10 of the Weirdest Places on Earth
From the burning gas craters of Turkmenistan to the magical rainbow mountains of China – some places look so alien that it’s hard to believe they exist on this planet. Places like this …
Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park, Gansu Province, China
Do not adjust your screen – Zhangye Danxia’s magical rainbow mountains might look like something cooked up by a surrealist artist, but this place is very real. Over a period of 24 million years, layers of mineral-rich sandstone have been forced together and the result is this striking formation you see below.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
At 4086 square miles, Salar de Uyuni in southwest Bolivia is the world’s biggest salt flat. This massive expanse (the remains of a prehistoric lake) is at its best just after it has rained, when the surface is transformed into a perfect mirror of the sky.
Door to Hell, Turkmenistan (main picture)
The Darvaza Crater in Turkmenistan, more commonly known as the “Door to Hell,” is a curious mix of the natural and the manmade. It opened up in 1971 when Soviet geologists, prospecting for natural gas, unwittingly caused the ground to collapse and a natural gas crater to open up. They set it on fire when they realized it was spewing out poisonous methane, and it’s been burning ever since.
Badab-e Surt, Iran
This striking natural phenomenon is in the Mazandaran Province in northern Iran. These otherworldly terraces are formed by water from two mineral-rich springs flowing down a mountainside. The super-salty waters are said to cure rheumatism and skin diseases.
Hitachi Seaside Park, Japan
Curious bubble-shaped flowers that erupt in seasonal explosions of colour are the hallmark of this park on Japan’s eastern coast, just north of Tokyo. Would-be visitors can check the seasonal blooms calendar ahead of time to work out the best time to visit.
Spotted Lake, Canada
This eerie spot might look man-made, like some kind of giant Twister mat, but it’s not. The coloured pools of the Spotted Lake, in the Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, are caused by mineral deposits that, brilliantly, change colour throughout the year.
Lake Hillier, Australia
Lake Hillier, which spans some 600 meters, can be found on the largest island in the Recherche Archipelago, off the south coast of Western Australia. The bubblegum-pink hue is thought to be caused by some kind of microalgae – although no one is 100% sure.
Socotra Island, Yemen
Lying some 220 miles from mainland Yemen, in a distant part of the Indian Ocean, is the little known-island of Socotra. Remote and untouched, with a unique set of plants and animals, it looks more like a scene from a sci-fi movie than anywhere on the earth most of us would recognise. Some of the plant species here are thought to be 20 million years old.
Red Beach, Panjin, China
Perhaps surprisingly (given the name), there’s no sand on this beach in northeastern China. What it does have is a particular type of seaweed that turns red as it matures every autumn, turning a 51-square-mile area the deep shade of crimson you see here.
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
The largest hot spring in the United States, the Grand Prismatic in Yellowstone looks as if it could be the result of some industrial paint spill (in a good way). The kaleidoscopic colors are formed by hardy, heat-loving bacteria, which thrive on the minerals produced by the geothermic activity.
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