Wadi Rum, Jordan
Wadi Rum is also known as the Valley of the Moon. Yet it’s a place that looks more like Mars. When Ridley Scott began shooting The Martian in 2015, this is where he headed. It’s not difficult to see why. Located in southern Jordan, there’s little Earth-like about this alien spot in the desert. Two of the more recent Star Wars movies were also filmed here. Like to visit a place from a science fiction fantasy? Wadi Rum is as close as you’ll come without heading into Outer Space.
Carved between the immense sandstone and granite rocks that dominate the landscape here, Rum is the largest wadi — or valley — in Jordan. People have been coming here since prehistoric times. Paying a visit? Be sure to look out for ancient drawings and other markings, as well as the remains of the long-lost temples that once stood here. Located 40 miles from Aqaba, getting here is easy. Take a trip to Wadi Rum and you’ll feel as though you’ve travelled a great deal further.
Fly Geyser, Black Rock Desert, Nevada
Fly Geyser is a cone-like mound that spurts boiling hot water, often exceeding 200C. Be sure to be safe and always keep your distance. Exercise caution and this makes for an awe-inspiring experience. Travelling here is like stepping into another world, where unusual rock formations abound and unique colours catch the eye. Trust us on this one: you need to take that trip.
Formed in 1916, when a team drilling for water penetrated a geothermal source deep beneath the desert surface, Fly Geyser has drawn those with an eye for the alien ever since. The thermophilic algae that thrives in the hot waters here has stained the surrounding rocks in multiple colours. It makes for a unique landscape that can be found nowhere else on Earth.
The Spotted Lake (Kliluk), Osoyoos, Canada
Visiting Kliluk can be an eerie experience. Located in breathtaking British Columbia, this is a place a little off the established tourist trail. But those in the region ought to pay a visit. Unusual? To describe it as such is a major understatement. Like a place from another planet, the Spotted Lake resembles nowhere else on Earth.
To call it a lake is a little misleading. Kliluk comprises more than 300 separate pools, all rich in highly-concentrated minerals. Containing magnesium sulfate, sodium sulfate and calcium, as well as traces of silver and titanium, this is no place to take a dip. But for anyone with an interest in the alien, it’s a fascinating spot that demands to be seen. Nestled between the spectacular Similkameen and Okangan Valleys, Kliluk can be a little tricky to find. But those who take the time to locate the Spotted Lake’s unique shores tend to agree that it was well worth the effort.
Painted Dunes of Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Colourful and captivating, Lassen’s Painted Dunes beckon those with a penchant for the unusual. Located in beautiful northern California, not far from Redding, this is well worth a stop for anyone taking a road trip. The breathtaking landscape here is like nowhere else on Earth. That it looks like a place from another planet is beyond all question.
The most spectacular sights can be discovered in an area not far from Cinder Cone. This is a 700-foot volcano that last erupted in the 1650s. When it blew its top, it changed the landscape forever. The multi-coloured pumice fields that are so distinctive were formed when ash from the eruption fell onto the lava before it had cooled. Oxidation caused the vibrant colours that continue to prove such a big draw. For anyone with an interest in the otherworldly, this unusual spot should be prominent on your travel bucket list.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Bleak, barren, but still somehow beautiful, visiting Salar de Uyuni is like leaving Planet Earth far behind. Located in Bolivia, the world’s largest salt flats present a striking landscape like nowhere else. Ever wondered what an alien world really looks like? We reckon it’d be something like this. Once an immense prehistoric lake that dried up beneath the hot Andean sun, the desolate flats that remain must be seen to be believed. The colours are vibrant, with the pure white salt gleaming beneath perfect blue skies. One thing is for certain: there’s nowhere else quite like it.
Thinking about paying a visit? Look out for spectacular rock formations, islands dotted with robust cacti and countless pink flamingos. The combination makes for an out-of-this-world experience that appeals to those with an eye for the unusual. For the ultimate alien adventure, visit after dark, when the stars shine bright and all is calm and quiet. You’ll feel as though you’re in Outer Space, having left Planet Earth far behind.
Bromo Volcano, East Java, Indonesia
The Bromo Volcano is a surreal-looking landscape set on the island of Java, a few hours plane away from mainland Indonesia. The most impressive view comes at sunrise where the peaks rise majestically from among the thick layer of white cloud. The name, Bromo, is derived from Brahma, the Hindu Creator God.
Standing tall in Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, there’s no escaping Bromo’s brooding presence. Rising from the bare and barren plain, it towers. You can reach it on foot or in a jeep, but those heading towards the spectacular slopes should always exercise caution. Bromo is an active volcano, and eruptions are not uncommon. Consult a local guide before taking a trip, but don’t be put off. Rising from the so-called Sea of Sand, Bromo is a beacon — forever pointing the way to a different world that demands to be explored.
Lake Natron, Monduli, Tanzania
Lake Natron’s bright red waters beckon those with an eye for the unusual. Like a place from another planet, this is an alien environment indeed. Located in northern Tanzania and sitting beneath an active volcano, getting here isn’t easy. But for those feeling curious about such things, it’s more convenient than travelling to the moon — and it’s just as fascinating.
The soda lake’s distinctive waters are highly-alkaline — with a pH reading that often exceeds 12. Mineral rich and always red, this is a place that is hostile to life and, with little living here, you could be excused for imagining that you’d journeyed to another world. Thinking about taking a dip? Think again. So caustic are the waters here that those who come into contact don’t always live to tell the tale. The animal carcasses that litter the harsh landscape look a little like creatures turned to stone. It’s a sight that just adds to Lake Natron’s otherworldly atmosphere.
Glowworm Caves, Waitomo, New Zealand
It’s all in the name. Waitomo’s ever-popular attraction takes captivated visitors deep underground to an ancient cave system like no other on Earth. Down here, countless lights shimmer like subterranean stars. But it’s the glowworms that are pointing the way — shining bright in the dark and making for an alien experience. For those fortunate enough to visit, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, with the glowworms that are found here exclusive to New Zealand’s North Island. Like to see them for yourself? We can’t recommend this place enough.
Take a boat ride through winding passages and into vast grottos — and don’t forget to look up. It’s there, on the craggy ceilings, that the glowworms tend to congregate in great number. Like a glimpse of another galaxy, this is an otherworldly experience that awaits right here on Earth. Like a place from another planet, this underground adventure is one that must not be missed.
Namib Naukluft Park, Namibia
Namib Naukluft is enormous. Covering close to 50,000 square kilometres, this is the largest game park in the whole of Africa. But there’s rather more to this place than its sheer size alone. The sands here are distinctive in colour — with oxidized iron resulting in a burnt orange hue that shines in the hot Namibian sun. It makes for a rather alien environment. Like to visit another planet? We reckon it’d look a lot like this.
The dunes here are impossible to avoid. Some stretching almost 1,000 feet into the skies, these are the tallest on Earth. The landscape looks a lot like a scene from Star Wars — beckoning science fiction fans keen to experience life in another world. With thick fogs often rolling in from the Atlantic, you’ll soon lose your bearings in this hyper-arid environment. Like nowhere else on Earth, Namib Naukluft is like a place from another planet.
Wulingyuan Scenic Area, Zhangjiajie, China
There’s no question that Wulingyuan is a scenic spot. Its towering sandstone pillars that stretch skywards make this place feel like nowhere else on Earth. Located in South Central China’s Hunan Province, this is a spectacular land. Boasting countless peaks, gorges, rivers and ravines, it’s no surprise that Wulingyuan continues to prove popular.
There’s a great deal to see here, but it’s those imposing pillars that prove the biggest draw. Formed from quartzite, there are more than 3,000 to be seen here. Like something from an alien land, the effect can be haunting. Like to dig a little deeper? There are more than 40 caves here, many rich in calcite deposits and always beckoning the adventurous. Pencil in a little time here and be sure to look out for Tianqiashengkong. One of the highest natural bridges on Earth, it looks a little like a portal to another world.
Hang Son Doong, Vietnam
Hang Son Doong is huge. Lying hidden from sight until recent times, the largest cave on Earth wasn’t discovered until the 1990s. Since then, it has beckoned adventurers keen to explore an underground world that is breathtaking in its scale. Like travelling to a place from another planet, heading deep into Hang Son Doong’s immense halls is a unique experience.
You could fit an entire New York City block down here — including the tallest towers and skyscrapers. But there’s rather more to awe-inspiring Hang Son Doong than its size alone. Light streaks in from sinkholes on the surface — helping lush vegetation to thrive underground in a unique environment that must be seen to be believed. Look out for giant stalagmites that measure up to 70 metres in length, a fast-flowing subterranean river that rushes past and the clouds that form when moisture condenses on the cave system’s distant ceiling.
Jökulsárlón, Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland
Visitors flock to Vatnajökull National Park to see Iceland’s deepest lake at close quarters. Breathtaking in its beauty, it makes for a spectacular sight. But Jökulsárlón also feels rather otherworldly. Like a land from a far and frozen planet, there can be no question that this place has an alien atmosphere. It might be the still blue waters, or it might be the striking black sands. It might be the ancient icebergs that float on the peaceful surface and wash up on the lapping shores, or it might be the deafening silence that abounds. Regardless, this is a place like nowhere else on Earth. Coming here can be a haunting experience.
Located on Iceland’s stunning southern coast, Jökulsárlón has long been a popular spot with those keen to leave normal life behind. Grab gloves and a warm jacket and look out for the diamond-like ice chunks marooned on the black beaches.
Travelling to Socotra is an alien experience indeed. There’s nowhere else on Earth that looks quite like this. This is a strange land that always leaves visitors feeling far from home. Located in the shimmering Arabian Sea, the island is remote in the extreme. But the thing that makes Socotra most feel like a land from a distant galaxy is the exotic and unusual plant life for which this place is so renowned.
Cut off from the rest of the world for so long, Socotra boasts innumerable ancient species that cannot be found anywhere else on Earth. The iconic Dragon Blood Tree is the one most renowned — with its distinctive umbrella shape and long finger-like branches. Slash the bark and the tree ‘bleeds’ crimson, hence the name. It’s a strange sight — and one that looks as though it doesn’t belong Earth. This is a trip to make if you like stepping out of your comfort zone.
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Visitors flock to Yellowstone to witness a natural phenomenon that looks as though it doesn’t belong on Earth. Grand Prismatic is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third biggest on the planet. But the thing that sets this captivating crater apart is not its awe-inspiring size. The colours here are eye-catching in the extreme and like something from an alien world. Like to see it for yourself? You’ll feel as though you’ve travelled to a strange and distant land.
Deep blue in the centre, Grand Prismatic’s mineral rich waters are rainbow-like — covering the full spectrum and making for a spectacular sight. Thinking about taking a quick dip? Think again. The water temperature here can reach 160C and, when Grand Prismatic erupts, it’s best not to be too close. Best experienced from a safe distance, this is an otherworldly experience that is not to be missed.
Dos Ojos, Tulum, Mexico
Located on Mexico’s picturesque Yucatan Peninsula, Dos Ojos beckons those with a penchant for adventure. Like to dive? This is a spectacular place to do it. But do be warned. This is not a spot for the inexperienced – the underwater world that lies beneath the surface here is deep, disorientating and like nowhere else on Earth.
Dos Ojos — translated as ‘Two Eyes’ — refers to the two main entrance points to the vast cave network. Divers first started exploring here in 1987. But so long and winding are the narrow passages, there’s still a great deal to discover in the crystal clear waters. Located close to Tulum, getting to Dos Ojos is relatively easy. But with great caverns and mysterious creatures awaiting in the depths, those who do take the plunge often find the experience to be a little like leaving the Earth behind and travelling to another world.
Desolate and dry, Dallol appeals to those seeking the otherworldly. Located in northern Ethiopia, getting here isn’t easy. But for anyone keen to experience life on another planet, this is perhaps as close as it comes. Don’t like hot weather? You might want to give this barren backwater a miss. Dallol holds the record for the highest average temperature for an uninhabited place on Earth. Trust us on this one. You wouldn’t want to settle down and live here.
Summer temperatures often reach close to 50C and with little or no rainfall, the landscape has a distinctly Martian feel to it. Located in the Afar Depression, Dallol lies 130 metres below sea level. Hostile to life and with few redeeming features, it’s perhaps no great surprise that few venture here. Those who do discover salt formations, acidic hot springs and gas geysers — a landscape that is alien and unusual, and one that feels as though it belongs to another planet.
Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), Chile
The name says it all. Spending time in Valle de la Luna is like travelling to the moon. Like to experience Lunar life? Chile is the place to go — with the Moon Valley always a popular spot amongst those with an eye for the otherworldly. Located in the sprawling Atacama Desert, it’s a little off the beaten track. That said, getting here is easier than travelling into Space. Thinking about paying a visit? No rocket is required.
Most start at San Pedro de Atacama — the small town that serves as a useful staging post — before heading deep into the desert. You’re still on Earth, but your eyes will suggest otherwise. Dried-up riverbeds, jagged peaks and unusual rock formations abound, whilst all is dry and barren amongst the canyons and the dunes. Ever dreamed about travelling to the moon? Valle de la Luna is an attractive alternative that beckons adventurers time and time again.
Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Brazil
Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is enormous. It’s also rather strange. There’s nowhere else on Earth with a landscape quite like this. Spend a little time here and you’ll feel as though you’ve travelled to another planet. Located in North-East Brazil, the National Park is a sprawling desert. This might not sound unusual, but there’s a twist. When the summer rains come, the desert floods. The sands sitting atop impermeable rock that prevents drainage, freshwater lagoons form amongst the dunes, creating a land like no other.
Covering 380,000 acres — and boasting 43 miles of captivating Atlantic coastline — Lençóis Maranhenses is becoming more and more popular amongst those with an eye for the unusual. Thinking about paying a visit? Take our advice and don’t leave it too late. The shimmering lagoons are at their fullest between May and August. But from September onwards, the waters start to dry up and the desert returns to a state of normality.
White Desert, Farafra, Egypt
You’ll feel as though you’re no longer on Earth in Egypt’s otherworldly White Desert. From afar, this strange land looks cool and covered in snow. But the truth couldn’t be more different. This is a place that can be hellishly hot. Don’t let the bright white rocks and gleaming chalk formations deceive you. Spend a little time here and you will feel the heat.
The White Desert is set in a deep geological depression, located 30 miles to the north of Farafra, and part of the much larger Western Desert. The wind-shaped rocks give the landscape a mysterious feel, whilst all is white and weird beneath the baking Egyptian sun. Linger too long and you’ll soon forget that you’re still on Earth, so different and disorientating is the unusual environment. Like to experience life on another planet? It’s easier to get to Egypt than Outer Space.