Earth is beautiful, no denying it. But when earth happens to make you feel like you could well be on another planet, it reaches another level. From a crystal-filled cave to a salty red river, these places will make you think you’ve left Earth’s atmosphere… or the whole solar system entirely.
Walking with crystal giants
Where: Cave of Crystals, Mexico
Could the centre of another planet look like this extraordinary cave in Mexico? The glittering Cueva de los Cristales, or the Cave of Crystals, was found by drilling nearly 1000ft below ground in the working Naica mine.
Where: Lastarria Volcano, Atacama Desert, South America
The Lastarria Volcano on the Atacama Desert allows these yellow, sulphur fumaroles to develop. The steaming hills could be the landscape of an inhospitable alien planet – if they weren’t in South America.
Where: Emerald Lakes, New Zealand
OK, so the Curiosity Rover didn’t find such a glorious body of water on its travels to Mars. But we can dream that this neon blue lake could be lying on some planet far, far away can’t we? Of course, it exists on earth. Where? The magical-looking Emerald Lakes can be found in New Zealand.
The country that could be another planet
Where: Kerlingafjoll, Iceland
Iceland. It’s a country still undergoing incredible amounts of volcanic activity which means the whole place is full of scenes that could belong on another planet. These sulphur spewing folds of mountain can be found at Kerlingarfjoll. Countless movies have been filmed in Iceland, including the Alien prequel Prometheus.
A view from space
Where: Richat Structure, Mauritania
A marking from take-off of a huge spacecraft? Or an impact crater from a meteorite hitting some far off planet? Nope, it’s the Richat Strucutre in Mauritania as seen from space. Astronauts use the circular land feature in the Sahara desert as a landmark when on their missions.
The pink river
Where: Lake Natron, Tanzania
This shocking pink lake could perfectly host some space explorers running from whatever nasty creature they found lurking beneath. Lake Natron in Tanzania is such a colour because of its composition of salt and soda. The lake has a pH of 10.5 which is pretty nasty if you’re not used to it. It has a preservative nature, meaning animals that die there look like they have turned to stone!
Riding the wave
Where: The Wave, Arizona, USA
It could host a scene from Star Wars, space pods racing overhead. This sandstone rock formation is called The Wave and can be found in the USA. It is located near the Arizona-Utah border, on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes.
Where: Danakil Depression, Ethiopia
It’s sci-fi perfection, but is actually found in the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia. It’s bursting with hydrothermal activity – with water literally boiling out of the ground. The Dallol Volcano causes this activity, and the astounding landscapes that result.
Where: Wai-O-Tapu, New Zealand
Wai-O-Tapu certainly looks otherworldly with its bright orange water. Found in New Zealand, this body of water has also been created through geothermal activity. The area features lots of interesting thermal anomalies, all pretty space age.
Where: Salt pans, Namibia
The salt pans on the Namibian desert could be situated on another planet. It could certainly host space travellers trekking across some unknown surface! The pans can be found in the Etosha National Park.