If you want to see strange and exotic landscapes, you don’t have to travel the solar system; you just have to take a closer look at our own planet. From fiery pits to rock formations that seem to defy gravity, these views show us a side of the Earth that looks almost alien, but are wholly terrestrial.
White Desert, in the Farafra depression, Western Egypt, with chalk rock formations
Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat (4,086 sq mi or 10,582 sq km) in Potosí, Southwest Bolivia
The Aoike lake, the part of Juniko lake group, which consists 33 small lakes created by a landslide following a 18th century earthquake in Hokkaido, Japan
The Marble Caves, in the water of the General Carrera Lake, Chile, with marble monoliths over the unbelievably blue water
Vale da Lua (Valley of the Moon), Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, Brazil, with some of the oldest (1.8 billion years old) rock formations on Earth
Pumpkin Spring, an arsenic pool in the Grand Canyon
Colored rock formations at the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park, China
Derweze or Darvaza, also known as the “Door To Hell” in Turkmenistan. It’s a semi-underground gas fire that’s been burning since the early 1970s. The site was identified by Soviet geologists in 1971, and they set up a drilling rig, but the ground collapsed into a gas crater and some methane gases were released from the hole. The geologists decided to burn the methane off in a few days, but they were wrong.
Caño Cristales, a Colombian river also known as the “Liquid Rainbow”, variously colored between July and November caused by some riverweeds
Lake Hillier, a pink-colored saline lake in Australia, colored by a type of micro-algae found in sea salt fields named Dunaliella salina
The Wave, a sandstone rock formation with undulating forms, on the Colorado Plateau, Arizona
The Guests Welcome Pond in Huanglong, Sichuan, China, with colorful ponds in travertine banks
Pamukkale (means Cotton Castle), Turkey, with terraces made of travertine, filled with water from 17 hot springs
Spotted Lake, a saline endorheic alkali lake in British Columbia, Canada, has dense deposits of calcium, sodium sulphates and magnesium sulfate, but it contains silver and titanium as well. The spots are appearing only during the summer and the remaining minerals form natural walkways around them.
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, the third largest hot spring in the world, colored by some pigmented bacteria living in the mineral-rich water
Cave of the Crystals, a cave connected to the Naica Mine, Mexico, containing up to 39 ft (12 m) long selenite crystals. It was discovered in 2000.
Socotra Island, Yemen, with about 700 endemic species, found nowhere else on Earth
White Sands National Monument, the largest white sand dune field in the world, composed of gypsum crystals