Some places are so completely different from anything that we normally see that it'd be easy to think that they are otherworldly. However, they exist right here on planet Earth. The brilliant colors, or the lack thereof, can make visitors think they've somehow unknowingly stepped onto another planet. Some are easy to reach, while others require braving extreme conditions to access.
Salar de Uyuni is one of the world’s largest salt flats and is located in the highlands of Bolivia. Aside from its stunning natural beauty, what sets this place apart is its expansive size and utter bareness--making it the perfect destination for those looking to experience an extra-terrestrial world first-hand. The Uyuni salt flats present a mirror image reflection of the vast Bolivian sky during the rainy season. The reflection becomes so clear that it's possible to count clouds from the ground.
As one of the 7 Wonders of the World, Petra is well known for its ancient Nabatean architecture. However, what's often overlooked, are the many natural rock caves. Some have begun to call these multi-colored sandstone spectacles the tiger caves—the striations of the sandstone alternate between red and pink. The pattern surrealistically wraps around the caves blending floor, ceiling, and walls into a tiger-like pattern. Dimensions and depths are fleeting for visitors to this kaleidoscopic funhouse.
Sitting at the base of a snow-capped mountain only accessible by foot lies a landscape like no other in the world. This beautiful yet remote region is known as "Rainbow Mountain" or “Vinicunca” in the local Quechua language. Thousands flock to this new natural wonder to take in the vastness of the rainbow colors. Minerals settled one on top of the other over millions of years to form what looks like the world's biggest 7-layer cake. This bigger-than-life scene is out of this world!
Divers have explored the deep underwater caves in Mexico's Naica Mountain and found giant crystals that make the world's largest diamonds look tiny. The Naica Mine is estimated to be 100 million years old and is located south of Chihuahua, in north-central Mexico. These larger-than-life crystals seem to transport those that are courageous enough to visit to another planet. Although extremely hard to access, once inside, it is like being inside an enormous geode.
Seen from the air, Lake Retba is a striking sight: a brilliant pink expanse in stark contrast with the surrounding desert and other blue lakes. This mesmerizing wonder, which covers 400 hectares, is also known as Lac Rose because of its brilliant color. It's located in the Senegal River basin, far from any ocean, and owes its color to high salt concentrations.
When Portuguese explorers discovered the lake in the 15th century, it was already known as a place of healing for infertile women.
The Wave is a landform famous for its unique geological characteristics. The Wave can be found on the north side of 89A, between Wikieup and Grand Canyon Caverns. This formation results from sedimentary rock erosion and hundreds of thousands of years of water flow with the creation of the Colorado River toward the end of the Ice Age.
This formation is composed of cross-bedded layers of Navajo Sandstone that sweeps across the landscape.
Rapeseed plants grow up to 13 feet high. The seeds are used for industrial purposes, and the oil is processed into various cooking oils. Located near the Xinjiang region of China., this sea of yellow moves in the breeze and rolls like the waves of the ocean. The effect can leave visitors feeling like they've been transported to another world. If you like the color yellow, then this is your place!
A glowworm is an insect larva that emits light to attract food. In the dark Waitomo caves live the Arachnocampa Luminosa. The female Arachnocampa lays her fertilized eggs on the cave ceiling. The larvae then develop as worm-like creatures for about six months before pupating. At this stage, they will spin a cocoon below the cave ceiling and begin to glow. If visitors are lucky enough to be there at the right time, they're invited into an ethereal atmosphere that seems to be from another planet.
Isla Santiago is the southernmost cay of Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. It sits on a very active geologic seamount on the Nazca plate. This active fault has produced several submarine volcanoes. The hardened lava formations include lava flows, pillow lavas, and tuff cones. These designs seem to have a rhyme and reason and demonstrate chaos simultaneously with bizarre-looking formations that make one feel as if they have stepped foot off of the planet Earth.
Grand Prismatic Spring is one of the largest and most famous hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. Being the largest hot spring in the United States is only half of its claim to fame. The exotic colors of this captivating crater are what set it apart. The vibrant hues will make you feel as if you've traveled to an alternate universe. The eye of the crater has a rainbow of concentric colors due to its mineral-rich waters. The Grand Prismatic Spring's average temperature is 109 F, making it one of the hottest springs in the world.