Here is a collection of the most surreal and mysterious landscapes on earth. These are places that have intrigued visitors, baffled scientists and captured the imagination of local people for centuries.
#1 The Wave, Arizona, U.S.
This sandstone rock formation is located in northern Arizona on the Utah border. (Photo: Greg Mote/flickr)
#2 Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, U.S.
Located in Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is home to brightly colored geological structures, which are formed from erosion and called hoodoos. The park hosts the largest collection of hoodoos in the world. (Shutterstock)
#3 Zhangye Danxia Landform, China
This landscape of surreal, psychedelic colours and shapes has to be seen to be believed. Known as the “eye candy” of Zhangye, the 400 square kilometre geological park can be found in the Gansu Province in central north China.
#4 Travertines, Pamukkale, Turkey
Pamukkale, which means cotton castle in Turkish, is located near the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis and has been a popular bathing spot for thousands of years.
#5 Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, U.S.
The Grand Prismatic Spring is bigger than a football field at 370 feet in diameter. (Photo: Lorcel/Shutterstock)
#6 Lake Hillier, Australia
This violently pink saline lake can be found on Middle Island in the Recherché Archipelago, off the coast of Western Australia. While only 600 metres long, the startlingly-coloured lake resembles a piece of Pop Art on the otherwise uniformly green island.
#7 Ice caves, Kamchatka, Russia
Stunning formations and hues of purples, blues, greens, and yellows, which arise when sunlight streams through their glacial ice.
#8 Red Beach, Panjin, China
You won’t find sand on this beach. Instead, this wetland is covered in the seepweed suaeda salsa, which turns a brilliant red every autumn. (Photo: Guo Yu/Shutterstock)
#9 Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
The extreme whiteness of these ancient salt flats stretches for more than 4,000 square miles. (Photo: Shutterstock)
#10 Dallol, Ethiopia
The Danakil Depression, in the northeastern corner of Ethiopia, is one of the hottest places on the planet, with temperatures reaching as high as 145 degrees Fahrenheit. With two active volcanoes, a bubbling lava lake, geysers, acid ponds, and several mineral deposits, the setting looks like something from another planet.
#11 Dragon’s blood trees, Socotra, Yemen
The evergreen species Dracaena cinnabari gets its name from the red sap the tree produces. (Photo: HopeHill/Flickr)
#12 Las Salinas de Torrevieja, Spain
Near the city of Torrevieja in Spain lie two salty and very pink lakes called Las Salinas de Torrevieja. The colour is said to be caused by algae that releases a red pigment under certain conditions. (Shutterstock)
#13 Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, New Zealand
The Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland in New Zealand has been sculpted from thousands of years of volcanic activity. Considered New Zealand’s most colorful and diverse geothermal attraction, the sight features bubbling mud pools, mineral terraces, and geysers.
#14 Two Rivers
In Geneva, travellers can witness the majestic sight of two rivers colliding with one another. The Rhone River starts in Lake Lehman, while the Arve River is fed by glaciers in the Chamonix valley. When the two bleed into one another, it makes for a stunning sight.
#15 Sossusvlei, Namibia
Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan surrounded by red dunes in the Namib Desert. (Photo: 2630ben/Shutterstock)
#16 Zao Onsen hot spring and ski resort, Yamagata Prefecture, Japan
“ice trees” — trees that pack on heavy amounts of snow to take on fascinating shapes. (Shutterstock/KPG_Payless)
#17 Rice terraces, Bali, Indonesia
Bali’s landscape, with its steep mountains and deep gorges, make wet rice farming difficult, so farmers developed this system of terraced rice fields. (Photo: Marko5/Shutterstock)
#18 Cappadocia, Anatolia, Turkey
In south central Turkey, Cappadocia is home to unique geological features called fairy chimneys. (Photo: Heracles Kritikos/Shutterstock)
#19 Fly Geyser, Nevada
Nevada’s Fly Geyser, located in Washoe County, was created through accidental well drilling in 1916. In the 1960s, the water began escaping from the drilled location, creating the geyser that is known for its stunning changing colors.
#20 “Door to Hell,” Derweze, Turkmenistan
Also called the Darvaza Crater, this gas-fueled hole in the ground has been burning for more than four decades.(Photo: Tormod Sandtorv/Flickr)
#21 Giant’s Causeway, Antrim, Northern Ireland, U.K.
Giant’s Causeway is one of the most famous examples of basaltic columnar jointed volcanics. (Photo: Wenxiang Zheng/Flickr)
#22 Hitachi Seaside Park, Hitachinaka, Japan
This public park has millions of baby blue-eyes flowers that bloom every spring. (Photo: kobaken/Flickr)
#23 Giant Buddha, Leshan, China
This ancient statue carved out of a cliff face is 233 feet tall and was built between 713 and 803. (Photo: contax66/Shutterstock)
#24 Tunnel of Love, Klevan, Ukraine
Though trains travel through a few times a day, people can stroll through the green, leafy tunnel, which is nearly two miles long. (Photo: Alexander Ishchenko/Shutterstock)
#25 Antelope Canyon, Arizona, U.S.
This sandstone formation is famous for its angular walls and spectacular colors that occur when the sun is in just the right position overhead. (Photo: Scott Prokop/Shutterstock)
#26 Odle Mountains, Italy
The Odle Mountains are located in the Dolomites, which were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. (Photo: Angelo Ferraris/Shutterstock)
#27 Lake Natron, Tanzania
Tanzania’s Lake Natron is known for its deep red hue. Its rich color comes from algae and salt-loving organisms, and it fascinatingly draws millions of flamingo visitors from June to November.
#28 Rice terraces, China
The rice terraces of China’s Yunnan province are carved into the hillside. Different types of vegetation lend the landscape its alternating hues.
#29 Crescent Lake, China
The Crescent Lake (or “Yueyaquan” in Chinese) is a fresh water spring in the shape of a half moon that sits in the Gobi Desert. The oasis is believed to have existed for around 2,000 years (though it has seen its water levels decline), and attractions include activities like dune surfing and camel riding.
#30 Lencois Maranhenses Sand Dunes, Brazil
At first glance, the Lencois Maranhenses Sand Dunes of northeastern Brazil look like your average set of sand dunes, but the valleys are filled with water since the low-lying lands often flood during the wet season. Fish even live in the pools.
#31 Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, Australia
Whitehaven Beach hosts a cove where the tide shifts the sand and waters together, creating a breathtaking combination. White sands and turquoise waters seem to blend seamlessly to make for a marvelous view. Flickr/Roderick Eime
#32 Salinas Grandes, Argentina
Salinas Grandes is a massive salt desert in Argentina. The field stretches 2,300 square miles and includes saltwater pools within its awe-inspiring expanse. Shutterstock/Anibal Trejo
#33 The Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor, Cambodia
The Ta Prohm temple is an unbelievably fascinating sight, as huge tree roots dominate the ground and structure, growing sideways along its walls.
#34 The Namib Sand Sea, Namid-Naukluft Park, Namibia
The Namib Sand Sea is the only coastal desert in the world. Dune fields often come into contact with fog, creating a unique environment for an array of wildlife. Shutterstock/Anna Morgan
#35 Kelimutu Volcano, Flores island, Indonesia
The Kelimutu volcano is home to three colored lakes ranging from turquoise to a rich green. The lakes are incredibly dense, adding to the striking appearance of their colors, which are thought to be caused by dissolving minerals.
#36 Caño Cristales, Colombia
Cristales is covered in an aquatic plant that takes on hues of red, blue, yellow, orange, and green under different weather conditions. Most of the year it looks like any other river, but from June to December, it is said to look like a breathtaking stream of rainbows.
#37 White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
The White Sands National Monument is home to the world’s largest gypsum dune field. With around 275 square miles of white dunes, the area looks like it’s blanketed in snow.
#38 Richat Structure, Sahara
The Richat Structure, also known as the Eye of the Sahara, stands as a large bullseye in the middle of the Sahara Desert. With a diameter that spans almost 30 miles, it is thought to be the result of erosion and stands as a marvel for scientists and travelers alike.
#39 Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park is both one of southeast Europe’s oldest parks and Croatia’s largest, with 16 interlinked lakes between Mala Kapela Mountain and Plješivica Mountain. The lakes are surrounded by lush forests and waterfalls, whose waters have deposited travertine limestone barriers for years to create the natural dams. Kelly Cheng Travel Photography / Getty Images
#40 Tsingy de Bemaraha, Madagascar
A labyrinth of towering limestone needles, Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park is a Unesco World Heritage Site.