All over the world there are places that stand out from the rest. Some gain attention due to their historical significance, others draw crowds because of the cultural impact they made on a country, and still others are popular because they have amazing natural beauty. Still, there are some places people are drawn to not because of what they mean, but of how starkly different they look. Here’s a roundup of seven of the out of this world landscapes found around the globe.

Geometrically perfect columns rise from the water to create a truly unusual spectacle in Northern Ireland.

Giant’s Causeway, Ireland

Northern Ireland's only UNESCO World Heritage Site consists of some 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns, which jut out from the North Channel along the edge of the Antrim Plateau. Legend has it that the Irish giant Finn McCool built the causeway across the channel so that he could meet his foe, the Scottish giant Benandonner, who had challenged him to a fight. According to geological studies, the Giant's Causeway first formed as a lava plateau when molten rock erupted through fissures in the earth. During a period of intense volcanic activity about 50 to 60 million years ago, differences in the lava-cooling rate made the columns. The odd circular formations, sometimes known as giant’s eyes, were formed later on as a result of extreme weathering.

The Rio Tinta is considered one of the most polluted rivers in the world.

Rio Tinto, Spain

The 58-mile-long Spanish River flows from the mountains of Sierra Morena all the way down to the Gulf of Cadiz through one of the earth’s largest deposits of pyrite. The starkly rust-orange-coloured waters create a rather otherworldly scene and the colour comes as a result of at least 5,000 years of mining activity. With a low pH and high concentration of heavy metals, scientists claim that the Rio Tinto is one of the planet’s most polluted rivers.

A few times a year, the world’s largest salt pond becomes the world’s largest reflection.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni is the world's largest salt flat, located in Bolivia. Photographers flock here to capture the unique landscape. This was the place where more than three hundred decades ago, Lago Michin existed. Legend has it that when that water dried up it left behind billions of tons of salt. What is even more miraculous is that during the summer time, a thin layer of salt turns into water and that creates what is perhaps the world’s biggest reflection ever. It makes for some truly incredible photography if you ever have a chance to visit the place.  People who have visited mention how the surroundings feel so surreal that you may have to pinch yourself to actually believe you’re there and what you’re seeing is real.

Sharp, jagged rocks punch upwards towards the sky in China’s Stone Forest.

Stone Forest, China

The Naigu Stone Forest is a protected UNESCO Site since 2007. According to, the stone forests of Shilin, Yunnan Province “represent one of the world’s most spectacular examples of humid tropical to subtropical karst landscapes. The stone forests of Shilin are considered superlative natural phenomena and a world reference with a wider range of pinnacle shapes than other karst landscapes with pinnacles, and a higher diversity of shapes and changing colours.”

The spotted lakes are only visible part of the year, but their eerie appearance is memorable.

Spotted Lake, Canada

British Columbia's Spotted Lake is landlocked, resulting in salty, alkaline waters. Over the summer, much of the water dries, leaving behind a lava lamp pattern of mineral "spots" that can appear white, pale yellow, green, or blue, depending on their composition and pH levels. These mini-islands that separate the small pools mostly consist of magnesium sulphate, which crystallizes to form gray-ish walkways around and between the spots.

Sometimes, descriptions don’t do a place justice. Sometimes, you just have to travel there to see the spectacle for yourself. Grab your camera, pack your gear, buy a travel insurance policy and get going towards any, or all, of these unusual and out of this world landscapes.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Rodrigo Silva, Big Max Power,, Eric Chan, and Read Schaad

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