Out-Of-This-World Natural Locations Right Here on Earth
Rio Tinto, Spain
Rio Tinto, or the Red River, is one of the most amazing sites on the planet that offers an experience that is truly out of this world with its unique character and the atmosphere it creates.
The Red River rises from Sierra de Huelva mountains of Andalusia and runs through the southwestern region of Spain, famous for its five-thousand-year-long history of gold, copper and silver mining.
It is also considered the cradle of the Copper and Bronze Ages.
Source: Rio Tinto (Red River)
Lake Baikal, Russia
Lake Baikal, the oldest and the deepest freshwater lake in the world, is situated in south-east Russia. It is estimated that this lake has been accumulating its water for the past 25 million years and currently contains approximately 20% of the world’s unfrozen freshwater reserve.
Thanks to its unique living world of both flora and fauna, Lake Baikal is often referred to as the “Galapagos of Russia,” with approximately 1,700 endemic animal and plant species.
Fly Geyser, America
This alien-looking geyser emerged as a consequence of a second test drilling on Nevada’Fly Ranch in 1964. The first one happened nearly 100 years ago.
Both of the testings were an effort to make this part of the Black Rock Desert usable for farming but instead of reaching fresh spring water, 93°C (200°F) geothermal boiling water was hit.
The result is a geyser now coated with thermophile algae, which creates green and red colors.
Source: Fly Geyser
Naica Caves, Mexico
Cueva de Los Cristales, also known as the Cave of the Crystals, is a result of millions of years of volcanic activity and the resulting crystallization of minerals.
This crystal palace is located in Naica, Mexico, very close to a mining complex and other similar nearby caves, but none of them look quite so fantastic.
The Cave of the Crystals guards the largest discovery of selenite crystal columns which consist of dormant organisms are unlike anything else on the planet.
Door to Hell, Turkmenistan
The Darvaza gas crater is probably one of the eeriest sites on Earth. Situated in the heart of Turkmenistan, it literally looks like the “Gates of Hell.”
The first thought one might have when seeing this huge red-hot burning hole is that the Earth has opened its jaws and let its inner-core out, but the truth is somewhat even more dramatic.
This fire pit is a human-made one, the result of a Soviet gas drilling accident that happened over half a century ago.
Obir Dripstone Caves, Austria
The Obir dripstone caves are considered “Carinthia’s most intriguing natural wonder” for a reason. They look absolutely amazing.
This cave complex was discovered by chance when local miners went searching for lead and zinc, back in 1870. Instead of finding these, they discovered this rare and unusual Austrian site of living dripstones.
The caves are located at 1,078 meters (over 3,500 feet) above sea level and offer a one-of-a- kind caving experience.
Source: The Obir Dripstone Caves
Puna Grasslands, Peru
The Puna grassland is a part of Manu National Park in Peru which is famous not only for its size but also for its amazing displays of nature’s diversity.
Animals such as llamas, alpacas and vicunas live in Puna, but there is another (plant) species that make this place look a bit extraterrestrial.
This is yareta, a flowering plant found in the grassland that some scientists think can reach the ripe old age of 3,000 years, thriving at an elevation of 3,200 and 4,500 meters (10,500 and 14,764 feet).
Richat Structure, Mauritania
Known as the “eye of Africa,” this unusual place is located in the Mauritania portion of the Sahara Desert. The official name of this approximately 50-kilometer-wide (30 miles) geological phenomenon is the Richat Structure.
Thanks to its size and location, the Richat Structure is unmistakably visible from space, serving as a visual geographical marker for early astronauts.
The origin of this odd formation is not exactly clear, but it is believed to be the result of erosion of a geological dome.
Source: Richat Structure
Socotra Island, Yemen
The island of Socotra is located in the Indian Ocean, right between the Guardafui Channel and the Arabian Sea. It’s the largest island of the Socotra archipelago and probably the most alien-like one too.
This astonishing island is best known for its endemic species, like the one we have here: dragon’s blood trees.
It is believed that almost one-third of Socotra’s flora is only found on the island due to its extremely remote and relatively untouched location.
Source: Socotra Island
Waitomo Caves, New Zealand
The Waitomo Caves are a real gem of New Zealand and one of the must-visit places when there. They are located on the West Coast of the North Island, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) away from Auckland.
Thanks to their unbelievably beautiful limestone structures and shining creatures, known as glow worms, Waitomo attracts people from all over the world who wish to experience something truly extraordinary and unique, an all-natural creation that definitely wouldn’t be out of place in a CGI-heavy film like Avatar.
Vatnajökull Glacier, Iceland
If you have ever wondered what the view from inside of a glacier looks like, this photo might help satisfy your curiosity. This is Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe.
Belonging to Iceland’s Vatnajökull National Park, it’s one of the most visually stunning places on Earth. It covers an area of approximately 8,100 square kilometers (3127 square miles), or 8% of Iceland’s total landmass.
Unfortunately, this glacier’s size is rapidly declining due to global warming.
Source: Information about Vatnajökull
Toyama Bay, Japan
Even though this image looks more like a luminous art installation, the surprising truth is that this place truly exists on planet Earth and it’s an entirely natural phenomenon.
This is a view over Toyama Bay in Japan, a place where millions of glowing squid equipped with a luminescent organs called photophores get pushed by the current out from the depths of the sea onto the water’s surface and the northern shores of the Hokuriku region in Japan.
Source: The Firefly Squid of Toyama Bay
Spotted Lake, Osoyoos, Canada
Spotted Lake, near the city of Osoyoos in British Columbia, Canada, is anything but an ordinary body of water. It’s not the full lake that’s impressive, but rather the color of its puddles that form as its water evaporates and minerals such as calcium, titanium and silver take over to add some flavor to the lakebed.
After decades of attempts to turn the lake into a spa, Spotted Lake is now fenced to protect the delicate region and is jointly owned by the Canadian government and the country’s First Nations people.
Giant's Causeway, Ireland
Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway Ireland looks incredibly unnatural for a completely naturally formed structure of column-like rocks. Viewed from afar it resembles of a (postapocalyptic) futuristic city model rather than one of Mother Nature’s homemade creations.
Giant’s Causeway consists of over 40,000 closely packed six-sided columns. It is thought this odd looking locale is a result of the united forces of magma’s cooling process and 60 million years of erosion that slowly started to emerge roughly 15,000 years ago.
Grand Prismatic Spring, America
The Grand Prismatic Spring is nestled in the Midway Geyser Basin of Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park. It’s famous for being the most extensive thermal spring in America and the third largest on the planet.
It is also one of the most supernatural-looking places on the face of the Earth due to the striking colors of both the water and the surrounding ground. This spectacular effect is caused by the pigmented bacteria and other microorganisms that flourish in its mineral-rich waters.
Source:Grand Prismatic Spring
Pamukkale means the “cotton castle” in Turkish, and the place that bears this name looks exactly like that, only a bit more extraterrestrial than expected. There’s also a local legend to support that impression.
Situated in the southwestern part of Turkey, this grand site is one of the most breathtaking water landscapes in the world. Rumor has it that the white terraces of the Pamukkale pools are the work of giants who left their bales of cotton to dry there but forgot about them for a couple of eons.
Zhangye Danxia Landform, China
Known as “the eye candy of Zhangye,” this 50 square kilometer (19 square mile) area is probably the most colorful site in this part of the world. Located in Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park in China, this range of rainbow mountains never fails to leave its visitors speechless.
The Zhangye Danxia landform’s rainbow mountains are the result of hundreds of millions of years of an ongoing geological mix of tectonic plate shuffling, red sandstone, water and wind erosion, all combined with the danxia’s desert location.
Red Beach, China
The Red Beach in Panjin, China, doesn’t look like a beach at all. There is no (visible) sand, nor sunbathing tourists — only the vast redness.
This one of a kind phenomena is caused by Sueda, a seaweed that flourishes in the highly saline-alkali soil of this region. Sueda usually starts to grow in springtime and keep its youthful green color during summer but turns a flaming red in the fall.
Hang Son Doong, Vietnam
The largest cave in the world, Hang Son Doong (Mountain River Cave), was first discovered by a local farmer in 1990 deep inside the Vietnamese jungle.
That farmer lost his way afterward, and the cave’s location remained unknown until 2009 ew members of the British Caving Research Association helped re-discover it.
First, it was thought this cave hall in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park was 150 meters (492 feet) long and 60 meters (200 feet) high, but further exploration revealed a complete length of five kilometers (three miles).
Kawah Ijen Crater, Indonesia
The Kawah Ijen crater on Java Island in Indonesia is a truly intimidating site with an atmosphere reminiscent of a science fiction scene filled with a strangely glowing electric blue haze, toxic fumes and bubbling molten sulphur dripping all over the place.
What makes this place even scarier than its look is the fact that many Indonesian men are working there as sulphur miners with minimal protection from the hazardous environment, risking their lives every day for minimum wages.
Mutnovsky Volcano Ice Cave, Russia
This mysterious looking ice cave is located near the Mutnovsky volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia. This far-east Russian peninsula is well-known for its natural rarities of outstanding beauty like twin volcanoes, raging rivers, glacial ice fields and spectacular caves like the one featured here.
This tunnel is about one kilometer (0.6 miles) long. Thanks to the thinness of its roof, natural sunlight permeates into the cave, offering a surreal visual of ever-changing glowing light patterns.
Source: A Gorgeous Ice Cave in Kamchatka
Namib Desert, Africa
The world’s oldest desert, the Namib, covers an area of approximately 81,000 square kilometers (31,274 square miles) in southern Africa. The Namib’s name originates from the Nama language and means vast, open space.
With only 2 to 5 millimeters of rain a year, this region is one of the driest areas on the face of the planet. Despite its cruel climate, the Namib Desert is full of oddl looking, desert-adapted wildlife that can be found nowhere else but there.
Lake Retba, Senegal
Lake Retba, or Lac Rose as the locals call it, is a very unusual lake situated not far from Dakar, the capital of Senegal.
Famous for its odd mixture of pink hues, it draws visitors from all over the world. The best time to visit Lake Retba is during the dry season, from November to June, when the its color is most vivid.
This extraordinary phenomenon is a result of the accumulation of red pigmented Dunaliella salina bacteria which live in the lake’s high-salinity waters.
Source: The Lake Retba
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
El Salar de Uyuni, the Bolivian salt flats, can be described as the world’s largest natural mirror. When weather conditions are right, this vast area of almost 10,500 square kilometers (4,050 square miles) located between Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, unites with the heavens.
At various times of the year, when the nearby lakes overflow the flats, the surface of El Salar de Uyuni reflects the sky and offers one of the most impressive sights a person can witness.
Danakil Depression, Ethiopia
The Danakil Depression is famous for several reasons. It is situated at 125 meters (410 feet) below sea level in the Afar Region of north-east Ethiopia, the place where the tectonic plates are drifting apart. That means sometime in the distant future the Danakil Depression will be a bottom of a new ocean.
Until that happens, it will remain one of the driest and the hottest spots on Earth with an average yearly temperature of 34.4 Celsius (93.92 Fahrenheit) and less than 200 millimeters (eight inches of rainfall per year.