Everyone who’s ever been infected with travel wanderlust has fantasized about visiting another world. The dream of whisking off to planets with fantastical landscapes, and bizarre natural wonders unlike anything on terra firma is pretty appealing. But as much as we’re rooting for private space companies, it doesn’t look like tourism to other planets is going to happen in our lifetime. That leaves two options: taking in the breathtaking views of Mars from NASA rovers, or trekking to some uniquely non-Earth-like locales right here on our home planet. Obviously, we’re fans of the latter.
Here are 10 places that look like alien landscapes you can visit right here on good old Earth.
Marvel at aqua blue water pools set in a white calcium fortress towering above you, then consider that these thermal pools in western Turkey, only about an hour’s flight from Istanbul, have been healing visitors since the days of ancient Rome.
Lake Natron, Tanzania
The saline lake of Tanzania’s Arusha region is world-renowned for its red and orange hues, caused by, as we all know, its cyanobacteria’s photosynthesizing pigment! But beware, the alkaline water’s high PH can actually burn your skin. The ghostly preserved animals that have died in the lake will make you feel like you’re visiting an extraterrestrial environment. Tread carefully!
Fingal’s Cave, Scotland
Dare to venture close to this alien-looking cave on the uninhabited Scottish island of Staffa, and you’ll be amazed by the naturally-formed hexagonal basalt columns and the famous acoustics! Its Gaelic name, An Uaimh Bhinn, means the melodious cave.
Fly Geyser, Nevada
This man-made geothermal geyser was accidentally created by well drillers in the 1960s. Sitting on a private ranch in Washoe County, Nevada, it’s surrounded by a fence preventing visitors from getting too close, which is OK, because it’s big enough (and weird enough) to see from a distance. This will really make you feel like you’re not on Earth!
Zhangye Danxia, China
Walking anywhere around this awesome geological park located in the Gansu province, China, will make you feel like an astronaut! Zhangye Danxia features uniquely colorful rock formations that will take your breath away!
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Wadi Rum, Jordan
A valley through granite and sandstone in southern Jordan, the Wadi Rum Protected Area is so otherworldly that its nickname is the valley of the moon. But while that, and the fact that it doubled for Mars in the film The Martian, may make it sound desolate, it’s actually a seriously popular tourist attraction. Check it out.
Svinafellsjokull Glacier, Iceland
With a bleak and frozen landscape, it’s understandable why this glacier in Iceland’s Vatnajokull National Park was used as a stand-in for a frozen planet in the 2014 movie, Interstellar. While it can look intimidatingly uninhabitable, the experience is totally amazing and well worth the cheap international flights to get there.
Vaadhoo Island, Maldives
An inhabited section of the Raa Atoll in the Indian Ocean, Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives, is famous for its sea of stars, a unique illumination created by bioluminescent phytoplankton washing onto the shore at night. Paddle around amidst the glowingly alien lights of Vaadhoo, as you gaze up at the stars above.
Mount Roraima, Venezuela
One look at this peek in the Canaima National Park, Venezuela, with its sheer cliff sides and flat rock top, jutting out of the morning fog, and you’ll think it was created by aliens. But in fact, it’s naturally forming and just asking you to hike to the top!
Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia
No matter how you look at the world’s largest salt flat, located in Bolivia, you’ll probably do a double-take at its unearthly vista. With flatlands stretching out into an unending horizon, and standing water reflecting the sky like a perfect mirror, you can truly feel you’re on a distant planet.
Think we missed any alien-looking landscapes to visit on Earth? Let us know in the comments section below.