In Photos: The World’s Strangest Natural Wonders

A new study reveals that, more than any other motivating factor, adventure explorers are seeking out transformative experiences while on holiday. Simply put, people are looking for something different.

Are you tired of vacationing in places that pride themselves in having clear blue skies, rolling green hills and sandy beaches? Some adventurous travelers want more; they want to see odd natural formations that others won’t believe exist until they see a picture as proof.


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Marble Caves, Chile

Out in the turquoise waters of General Carrera Lake sits 5,000 million tons of marble, elegantly shaped by nature into caves. Viewing them in person is a far more beautiful experience than looking at any photo, but getting there is more difficult than you can imagine.

After a series of flights into the city of Coyhaique, you’ll need to drive another 200 miles and then board a boat, which will get you to the caves.

 

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Elephant Rock, Italy

The large mass of trachyte stone in the shape of an elephant is located just outside Castelsardo, Sardinia. The rock was originally a part of the rocky complex of Monte Casteddazzu before it broke off and rolled down the valley. The stone appears in the shape of the large animal due to erosion.

The Elephant Rock is also known as Sa Pedra Pertunta, the perforated rock, due to its appearance which is punctuated by openings and holes, according to Italy Villas.

 

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Pamukkale, Turkey

Pamukkale is Turkey’s leading mineral-bath spa because of its natural splendor. Hot calcium-laden water flows over a cliff. As it cools down it forms vivid travertines of hard, white calcium that form pools.

Named the Cotton Fortress in Turkish, it has been a spa since the Romans built the spa city of Hierapolis around a sacred warm-water spring.

 

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Eye of the Sahara, Mauritania

The Richat Structure is also known as the Eye of the Sahara. The giant circular feature in the desert forms a conspicuous bull’s-eye in the otherwise featureless expanse of the desert, according to NASA.

Many people say the structure, with a diameter of about 30 miles, looks like an outsized fossil. According to a former theory, Richat was a meteorite impact structure because of its high degree of circularity. However, it is now thought to be merely a symmetrical uplift that has been laid bare by erosion.

 

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Glow Worm Caves, New Zealand

The caves on Lake McLaren are mysterious and magical at the same time. They were formed by underground streams pushing through soft limestone over thousands of years. Float beneath iridescent worms and then let the moonlight and stars guide you back to shore.

Guided since the late 1880s, this is the original, iconic New Zealand attraction, according to Pure New Zealand. Go on a tour and explore the labyrinth of caves, sinkholes and underground rivers.

 

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Wave Rock, Utah and Arizona

The Wave is an enormous, rolling formation. It’s among the most famous and surreal rocks on the Southwestern landscape. The ornamental bands of red, pink, yellow, and white Navajo sandstone look like they are arching up, down and around ancient stone chutes.

 

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Five Colors River (Caño Cristales River), Colombia

Known as “The River of Five Colors” or “The Liquid Rainbow,” this South American landmark shows its brilliant hues between the wet and dry seasons every year.

A unique plant species on the river floor called Macarenia clavigera turns a brilliant red. It’s an incredible sight to observe against the blue water and yellow and green sand. The park reopened to tourists in 2009.

 

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Lake Hillier, Australia

Lake Hillier is perhaps the most spectacular pink lake in the world. While it appears bubble gum-colored from above, the water shows a less dramatic pink hue when viewed from the shore. No one is sure where the color comes from, but scientists have several good guesses.

The color could originate from the organisms Dunaliella salina and Halobacteria. Alternatively, its color could be due to halophilic bacteria’s that live in Hillier’s salt crusts. Either way, the lake is safe for swimming.

 

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Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia

Formed as a result of transformations between many prehistoric lakes, Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat. Because of the large, flat area and clear skies, it is often used for calibrating altimeters of Earth observation satellites.

It also creates a dream-like reflection off of the crust. Stay at Palacio de Sal, a hotel made of ice. Even the furniture in the hotel is made of salt. The rooms look like igloos built with salt blocks.

 

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Socotra, Yemen

Yemen is on the list of places that can kill you but this does not apply to the remote island with plants that are up to 20 million years old.

The island, often called “the most alien-looking place on Earth,” is one of the most secluded adventure destinations on Earth. It is so isolated that more than a third of its plant life does not exist anywhere else. The dragon trees are on some of the most famous photos of the place.

 

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Vaadhoo Island, Maldives

This is a place you should definitely add seeing to your bucket list. The mesmerizing island is best known for the “sea of stars.” At first glance, the water looks like a mirror, reflecting the glittering stars from the dark sky.

The glowing waves of the surreal beach are caused by bioluminescence, a natural chemical reaction generated by phytoplankton, marine microbes disturbed by oxygen.

 

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Moeraki Boulders, New Zealand

The Moeraki Boulders are one of the most mysterious places on Earth. They originally formed in sea floor sediments about 60 million years ago. The large spherical “stones” are scattered on Koekohe Beach near Moeraki on New Zealand’s Otago coast.

They are actually concretions that have been exposed through shoreline erosion from coastal cliffs that back the beach. Each boulder weighs several tons and is up to 6 feet high.

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