The pressure of keeping new year resolutions is strong this year. Check out the most surreal natural wonders in the world that’ll put your current travel plans to shame.
While many are struggling to keep up with their fitness regime and swear by a healthy diet, others plan on weeding out the negativity and work on self-love. For those looking to engineer a new travel bucket list for 2020, this list is good enough for some real ‘die-hard traveller’ inspiration. Here are the best natural wonders in the world according to us.
Pamukkale, Denizli, Turkey
Located in a town in western Turkey, Pamukkale is known for its spectacular white travertine terraces stretching almost 200m high, each filled with mineral-rich thermal water that cascades down like petrified waterfalls. This natural wonder led to the establishment of Hierapolis, a neighbouring ancient Greek-Roman spa city from the 2nd century B.C. where the ruins of baths, temples, and other monuments stand still today. The magnificent combination of natural formations and complex canals system is so breathtaking that it’s been listed as a Unesco World Heritage site since 1988.
The Wave, Arizona, United States
A sandstone rock formation located in the Coyote Buttes North area of the Utah Arizona border, the Wave’s colourful, undulating forms make it a popular attraction among photographers. It is also extremely difficult to reach and therefore, attracts a large number of hikers every year. Due to the fragile nature of these formations, only a limit of 20-day permits are issued per day, ten of which are walk-ins and obtained through a lottery system, while the rest can be applied online four months ahead of your planned trip.
Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia
Russia’s Lake Baikal is the oldest, largest, deepest, and clearest freshwater lake in the world. As the temperature plummets to minus zero in winters, the water starts freezing unevenly across the surface, causing protuded gem-like ice blocks that shimmer beautifully in the sun.
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, United States
Located within the Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world. Its rainbow colours are a result of different amounts of microbial mats living in the mineral-rich water. The centre of the pool is sterile due to extreme heat, causing the intrinsic blue hue. As the water spread towards the edge, the temperature gradually drops and allows more bacteria to survive, resulting in the different colour formation.
Crooked Forest, West Pomerania, Poland
Planted sometime in the 1930s, these 400 pine trees all mysteriously curve up towards the north just above ground. Some believe that it’s resulted from a special manmade tool or planting technique, while others reckon they’ve been knocked into this shape by a snowstorm. Whatever it is, no one can confirm to this day.
Darvaza gas crater, Turkmenistan
Known as the Door to Hell, the 69-metre-wide Darvaza gas crater in Turkmenistan is the result of a natural gas field that was collapsed 30 metres into a cavern in 1971. To prevent the methane gas from spreading, geologists set it on fire and it’s been continuously burning ever since.
Thor’s Well, Oregon, United States
Also dubbed the ‘drainpipe of the Pacific’, Thor’s Well is what seems to be a gaping, bottomless sinkhole that sits on the edge of the Oregon coast. Researchers believe the well was originally a sea cave dug out by the waves, before the roof collapsed and resulted in a massive hole over six metres deep. It constantly overflows from the opening below, creating a violent spray that bubbles over the rocks and quickly drains back in, causing a magnificent sight that’s most impressive during high tide.
Lake MacDonnell, Eyre Peninsula, Australia
South Australia is known for its vast number of vibrant pink lakes, which all get their whimsical colour from high salinity levels that attract a salt-loving algae and pink bacteria known as halobacteria, turning the water into the dreamlike hue. Eyre Peninsula’s Lake MacDonnell is one such body of water with a seriously high salt concentration, giving it an intense strawberry pink colour. Once the home of a salt farm and the largest Gypsum mine in Australia, the lake is now a major tourist attraction. There’s a road (leading to the famous Cactus Beach popular for surfs) separating it from a neighbouring blue-green lake, which offers the perfect photo spot for posting to the ‘gram.