Sometimes, reality really is stranger than fiction - especially when it comes to natural phenomena Mother Nature has cooked up! Here are 13 of the world's weirdest natural wonders.
When we think of natural wonders, we think of the most picturesque places in the world right? These 13 natural wonders, are weird and downright wacky. Take a look for yourself.
1. Marble Caves, Carerra Lake, Argentina and Chile
Hordes of tourists visit the remote glacial lake that spans the boarder of Argentina and Chile every year – but it’s not for the stunning vistas of the Andes or sunny microclimate - it’s for the curious and remarkable geological formation at the very centre of the lake. The group of caverns, tunnels and pillars that make up the famed Marble Caves appear as if Mother Nature herself carved through a few monoliths of marble and went to town with a paintbrush.
2. Travertine Pools at Pamukkale, Turkey
The Travertine Pools are a victim of their own surreal beauty – the spot has become so popular that access for tourists is now restricted. You can’t blame people for wanting to bathe in the pristine milky white mineral springs – in fact people have been bathing here since the second century BC, including the ancient Romans. The petrified waterfalls of the World Heritage site are still one of the star draw cards for Turkey, and dozens of tourists arrive by the busload every day to revel in the bewildering beauty of the pools.
3. The Cave of Crystals
Mother Nature has really outdone herself with this one – The Cave of Crystals looks like a custom built set for a fantasy film. The world’s largest crystals are concealed nearly 1,000 feet below Naica Mountain, in the northwest region of Chihuahua, Mexico. First drained in 1975, it wasn’t until 2000 that miners discovered the selenite crystals – some as large as tree trunks. Forged in extreme heat, the crystals developed over a period of 500,000 years in the mineral-rich water. It’s only open to researchers who can enter the cave for short periods of time, and plans to re-flood the caves to preserve the crystals are in the works.
4. Fairy Chimneys, Cappadocia Turkey
The towering pillars of lava on the central Anatolia plateau in the Goreme Valley are a sight to behold – but what’s truly remarkable about the Fairy Chimney’s is that humans have excavated the pillars to form dwellings since the fourth century AD. Today, you can still stay in boutique fairy-chimney hotels.
5. Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area, China
It wasn’t that long ago that this part of China’s Hunan Province was completely inaccessible – it remained almost untouched by man until 1949. But now, the UNESCO World Heritage site pulls large numbers of tourists who come to marvel at its 3000 sandstone pillars that tower over the streams, pools and waterfalls that weave their way through the thick vegetation below.
6. Wave Rock, Australia
Skaters may be tempted to carve up the natural half pipe – the rest of us can only stare in wonder (and perhaps take some photos with a surfers stance) at this 46-foot-geological wonder. Formed by the erosion at the bottom of the eons-old granite dome, what makes Wave Rock truly spectacular is the vertical stripes running down it’s face – the result of rain washing deposits down the face – making it look like a wave that’s eternally about to break.
7. Waiotapu Champagne Pool, North Island, New Zealand
It looks inviting enough, but this is no place to go for a quick dip - this geo-thermal pool is a piping 165 degrees! Formed around 900 years ago, the constant bubbling of carbon dioxide has helped earn the pool its moniker, while the mineral deposits give it the brilliant orange hue.
8. Lake Hillier, Middle Island, Australia
Unlike its cousin Lake Retba in Senegal, no one really knows why Lake Hillier in the Recherché Archipelago off the South Coast of Western Australia is a brilliant bubblegum pink. The most popular theory goes that bacteria that call the salt crusts of the lake home, are to thank – it even looks pink when bottled. If you’re going to visit this lake, the best way is to rent the closest helicopter for a bird’s eye view!
9. Vaadhoo Island, Maldives
Want a romantic stroll down the beach? You can’t do better than Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives, which is famed for its mesmerising foreshore that seems to have just as many sparkling stars as the night sky. The reason is the Phytoplankton – the marine microbes create the brilliant effect that you’ll remember for a lifetime.
10. Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia
Ever wanted to feel like you’re walking on water? The closest you’ll ever get is at Salar De Uyuni – the largest salt flat in the world. Stretching for 10,582 sq km (10,582 square metres), the white landscape that seemingly stretches on for infinity resembles a frozen lake.
11. Striped icebergs, Antarctica
While a visit to Antarctica will give you plenty of dazzling sights you’re sure to treasure for a lifetime, one of the natural wonders you won’t want to miss is the striped icebergs, which are a striking sight against a vista of white and blue.
12. The Door to Hell, Turkmenistan
The Door to Hell in Turkmenistan's Karakum Desert has been smoldering and spitting for over 40 years, thanks to geologists who tried to burn off natural gases discovered when drilling at the site. Now, it’s a popular spot for those who fancy staring down the pitfalls of hell without doing anything wicked and waiting for their day of judgment.
13. Aurora Borealis, Abisko National Park, Sweden
It’s on the bucket list of many an intrepid traveller, and for good reason – once you see the dazzling light show in the far north of Sweden, there won’t be many other sights that will compare to the grandeur you lay witness to.