Rather than being some sort of metaphorical piece about when will the bloody Covid be finally over, this article is actually about how far are you actually able to see. We’ll first briefly look at maths of how far away is the horizon and then we’ll talk about the longest ever sightline on Earth as well as few other interesting views. But let’s start with reminding ourselves of that feeling of staring at the large mass of water…
You know that feeling, you’re sitting at some nice place with a view on the shore. Not exactly a beach, cliffs would o better for this occasion. It comes with a meditation-like state of mind, right? Then there’s the head cleaning element, temporary loss of time perspective and all that. Good air, good feeling, good soundtrack by composed by the nature. I personally love staring at the sea. I guess that it’s been with some humans since Day 1, whenever it was. But it also makes you think about things, right?
I mean, what was going on in the heads of all those explorers who ventured into the unknown after staring at the Atlantic from Cabo de la Rocca (see featured picture) near the magical town of Cintra in Portugal or what were the Mayan kings thinking when staring at the Atlantic from the other side in their castles of Tulum in today’s Mexico? How far did they see?
OK, although the metaphorical answers do offer a far better, spicier and more interesting take on how to answer the question of how far is the horizon, let’s have look at the actual math. The map above puts an observer to the gorgeous island of Ko Phayam in Western Thailand, a place I highly recommend to be visited if you’re into secluded places btw 😉
I was there a few years ago and while I’ve checked the map, I realised that I’m looking in the direction of Sri Lanka across the Bay of Bengal. It got me wondering. How high would I have to climb in order to be able to see the island? The answer is that with the 1950 km distance between the two points, I’d have to climb like 3 Mt. Everest high to be able to spot Sri Lanka from Ko Phayam. That’s like double the height of a commercial plane’s usual flying altitude. Wanna know why?
So here’s the math. For a 170cm tall observer standing on the ground, the horizon is at a distance of 4.7 kilometres. The 2 metres tall person standing in the same place would see as far as 5 kilometres. If an observer climbed up 100 metres above sea level, the horizon would be at a distance of 36 kilometres. For an observer atop Mount Everest (8,848m), the horizon is at a distance of 336 kilometres.
That is unless you experience a rare natural phenomenon known as “superior mirage”, like the one the Canadian photographer Simone Engels did recently in British Columbia when she saw Cheam mountain range that was nearly 200km (124 miles) away from where she was standing, which was, of course, way beyond the horizon.
So what is the longest possible view on earth?
Well, it’s from Mount Dankova in Kyrgyzstan (5982 m) to Kuen-Lun (ཁུ་ནུ་རི་རྒྱུད), that’s located on the border of Tibet and the Uygur region in China. At 483 km it is the longest view one can get when standing on earth. But when it comes to the furthest photographed sightline in the world is 443 km, from Pic de Finestrelles in the Spanish Pyrenees to Pic Gaspard in the French Alps.
Other interesting long views
Volcan Baru, Panama
Do you fancy seeing both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans from land at the same time? Well, then you should consider visiting Volcan Baru (3474m) in northern Panama near the border with Costa Rica. Prepare for a challenging 6hrs hike with quite a large altitude change in hot how weather. And what are the chances to get that view? You gonna need some luck to get clear skies, but…
Btw, if you had any tips for some other exceptionally views, please do let me know in the comments, PM or any of the social media channels Quaint Planet is on. Thank you 🙂
Featured photo is of Tulum Ruins in Mexico on the Atlantic shore.