while inland you can explore deep gorges and hidden caves, including one which is said to be the birthplace of Zeus.
In the heart of Romania, hemmed on three sides by mountains, the Transylvanian landscape is liberally sprinkled with medieval towns, churches and castles, including its most famous: Bran Castle. Intriguingly (or maybe, infuriatingly), the castle also known as Dracula’s castle has no real connection to either Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula, or to the 15th century ruler of the Romanian region of Wallachia, Vlad the Impaler, who is said to have inspired Stoker’s literary character. Its fame is actually thanks to a 1970s tourism initiative by the Romanian government, but nonetheless, the castle’s imposing clifftop setting, surrounded by darkly forested hills, may still have you reaching for the garlic. At the foot of the hill upon which the castle perches, you’ll find an open-air museum that showcases traditional Transylvanian buildings.
Also known as the Abominable Snowman, the yeti is described as a large, ape-like creature that’s larger than a human and covered in hair. The possibility of its existence was first reported in Western media by members of the British Mount Everest reconnaissance expedition in 1921, and although its existence has never been confirmed, this has not prevented visitors to the region from keeping an eye out for the beast. Your own Himalayan expedition could consist of trekking Nepal’s Annapurna circuit, heliskiing in India’s Himachal Pradesh, yak safari in Kashmir or white water rafting on the River Ganga. If you prefer to take a more sedate approach to your yeti hunt, a bird’s eye view of the world’s greatest mountain range is possible by flightseeing from Kathmandu or riding the Gulmarg Gondola – one of the world’s highest and most spectacular cable cars.
Like its snow-dwelling cousin, the Bigfoot is said to be a large, upright-walking ape-like creature that lives in the forested wilderness and has been the subject of numerous hoaxes and tall tales. If you’re going to be roaming the forests of British Columbia, Oregon and Washington, you might start in one of the region’s national parks, such as Washington’s Cascades National Park or Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park. With a combined wilderness area of close to 3000 square kilometres and geographical features that includes collapsed volcanic craters, glacier-topped peaks and the largest river system in the western United States, even if you don’t find a sasquatch, you’ll find plenty of other amazing wildlife to distract you from your failure.
Whether you’re yearning for unicorns or mesmerised by mermaids, your personal travel manager is the ultimate creature of holiday legend: a travel professional who understands your needs and will tailor a holiday that suits – track yours down today.