There are so many natural wonders around the world that it would take years for us to visit all of them. And even when we complete our quest, we're bound to notice that there are still many incredible places which remain unattended. Mother Nature is so creative that sometimes we take real pictures for the photoshopped ones and while there are many natural wonders which most of us know about, there are a lot of less known natural beauties which certainly require our attention.
For instance, many of us know about the Niagara Falls, but fewer people know about Iguazu Falls; almost all people know about the Grand Canyon, but fewer people know about Bryce Canyon or Providence Canyon; many people have heard about Amazon rainforest, but fewer know about Pantanal. And this list can go on and on!
In addition to this, there are places which look like natural wonders, while they were actually created by the direct influence of people. Attractions like Big Hole of Africa, The Fly Geyser and The Glass Beach in California to name a few, were created because of the carelessness of humans. Too often this carelessness leads to disasters like the drying of the Aral Sea or oil spills and sometimes we get more lucky and beautiful phenomena are formed.
In this article, we will take a look both at less known natural wonders and spectacular phenomena which would be impossible without a direct influence of mankind. No matter how experienced you are in terms of traveling, this article is bound to reveal new destinations and inspire wanderlust even if you have just returned from a fascinating journey.
River of Five Colors also known as The Liquid Rainbow or Caño Cristales is an otherworldly river located in the mountain range of Serranía de la Macarena, Colombia. Without a doubt, it's one of the most spectacular natural wonders in Columbia because it mesmerizes visitors with red, blue, yellow, black and green shades that quiver from the bottom of the river. The red color comes from a plant called Macarenia clavigera which grows in the riverbed. It mixes with blues water, green algae, yellow sand, and black rocks and creates a splash of color which is impossible to forget.
What was once a city trash dump site was turned into a unique beach in California, USA. As you can see from the photo above there are pieces of polished glass instead of stones on this beach. 'How is that possible?' you may ask.
From 1906 to 1967, everything from bottles, cans, appliances, batteries and even cars were pushed over the cliffs into the ocean. What nature gave back was a collection of smooth, polished pieces of sea glass with different colors. Local sea captain even opened a Sea Glass Museum, where you can see the world’s largest permanent sea glass exhibit. Both beach and museum are must-see places for all visitors of the Mendocino coast.
If the River of Five Colors in Columbia isn't red enough for you, then you should definitely visit the Red Beach in Panjin, Liaoning in China. As you may have already understood it has also been labeled 'red' because of the red plant Suaeda salsa. The growth cycle of this plant starts in April, so it's a good month to visit this marvelous place.
The landscape is composed of tide-lands and shallow seas and its the biggest reed march and wetland in the world. More than 399 kinds of wild animals and 260 kinds of birds live there. No wonder that Red Beach attracts tourists from all around the world.
Looking at this canyon you probably won't think that it's a man-made structure and knowing that it's located in Georgia, you may also start wondering if Georgia has any canyons. In fact, Georgia has a canyon and it was created because of the poor farming practices in the 19th century. Too many trees were cut down by the farmers which started the process of natural erosion and led to the formation of Providence Canyon.
Nowadays there are a lot of camping sites and hiking trail for tourists who want to enjoy this man-made mistake which turned into a great beauty.
This is not an oil painting, it's a real place which is located on Mauritius island in Africa. There are many living ecosystems and fabulous reefs near the island, but this island is famous for the underwater waterfall illusion which you can see on the photo.
It looks so miraculous because there's a huge difference between the depths of the underwater part of the island. Some depths range from 8 to 150 meters while others drop too many thousands of meters. The illusion created with this difference in altitude is truly magnificent.
This colorful geyser was created due to the joint efforts of nature and human error. Gladly this example of human error turned out to be very beautiful. The famous Fly Geyser was formed as a result of geothermal water boiling at the Fly Ranch property.
The colors of this geyser are so vivid because of the thermophilic algae, which grows in a moist and hot environment that create the hues of red and green and makes the Fly Geyser look truly otherworldly.
For several years it was impossible to visit the Fly Geyser, but it became open for tourists in 2018 once again.
Sossusvlei is located in the biggest conservation area of Africa Namib-Naukluft National Park. The name of this pace literally means “dead-end marsh” and it is a full of clay pan, white salt and red dunes reaching more than 350 meters. Most of the time, this area remains dry, but when the rain comes it turns the pan into a glassy lake that reflects the dunes around.
In addition to crusted pans and red dunes, you can also find skeleton trees here. Their dead, dark branches contrast with the horizon-less blue skies and add to the surreal feeling of this place.
Almost all of us know about the Grand Canyon, but there are many more spectacular canyons to see around the world and in the United States in particular. One of them is Bryce Canyon in southern Utah.
Irregular columns of rock also known as hoodoos can be found on every continent, but the largest concentration of hoodoos is located in Bryce Canyon. The canyon is situated at the top of the Grand Staircase, along with a high plateau and it's full of geological and natural wonders which are difficult to describe.
The most famous place of Bryce Canyon is the Bryce Amphitheater which you can see on the photo above.
According to The Atlantic, we have created a protective bubble around Earth on accident. This bubble is formed due to the countless radio communications emitted by our devices which interact with high-energy radiation particles in space. The bubble protects Earth from solar flares, dangerous space weather and harmful ejections from the sun. Sometimes this artificial protective shield can be seen from the spacecraft orbiting the Earth.
Fortunately, it's an interplay of nature and human technology which favored us, unlike many cases when it actually hurt us or our planet.
Everyone knows about the Amazon rainforest, but when it comes to wildlife, Pantanal, which is the world’s largest tropical wetland, has no rivals in South America. And, in contrast with Amazon rainforest, where it's difficult to look further than 10 meters because the thick jungle obscures sight, Pantanal boasts with outstanding views in all directions.
You can see a lot of birds and many majestic animals there, including giant anteaters, jaguars, piranha, capuchin monkeys, howlers, deer, wild pigs, capybaras, giant ant-eaters and even green anacondas, the biggest snakes in the world.
Rice paddies are incredibly beautiful and because growing rice isn't limited to just one region or country, you can find many beautiful rice paddies around Asia. The breathtaking photo of the rice paddies that you see above was taken in southern China. This shot which looks more like an abstract painting was made by Thierry Bornier, who spent years capturing the beauty of rice paddies.
"The fusion of man and nature creates awe-inspiring beauty," Bornier says. "I love the patterns and the diversity of each site."
Marble Caves are located in the center of Lake General Carrera. Bathed in deep blue water it's a phenomenon of striking beauty. This incredible block of marble weighs about 5 billion tons. Caverns, caves, and tunnels were formed inside the marble because of wave movement which occurred for more than 6,000 years.
The Marble Caves can only be accessed by boat and you can also find the Marble Cathedral and Marble Chapel inside the caves. Sailing among these polished marble walls is bound to become an unforgettable experience.
This wonder between Brazil and Argentina is voted as 7 Natural Wonders of the World and is without a doubt one of the most beautiful waterfalls and natural attractions in the world.
It's located within the Iguassu National Park and has a great infrastructure for receiving tourists including transportation system, hotel, visitors center, sightseeing tours, shops, food court, parking, and hiking trails to access the falls.
Iguazu Falls is 700 meters long, 150 meters wide and 82 meters high. You can find 70 species of mammals, 400 species of birds and 2000 species of plants in the area.
Mud volcanoes are usually the result of seismic activity, but it's not the case with this mud volcano in Indonesia. Despite being warned multiple times Lapindo Brantas company has drilled in a dangerous place which resulted in a 6.3 magnitude earthquake with several big aftershocks. A couple of days after it, the drill hole erupted 200 meters above itself and continues to erupt until this day. It has already spewed 180, 000 cubic meters of mud into the ocean and it is is expected to continue to erupt for the next 30 years.
Unlike the Fly Geyser or bubble around the Earth created by our devices, this mud volcano is a grim example of what happens when men become greedy and try to compete with nature for selfish motives.
Let's continue our list with a spectacular place in Indonesia, which isn't related to human ignorance and disasters. This place is Kelimutu volcano located in central Flores island, in the small town of Moni. It's famous for having three crater lakes of different colors on the summit. Lake of Old People has a blue color, while Lake of Young Men and Maidens and Bewitched or Enchanted Lake have green and dark red color.
These lakes have obtained such colors due to the chemical reactions which happened because of volcano gas activity.
Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flats on earth which span over 10.5 kilometers. The effect that you see on the photo above is created during the wet season when a thin layer of rainwater creates the surface that mirrors the skies. During the dry season, this place is very beautiful as well, because mesmerizing geometric salt patterns stretch beyond the horizon.
Before traveling to Salar de Uyuni you should know that this place is located 3,660 meters above the sea level, therefore you need some time to acclimatize. Also, mind that getting there is not an easy endeavor.
A natural gas field in Turkmenistan famous by the name 'The Door To Hell' was set on fire in 1971 and it still continues to burn. During the drilling, the ground collapsed and a giant crater was formed. It started to blow methane, one of the most dangerous greenhouse gases, into the atmosphere. Understanding the damage that it can make, workers lit it on fire hoping that it will soon extinguish. To everyone's surprise, after almost 40 years it is still burning.
Beautiful, but very futile waste of natural resources.
Many travelers say that visiting Iceland, is like visiting another planet and mark this country as one of the most beautiful in their traveler's lists. It's easy to understand why. The number of natural attractions and their unique look make it a one-of-a-kind place to visit.
One of such natural attractions is the geothermal lagoon range which was formed as a part of the lava flow. The temperature of water there is 37–39 °C and its color is just heavenly. If you plan to visit it, mind that because of Iceland’s strict hygiene laws, you need to shower nude in the communal showers before and after you enter the lagoon.
If you're looking for a more intimate place, you can also find smaller lagoons around Iceland.
Valley of the Moon is located in northern Chile’s Atacama Desert in Los Flamencos National Reserve and it's one of Chile's most unique destinations. One remarkable thing about this valley is that it has no flora, no fauna, and no water.
On the other hand, there are volcanoes, altiplanic lagoons, geysers, salt flats, majestic sand dunes and it's one of the greatest spots for stargazing because of zero light pollution. Its surface is sometimes compared to the surface of the moon. Malcolm Parkinson, Exodus Travels representative says:
"You can spend an evening at the Moon Valley watching the sunset and the land transforming in front of your eyes.”
Take a look at the world's largest man-made maze. This giant Pineapple Garden Maze which belongs to Dole is located in Hawaii, USA and includes more than three kilometers of paths created from 14,000 of colorful Hawaiian plants.
If you are adventurous enough you can try to find your way to the mysterious heart of this huge labyrinth, while enjoying the amazing permanent botanical maze. You can also take a Plantation Garden Tour and a Pineapple Express Train Tour and visit Dole's store to purchase unique gifts for your friends and family.
The Reed Flute Cave located in Guilin, Guangxi, China is over 180 million years old. It takes its name from verdant reeds which are used to make flutes. You can take a one hour U-shaped tour to see all the sights and immerse yourself in the magical atmosphere of this ancient place. During the tour, you will hear stories about Dragon Pagoda, Fruit Mountain, Flower and Crystal Palace among others - poetic names given to spectacular stone formations.
Imagine the chills that you can get in this 240-meter-long natural cave with impressive multicolored lighting. Totally worth a visit.
Looks ethereal and otherworldly, isn't it? These beautiful lagoons divided by white sands are located in Brazil’s Lençóis Maranhenses National Park.
However this landscape changes during different times of the year and if you want to experience the beauty that you see on the photo, you need to visit Lençóis Maranhenses from July to September when rainwater pools in the valleys between the dunes create hundreds of beautiful lagoons. Because once the dry season hits lagoons get dry again.
If you decide to visit this place, be sure to go with a guide because Lençóis Maranhenses is huge.
Now, let's take a look at the largest man-made hole in the world known as simply a Big Hole in Africa. It's located in Kimberley which is famous for being home to the richest diamond mines in the world and which is considered the diamond industry's capital of the world.
What is now known as a Big Hole in Africa, was previously a functioning diamond mine. The first diamonds were discovered there in 1869, and before the mine was closed, more than 14.5 million diamonds were extracted. Now it stands abandoned and those who don't know the history of this place would never tell how this hole was formed.
This wonderful sea cave is located in Benagil, a small Portuguese village on the Atlantic Ocean. Before becoming a touristic destination, the economy of the village was based on fishing. But once people discovered this impressive cave it started to attract hundreds of tourists which changed the economic orientation of the village.
The coastal line of Lagoa is large and there are other similar caves which can be along the coast, but Praia de Benagil is certainly the most impressive one. You can take a boat trip to visit these caves and enjoy their unique vibe.
This list ends with a romantic attraction known as the Tunnel of Love, which is located in Klevan town, Ukraine. This time humans have once again joined forces with nature to form this staggering tunnel.
The green-arc 3 kilometer-tunnel was shaped by a train that comes three times a day to deliver wood to the fiberboard factory. This place is equally beautiful during all times of the year.
It is believed that if people who sincerely love each other, come here and make a wish it will come true.
Let's act to save the natural wonders we have in the world today and be conscious of our influence on the planet so that we never repeat the mistakes like The Sidoarjo Mud Volcano in Indonesia.