Earth is full of incredible places, but some of them are so amazing that they just don’t seem to belong to this world.
From a hellish fiery pit in Turkmenistan to an underground labyrinth of giant crystals in Mexico, take a look at 10 of the world’s most jaw-dropping landscapes that look like they come from a different planet.
1. Cave of the Giant Crystals, Mexico
The surreal Crystal Cave, which is part of the Naica Mine in Chihuahua, Mexico, is home to the world’s largest crystals reaching 36 feet (11 meters) in length, 13 feet (4 meters) in diameter and weighing around 55 tons. This underground labyrinth of crystals was discovered by accident in 2000 when miners broke through the walls of the cavern. It lies almost 900 feet (300 meters) below the surface of the Earth, is about 50C (122F) in there and virtually 100 per cent humidity. That makes it not only one of the most breathtaking places on Earth, but one of its most extreme and dangerous to enter.
2. Zhangye Danxia Landform, China
Resembling a colorful painting, the Zhangye Danxia landform area is a kaleidoscope of rocky outcrops in weird and wonderful shapes, including cones, towers, humans and animals. The unusual colors of the landscape are the result of red sandstone and mineral deposits being laid down over 24 million years. The area is so beautiful it’s referred to as “the eye candy of Zhangye”.
3. Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia
Have you ever walked on a cloud? You can at the amazing Salar De Uyuni salt flats in the South American country of Bolivia. The world's largest salt flat becomes a mirror when covered by water, reflecting the sky and the clouds. The salt flats are the result of a prehistoric salt lake that went dry, leaving behind a desert-like landscape of bright-white salt, rock formations and islands covered in cacti. The Salar de Uyuni salt flat stretches for more than 4,500 square miles and there is no place else like it in the world.
4. Door To Hell, Turkmenistan
Undoubtedly one of the creepiest places on Earth, Turkmenistan’s aptly named Door to Hell is a 230-foot-wide crater in the middle of the desert near the village of Deweze. It’s understood that a team of Soviet scientists came across the site in 1971 and set up a drilling platform thinking it was rich in oil. However, the crater collapsed and fearing the spread of poisonous gases, they set it alight in the hope it would burn itself out in a few days. That was 45 years ago. It’s still going strong today.
5. Tianzi Mountain, China
You’ll probably recognize those incredible pillars from the movie Avatar. Tianzi Mountain features a stone forest of over 3000 quartz sandstone pillars, forests, valleys, lakes, waterfalls and caves - an otherworldly, but real - paradise on Earth. It’s located in Zhangjiajie in the Hunan Province of China and covers an area of about 16,550 acres, or of 67 square kilometers. The highest peak is about 4,140 feet (1,262 meters) above the sea level. It’s easy to see why this stunning region was the model for Avatar’s fictional world of Pandora.
6. Fly Geyser, USA
No, it’s not something off a movie set to do with aliens. This is Fly Geyser, which was accidentally created in 1964 from a geothermal test well which wasn’t properly capped. Scalding water has erupted from the well since that time, with the calcium carbonate deposits growing at the rate of around several inches per year. The vivid red and green coloring on the mounds is from thermophilic algae, which thrives in the extreme moist and hot climate of the geysers.
7. Pamukkale, Turkey
Turkey’s most popular tourist attraction, this mountain is an unreal landscape made up of mineral forests, petrified waterfalls and a series of brilliant white terraced basins. Its travertine formations have built up over thousands of years from limestone deposited by the area’s plentiful hot springs. Pammukale is also the site of the beautifully-preserved ruins of the Greek-Roman city of Hierapolis. The Turkish name Pamukkale means “cotton castle”, an apt name for this stunning landscape.
8. Antelope Canyon, USA
What is this perfectly picturesque wizardry? It’s Antelope Canyon in Arizona, and it’s the most photographed slot canyon in the world - for good reason. A special work of art created by nature, this amazing sandstone canyon has been carved into the forms, shapes and textures that we can see today by water and wind over many thousands of years. The views in Lower Antelope Canyon are always changing as the sun moves across the sky, creating a fascinating show of different colors, lights and shadows.
9. Cappadocia, Turkey
Exploring Cappadocia is like stepping foot on another planet. This geological oddity is entirely sculpted by erosion to form mountain ridges, valleys and pinnacles known as “fairy chimneys”, or hoodoos. It’s also home to rock-hewn cities, villages and sanctuaries like churches which date back centuries. Like nowhere else, Cappadocia’s landscape is a fascinating mix of dramatic natural landforms and human interaction/ingenuity.
10. Skaftafell Ice Cave, Iceland
Skaftafell Ice Cave,also known as the Crystal Cave, is part of theVatnajökull National Park in Iceland. Created by mighty forces of the Vatnajökull ice cap in the south of the volcanic island, the deep blue cave was formed by the glacier meeting the coastline. Centuries old ice from Iceland's tallest active volcano, the almost 7000 feet tall Vrffajvkull, has compressed the air out of the ice and added to the amazing colour and texture of this mesmerizing cave.