Earth is beautiful, there's no denying it. But when the Earth happens to make you feel like you could be standing 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.
Cave of Crystals, Mexico (pictured above)
Could the center of another planet look like this extraordinary cave in Mexico? The glittering Cueva de los Cristales — or the Cave of Crystals — was found after drilling nearly 1,000 feet below ground in the working Naica Mine.
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Lastarria Volcano, Atacama Desert, South America
The Lastarria Volcano in 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.
Emerald Lakes, New Zealand
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 on some planet far, far away, can’t we?
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."
Richat Structure, Mauritania
Is it a marking from takeoff of a huge spacecraft? Or an impact crater from a meteorite hitting some far-off planet? Nope, it’s the Richat Structure in Mauritania — now thought to be simply a product of erosion — as seen from space. Astronauts use the circular land feature in the Sahara desert as a landmark when on their missions.
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 color 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!
The Wave, Arizona
It could host a scene from "Star Wars," with space pods racing overhead. This sandstone rock formation is called The Wave, located near the Arizona-Utah border on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes.
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.
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.
Salt pans, Namibia
The salt pans in the Namibian desert could easily be situated on another planet. It could certainly host space travelers trekking across some unknown surface! The pans can be found in the Etosha National Park.