Here are the Top 10 destinations to discover mythical creatures
WANT to find out more about the world’s most amazing mythical creatures? Expedia has assembled 10 of the best, all taken from its interactive guide (www.expedia.co.uk/vc/discover-mythical-creatures) to finding beasts of lore. For more amazing creatures, visit www.expedia.co.uk.
The unicorn has played a central role in Chinese mythology for hundreds of years. But the qilin – a hooved, chimerical animal – is said to be benevolent and peaceful, quite different from its aggressive cousins. The qilin appears in Buddhist art, but rather than harming humans or eating animals, this unicorn is typically seen walking on clouds, so reticent is it to harm even a single blade of grass. And while some stories do depict it as being capable of hurting people, it will only do so when protecting the innocent.
SCOTLAND: LOCH NESS MONSTER
Ah, ol’ Nessie. Where to start with this most famous of all mythical creatures? The earliest recorded account of Nessie was way back in the 6th century, when St Columba tasked one of his monks with swimming across the loch. As he did so, the monster reared its head, and Columba shouted at the creature: “Go no further, nor touch the man! Go back!" Since then, Nessie has entered mainstream discourse. And, although there are some early eyewitness accounts of some tame maulings, the ‘monster’, as far as we know, has never hurt anyone.
Want to spot a Yeti? Head to Nepal – it’s your best chance of finding one! The Yeti is up there with the Loch Ness monster as one of the world’s most enduring mysteries. While the naysayers refuse to believe it exists, some still believe the man-beast is up there in the Himalayas, waiting to be discovered.
Speak to anyone from Japan about the kappa and it’s likely they’ll know all about it. Used to scare children for millennia, the kappa – a mythical water goblin – is an important part of Japanese folklore. This river-dwelling creature is generally described as reptilian with a green or bluish hue, and its name translates as ‘river child’, so expect it to be a little mischievous in nature. Unlike friendlier creatures from Asian folklore, Kappas are best avoided — rumour has it they lure people from the banks of rivers and lakes before pulling them into the water.
AUSTRALIA: DROP BEAR
Australia’s New South Wales region is thought to be home to the Drop Bear. Cute and cuddly like the koala? Sadly not. According to the Expedia guide, the Drop Bear is reported to “actively prey on humans”, particularly tourists! These hungry, man-eating bears live in treetops, launching themselves on their sorry victims when they least expect it.
SOUTH AFRICA: IMPUNDULU
One of the most interesting creatures to come from the Zulu culture of South Africa is the impundulu, or ‘lightning bird’, which is said to keep watch over the country's Eastern Cape. The impundulu is so called because of its ability to trigger storms instantly. This mythological creature is rooted in Zulu folklore and, as well as causing thunder and lightning, is said to be a shape-shifter – one that likes to suck blood.
In Aussie folklore, bunyip means “evil spirit”. The clue is in the name. The creature, variously described as part human, part dog, part walrus, and with flippers and a tail, lives in Australia’s swamps and rivers, lurking for its preferred prey: children.
America has its fair share of mythical creatures, with the skin-walker one of the most prominent. Said to populate Colorado, the Mountain State, skin-walkers are a major part of Navajo storytelling and appear as shape-shifting witches that transform into animals, usually wolves, dogs and deer. The sighting of a skin-walker is usually cause for concern, as they’re fond of causing trouble, either by causing cars to crash, coming into your home and generally being a nuisance, or putting curses on folk. A sign that one of these creatures is about to make an appearance is a feeling of evil and dread. So if there’s a sudden change in your mood, watch out!
Brazil’s north-western region is known to be frequented by the Yacumama, which means Mother of the Water. And it’s not hard to see why. This legendary giant snake is thought to grow to as much as 48.8 metres long with a head measuring 1.8m across! Mother of the Water indeed. The anaconda-like creature sucks up any living thing that dares to come close to it, and is capable of causing mudslides and tremors.
Let’s end on a bright note. Greece is home to the phoenix, or firebird, which derives from Greek mythology. This incredibly bright, golden-feathered buzzard shines with pure sunlight, transfixing and amazing its admirers. The bird is said to be reborn by arising from the ashes of its predecessors, coining the phrase “phoenix rising from the flames”.