The idea of space travel has always fascinated mankind. Humans have always yearned to escape the shackles of Earth’s gravity and reach the stars and beyond, due to their innate drive to understand the universe and their place in it. Just 50 years ago or so, mankind sent its first astronauts to space and then the moon; and ever since, our quest for studying and exploring the universe has catapulted to new heights. But it isn’t just astronauts or astrophysicists who are curious about outer space.
Common people, too, yearn to know and travel to outer space. Several millionaires have been thrust to the highest layer of the Earth’s atmosphere. Some just floated around in airplanes for that “zero-gravity” experience while others leapt from the stratosphere without any vehicular support just to show that they can! And a few lucky billionaires have begun purchasing extraterrestrial real estate already. Plus there is this promise from people like Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, that their companies will colonize Mars someday and transport human beings.
Although it sounds cool, it certainly is not for the non-elite adventure junkie, at least not in this generation. But did you know that there are places that actually feel more like outer space? Earth in all its mystery has hidden several surprises and tricks up its sleeve in various breathtaking locales.
Here, we list out 20 such places on our planet where you will actually feel like you are in outer space. Why travel so far up when you can actually get a glimpse of it on this planet itself? Yes, apples and oranges, we know. But give these surreal and otherworldly places a visit because they are worth it!
20 Wadi Rum, Jordan – The Valley Of The Moon
Its dramatic sandstone mountains, unique landscape lined with cliffs, deep and narrow vales, natural arches, and Martian-red sand give Jordan’s Wadi Rum the feel of being in outer space. “Wadi Rum”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in southern Jordan, is an Arabic phrase that translates to “sand valley.” The protected desert wilderness is also known as The Valley Of The Moon.
Sitting to the East of Aqaba, Wadi Rum is the largest valley in Jordan. Wadi Rum attracts a huge population of foreign tourists with its eco-adventure tourism. From trekking to camel safari and camping, this outer-space-like locale offers luxurious tourists activities. You can actually click selfies at Wadi Rum and claim to have visited Mars!
19 Fly Geyser, Nevada – A Slimy Alien Structure
The Fly Geyser, also known as Fly Ranch, was created accidentally during a well-drilling activity for the exploration of geothermal energy sources. Located on private land in Washoe County, Nevada, The man-made geyser, a product of human error and natural geothermal pressure, looks like a slimy, crimson-emerald-gold alien structure that fell from outer space, ingrained itself into the ground, and began spewing jets of water.
The mineral deposits from the geothermal water pockets beneath the surface of the Black Rock Desert, along with a species of algae, gives Fly Geyser its colors and causes it to erupt scalding water. Sitting north of the town Gerlach near State Route 34, the structure is open to the public.
18 Spotted Lake, Canada – Straight Outta Nolan’s Sci-Fi
The Spotted Lake is a strangely patterned water body composed of 300 separate pools of highly-concentrated saline endorheic alkali. Located between the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys in British Columbia, the Spotted Lake stores large amounts of magnesium sulfate, sodium sulfates and calcium, with traces of silver and titanium.
During summers, when the water in the lake evaporates, the minerals settle in circular burrows or spots. Technically, you can walk on the crystal spots when it dries and solidifies. Practically, though, you are only permitted to view the Spotted Lake from afar due to its ecological sensitivity. The area is protected from the liabilities of public access. Sounds like an outer space adventure straight out of a Christopher Nolan sci-fi!
17 Torri Del Vajolet, Italy – Standing On A Meteor
Torri Del Vajolet, also known as Vajolet Towers, is a group of six summits in the Dolomites of Val di Fassa. As the most photographed peaks in the world, the splendor of these mountains attracts thousands of tourists from all over the globe. It also holds the record for being the highest climbed peak in the Dolomites.
Hovering over the Rosengarten group in the Dolomites, Torri Del Vajolet is the adventurer’s most preferred and favored destination for rock climbing. The world-famous Vajolet Towers will mesmerize the soul of the viewer. Once you visit these outlandish Towers, you will doubt if you are on Earth or floating in outer space on a ginormous meteor or an abandoned planet.
16 Painted Dunes Of Lassen Volcanic National Park, California – Alien Badlands
Do you wish that you could travel to some alien badlands in a planet floating in outer space? At the Painted Dunes of Lassen Volcanic National Park in California, where multicoloured pumice fields formed as a consequence of volcanoes that erupted in the 1650s, you can fulfill that wish.
The Lassen Volcanic National Park is the underdog of the state's tourism because of its remoteness. If you ask us, it looks like something from an extraterrestrial fantasy video game.
The snow-covered volcanic peaks, vibrant geothermal areas, wildflower meadows, and placid lakes make Lassen Volcanic National Park wickedly glamorous and dramatic. Geologists explain that red and orange dunes formed due to oxidation of volcanic ash right after the calamity.
15 Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia – An Outer Space Saga In The Andes
Salar de Uyuni is probably the most remarkable vista on this planet. Located in Bolivia, Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat, is a natural UNESCO Heritage site. It formed after a prehistoric lake vanished eons ago and left behind a flat crystal landscape of white salt, rock formations, and cacti-studded islands.
The reflection of the sky and clouds on the shallow waters form a splashing canvas of blue and white on the ground, making it yet another place on Earth that looks like an outer space saga in celluloid. The otherworldly terrain in the southwest of the Bolivian Andes is a treasure trove of salt and lithium. It also has the world’s only hotel made of salt!
14 Bromo Volcano, Indonesia – Fortress Of Solitude
Mount Bromo is an active volcano in East Java’s Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, Indonesia. It is one of Indonesia’s most scenic places, offering jaw-dropping visuals of sunsets and floating mountains.
Towering at the height of 2,392 metres, Mount Bromo is surrounded by a vast sea of volcanic sand. Sunsets and sunrises at Indonesia’s Bromo Volcano are supernatural and otherworldly. The terrain surrounding the volcano, too, is unnatural; at least that’s what we think. We are certain that the unbelievably spectacular Bromo Volcano is a portal to an exo-planet in outer space, or maybe it is Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.
13 Lake Natron, Tanzania – New Idea For An Outerspace Epic
Lake Natron turns animals to stone - that’s a new idea for writers George R R Martin and Stephen King (they can thank us later), or anyone interested in thrilling outer space epics. Situated in a place in Tanzania with soaring temperatures and high pH levels (acidity), the lake is rich in the eponymous host mineral, natron. The alkaline water in the lake can prove harmful to animals that don’t adapt to the place.
The conditions, however, is not enough to mar the natural, treacherous beauty of the lake. The crust from the alkaline waters adds red, pink or orange hues to the water body. The animals in some parts of Lake Natron turn to “stone” due to calcification.
12 Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand – Stars In A Cave
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves is a famous tourist destination in New Zealand, widely known for a species of glowing worms indigenous to the Pacific island nation. The magical Waitomo Glowworm Caves has its legacy spanning over 120 years. The luminescent glowworms hanging from the limestone ceiling with a river flowing below looks like stars, or like that Tree of Souls in James Cameron’s outer space exoplanet movie, Avatar.
Walking or sailing in the quixotic caverns lit by glowworms and discovering marine fossils is an experience that even green screens cannot capture. The name Waitomo is derived from two words - wai (Māori word for water) and tomo (Māori word for “hole in the ground”).
11 Namib Naukluft Park, Namibia – Life On Mars
If you ever imagined being on Mars but were never satisfied, then you must visit the Namib Naukluft Park in Namibia. The Park features a view of the Namib Desert and the Naukluft mountain range. Said to be the oldest desert on planet Earth, Namib Naukluft Park is one of the most beautiful arid zones in the world.
The red sand dunes and skeletal trees of the Namib Naukluft Park give it a Martian-esque aura. Besides the beautiful barren mountains and scarlet shrubs, Namib Naukluft Park will bowl you over with its unusual wildlife and nature reserves. All that’s missing is a spacesuit and The Martian’s Matt Damon to complete your outer space experience.
10 Wulingyuan Scenic Area, China – Pandora On Earth
Cameron’s Avatar’s Hallelujah mountains on Pandora is inspired by the real-life mountain located in the Wulingyuan Scenic Area in the north of Zhangjiajie. Wulingyuan Scenic Area is a top tourist-recommended attraction, named among China’s 40 most famous scenic spots. Wulingyuan Scenic Area is also a World Heritage Site.
Thousands of sandstone pillars jut out like natural skyscrapers taller than the Empire State Building. The mountains, valleys, forests, caves, lakes and waterfalls together render Wulingyuan Scenic Area as extraterrestrial.
The Wulingyuan Scenic Area comprises of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Suoxi Valley Nature Reserve, Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve, and Yangjiajie Scenic Area. The landscapes here change dramatically with towering sandstone pillars, hidden valleys, silent waters, and limestone caves.
9 Hang Sơn Đoòng, Vietnam – Beyond Imagination
Hang Sơn Đoòng is the world’s largest cave system. Inside the stalagmite caves of Hang Sơn Đoòng, you will witness the breathtaking landscapes and incredible views. People say that the otherworldly pulchritude of Hang Sơn Đoòng is beyond any stretch of the imagination of human beings.
Hang Sơn Đoòng hides several secrets in its belly. It formed millions of years ago, but its existence came into light only in the year 2009 when it was discovered. The magnificence of the place will make you question its origin and existence. An ancient alien starship covered in stalagmites and drowned in water, maybe!
8 Jökulsárlón, Iceland – Natural Crown Jewels
Jökulsárlón is a glacier lake sprawling over the Vatnajökull National Park, southeast Iceland. It formed and developed from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, which receded from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The glacier lagoon is filled with blue waters and dotted with icebergs that make the region look foreign.
Jökulsárlón is seen as Iceland’s natural crown jewels. The glacier lake of Jökulsárlón and the frozen black beach are noted as the natural wonders of Iceland. Under sunlight, the chunks of ice in the glacier sparkle like diamonds. Thousands of spectators visit Iceland to witness the mystical glacier. If you ever wanted to see a natural simulation of Pluto, this is it!
7 Socotra, Yemen – Rare Trees Reminiscent of far-off worlds
Socotra is a Yemeni island of the Socotra archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The aridest region will transport you to a hostile extraterrestrial planet. It is famous for its Dragon Blood trees, which are so called because of the red sap they produce. At Socotra, you will find rare plant life, including trees that look like elephant legs.
Socotra also acts as a natural aviary for bird species including the Socotra starling, sunbird and grosbeak, which are not found anywhere else on Earth. Bats are Socotra’s only native mammal. Natural treasures on this rock from outer space, such as a bunch of caves and a fleet of rare species, await you.
6 Yellowstone National Park, USA – Otherworld Indulgence
Yellowstone National Park is a wildlife sanctuary in the United States of America. Centered around the Yellowstone Caldera, a supervolcano in the US, Yellowstone National Park is the largest megafauna location in the United States.
Grizzly bears, wolves, bison, elks, and others reside in this national park. The park derives its name from the Yellowstone River, where it gets its water from. The park showcases grand canyons, alpine rivers, dense forests, hot springs, mud spots, and geysers. The colorful supervolcano scenery, roaring wildlife, blooming flora, vaulting waterfalls, mystic vales, and magical hot springs are an otherworldly indulgence.
5 Dos Ojos, Mexico – Magic Under The Earth
Dos Ojos is a cave located on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. It has the deepest cave passage in Quintana Roo. The cavernous cenote has two entry points; and therefore is named Dos Ojos, which translates to “two eyes.” The cavern’s waters are cobalt blue and do not look like they belong on this planet.
Dos Ojos is an anchialine cave system that joins marine waters and a tidal sinkhole, and is home to a variety of fish species. The cave system is famous for offering snorkeling and cavern-diving activities. Hundreds of adventurers visit the place to dive into the bewitching caves and explore the charms sealed in its heart.
4 Dallol, Ethiopia – Vibrant
Dallol is located in northern Ethiopia and has been recorded as the world’s hottest spot, with temperatures soaring to hundreds of degrees in Fahrenheit during summers. The volcanic region is a pandora’s box of eternal beauty; the salt-encrusted colorful lakes, acidic hot springs, and visually-stunning hydrothermal fields redefine the meaning of beauty.
The volcano, geysers and cracks in the earth fill Dallol, an abandoned locality. The visuals get more intense and striking when the hot springs dispense colorful compounds in the salt deposits and lakes in vivid splashes of green, yellow and brown. If this is not an alien, outer space structure, we don’t know what is.
3 Valle De La Luna, Chile – Valley Of The Moon
Valle de la Luna is a valley in northern Chile’s Atacama Desert. The landscapes of dunes, rugged mountains and unusual rock formations, with an impressive range of color and texture, make Valle De La Luna extraterrestrial in appearance. The view of the Moon above its hills is breathtaking, and that’s where it gets its name from.
The sceneries of Valle de la Luna resemble martian aesthetics. The sand formations twirl with the wind in gorgeous patterns. The diverse saline outcrops in Valle de la Luna resemble the work of a skilled architect. During sunset, the hues of our star reflect off the edges of the hills and change colors, which is likely to take any onlooker's breath away.
2 Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Brazil – A Desert With A Watery Twist
Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is one of the most spectacular tapestries on our planet. The beautiful place sits on Brazil’s north Atlantic coast. The perfectly-shaped sand dunes in the vast desert panorama, immersed in clear and fresh water, will take you to another world. Have no doubt, the surreal phenomena in Lençóis Maranhenses National Park are real.
A fascinating fact about Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is that it is not solely a desert; it has a vast amount of freshwater reserves its dunes. Wandering around the area or taking a scenic flight above will keep you hooked to the place’s alien charm and take you to outer space (or pretty close to it).
1 White Desert, Egypt – Walking on The Moon
Hundreds of years of erosion have led to the genesis of the White Desert, the most famous attraction at the Farafra oasis in Egypt. The rock formations in the desert are spread across the landscape like abstract statues, resembling the surface of our moon.
People compare the snow-white and cream rock statues to mushrooms, ice cream cones, monoliths, and inselbergs. To us, they appear like Chess pieces that have lost their shape and are painted white. You can use your own imagination when you visit the place and see its distinctly-shaped chalk-rocks at the natural exhibition. The monoliths look more beautiful in the light of the sinking sun.