Most Extreme Landscapes on Earth

By dorotix, February 3rd 2010, Comments (41)

Our globe is home to some truly breathtaking and extraordinary sights. Be it strangely-shaped rock formations, alien-looking sulfur springs or unique chocolate hills, the world is full of such beautiful phenomena that no words can describe it.


Pictures may help...


1. The Badlands National Park. The USA.

Dakota's Badlands. By Matt Binns

Sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires are the main features of Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA. The park is also the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the country. Beside the unique rock formations, this bizarre land of extreme temperatures (-40F to 116F), high winds and dramatic weather changes is also home to the bison, bighorn sheep, endangered black-footed ferrets, and the swift fox.


The Giant's Causeway, Ireland and Staffa, Scotland

Staffa. Scotland. By Purplekitten

Incredible basalt columns can be found on the northeast coast of the Northern Ireland and on Staffa, a small island in Scotland. How did these amazing formations emerge? Without getting too technical, some 50 million years ago, the northern coasts were subject to volcanic activity - fluid molten basalt intruded through chalk beds, forming the lava plateau. When the lava cooled rapidly, contraction occurred, shaping the columns and determining their size.

Staffa's columns. By piglicker


By Scott MacLeod Liddle

Staffa's columns. By Scott MacLeod Liddle

Giant Causeway. Ireland. By laurieciao


3. The Chocolate Hills. The Philippines.

Chocolate Hills. By WisDoc

Apparently, the Chocolate Hills are not covered in the cocoa trees, and their name derives from the grass turning brown during the dry season. This unusual geological formation can be found in Bohol, an island province of the Philippines. The place can boast 1,776 hills spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometres (20 sq mi).

By djlah


4. Penitentes. The Death Valley and the Andes. 

Penitentes in Death Valley. By redteam

The tall thin blades of hardened snow or ice can be found only at high altitudes. They are called penitentes or nieves penitents. This beautiful snow formation can be as tall as a person and oriented towards the general direction of the sun. Penitentes appear in the Andes of Chile and Argentina, as well as in the Death Valley, USA. 


Penitenes in Death Valley. By hexodus....

Penitentes in Death Valley. By hexodus....


Penitenes in Andes. Argentina. By dreamX


5. Sossusvlei. Namibia.

The high red sand dunes called Sossusvlei are located in the central Namib Desert, within Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia. This surrealistic clay pan is fed by the Tsauchab River that flows through the Namib every 5 to 10 years. Thanks to the infrequent floods the pan is covered by unique camel thorn, native to the drier parts of Southern Africa.
Still, even during very wet years the river does not reach the Atlantic Ocean but drains away between the dunes of Sossusvlei.

 By aftab.

By aftab.

By aftab


 6. Shilin. China.

The Stone Forest, Kunming, China - Yunnan Province. By giladr

The Stone Forest (Shilin) is one of the main attractions of the Yunnan Province, China. This strange set of karst formations is located around 85 kilometres from the city of Kunming. Many of these tall rocks look like trees made of stone, creating the illusion of a stone forest.

he Stone Forest, Kunming, China - Yunnan Province. By Dinaer


7. Wai-O-Tapu. New Zealand.

In New Zealand's Taupo Volcanic Zone lies an alien-looking active geothermal area called Wai-O-Tapu. It is home to a number of colorful hot springs, geysers, steaming volcanic lakes and mineral terraces as well as mud pools.



 8. Cappadocia. Turkey.

Cappadocia. By lecu lillas

Amazing fairy chimneys cover Cappadocia, a historical region in the central part of Turkey. These rock formations are such a prominent feature of the country that they were depicted on the reverse of the Turkish 50 new lira banknote of 2005-2009.

Cappadocia. By dachalan

Cappadocia. By dachalan

Cappadocia. By Jungle Boy


9. Spotted Lake. Canada.

Spotted lake. By bryanh

High concentration of numerous minerals makes the Spotted Lake, British Columbia, Canada, an extraordinary and unreal looking phenomenon in the region. This saline alkali lake boasts the highest quantities (in the world) of magnesium sulfate, calcium and sodium sulphates. During hot summer months water in the lake evaporates leaving behind unique large spots.

By bryanh


10. Wulingyuan. China.

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, the Wulingyuan region is a scenic unusual area in Hunan Province, China, known for its tall sandstone pillars. Some of these strangely-shaped karst formations may exceed 800 meters. The site is also famous for its high mountains, clear waters, deep valleys, and mountain gullies.

Wulingyuan national park. By GrumpyWolf


Some of the locations mentioned above appeared on this list thanks to the Open Travel readers' suggestions placed in the comments for Most Unreal Landscapes on Earth. Thank you for your help!



  1. Leonard Okoth Feb 5, 2010 6:00 AM

    Hey mate. first I want to say awesome blog. I don’t always agree with your opinions but it’s always a nice read. Keep up the good work.

  2. spain Feb 6, 2010 9:02 PM


  3. Andrew Mooers Feb 15, 2010 9:12 PM

    It is great to follow your blog.

  4. Afia Aimee Feb 18, 2010 7:29 AM

    Anytime I read a travel piece I am ready to book a ticket. I'm such a sucker for any cultural experience. Sounds amazing! I've done Europe, much of Asia, and North Africa. Hands down my favorite trip was a food and wine tour to Tuscany. Really had the time of my life and it's like every local is there to help you enjoy. Next trip you should check it out.

  5. John Feb 20, 2010 8:41 PM

    Nice work - i love it

  6. limousine orlando Feb 25, 2010 1:59 AM


    what a nice places.Its so beautiful.Thanks for providing me such nice blog.

  7. por canaveral Feb 25, 2010 5:02 AM


    I saw many-many times all these beautiful.My favorite land scape is Spotted Lake.

  8. traveller Feb 26, 2010 12:53 PM

    love ya blog! :) well done.

  9. Grupo Mayan Mar 4, 2010 5:01 AM

    Wai-O-Tapu!what a beautiful place.I have no words.Amazing.

  10. Mayan Business Mar 4, 2010 5:50 AM

    your blog title is so suitable.Really all places are world's most Extreme Landscapes .

  11. Hakan Guzelgoz Mar 23, 2010 5:46 PM

    Great selection! Have been to the Giant Causeways but still think that Cappadocia is really amazing.

  12. queen bee May 5, 2010 2:34 AM

    thanks for the input...really helpful

  13. Jose Kattukaren Aug 8, 2010 10:13 AM

    Its Great......Amazing Pictures !!!!!

  14. cappadocia Sep 6, 2010 5:32 AM

    We were very excited to come to turkey because it was going to be our first time in Turkey, we were hoping our trip to be well arranged and to see the nice places we want to visit. we heard very good toughts about istanbul and cappadocia. And finally we visited most of historical places and i can say our guide vas fantastic he was very nice and informative person. The hotel which was choosen by our company was also very nice it was in the exactly old part of istanbul and we were very happy with the organization. We also went to visit cappadocia for 2 days and everything fortunately went on very well. We were welcomed at the cappadocia and the tour was excellent. Turkish people must be very lucky because a lot to see and visit ...

  15. someone Nov 5, 2010 3:13 AM

    did you know that you have two number 4's

  16. Nicole Feb 11, 2011 3:35 PM

    Karst is limestone, not sandstone.

  17. Pip Apr 14, 2011 6:13 PM

    Grew up by the Giant's Causeway - it's not Ireland, it's Northern Ireland. They are two different countries, just letting you know =3

  18. Dave Apr 17, 2011 8:02 AM

    What about Wokpash Canyon in the northern Rockies

  19. Patrick Apr 18, 2011 7:40 PM

    Nice list. I think that the Tsingy rock forest in Madagascar would also qualify for the list. I have never been there, but National Geo did a feature on it recently.

  20. malfoy Apr 19, 2011 6:35 AM

    cappadocia looks like dicks? anybody?

  21. DTravelsround Apr 19, 2011 7:45 AM

    Love these! I have been to Cappadocia -- it is an amazing place! Great list. :)

  22. Shut Up Apr 19, 2011 8:04 AM

    'Karst' refers to a landscape of sinkholes and similar formations formed from the dissolution of carbonate bedrock (limestone, dolomite. . ) as has been commented. Also, if you follow the sources, images don't trace to sources with similar geographical information.
    Going on Wikipedia and Google Images for 30 seconds does not mean you have something to say.

  23. Vedette Apr 19, 2011 7:07 PM

    Wai-O-Tapu in New Zealand is amazing

  24. slitherly Apr 19, 2011 9:53 PM

    Excellent photos. But you forgot to mention Kansas. Oh, Wait. It wasn't the most boring place in the world list, was it. lol.

  25. Amanda Apr 20, 2011 7:16 AM

    Nice collection but in reference to number four:
    "The tall thin blades of hardened snow or ice can be found only at high altitudes"
    Death Valley is very far from from being at a high altitude.

  26. Clark Apr 23, 2011 6:22 AM

    Thanks for the pictures! i enjoyed them.

  27. Jillian Apr 24, 2011 4:11 PM

    Very cool landscapes. I've been to a few of these, but, I'd love to cross a list like this off my bucket list!

  28. Phoenix Apr 26, 2011 7:02 AM

    Amanda is right, Death Valley i believe is one of the lowest elevations in the world, something like 39 feet below sea level, also it tends to have the highest temperatures in the US, though an awesome place to see

  29. Anchovy Apr 29, 2011 12:43 AM

    SO amazing and excellent places....

  30. Dannielmejia Apr 29, 2011 10:36 PM


  31. Market.Travel May 3, 2011 5:04 AM

    Great choice in photographs. They are all incredible shots. Good list too.

  32. Gonnah May 6, 2011 5:46 PM

    Are you a geologist, Shut Up? Because I am, and there is validity in what Nicole said. As even you stated, karst topography is formed from the dissolution of carbonate rock. The article is erroneous in stating that a formation is karst and composed of sandstone. Please be polite and not so overwhelmingly pretentious.

    Great job with the article. Having spent significant time in both the Badlands of South Dakota and Nebraska, I can say it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. I also recently visited Wai-O-Tapu, which is absolutely indescribable.

  33. Gonnah May 6, 2011 5:50 PM

    The author is likely referring to penitents that form in the mountains surrounding Death Valley, which are some of the highest in the contiguous United States.

  34. kavz Jun 2, 2011 1:03 AM

    death valley is just amazing..

  35. neuschwan99 Jul 23, 2011 4:48 AM

    why these website can't show picture together with the story? It'll be truely better.I get so much dazzling when clicked the photo's link and i can't find what is it because photo lists in flickr always changed, thank you.

  36. avegail Nov 9, 2011 12:24 PM

    GOD !!!! it was such a wondrous scenery ..........
    it really has a beautiful and perfect view....
    wish to be there someday with the one i love.
    good job to the photographer. . .
    IT WAS LIKE A HEAVEN HERE ON EARTH while watching those pictures !!!!!

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