Tourist destinations these days have gone above and beyond our expectations, with trips that lead tourists down unbeaten paths and unchartered territories. One such tour that’s offered is a trip to outer space! The catch of course, is that it costs thousands upon thousands of dollars and requires you to be at the pinnacle of health. So really, it’s actually a tour for thrill-seekers who happen to have a truckload of cash to blow off.
But for those who don’t want to do anything so risky, there are places worth seeing right here on earth that look like they belong in another planet. The 15 places on this list are nothing short of ethereal-looking, giving them that aura of being out-of-this-world. Seeing these places is definitely a feather in one’s wanderlust cap and you don’t even have to go beyond the stratosphere. Some are obviously more accessible than others, but they’re definitely easier to get to or even see from afar than flying to outer space and landing on a mysterious planet!
15 Rio Tinto, Spain
The first likeness that comes to mind when one lays eyes on Rio Tinto is that of a body of water in Mars, not in Spain. But in the southwestern region of the land of bull fights it lies, the water emitting a strange rust color and surrounded by rock formations. Scientists have observed that the rust color is from minerals such as iron found in the river’s depths. Added to that, the water is highly acidic, making it dangerous to dip your hands into.
14 Pantanal Wetlands, Brazil
Grasslands always take on an eerie quality to it, especially through an aerial view and Brazil’s Pantanal Wetlands are no exception. Mysterious as it may seem, it’s actually quite accessible to tourists and nature lovers, having vegetation that can be traipsed through, unlike the more dense plant life of the nearby Amazon River. The Pantanal Wetlands are also home to some of the most spectacular wildlife, including jaguars, which are quite rare to come by in other places.
13 Cano Cristales, Colombia
In the thick of the Serrenia de la Macarena region in the South American nation of Colombia lies the Cano Cristales, also referred to as arguably the most beautiful river in the world. It’s at its most beautiful during the autumn months from September to October, as just like the changing of the leaves, the river also transforms in colors. In these months, the river’s surface is a mix of red, yellow, green, blue, and even pink. It’s said that the colors are due to a unique type of flora that sits at the bottom of the river.
12 Fly Geyser, United States
Deserts are always an area of unique and out-of-this-world sights and the Nevada Desert is no exception. In this arid area of the United States is found Fly Geyser, a group of three large and multi-colored rock structures that shoot five feet of water up into the air continuously. It was apparently an accidental man-made structure and the water spewing out of it is geothermal. The colors in the rocks were a result of minerals that naturally accumulated throughout the decades.
11 Moguicheng, China
Another desert that looks like a site for an alien space landing is the Moguicheng Desert in China’s Xinjiang region. The name of the desert literally means Devil’s City and it certainly gives off a spine-tingling feel to it. Many who’ve traipsed through the desert claim that they heard strange noises such as lilting melodies being strummed from a guitar, babies crying, and tigers roaring. No one knows the source of the sounds, so they attribute it to something supernatural.
10 Richat Structure, Mauritania
The Sahara Desert is perhaps the most renowned desert in the world and the Richat Structure is right at the center of it. Located in west-central Mauritania, the structure is prominently circular, much like an eye, giving it the nickname The Eye of the Sahara. It’s best appreciated from an aerial view and like many almost perfect rock formations, many have wondered as to its origins. Scientists conclude that it was a naturally formed circular rock structure, but it’s hard to determine why or how the circle is absolutely perfect and the rings are equidistant from each other.
9 Travertine Pools of Pamukkale, Turkey
Beholding the Travertine Pools in Turkey can easily remind you of scenes in such sci-fi movie franchises as Star Wars or Star Trek. The mineral deposits have accumulated throughout the years, forming white terraces that divide the hot spring pools, whose waters are filled with water of the clearest blue. People have taken a dip in these thermal pools for the past two thousand years, but not all are accessible anymore to the public for preservation purposes.
8 McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica
Since not very many people trek to the coldest continent in the world, it’s but natural that it contains many fascinating structures that have been untouched by man. The series of McMurdo Dry Valleys is not just most remote, but it’s also considered the driest place on earth, which is ironic, considering it’s located right in the middle of Antarctica’s ice-filled and snowy landscape. However, the valleys are free of snow and lay absolutely barren. Scientists claim that this particular spot on earth is similar to the environment in Mars.
7 Mount Roraima, Brazil
There’s no other word to describe Mount Roraima but majestic. This mountain in Brazil is unique in the sense that its summit isn’t a peak; it’s a plateau, most likely created by natural erosion. The tabletop mountain contains some of the most unique species in the world, with plants such as flora, fauna, and a rare kind of heather dotting its surface. An unusual amphibian is also found there: the Roraima Bush toad, which is considered an endangered species.
6 Nazca Lines, Peru
Ground drawings of such asymmetrical perfection were said to be too precise to be of this world. And so it’s assumed that the Nazca Lines in Peru were made by beings from another planet. Found a few hundred miles outside Lima, the lines measure more than 600 feet and can be seen best in all their glory from up in the air, either on planes or on observation towers. Many believe that the drawings have some sort of spiritual force in them, therefore touting the area as sacred.
5 Gobekli Tepe, Turkey
An archaeological site built at the top of a mountain is quite the unique site, even when it lies in ruins. Gobekli Tepe in Turkey was once a religious area and was built in 10,000 BC. At the place, archaeologists found cemeteries that were of Byzantine and Islamic origins, implying that there was a diversity of peoples that lived there. The site withstood many eras and remains an area that historians are adamant to preserve.
4 Shiprock, United States
In the Navajo language, Shiprock is referred to as “rock with wings” and it’s no wonder. It juts up into the sky, giving the illusion that it’s about to take flight. Found in the desert area of the Navajo region in New Mexico, the monadnock rises to more than 1,500 feet and plays a major role in the people’s culture and religion. It’s made up of an igneous rock called “minette” and has been used as a backdrop in many films and novels.
3 Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia
Located in Bolivia is the largest salt flat in the world called Salar De Uyuni. It’s covered in salt crust, which is a factor in the area’s flatness. Many believe that the site is magical and it truly looks it, especially when it’s covered with water and you walk across it. It gives the illusion that you’re walking in a cloud-filled sky. Salar De Uyuni is a breeding ground for certain species of flamingos, whose pink color beautifully contrasts with the white surface of the salt flat and the blue sky above.
2 Sailing Stones in Death Valley, United States
Stones that slide around on their own is a true phenomenon, not to mention a mystery. Said stones are called the Sailing Stones in Death Valley and they’re considered a geological wonder, with rocks moving in long, linear tracks along the smooth floor of the valley without any aid from humans or animals. Scientists have observed the movement and they saw the cause of the stones’ movements: a combination of water, floating ice during the colder months, and light winds.
1 Door to Hell, Turkmenistan
You wouldn’t expect a place with such ominous a name as Door to Hell to look anything but daunting. Located in the Turkmenistan village of Darvaze, this natural gas field has been burning continuously and started doing so quite by accident. Four decades ago, geologists were drilling for gas, accidentally igniting it from a large underground cavern. They expected it to cease, but it kept spewing incessantly and still does up to this day, earning it the name Door to Hell.