Bored of the usual old routine? Feel like doing something really spectacular?
Why not join the cryptozoologist ranks and head on a trip across the globe in search of the most elusive, what some would even call mythological creatures.
Here’s our list of seven to start off with – three local and four international.
In African folklore the Tokoloshe is a little creature, usually described as small, hairy and animal like in stature. He is known to be the henchman of crafty witches and some descriptions claim that he also has two animal horns that protrude from the side of his head. He causes trouble everywhere he goes and loves to upset people. He is a mischievous and evil spirit that can apparently become invisible by swallowing a pebble. One of the Tokoloshe’s main characteristics is that he has giant male genitals which he needs to carry on his shoulder – making sexual domination one of his many forms of guile.
Where to find them: Well, since he’s particularly notorious in the rural areas of Southern Africa, that would be a good place to start. People believe that the best way to avoid his after-dark mischief, is to put their bed on bricks… so, if your wish is to encounter him, just chuck the bricks. But, just remember – he’s a handful! Best be prepared with the local or witch doctor’s number on speed dial to shoo the creature away.
The Karoo Mermaid aka Kaaiman
While the idea of mermaids in the Karoo may sound completely ridiculous, it is something that is firmly believed by locals.
Many Klein Karoo residents have reported seeing a mysterious woman with blue eyes, pink cheeks and a fish-tail, lounging beside deep mountain pools. She simply sits and combs her long, death black hair before disappearing and leaving you to question your sanity. There are many theories surrounding this pretty apparition. Some say she’s a remnant of the Karoo’s bygone aquatic era, others say she’s a figment of African folklore and yet others say that she was left stranded after the 1996 floods that left much of the Karoo flooded.
Where to find her: The most recent reported sighting of a Kaaiman came from the Buffeljags River in the town of Suurbraak on 5 January 2008. Suurbraak resident Daniel Cupido said he and a group of friends were relaxing by the river when he heard something that sounded like someone “bashing on a wall”. Suspecting vandals, Cupido said he walked toward the sound coming from the nearby low water bridge. At the bridge he said he saw a figure, “like that of a white woman with long black hair thrashing about in the water”. His friend confirmed the sighting. Otherwise, the rivers and creeks surrounding Oudtshoorn’s Cango Caves would also be a good place to start looking.
In 1997, a mysterious creature made headlines around the world when it was blamed for the deaths of seven people villagers along the Mzintlava River in KZN, many of whose bodies were recovered with their faces grotesquely devoured. Eyewitness accounts measure the beast at 67 feet long, with the head of a horse, the body of a fish, and skin like a crocodile. The creature was named Mamlambo after the Zulu goddess of rivers.
Where to find it: Witnesses and locals note that the Mamlambo’s presence is often punctuated by thunderstorms, suggesting that the creature may be attracted to bad weather. So, watch the skies and when the clouds start gathering, head to the wildest parts of Msintlava River.
Chupacabra – Mexico
When reports of badly mutilated livestock started circulating throughout South America, superstitious villagers across the country started blaming a monstrous creature named chupacabra, or “goat-sucker.”
According to legends, the creature is said to have leathery black skin with sharp quills running down its backside, stands at approximately 3 feet high, and kills livestock by sucking its blood through a single puncture wound in the head or neck. The first reported attacks occurred in March 1995 in Puerto Rico. In this attack, eight sheep were discovered dead, each with three puncture wounds in the chest area and completely drained of blood. A few months later, in August, an eyewitness, Madelyne Tolentino, reported seeing the creature in the Puerto Rican town of Canóvanas, when as many as 150 farm animals and pets were reportedly killed.
Where to find it: In the rural parts of South American countries, as well as Mexico and Texas in the United States. If you’d rather see a dead version of the much-feared cryptid, head to El Mercado’s chupacabra stall in San Antonio instead where you can allegedly peek into a display case containing a real chupacabra carcass for just $1.
Mngwa – Tanzania
As though lions and leopards aren’t enough, another, more ferocious feline is said to stalk the plains of Tanzania in search of prey – human or animal. Said to measure about 2 metres in length and weighing about 180kg, the creature was first spotted sometime during the 1900s. In 1928 William Hichens, a British administrator working in Tanzania reported that several natives were attacked by a large animal he originally thought to be a giant, man-eating lion. However, fur-samples and tracks proved to be different to those of a lion.
Where to find it: Head to the Serengeti on what you tell everyone to be a ordinary safari, however, as night falls, gear up and head out to search for what could best be described as an oversized, sabre-toothed house cat.
Yeti – Russia
The Yeti or Abominable Snowman is said to be an ape-like cryptid taller than an average human, similar to Bigfoot, that inhabits theHimalayan region of Nepal, Tibet and Siberia. The scientific community generally regards the Yeti as a legend, given the lack of conclusive evidence, but it remains one of the most famous creatures of cryptozoology. The Yeti may be considered a sort of parallel myth to the Bigfoot of North America.
The first recorded, modern-day sighting of the Yeti dates back to 1832, when naturalist and ethnologist BH Hodgson described how his local guides spotted a tall, bipedal creature covered with long dark hair, which seemed to flee in fear in northern Nepal. The frequency of reports increased during the early 20th century, when Westerners began making determined attempts to scale the many mountains in the area and occasionally reported seeing odd creatures or strange tracks.
Where to find it: The Seregesh ski resort in Siberia has decided to make it easy for cryptozoologists of all levels to search for the elusive creature, as they now offer special Yeti-searching tours. Belief in the Yeti is common in Siberia, where it’s called the “Big Man.” Hunters often report seeing them and regional governor Aman Tuleyev has offered one million rubles ($33,000) to anyone who can bag one. No takers yet, which makes one wonder about the reliability (and aim) of those hunters. Park developer Igor Idimeshev claims to have seen the Yeti several times. He believes the creatures are aliens who can walk on water and glow in the dark.
Ropen – Papua New-Guinea
If you believed dinosaurs were something of the past, think again. Hidden among the forests of Papua New-Guinea lives a pterodactyl-like creature that glows while flying. The Ropen has a wingspan of approximately 20-30 feet, and a tail-length more than 25% of this, and is believed to be a massive airborne predator that feeds mainly on fish and other marine life. It’s a nocturnal creature with brief bursts of luminosity. Two different expeditions set out in 2006 and 2007 in an attempt to find evidence of the cryptid. In both cases, strange lights were seen hovering in the forest, but they could not be identified.
Where to find it: Head to the uninhabited, volcanic island of Umboi. It’s located between the mainland of Papua New Guinea and the island of New Britain.