It’s no secret that our planet harbours some unbelievably stunning places. From Iguazu Falls in Argentina to the Great Barrier Reef in our own backyard, Earth is not short of natural beauty. However, there are some natural wonders in this world that you won’t actually believe exists. From the scary to downright strange (a lake that’s pink anyone?!) here are the top five place you seriously won’t believe are real.
- Door to Hell, Derweze, Turkmenistan
As its name suggests, this fiery pit in Ahal Province, Turkmenistan conjures all manner of biblical Armageddon imaginations.
A natural gas field in the middle of the Karakum Desert, the Door to Hell was named by locals for the fire, boiling mud and orange flames that bubble in a crater spanning 70 metres.
This incredible phenomenon isn’t a portal to the underworld, however, and thankfully only releases a pungent smell of sulphur, rather than all the evils of the world.
It was actually unintentionally created by Soviet engineers in 1971. Thought to be a substantial oil field site, engineers began drilling in the area to assess the gas reserves available. Pleased with what they discovered, they set about storing the gas. Shortly after, the ground beneath the rig collapsed, leaving behind a large crater.
Fearing the release of poisonous gases, the engineers thought it safer to burn the gas off rather than risk further extraction. Expecting the fire to burn out within a few weeks, they never anticipated that over 40 years later it would still be alight.
- Slope Point, New Zealand
Predominantly used for sheep farming, there are no roads leading to Slope Point on New Zealand’s South Island, making it only accessible by a 20 minute walk marked by dilapidated yellow indicators. It’s a harsh and abandoned landscape. So why go there?
Well, under the intense power of cold southwesterly winds that blow up from Antarctica, the trees of Slope Point were forced to reassess their need to grow vertically. Realising they would never rise victoriously, the conceded to growing horizontally.
The incredible sight of trees twisted, warped and forever shielding themselves from the relentless lashings journeying from the icy lands at the end of the Earth is just another reason to visit our neighbours across the Tasman.
- Bioluminescent Bay, Puerto Rico
Imagine kayaking in the Milky Way and that’s what it’s like to skim the waters of Puerto Rico’s Laguna Grande, also known as Bioluminescent Bay.
Tucked in a natural reserve on the northeast tip of Puerto Rico, Laguna Grande is a pristine ecosystem teeming with marine life. However, It’s at night that the waters truly come alive.
This psychedelic phenomenon is triggered when oceanic phytoplankton are disturbed in the water and generate an ultramarine illumination.
Gotta love nature!
- Lake Hillier, Australia
On Middle Island, the largest of the islands and islets that make up the Recherche Archipelago, Western Australia, lies a 600 metre long pink lake. Don’t worry, we’ll forgive you for thinking you’ve stumbled across a lake of strawberry milk, even though that’s exactly what Lake Hillier looks like.
Surrounded by a rim of sand and dense paperbark and eucalyptus, this incredible lake is separated from the Southern Ocean by a thin strip of vegetated sand dunes. There are many science-y hypotheses about how the lake gets its colour, however, none have been definitively proven.
Interestingly, the lake was discovered by Matthew Flinders in 1802 and was named after a William Hillier, a crewmember who passed away during the expedition.
- Hallerbos, Belgium
Dutch for Halle forest, Hallerbos in Belgium is famous for its bluebell carpet that covers the forest floor for only a few weeks each spring.
Occurring naturally, this breathtaking field of flora is punctuated by tall beech trees and undulates gently for as far as the eye can see. Among the bluebells lie the tiny flowers and clover-like leaves of the wood sorrel, while wild garlic can be smelled before it is seen.
This otherworldly transformation truly must be seen to be believed.
What have we missed? Tell us some other unbelievable places you know about!
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