Earth’s most otherworldly sites


Many sites in this world are considered strange – but only a few garner the status of being completely surreal, as if from a different planet. Following are a few of the most evocative, but check out Quora for the full list of suggestions from travellers around the world.
Crescent Lake, China


In Gansu province in northwest China, a natural crescent-shaped oasis appears out of the emptiness of the Gobi Desert. The once 5m-deep lake was recently in danger of disappearing, shrinking to less than 1m deep, until 2006 when the government stepped in to keep the lake full by building nearby reservoirs to keep the water table of the area higher and forbidding citizens from building any new wells or farmland. On the lakeshore, a Buddhist shrine seems to rise with the rolling white Singing Sands dunes behind it, along with a lush patch of green shrubs and trees.
The Wave, United States

This 62ft-wide and 85ft-long sandstone rock formation in Arizona gets its name from the swirling, undulating lines that traverse the ground, caused by wind erosion. Only 20 permits are granted for the surrounding North Coyote Buttes wilderness area each day, so arrive early to enter the daily lottery, which starts at 9 am.

Lake Retba, Senegal

This 3m-deep lake looks cotton-candy pink, thanks to the Dunaliella salina algae that grows in the water. The pink is most visible during the dry season, which lasts from November to February.
Derweze, Turkmenistan

Translated from Turkmen as “The Gate”, Derweze (also known as Darvaza) looks like the entrance to Hell, with an 70m-wide opening that is constantly in flames. Though it looks natural, the cavern was actually drilled in the 1970s for natural gas, but the drill rig opened up a giant sinkhole that allowed the gas to leak out in large quantities. Geologists set the gas on fire, hoping to burn off the fuel, but the cavern still burns brightly today. Visitors can stand at the edge of the crater, as the desert location allows for plenty of fresh air to dilute the burning gases above ground.

Skaftafell ice caves, Iceland

Packed under the weight of a glacier, the ice within these caves usually lets little light penetrate through the ceiling. However a few times a year, usually in late January or February, rain washes away the surface layer of the glacier and the ice ceiling lets in an iridescent blue light that gives the caves (and those exploring them) the appearance of being underwater, with bubble-like formations frozen in the ice above.

 
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