From the blindingly white salt flats of Bolivia to the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, we compiled a list of what we think might be some of the world’s most unusual landscapes. Other recommendations welcome!
Wadi Rum, Jordan: The beauty of Wadi Rum formed the perfect backdrop for the 1962 epic film Lawrence of Arabia. This desert wilderness is certainly cinematic – sand valleys and dunes punctuated by a maze of monolithic rock, natural arches, and slender canyons with moody colours at dawn and dusk, and incredible stars in the vast night skies.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia: Dizzyingly high and shimmering, this huge salt flat near the crest of the Andes is eerie and otherworldly. The colours here are intense, from blue skies, red and green lagoons to pink flamingos, not to mention the giant cacti and spitting geysers.
Purnululu National Park, Australia: Until the release of aerial photos in the early 1980s, this remote area in Western Australia was all but unknown to the outside world. Traditionally used by Kija Aborigines during the wet season, the rugged web of gullies, cliffs, gorges, domes and ridges hold aboriginal works of art and burial sites.
Petrified Forest, Argentina: This flat arid land in Patagonia’s Santa Cruz province is strewn with the stumps of fossilised trees. Wet forests of giant araucaria trees covered the area some 130 million years ago and during the formation of the Andes the large-scale volcanic activity buried Patagonia in ash and these forests turned to stone.
Cappadocia, Turkey: So inhospitable is the landscape here in the heart of Turkey that early dwellers went underground, building churches and houses into the soft cliffs. Above ground, honeycomb cliffs and volcanic cones – known as ‘fairy chimneys’ create dramatic landscapes.
Halong Bay, Vietnam: This stunning landscape features more than 3,000 limestone pillars rising out of the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. Local legend says that the islands were created by giant dragons, summoned by the gods to fight the Chinese invaders.
Painted Desert, Arizona, USA: Vibrant reds, oranges, blues, greys and pinks decorate this sun-baked Painted Desert on a high plateau in Arizona. Home of the Hopi and the Navajo peoples, the latter known for their ceremonial sand paintings, it’s a very unique part of the USA.
Cave of the Crystals, Mexico: Looking as if Superman could call it home, Mexico’s Cueva de los Cristales contains some of the world’s largest known natural crystals; translucent beams of gypsum up to 36 feet long. Modern-day mining operations exposed this natural wonder by pumping water out of the cave, which was found in 2000 near the town of Delicias
Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, Brazil: On the highest plain in central Brazil, this areas incredible rock formations are one of the oldest on the planet. Huge areas of quartz with outcrops of crystals, the varying altitude and multitudes of waterfalls help make it a unique looking environment.
Lake Myvatn, Iceland: The Apollo 11 crew were sent here to train for their moon walks. It is lined with craters, lava pillars and mud pits, while volcanic islets are scattered across the water. If not for all the ducks roaming the sandbars, you could think you were on another planet.