Have you ever come across pictures online of places that are both beautiful and a little unearthly? The world is full of wonders that are just so unique that we’re left wondering, “How is this possible”? It’s easy to understand structures we build as people, but it’s the landscapes that are naturally occurring that leave us with the most questions. How did this form? How is it possible for that lake or mountain to look that way? These questions usually arise due to the unique coloring of landmarks that we aren’t accustomed to seeing as anything other than what we consider normal. Often times these natural marvels are due to mineral deposits from deep within the core of the earth making their way to the surface after millions of years and interacting with our oxygen rich atmosphere to produce a rainbow of colored effects. Other times they’re the result of allowing nature to exist without any human intervention to stop it. Instead of destroying something that may seem cumbersome or even intrusive, we as people have chosen to leave them as they are and adapt our lives around them.
Even ordinary formations such as mountains aren’t immune to the changes of time. The power of wind and water have been proven as their persistence slowly erodes these formations to create stunning new ones. The result, whether due to chemical interactions or wind and water, are surreal backdrops that are natural wonders of the world that are revered for their beauty and uniqueness. Tourists flock to them to try and capture their beauty on camera. Check out this list of some of the natural wonders of the world that have captured our imagination.
15 Enchanted Well in Bahia, Brazil
This spa-like retreat is located at the Chapada Diamantina National Park. The water is completely clear which allows visitors to easily see the rocks all the way at the bottom. Even ancient trees trunks are visible at the bottom of the well.
14 Tunnel of Love in Klevan, Ukraine
This is one of Ukraine’s most popular tourist destinations and it’s lined and covered by trees. The dense tree covering gives it the appearance of both an otherworldly place and the entrance into a fairy-tale land. This treasure can be found within a forest but be careful if you want to walk along it taking pictures. It’s still an active rail line (granted, for a private train taking wood to a local factory) with a regularly scheduled train passing through it three times a day. The shape of the tunnel can be attributed to the passing train over several years. This makes sense since the tracks are located deep within a forest that would have grown over otherwise.
13 Zhangye Danxia Landform in Gansu, China
12 The Great Blue Hole in Belize
We hear about sinkholes on land all the time. Recall the sinkhole in Florida that swallowed a man and his home back in 2013? Well, they also appear out at sea as well. The Great Blue Hole, which is part of the Lighthouse Reef, is the result of a sinkhole that formed during the most recent ice age (it initially happened on land) when sea levels were much lower. As sea levels began to rise the hole began to fill in and is now over 400 feet deep. The top 50 feet is salt water while the remaining 300 feet is made up of fresh water.
11 Sea of Stars on Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives
At first glance when looking at this picture, it’s easy to think that you’re looking at stars in the sky. However, a closer look reveals that you’re actually looking at waves on the shores of a beach. It’s like looking at something from out of a movie, like a scene from 1997’s movie Contact with Jodie Foster or 2013’s Life of Pi. This phenomenon is actually the result of special phytoplankton that have come in contact with oxygen to create a glowing effect. This effect can be seen all over the world on different beaches. The blue hue is especially heightened when the moon isn’t shining at its brightest.
10 Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona
This canyon is made up of two different sections, The Crack and The Corkscrew, and is an incredible site to see. It’s located on Navajo tribal land and the unique formations formed over time due to erosion resulting in part from flooding. Water is so powerful isn’t it? But before you lace up your hiking boots and head over, keep in mind that these canyons can only be accessed via guided tours (due to unexpected flash floods) which can get a little pricey. It’s still worth it to see the remarkable patterns on the canyon walls.
9 Bamboo Groves of Arashiyama in Kyoto, Japan
The Bamboo Groves is also called the Bamboo Forest and is another example of nature that will leave you feeling as though you’ve entered another world. The bamboo is tall and thick and creates a secluded feel when walking or cycling through. Add to this the gentle rustling of the leaves and sways of the shoots and the transportation is complete. In Japanese culture bamboo is highly regarded and is seen as a symbol of strength. So it makes sense that there would be a natural monument of sorts to this. The thick grove and the shards of light that beam through also create a sense of mysticism (there’s even a temple located nearby).
8 Kelimutu Crater Lakes in Flores Island, Indonesia
All three craters are at the peak of a volcano. The blue lake is called the Lake of Old People, the green lake is called the Lake of Young Men and Maidens and the dark red lake (appears almost black) is called the Enchanted Lake or Lake of Evil Spirits. Local legend says that the souls of the dead travel up to the peak to find their final resting place in one of the three craters. Their resting place is determined by the type of life they led. As with many other attractions on this list, the unique colors of each lake are likely due to minerals that result from volcanic activity below. It’s another big tourist stop for anyone visiting Indonesia.
7 Lake Hillier in Western Australia
6 Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, USA
At 277 miles long and 18 miles wide, the Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The South Rim is the most accessible and is therefore the most visited part of the Grand Canyon. It’s a popular spot for camping, tours, hiking, trips of the river and even weddings, it’s a major tourist attraction. It’s also home to lots of wildlife such as the Bighorn Sheep which love to live on steep cliffs which makes the canyon perfect for them. They also like the canyon because of the vastness and remoteness, there are lots of places for them to hide.
5 Socotra, Island in Yemen
This remote island separated from the main land over six millions years ago. It’s not a stretch to say that it looks like nothing seen anywhere else in the world, it’s otherworldly. This is mainly due to the plants and trees that can only be found on this island. The most popular is the Dragon’s Blood trees (named as such for its red resin) with their twisted branches that give the appearance of an umbrella. In addition to these, there are over 800 plant and animal species living on the island. Over the years, millions for some species, they’ve adapted to survive in the dry, arid landscape of the island. With this in mind, the Dragon’s Blood trees aren’t the only unusual looking plants on the island. The Desert Rose is just as strange looking with its large round trunk and pink flowers on thick branches above.
4 Fly Geyser in Washoe County, Nevada
3 Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
2 Salt Mounds of Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia
This is the world’s largest salt flat and was formed over time by the mixture of many different prehistoric lakes. The mounds of salt that appear across the flats are the result of harvesting of the salt by scraping and then piling the scrapings into piles that are then transported for further processing. Not surprisingly, the high salt content in the environment means that there aren’t any natural animal inhabitants there. There aren’t even any plants. However, this is a popular breeding ground for three species of flamingos.
1 Death Valley in California, USA
This is home of the mysterious sliding rocks which move without any apparent human or animal involvement and leave trails. Fortunately for us, due to curious researchers, the mystery of the moving rocks was recently solved. In 2013 researchers used GPS to track movement along with time lapsed photography. Movement is due to the formation of a thin layer of ice that melts in the heat of the day and strong winds that gradually push the rocks. This combination gives the appearance of independent movement.
Unbelievably, there have been instances of theft of the rocks. It's possible people think that the rocks have magical powers and will move on their own no matter where they are. It’s quite likely those folks were left disappointed when they got home.
Sources: buzzfeed.com, roughguides.com, wikipedia.org, huffingtonpost.com, cnn.com
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