Some parts of the Earth have a certain unique quality that it’s hard to believe they exist. Such landscapes, whether they be surrounded in formations of ice, growing in the middle of flames, or encompassed in stone, leave you with an exhilarating feeling. What makes these landscapes so amazing is how distinct they are among a crowd of beaches, mountains, cities, forests, and countrysides. These are virtually works of art – and should shoot up straight to the top of your travel bucketlist. So, when you’re thinking of where to travel next, make sure to check out these nature travel marvels. Without further ado, here are some incredible unique landscapes around the world:
Marble Caves, Chile
Formed by more than 6,000 years of waves crashing up against calcium carbonate (the same mineral found in pearls and shells), Chile features tunnels and pillars created in monoliths of marble. The caves are located on a peninsula of stunning marble and is best seen in the morning when it’s sunny and bright. These azure-blue cavern walls border and reflect Lake General Carrera, a remote glacial body of water that spans the Chile-Argentina border, and are carved into the Patagonian Andes. This marble cathedral is a part of Patagonia’s chiseled treasures. The marble caves are only accessible by scheduled, guided boat tours or rented kayaks. If you’re ever in Chile, seeing these gorgeous marble caves are a must for your nature travel must-dos!
Looking to travel to an island at the edge of the world? Socotra is one of the most richly diverse islands in terms of plant species. The island is home to nearly 800 species of flora, around a third of which cannot be found anywhere else on Earth. Socotra brings new explorers every year in hopes to experience its dry, hot lowlands, mist-blanketed mountains, sandy beaches, and limestone caves.
Tucked away in the Indian Ocean between Somalia and Yemen, this beautiful, nature travel landscape is especially known for its seriously insane trees. They nearly look like mushrooms (but much more majestic, clearly)! They’re called Dragon Blood Trees. Socotra has been described as the most alien place on Earth, where the trees are 20 million years old! How cool is that? Visit Socotra and you won’t want to leave!
Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
Every year, people marvel at the mystery of Giant’s Causeway. These world-famous basalt columns, which stretch in total of nearly 40,000 in perfect horizontal sections, are found in County Antrim on the north coast of Northern Ireland. It has been discovered that the giant formations were made by volcanic eruptions some 50 million years ago.
To visit this landscape is to travel back in time. Not only has this fascinating site inspired scientists and artists, but it has also contributed to our growing understanding of the Earth’s geological history. At the Giant’s Causeway, you will be at the center of legend overlooking the stunning Ireland coastline. The columns are best reached on foot so get ready to see this magnificent nature travel landscape!
Blood Pond Hot Spring, Japan
Sounds scary, right? It’s not as creepy as it looks! The Blood Pond Hot Spring is located in the city of Beppu in southern Japan. It’s been formed by high concentrations of iron salts in the region. You might not be surprised to hear that locals refer to the spring as a bubbling hell (which is tourist language for “look, don’t swim”) with its red waters, 90 degree temperatures, and rising steam. The landscape still remains one of the marvels of the world. You can visit nearby restaurants that offer meals cooked by the heat of the spring or go to local shops to buy skincare made from pond minerals. Beppu is the world’s second largest source of thermal spring water after Yellowstone National Park. It’s the perfect, nature travel, fiery landscape to visit if you’re looking for a beautiful spa environment in an enchanting city!
Want to fly in a hot air-balloon (the most popular activity) over some of the most complex tunnels in the world? Cappadocia is a moonscaped region in central Turkey. The rocky landscape is honeycombed with tunnel networks of ancient underground cities for you to explore (like Kaymakli and Derinkuyu) and incredible depictions of Byzantine art. What is most interesting is the fact that Cappadocia has as many as eight different stories and levels of settlement hidden beneath the surface. That’s a lot of digging! You can even book a reservation at a cave hotel or suite for the ultimate experience! Are you ready to take this journey down under? Travel to Cappadocia to see the beauty in civilization as a part of nature (literally)!
Grab your bathing suits! Cenotes, located in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, make up a strikingly beautiful underworld of turquoise pools. Nearly 7,000 cenotes have been discovered in Mexico and are a nature travel favorite! They were formed by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock, resulting in the creation of natural swimming holes. Most of the cenotes are fresh-water pools, so clear that you can see straight to the bottom underneath your feet. At these secret locations, you can swim in mineral-rich waters in plunging caves or below a jungle-outlined sky. Cenotes will make you lose track of time. Visit these amazing nature travel wonders to swim in an entirely new, underwater world!
Stone Forest, China
Another journey back in time takes us to China’s Yunnan Province, where the famous stone forest (or “Shilin” in Chinese) is found across a region of nearly 186 miles of landscape. These stone formations are over 270 million years old and were made by earthquake activity and water and wind erosion.
One of the most sacred attractions is called the Ashima Stone. The stone (according to legend) was formed after a young girl, Ashima, went into the forest and was turned to stone after being forbidden to marry the man she loved. Lotus Peak, Ashima Rock, Sword Peak Pond, Shilin Lake, and “a Gleam of Sky” are some of the sights to see on your trip. China’s stone forest will change your perspective on the world’s most unique, nature travel landscapes and will forever be a memorable trip for the books!
Door to Hell, Derweze, Turkmenistan
The Door to Hell is a natural gas field in the village of Derweze in Turkmenistan. It collapsed into an underground cavern after a team of scientists set up a drilling platform in search for natural gas reserves in 1971. Fearing the spread of methane after its fall, the scientists lit the crater on fire in an effort to burn out the gas. Yet, more than 40 years later, the Door to Hell is still burning like the fiery pits of… well, Hell. And, guess what? The crater has a total area equal to the size of an American football field and dives 66 feet below the surface! This coliseum of fire is definitely one of the most unique, nature travel landscapes around the world. Travel to Derweze to see this marvel for yourself!
Chocolate Hills, Philippines
These adorable hills are located in the middle of the island of Bohol in the Philippines. The extraordinary landscape is unique in character and appearance. In fact, they are covered in grass for most of the year and the cone-tops differ in height. The Chocolate Hills, as a result of thousands of years of weathering limestone, are only “chocolate-y” during Philippines’ dry seasons. Astonishingly, more than 1250 hills are in this region of nature. Its natural beauty will show you something you’ve never seen before. Travel to the Philippines to experience this flawless landscape!
Las Salinas Grande, Argentina
Off the beaten path in central-northern Argentina is the Salinas Grande. It’s a salt flat that spans an area of 2,300 square miles. This lake is best seen on a clear day when the contrast between the ice and sky is most enchanting. If you’re looking to explore a natural landscape that rivals other wonders, then driving to Las Salinas Grande is the perfect option for you! After it rains, the sheet of ice acts as a striking mirror to the surrounding snow-capped mountains, puffy clouds, and soaring hills. The unique, nature travel landscapes of Las Salinas Grande make for an unforgettable experience!
Blood Falls, Antarctica
It’s not real blood! Don’t worry! This incredible landscape is located at the northern end of Taylor Glacier. It stretches over 60 miles through the Trans-Antarctic Mountains and was a mystery to scientists for years! Underneath a glacier that’s 1.5 million years old, the falls appear red because of iron-tainted saltwater mixing with oxygen. The Blood Falls were discovered in 1911 and are an extremely popular travel attraction! Travel to Antarctica to see its landscapes that have boggled the minds of many for years. The Blood Falls definitely won’t disappoint.
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Check out our Travel Ideas section for more information on unique destinations!