Norbert Figueroa a RoamRight Blog Author

5 Unique Places That’ll Make You Feel Like You’re On Another Planet

In general terms, the world is a beautiful place no matter where you go, but some places here and there got a little more tender loving care when they were designed and crafted by Mother Nature.   

There's no shortage of surprisingly beautiful places around the world, but here I’ll share five of them that will surely inspire you to visit them soon.

Dallol, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

Strange things can be seen when you visit the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia – the hottest inhabited place on Earth. While the depression itself looks like a regular desert, there is one particular spot on the north of the desert that will grab your attention. It is called Dallol, and it is a colorful volcanic expression you wouldn’t imagine seeing in the middle of a desert. 

Dallol has a series of salt lakes with hot, acidic water mixed with different elements like copper, calcium, iron, and more. Each lake has a different element, which gives it a different color based on the chemical reaction created by the contact of the element with water and air. 

You can hike around the lakes and even walk on top of the small salty platforms across them. But be careful not to fall! As beautiful as it looks, the water is extremely acidic! 

Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

Imagine yourself, sitting on a boat flowing down a calm underground river. Everything is pitch black until suddenly, you see some specks of blue light on the ceiling. They look like tiny stars. Then, as you continue flowing down the river, you start seeing more and more of these little stars until it looks as if you’re seeing galaxies in the sky. Yet, you’re underground and what you’re seeing are not stars. They are glowworms.

Glowworm caves exist in both Australia and New Zealand, but the brightest one in the world are the Waitomo Caves in Waitomo, New Zealand. As the name implies, the dark, hollow chambers are illuminated by thousands of tiny glowworms, all clustered with different densities across the ceiling, creating the illusion of a starry night in deep space.  

This celestial display might look wonderful to us, but it is, in fact, the feeding mechanism the worms use to attract their prey – which is flies and insects. Their luminosity is their sign of hunger, and they will shine as bright as possible to trick flies into thinking their light is the exit from the cave, but instead, they get trapped in the worm’s sticky and acidic hanging strand. But don’t worry, they are harmless to us, so we might as well enjoy the surreal display.

Bartolome Island in the Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands are considered to be some of the most exotic islands in the world. They are home to hundreds of species –both fauna and flora– that are not found anywhere else in the world. 

While the volcanic landscape of most of the islands is beautiful, one of the most surreal is the setting on Bartolome Island. This small island, inhabited seasonally by penguins, seals, and countless birds, has a beautiful strip of forested land, sided by two concave beaches on opposite sides.

Then, to the end of the strip, a rocky promontory dominates the view as it rises on its own from the sea. 

Behind all this, as a backdrop, is another volcanic island with a varied hue of red soils. To reach Bartolome Island, you must take a day tour from Santa Cruz, the main hub in the Galapagos, or hop on a cruise that includes the island in their itinerary.

Socotra, Yemen

Socotra Island is possibly one of the weirdest natural habitats we have on Earth right now. Socotra, which is part of Yemen, is located in the Indian Ocean some 250km from Somalia and 340km from Yemen. It is part of a group of four islands that have been geographically isolated from mainland Africa for the last six or seven million years. Thanks to this isolation, Socotra has developed an environment not found elsewhere. 

Almost everything is strangely different on Socotra Island, from the fauna and flora to the bizarre rocks formations and landscapes. The climate can be harsh, hot, and dry; and yet, the most amazing wildlife thrives there. Socotra’s landscape is composed of wide sandy beaches, limestone plateaus full of caves, and picturesque trees with weird umbrella-like shapes that rival any fictional landscape seen in movies.

Like the Galapagos Islands, this island is teeming with 700 extremely rare species of flora and fauna, with 1/3 of them being endemic. Actually, Socotra is referred to as the Indian Ocean’s Galapagos.

Unfortunately the political situation in Yemen makes it hard and dangerous to visit Socotra at the moment, but hopefully, things will improve in the future.

Maelifellsandur, Iceland

To start, most of Iceland feels and looks like another planet, but the Maelifellsandur area is simply something not seen anywhere else on Earth. The area is a flat expanse covered with black volcanic sand and surrounded by a glacier on its south side. Glacial river streams trickle through the black canvas, surrounding the iconic volcano that makes this area so uniquely beautiful – Mount Maelifell. 

In contrast to its dark surrounding, Mount Maelifell's almost perfect conical shape (from the right perspective) is covered in some of the brightest green moss you’ll ever see. It is an active volcano, but it is safe to hike to the top. Getting to Mount Maelifell is an adventure in itself as the only way you can reach it is by renting a 4x4 vehicle or hiring a tour (which doesn’t run often) as there are several river crossings along the way. 

Have you been to any of these places?

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About the Author

Norbert Figueroa

Norbert Figueroa, a RoamRight Blog Author Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.

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