10 miraculous mountains that prove nature is crazy

Explore some of the world’s strangest and most unusual mountain summits.
By Josh Gale

When it comes to mountains, height isn't everything. They come in all shapes and sizes and quite often, it's the most unusual that are the more eye-catching and rewarding to visit. From ice-plastered peaks in Patagonia to chocolate dome-shaped hills of the Philippines, we share some of the world's more weirdly-shaped mountains. 

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1. Zhangjiajie Pillars, China

The pillars of Zhangjiajie, China
Misty pillars of Zhangjiajie, China © William Yu Photography/Getty Images

If these mysterious quartz-sandstone pillars in China’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park look familiar, they should do. One of the tallest of the 3000 pillars in the park was previously named the Southern Sky Column, but was officially renamed Avatar Hallelujah Mountain in honour of the film Avatar – it was the creative inspiration for the floating peaks in the James Cameron film.

2. Mount Mouaroa, Moorea

View of Bali Hai Mountain on Moorea
Mount Mouaroa in French Polynesia © Richard Goerg/Getty Images

Moorea in French Polynesia is considered one of the most beautiful islands in the Pacific. At 761m, Mouaroa isn’t the tallest peak on the volcanic island, but is probably the most impressive. Good luck getting to the top!

3. Rainbow Mountains, China

View of Danxia Landform, China
Mountain stripes in China © Melinda Chan/Getty Images

China’s colourful Rainbow Mountains look like a work of art. Located in Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park, the peaks reach several hundred metres. The unusual colours are the result of sandstone and minerals being pressed together more than 24 million years ago.

4. Devils Tower, United States of America

A sunset over the imposing Devils Tower, Wyoming
The imposing Devils Tower, Wyoming © Kennan Harvey/Aurora Photos

Located in the Bear Lodge Mountains, Wyoming, Devils Tower is a mere 386m and was the first declared United States National Monument. Its greatest claim to fame is being the setting for the action in the classic Steven Spielberg film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It’s been a popular tourist attraction ever since.

5. Fairy Chimneys, Turkey

The unique towers make an interesting sight at Cappadocia, Turkey
Unique towers at Cappadocia, Turkey © Julien Garcia/Getty Images

Fancy climbing on top of one of these daddies? If you’re thinking what we’re thinking, then probably not. These chimneys in Turkey’s Cappadocia region are the result of lava flows from volcanic eruptions. A few centuries back, monks living there hollowed some of them out and transformed them into homes. One monk even lived on the top of one.

6. Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia

Sunrise over St John’s Peak, Mount Kinabalu, Borneo
St John’s Peak on Mount Kinabalu, Borneo © Nora Carol Photography/Getty Images

The vertical distance between the summit of Mount Kinabalu (4,092m) and the lowest contour line circling it on a map, earn it the title of 20th most prominent mountain in the world. Located in Malaysia’s Kinabalu National Park on Borneo Island, the mountain and surrounds are the home of the orangutan and are one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth.

7. Bungle Bungle Range, Australia

The Bungle Bungle Range in Purnululu National Park, Australia
Bungle Bungle Range, Australia © Cultura RM/Art Wolfe Stock/Getty Images

Appearing like giant beehives, these dome-shaped towers in Australia’s Bungle Bungle Range are fragile and climbing them is strictly forbidden! They are located in Purnululu National Park, which has been home to Aboriginal people for more than 20,000 years.

8. Cerro Torre, Patagonia

A snow mushroom on Cerro Torre’s west ridge, Patagonia
Cerro Torre’s west ridge, Patagonia © Rolando Garibotti/Aurora Photos

The steepness, remoteness and sheer badass character of 3,128m Cerro Torre make it only within the grasp of the world’s top alpinists, climbers like David Lama for example. It requires the highest level of rock and ice climbing skills but the icing on the cake, literally, is saved until last – the summit is a giant mushroom of rime ice formed by Patagonia’s famously strong winds, making it even more difficult to reach.

9. Mount Otemanu, Bora Bora

Mount Otemanu on the island of Bora Bora, French Polynesia
The rocky peaks of Mount Otemanu, Bora Bora © Garry Black/Getty Images

The very top of 727m Mount Otemanu would offer spectacular views of the lagoon and coral reefs surrounding Bora Bora Island. The bad news is, however, climbing to the top is now impossible because the mountain’s brittle volcanic rock is too fragile and dangerous. Spectacular views can still be enjoyed from the mountain’s shoulders, however. Otemanu and its neighbour, Mount Pahia, are the leftovers of an extinct volcano that once existed in the island’s centre.

10. Chocolate Hills, Philippines

The Chocolate Hills of Bohol Island, Philippines
The Chocolate Hills of Bohol Island, Philippines © Per-Andre Hoffmann/Aurora Photos

There are more than 1260 chocolate hills spread over an area of 50 square kilometers in the Philippines’s Bohol Province. They got their name because the green grass covering them turns chocolate brown during the dry season giving them appearance of hundreds of chocolate kisses. The highest hill is a mere 120m.

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