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5 Otherworldly Places On Earth You Won’t Believe Are Actually Real

Our planet is populated with hauntingly beautiful and fascinating locations. If you have the rare opportunity to travel to areas that are off the beaten path, you might stumble upon hidden waterfalls, curious rock formations, or dazzling light displays. Feast your eyes on landmarks which seem too magical or exotic to be terrestrial in origin. Indeed, Earth is a mystifying place worth exploring.

February Firefall

The Yosemite National Park is a gem in the United States, and home to a spectacular optical illusion that occurs in February. Under the right conditions at sunset, and sometimes in the moonlight, the Horsetail Fall appears to be a fiery flow of lava instead of water. There’s no danger, as the stunning visual display is a result of the water reflecting the light’s rays.

Travel + Leisure

Eye In The Sand

Observing the vast swathe of a desert, it wouldn’t seem the likely hiding place of a unique landmark. An aerial view over the Sahara desert in Mauritania would prove otherwise. The Richat Structure looks like a “blue eye” or a “bulls-eye” and has a diameter of 30 miles wide. Located near Ouadane in west-central Mauritania, this prominent circular landmark has some questioning if it’s a link to Atlantis.

NextGen Traveller

Sacred Cavernous Cenote

The Ik Kil Cenote in Mexico is considered one of the most beautiful in Mexico, and it is a stone throw’s away from the ruins of Chichen Itza. Visitors must climb down 26 meters to reach the cenote’s sacred waters, measuring 40 meters deep and 60 meters wide. Archaeologists have uncovered the bones of sacrifice victims and jewelry left as a tribute to a rain god.


Karst Landscape

In China’s Yunnan Plateau, there exists a forest that would probably make a giant feel like home. The Kunming Stone Forest contains a peculiar rock formation that looks like a mushroom, towering limestone pillars, waterfalls, and caves. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is also culturally significant for a tragic love story which is honored with an annual Torch Festival.


Fiery Pit Of Doom

The Darvaza Gas Crater in Turkmenistan looks like a doorway to the bowels of some hellish dimension, and it has been on fire for decades. When scientists stumbled on an enormous pocket of methane gas while drilling, after triggering a site collapse, they set the remaining crater on fire as a solution. Unfortunately, the scientists didn’t know how much methane was present, and the burning sinkhole continues to attract tourists and suicidal spiders.

Smithsonian Magazine

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