Legend Has It
All over the world there are extraordinary stories that have been passed down through generations by word alone, from our early ancestors. Many of these stories have evolved into amazing myths and legends, some that may even have a level of truth!
I have been fascinated and intrigued by some of the local legends that have enlightened my travels over time, including my latest adventure to Iceland. A land rich in its own colourful legends where a majority of the population believe in the huldufólk. While taking photos of the dramatic south coast with its black sand beaches and volcanic sea stacks in the distance, I was told of the legend known as Reynisdrangar.
The stacks were formed from three mischievous trolls as they attempted to pull a ship ashore and ended up being caught by the light of dawn, to become frozen in time.
All of a sudden, a local legend can change your perspective of a landscape, and the imagination runs wild. There are many Icelandic landscapes that have equally intriguing legends and myths that surround them, and can fill many a long winter night of storytelling, and days of island exploring.
A little less fanciful is the legend of Puente del Inca on the border of Chile and Argentina, high in the Andes Mountains.
The Inca King’s son was very unwell, and with nothing left to do, the wise men advised the king to take the long trek to allow his son to drink from the healing waters in the remote southern Andes Mountains. However, on arrival, the healing springs were on the other side of a deep ravine, and to help their king, the warriors linked together and formed a human bridge to allow the king to carry his son across and partake in the waters, which healed him immediately. However when the king turned to give thanks to his warriors, they had turned into a stone bridge, calcified by the sulphuric waters. Hence the name The Inca Bridge.
A legend closer to home is based around Australia’s own Uluru, or Ayers Rock as it’s still known by many. Uluru holds tremendous spiritual significance for the local Anangu people, and the 10km
Base Walk is full of wonder as you follow in the footsteps of the land’s ancestral beings and absorb the stories and legends sacred to the Aboriginal people. As you listen to your local guide imparting stories at every natural feature, you too begin to see the images in the rock. Then the natural beauty of Uluru reveals itself as you explore the base which is home to waterholes, unique desert flora, caves and ancient rock paintings.
There are always two sides to every coin of course, take the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland for example. Legend has it that an Irish giant built a causeway to get to Scotland to fight another, then needed to make a hasty retreat, bringing down his bridge as he went. The more scientific explanation is that they are formed from volcanic activity – an epic 60-million-year-old legacy to lava, with over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. Mind blowing and seriously photogenic, whichever way you look at them.
The most intriguing legend still to be explained comes from one of the most remote islands in the world and is set around the Rapa Nui Maoi. Why would the inhabitants carve nearly 900 giant stone statues, up to 10m high, decorate with markings and bury them until only their heads remain above ground? The significance of these giant Moai, that punctuate Easter Island’s barren landscape, is not for me to analyse however, but for you to explore and make your own interpretation.
Small Group Journeys is a collection of bespoke worldwide adventures, cruises and tours designed and escorted by Jacinta Blundell. Follow Jacinta in Profile each month as she takes you beyond the tourist trail.
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