Yet another sanctuary from the end of the world feels like it's there already. The hotels in the northern Chilean oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama, on the edge of one of the world's largest salt deposits, have been reporting full bookings for the 21st. This town will be the last, safest place on Earth -- rumors substantiated only, it seems, by the place's otherworldly beauty, near the so-called Valley of the Moon. Other factors include its air purity, which favors astronomical observation, and the presence of the lophophora, a cactus with hallucinogenic qualities, which favors observation of a less scientific kind. The local police are on high alert, and the town's mayor has ordered tents to be at the ready to deal with the influx of apocalypse-spotters.
End-of-day-watching on a budget can be done near Megiddo, a town in northern Israel where hotel rooms are still cheap and plenty. Like Chelsea, it is grossly overlooked by the present batch of doomsday-trippers. Yet the town, founded in 1949 by Holocaust survivors and currently on the edge of the West Bank, is located near the biblical site known as Armageddon (which may derive from Har, or Mount, Megiddo). Not only was this valley the site of several biblical battles and one British-Ottoman engagement at the end of World War I, but it will also be, according to certain end-times prophecies, the location of the final battle between Good and Evil at the end of the world. There's lots of disagreement on the nature of this battle, but it almost never involves aliens -- or Mayans.
When the time will come, nobody knows. But when it does, you can reach Megiddo from Tel Aviv on the 823 bus. As you no doubt have noticed, 823 is the reverse of 328 -- the number of the London bus to the World's End. Coincidence? We think not! Do bring your own refreshments, though; there's no pub at the end of this ride.
Claudioarzola/Wikimedia Commons; Seetheholyland.net/Flickr