Some of the most amazing travel photographs you will see will be of other-worldly landscapes. There are some completely breathtakingly awesome but unreal places around the world that have to be seen to be believed. The great thing about most is that they are accessible to us mere mortals too. Check out these babies and see what other-worldly landscapes you might be putting on your next travel itinerary.
1. Antelope Canyon, USA
Can you believe that picture? It looks like swathes of draped, richly colored fabrics when it is indeed rock. Located on Navajo land in Arizona, the rock formation is known as a slot canyon and is the most visited attraction of its kind in the US, despite access only having been granted since 1997. Permits and guides are still required but places are snapped up by photographers who are fond of other-worldly landscapes. The colors are created by the reflection of light off the sandstone. Awesome!
2. Ashikaga Fuji Gardens, Japan
You will need to look closely at this to realize what it actually is but when you do, O… M… G…! It is in fact, a Wisteria Tunnel. The gorgeous cascading droplet plant in white, pink and lilac has been grown over a framework to create a stunning floral walkthrough. Covering an area of more than 1,000 square meters, it is a sight to behold. And the beauty doesn’t stop there. There is a smaller tunnel of yellow and white wisteria as well as other cultivated displays. Very surreal. Stunning!
3. Zhangye Danxia, China
Give a child a box of crayons and ask them to create the most colorful landscape they can imagine and you might well get something like the Zhangye Danxia Landform in China. This is another of the surreal landscapes where the unexpected comes to life. The kaleidoscope of colors of the “Rainbow Mountains” has been created over millions of years as layer upon layer of different minerals settled, were compressed and then folded and creased by tectonic plate movements. Who knew geology could be so incredible?
4. Lake Retba, Senegal
No, you aren’t imagining things. That really is pink water. It is Lake Retba in Senegal, North Africa – aka Lac Rose – Pink Lake. The amazing pink color, which turns an even deeper shade during the dry season, is caused by a specific type of algae with a red pigment. The water also has a very high salt content and you can float it in, just like you can in the Dead Sea. Amazing!
5. Derweze Crater
You can be forgiven for not really knowing what this picture is. It is the Derweze Crater in Turkmenistan. It is part natural, part man-made. Measuring 230 foot wide and 60+ feet deep, the crater was formed when a cavern that was being drilled for natural gas collapsed inwards, releasing the gas to the open. The authorities took the decision to burn the gas off thinking it would take a few days. Not so impressive, you might think, until you know that that was back in 1971. The fire is burning still! It’s no wonder it has been christened “The Door to Hell.” Wowzer!
6. Mount Roraima, Venezuela
You have to look at this a few times to realize that it is in fact a mountain poking through the clouds. I always think it looks like a lump of something burned that someone has dropped into a bowl of flour! Although called a mountain it is actually a massive plateau with incredibly steep cliff sides that tower 1300 feet high. When I say massive plateau, I mean its upper surface covers 31 square kilometres. Although it is one of the most other-worldly places when it is wearing its collar of clouds, it’s also pretty amazing on clear days when you see the almost geometric structure and chiseled shape. Fascinating!
7. Crystal Caves of Naica, Mexico
We’re used to caves full of interesting and spectacular stalagmites and stalactites, but what about these incredible crystals? They are absolutely huge. The crystals are among the largest ever found and these ones are in the Giant Crystal Cave in Chihuahua, Mexico. The crystals are made from selenite, a form of gypsum, and the biggest one found so far measures 39 feet in length and 13 feet in diameter, weighing in at a whopping 55 tons. The cave isn’t the place for visitors as the air temperature reaches 136°F (58°C) and the humidity is 90-99%. Spectacular!
8. Red Seabeach, China
Surely that red isn’t for real? It’s a photoshopped picture, yes? Absolutely not! What you’re seeing above is Red Seabeach in China, which is located in the biggest marsh and wetland in the world. The red is a reed grass known as Sueda, which thrives in the highly alkaline soil. I have a passion for all things red so I’d really love to see this place. Dreamy!
9. Pamukkale, Turkey
This has always been one of my favorite other-worldly landscapes. Even the name is gorgeous. When translated, Pamukkale means “Cotton Castle” and it is so apt. The travertine (limestone and carbonate deposits) terraces are filled with mineral rich hot spring water pools that people love to bathe in. The Romans knew a thing or two about thermal waters and they built Heriopolis on the site. The ruins remain and they are, along with Pamukkale, a World Heritage Site.
10. Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia
Salt flats are not uncommon and can be found in various countries in South America and the USA. They do create some of the most other-worldly landscapes, but the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia has a special feature that makes it one of the unreal places of the world. During the rainy season, the flats are covered with a layer of water which perfectly reflects the sky, making it impossible to see where the land ends and the sky starts.
11. Tsingy De Bemaraha National Park, Madagascar
Madagascar is one of the strangest places on the planet. It has some very surreal landscapes and some very unusual plant life and animals not found anywhere else. One of its most striking other-worldly landscapes is the World Heritage listed so called “Forest of Needles.” The needles are an area of limestone karst where the erosion that has happened vertically and horizontally has created unique sharp, pointy columns of limestone, tightly packed together.
I will never tire of looking at photographs of our magnificent world. When there are some places that just can’t seem real, it adds to the amazement. Which is your favorite?