Guest Post: Follow the Sun: Where to Find the World’s Greatest Sunsets
In all of the world’s ancient religions the sun was deified, taking on multiple forms, from the Greeks’ vision of Helios steering a chariot of fire across the sky, to the Egyptians’ Neolithic imagining of Ra, chasing the spirit of darkness over the horizon in his solar barge. Even now there’s no shortage of sun worshipers. Some split their lives between the northern and southern hemispheres, crossing the equator every 6 months in order to enjoy an eternal summer.
Nothing better expresses our natural fascination with the sun than the wonder an awe with which we watch a sunset. It’s one of the only experiences that we can have in life that gives us a tangible sense of the earth’s movement through space, rotating on its axis and turning its back on the light. A sunset simultaneously offers us an insight into the awesome scale of the universe, whilst, quite literally, bringing to light the beauty of our immediate surroundings, somehow foreshortening the lightyears of distance between things.
Here’s a rundown of where the greatest sunsets on earth can be found;
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is an incredible gorge, carved into the desert of Arizona by the inexorable progress of the Colorado River, a wound in the landscape two billion years in the making. The most stunning sunsets occur in winter and are best viewed from the southern rim, where the layers of Palaeozoic rock and their graduated hues of red and orange are augmented by the sun’s dying light.
This island is a popular tourist resort that lies just off the coast of Thailand, playing host to a number of attractions, including a stunning 2km beach and a butterfly park which houses over 15,000 butterflies. The sunset here is the product of marvellous chance. The oil refineries that dot the skylight emit plumes of smoke that, as sun beams breakthrough, create a dazzling display of color. A poignant reminder that, no matter what we do to this planet, it will endure us.
Whereas many sunsets are enhanced by their surroundings, what makes the sunset over the Serengeti truly awesome is the barren nature of the plains. The absence of a skyline reduces the sense of distance between you and the horizon, over which the sun looms, dissected. The raging reds and yellows of this spectacle are only enhanced by the contrasting jet black silhouettes of wilder beast crossing the plain.
The Great Pyramids of Egypt
The Pharaohs of ancient Egypt believed that dying was the start of a journey into the next world, a world in which they would take their place on the throne as King of the Dead. Their society was advanced in the field of astronomy and it has been suggested that the pyramids were built in accordance to the stars, the vanishing point of their tips aimed at a certain position in the heavens, a cosmic guidance system benignly shaping the parabola of the soul’s ascent.
The necropolis at Giza is the last remaining wonder of the ancient world and is no less stunning now than when it was built, especially when the sun is low in the sky, hanging suspended between the points of the pyramids, and time seems to stop.
Santorini was the sight of one of the most violent pieces of volcanic activity in the history of the world, when, roughly 350,000 years ago, a vast eruption forever transformed the topography of the Mediterranean coast, forming the epic four mile caldera (volcanic lake) which stands there today. It is known that an ancient kingdom was sunk by the sudden formation of the caldera, and many believe that this geographical wonder provided the origin of the Atlantis myth.
The sunsets here are generally considered to be the best in the world. The colours and surroundings are both incredible and are best viewed from the nearby village of Oia. This picturesque Greek village is a bastion of a certain rustic lifestyle and clings precariously to the ridges of the volcanic rock around the edge of the basin. From here you can watch the sun set over the caldera, which, as the angle of the sun’s elevation gradually decreases, seems to form a golden path way across the water.
Simon Briggs has traveled extensively and is always planning his next getaway. He writes regularly about travel tips and advice at his travel shop where you can also search through hundreds of travel agents and tour operators to find the best deals.