With 195 Countries in the world, >7.111 languages, 164 official national currencies, a population of >7.7 billion people, > 50 million different animal species and >112 million plant species, the planet Earth is a wonder on its own.
We’ve gathered 20 of the most fascinating places in the world and are eager to share this list with you! Continue reading to get all the details on:
- Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia)
- Tianzi Mountains (China)
- Socotra Island (Yemen)
- Chocolate Hills (Philippines)
- Silfra Rift (Iceland)
- Vadhoo Island (Maldives)
- Crystal Channel (Colombia)
- Rainbow Mountain (Peru)
- Waitomo Glowworm Caves (New Zealand)
- Lençóis Maranhenses (Brazil)
- Lake Hillier (Australia)
- Great Blue Hole (Belize)
- Mendenhall Ice Caves (Alaska, USA)
- Ruby Falls (Tennessee, USA)
- Plitvice Lakes National Park (Croatia)
- Cappadocia (Turkey)
- Pink Sands Beach (Bahamas)
- Blue Grotto (Italy)
- Badab-e Surt (Iran)
- Mount Roraima (Venezuela, Guyana, Brazil)
Salar de Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is the world’s largest salt flat and is considered one of the most extreme and remarkable sights in all of South America. It stretches more than 4,050 square miles (~10.600 square kilometers), and its altitude varies between 11,800 feet (3.600 meters) and 16,400 feet (5.000 meters), thus making it a hard-to-reach destination for unacclimatized travelers. Salar de Uyuni is a remnant of prehistoric lakes that evaporated centuries ago. But you’ll get the full experience only when nearby lakes overflow because the thin layer of water transforms the flats into the biggest and most beautiful mirror the world has seen.
Deep in the Hunan Province in China, you can find a mountain range that covers an area of around 21 square miles and a length of about 25 miles. What makes these mountains so unique, is their unusual variety of mountain formations – a product of millions of years of sedimentary rock erosion. The sight resembles skyscrapers of a city landscape, with the main peak of the mountain range achieving an incredible 4,142 feet above sea level. So it’s no wonder that this scenic spot is also known as ‘the Monarch of the Peak Forest.’
Socotra is an archipelago (a cluster of islands and their surrounding seas) in the Indian Ocean and is also a part of Yemen. “Socotra Island” (named after the archipelago itself) is probably the most alien-looking place on Earth. Around a third (!) of its plant life can’t be found anywhere else on the entire planet. One of those rare and extraordinary plants/trees is the ancient “Dragon’s Blood Tree” which grows so well on this isolated island that there are actually forests full of these trees. Even though there are nearly no roads at all on this island, it owns a collection of shipwrecks and caves.
In the central Visayas region of the Philippines, you can find an unusual geological formation: the so-called “Chocolate Hills”. On an area of approx. 50 square kilometer there are at least ~1270 hills, but it’s estimated that there are much more, in fact around ~1780. Depending on the season, these small mountains change in color, varying from green to chocolate brown and hence giving them their name “Chocolate Hills.” Up until this day, no one knows how exactly those hills were formed.
Silfra is a natural fissure in Iceland between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. This beautiful freshwater rift is a popular spot for divers and snorkelers, who want to dive towards the center of the Earth. Due to the porous tectonic rock beneath the water’s surface, the water gets constantly filtered, which makes it incredibly clear and safe to drink.
The small, inhabited and remote island of “Vaadhoo” deep in the Maldives, is quite famous for a rare and magical natural phenomenon – the “Sea of Stars.” Glowing blue waves, as if the night sky turned liquid, lapping the sandy shore. This effect is caused by a natural chemical reaction known as bioluminescence, which occurs when a microorganism (like “Dinoflagellates,” as a kind of Phytoplankton here) in the water is disturbed by oxygen. Unfortunately, nobody can predict when and where the event will occur – nature does as nature pleases!
The Caño Cristales (or “River of Five Colors”) in the Colombian national reserve of Serrania de la Macarena is indistinguishable from any other river in the world. For a brief period every year, the river blossoms into vibrant and vivid shades of colors. This color eruption is caused by a unique biological phenomenon of the aquatic plants in the river. Between July and November, a species of riverweed/algae called “Macarenia Clavigera” forms an underwater blanket of bright red. Combined with splotches of yellow and green sand, and the crystal clear blue water, this place turns into this magical and magnificent “Liquid Rainbow.”
The Rainbow Mountain in Peru, which is also known as “Vinicunca” by locals, is one of the two main attractions besides Machu Picchu. It’s only been a few years since this hidden gem was discovered. Only because of snow melting, the mountain range was able to reveal its unique colorful appearance, ranging from turquoise to lavender, gold, and other colors. But be prepared if you’re eager to see this place in real-life because at a staggering 5,200m above sea level you’re likely to suffer from altitude sickness.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Hidden in the Waikato Region on the North Island of New Zealand lies a genuinely magnificent natural attraction – the Waitomo Caves. “Waitomo” comes from the Māori language and can be translated as “water passing through a hole.” One part of this underground cave system is especially captivating since you can find thousands of thousands of glowworms on the limestone walls. Waitomo is a popular tourist attraction, and its caves can easily be entered by either walking or a guided boat tour.
On Brazil’s northeast coast is a desert-like wonderland, so beautiful and yet surreal that it’s hard to believe something like this even exists – the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park. This scenic place, which covers an area of 1,500 sq km, is well-known for its midnight blue freshwater lakes, that can be found between perfectly shaped brilliant white dunes. Those blue lagoons are created by rainwater which then gets trapped by the impermeable rock below. Together, the water and sand dunes create the illusion of rolling bed sheets.
Lake Hillier (or “The Pink Lake”) is a saline lake off the south coast of Western Australia. As the name suggests, this lake is quite famous for its unique and distinctive strawberry milkshake color. Even though the cause of this is not yet fully understood, some scientists believe that this color can be explained with the presence of the Dunaliella salina microalgae, a microorganism that produces a certain pigment that can also be found in carrots as well: carotenoid. The lake is a protected nature reserve, and even though swimming in the water is perfectly safe, it is unfortunately not open for tourists or visitors.
Belize’s “Great Blue Hole“
Until 2016, the “Great Blue Hole” in Belize was believed to be the largest marine sinkhole on the planet. This title, however, had to be handed over to China for their “Sansha Yongle Dragon Hole.” Nevertheless, the Belize Blue Hole is still one of the most iconic dive spots and, like most sea holes, submerged at the end of the last great Ice Age some 10,000 years ago. It has an almost perfectly circular shape, measures 300 meters (984 feet) in diameter and reaches a depth of 108 meters (354 feet). One of the fascinating things about this sinkhole are the thousands of stalactites and stalagmites that, like scientists believe, were formed when the Blue Hole was still an aboveground series of caverns during the last Ice Age.
Mendenhall Ice Caves
The Mendenhall Ice Caves in the southeast of Alaska originally had two names: Sitaantaagu (“Glacier Behind the Town”) and Aak’ wtaaksit (“Glacier Behind the Little Lake”). The dancing ombre of blues that confronts you when entering this cave gives you a dreamlike and captivating feeling. The Mendenhall glacier itself is over 3,000 years old, runs 13 miles long into the Mendenhall Valley eventually ending in the Mendenhall Lake. Unfortunately, due to climate change, the glacier’s retreating increasingly fast, having already lost 3 miles in the past couple of decades. The cave itself is open for tourists, but a guided tour is recommended to make sure the caves are accessible and secure.
The “Ruby Falls” are one of the tallest and deepest underground waterfalls in the world and were discovered in 1928 within the Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The cavern trails and waterfall, which are illuminated with only hand-held lanterns, attract over half a million guests per year, who are left in awe due to the hues of lights that melt into one another on the cavern walls.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
The Plitvice Lakes National Park is the oldest and largest national park in the Republic of Croatia and covers an area of nearly 300 square km. The lake system is comprised of 16 named and several smaller unnamed lakes – connected by a series of cascades and waterfalls. The park is home to a variety of plants and animals, like deer, bears, wolves, wild boards, wild cats and many more. In 1979 the lakes were internationally recognized and hence inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The park is open to visitors year-round, but they are required to follow strict rules and instructions not to harm the nature in any form.
Cappadocia is a beautiful region with a unique landform in south-central Turkey. It’s famous for its sci-fi scenery which is explained by the so-called “fairy chimneys” (the rock formations of tall pillars with little caps on), craters and canyons. Those were all created by volcanic eruptions followed by natural weathering and erosion. Cave houses and underground cities that date back to 1800 BC add up to this magical experience.
A must-do when visiting Cappadocia is a hot-air-balloon ride because this place looks even more stunning from the skies!
Pink Sands Beach
In the eastern Atlantic Ocean on Harbour Island, Bahamas, you can find a unique beach that provides a perfect place to sunbath and swim in blue and crystal clear water. But what makes it different to all the other beaches you might know, is the sand’s color – it got a pink tint that stands out even more in the wet sand, hence giving it the name “Pink Sands Beach.” This rosé color comes from a distinct marine animal called “Foraminifera” which shell is bright red, crushes in the water after some time and then gets mixed with the white sand. It’s at sunrise and sunset when the contrast between the sea and sand is most noticeable.
The “Blue Grotto”
The Blue Grotto is a natural sea cave, 60 meters long and 25 meters wide, on the coast of the island of Capri, southern Italy. What makes this cave so special is the unbelievable azure blue of the water which is caused by the illumination from the sunlight outside of the cavern. The Blue Grotto is open for tourists and one of the (if not THE) most famous sights on Capri Island.
Badab-e Surt is a natural site located in the Mazandaran Province of Iran. This rare geological miracle is, in fact, a series of terraced travertine (limestone) pools that are found only in a few other places on Earth. However, its orange coloration, which results from a concentration of iron oxide, makes it even more unique. The flowing water has its source from various springs and is highly carbonated with different minerals – one of the hot springs even spews salty water that’s said to have healing properties.
Mount Roraima, or the “Island in the Sky,” is situated on the border of Venezuela, Guyana, and Brazil. With its 31 square-kilometer (12-square-mile) tabletop-like plateau ( = “tepui”) and a height of ~2.800m (~9.800 ft), Mount Roraima is one of the most extraordinary natural geological formations on Earth. This mountain has inspired many artists and authors, like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote the novel “The Lost World.” Geologists still argue about Roraima’s age, but new data reveals that it dates back around 2 million years to the Precambrian Era.
Do you think we missed one of your favourite places on our list? Then hit us with an email with the subject “Extraordinary Places” to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’re happy to add it here 🙂