To this day, one of the greatest feats of humanity is when we sent a man to walk on the moon. We continue our pursuit of the great unknown, but it doesn’t look like space travel is coming anytime soon. Luckily, Earth is home to fantastical and otherworldly places that will have you wonderstruck. Here’s a few that you can visit with just a plane ticket.
The largest salt flat in the world spans over 10,000 kilometres of nothing but salt as far as your eyes can see. You won’t believe your eyes when the giant mirror of Bolivia blurs the line between sky and earth.
Uyuni Salt Flat, Bolivia
You can only find these Jupiter-like streaks in the Chinese province Zhangye. The stunning rainbow-like swirls eroded over thousands of years and you have the limestone and mineral-rich land to thank for the vibrant earth-toned palette.
Sunan Yugur Autonomous County, Zhangye, Gansu, China
Watch your step; you wouldn’t want to walk off the edge of the earth at Mount Roraima. The brooding fog and unnerving plateau just ooze the feeling of a lost land untouched by humanity. Try to document your travels here as it’s home to some formations as old as two billion years.
Feel free to take a dip in the naturally formed pools flowing from the white hillside terraces. You’ll lose your breath as you overlook the plains from the almost 200 meter tall cliff. The locally dubbed “cotton castle” also lets you explore its ancient ruins dating back to the Greco-Roman period.
Pamukkale, 20190 Pamukkale/Pamukkale, Denizli/Denizli, Turkey
The first thing you’ll notice is the glowing walls of these underground caves in New Zealand. The walls may seem alive, but if you look closely you’ll find that the walls are actually covered in glow worms that shimmer in the low light areas of the caves.
39 Waitomo Village Rd, Waitomo Caves, Otorohanga 3943, New Zealand
You have good reason to think these were the remnants of an ancient city lost to time, but surprisingly the hexagonal pillars formed naturally. Long ago, volcanic activity formed large chunks of lava and basalt. When the lava cooled, it fractured the earth in the peculiar shape you see today.
44 Causeway Road, Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Don't worry! The crimson goop isn't your blood; it's the trees' blood, sorta. If you cut open the Dragonblood trees of Socotra, you'll find the sap runs a deep red that locals have been using for both medicinal and decorative uses.
The pink lake hides a few dangers that you need to know before you take the plunge. You’ll see fishermen and locals swimming in the pink lemonade waters, but the bubble-gum pink isn’t because it’s sweet; the lake’s high salt content attracts algae that give the body of water its candy hue.
Lake Retba, Senegal
39 meters in length. 12 meters in diameter. These crystals are no joke. The massive cave houses some of the largest natural crystals ever discovered. There could be hundreds more lying in wait because some parts of the cave remain unexplored. Anyone up for some spelunking?
Naica, Chihuahua, Mexico
In 1971, scientists set ablaze the Darvaza Gas Crater to prevent a methane gas leak from spreading. Predicted to burnout in a few weeks, you’ll see that the aptly nicknamed Gates of Hell continue to burn to this day in the Karakum desert.