If you get my reference, I love you. Unfortunately, if you came here for anything Harry Potter-related, I'm afraid I have to disappoint you, as this article is all about unbelievable places and where they are in the world.

Anyways... hey everyone! This article is heavily inspired by @juliecsr_’s article, here it is if you want to read it:

I think the title of it is pretty self-explanatory - unbelievable places that seem like they're from another planet. You should’ve seen me as I was reading that article, my eyes were almost coming out of their sockets and my mouth was probably wide open. Just… wow. I’m a huge fan of travelling and adventure (WHOA who would’ve thought), plus I love discovering new places, so I think you can imagine why I enjoyed the article so much.

And it got me thinking… I wanted to do an article like this myself. I come across so many beautiful pictures every day, and I usually catch myself wondering about the background of the picture. Where was it taken? And what is happening in the picture?

So that’s what I’m doing today, and in this first article, I’m writing about unreal places that actually exist (I plan on doing more like these as I had so much fun writing this article). Enjoy!

I’ve included videos of multiple of these places at the bottom of this article if you’re interested in learning/seeing more.

The Crystal Cave

This cave is located in Skaftafell, Iceland. It emerged over centuries ago because its glacier reached the Icelandic coastline. The unworldly texture of the cave was created by the ice coming down from the glaciers near it, and all the air bubbles were pressed out due to its weight. The vibrant color blue is caused by the light that filters through the compressed glacier ice.

Image by ➶ iceland, blue, and ice image Image by ➶ cave, ice, and iceland image

Socotra Island

About 350 km off the coast of Yemen, Socotra Island truly seems like it’s from another planet. The remote island is mostly known for its spectacular and endemic plants and species, which means that they can’t be found anywhere else on earth. Pretty crazy, right?

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Сatatumbo Lightning

The Catatumbo Lightning makes its appearance in Venezuela, more specifically over the Lake Maracaibo, where the Catatumbo River flows into the lake. The remarkable place is known as the most electric place on earth , which is logical, as on 140 to 160 nights a year, from dusk till dawn, lightning flashes about 28 times per minute. The lightning originates from storm clouds, but the crazy thing about the Catatumbo storms is, though, that they aren’t any different from other storms around the world.

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Check the video for this one!!

Glowing Forests in Shikoku

Two natural phenomena that make forests in Shikoku, Japan look enchanted! On the left, ‘glow-in-the-dark’ mushrooms create an almost fantasy-like vibe. They tend to stay only for a short time, as they only emerge during Japan’s rainy season. On the right its fireflies buzzing that illuminate the forest beautifully.

Image by ➶ fireflies, forest, and glow image Image by ➶ Image by ➶

Painted Hills

Well, it’s obvious where the hills get their name from. The Painted Hills, located in the state Oregon in the United States, are special due to their vibrant colored layers that show the environments’ climate change from years and years ago.

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Reynisfjara black sand beach

Reynisfjara is a beach found on the South Coast of Iceland that’s known for its pitch-black sand. Together with the incredible waves and the enormous basalt stacks, Reynisfjara is listed among the most stunning beaches in all of Iceland.

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Badlands desert

The Badlands desert, located in South Dakota (United States), is known for its dry landscape, minimal vegetation and eroded stones everywhere. However, for a few days per year (if you’re lucky, that is), the dry terrain suddenly transforms into a beautiful garden with purple, yellow and orange flowers.

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Bazaruto Archipelago

Maybe this one isn’t very special, but in my opinion, it’s still incredibly pretty, and thus it deserves a place on this list. The Bazaruto Archipelago consists of six islands and is found on the East coast of Mozambique. The islands were formed over the course of time from the deposited sand of the Save River.

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Kawah Ijen Volcano

Yeah, this exists. The Kawah Ijen Volcano (Java, Indonesia) and other craters seem to be giving off a blue/purple-looking lava, but in reality, the light from the ‘lava’ is created by burning sulfur. What happens is that extreme quantities of sulfuric gases emerge together with lava at the surface of the volcano. When that combination gets exposed to air, the flames from the burning sulfur are bright blue, which makes it seem like blue lava.

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Plitvice Lakes

The Plitvice Lakes in Croatia seem to be straight from a fairytale. This is the place to wander around and enjoy their mesmerizing lakes and waterfalls. The water is separated into sixteen lakes by natural dams of travertine (a sort of limestone), which is a byproduct of algae, moss and bacterias’ doing.

Image by ➶ nature, Croatia, and autumn image winter, ice, and lake image waterfall, nature, and Croatia image

Salar De Uyuni

These breathtaking pictures are taken in Bolivia, which houses the biggest salt flat in the world: Salar De Uyuni. It came to be after water from ancient lakes evaporated and a thick layer of salt stayed. And whenever lakes/ponds close to it overflow, and a layer of water covers the surface of the salt flat, you get an astonishing reflection of the (night) skies.

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Caño Cristales

Caño Cristales is a river hidden deep in the mountains, far from the inhabited part of Colombia. Still, once found, the place is absolutely magical. Caño Cristales, also known as “the river of five colors” or “the river that ran away from paradise”, is truly a river like no other. The river is most of the year indistinguishable from rivers near it. Only for a short period of time, when the circumstances are just right, the river ‘blossoms’. What happens is that a plant species that lives on the bottom of the Caño Cristales named Macarenia clavigera turns bright red during those periods. Together with the yellow and green sand, well… let’s just say that the river also happens to have the nickname liquid rainbow.

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Abraham Lake

A little science lesson here: dying plants at the bottom of the Abraham Lake release methane gas, and this gas is normally able to escape perfectly fine. However, during winter times in Alberta, Canada, a phenomenon occurs. What happens is that the methane bubbles aren’t able to breach through the surface of the lake (as it is frozen), and cause the bubbles to be trapped just below it and create stacks over time. That’s what makes this amazing effect and why it has become a must-see for photographers.

Image by ➶ mountain and water image sky, wallpaper, and mountains image ice, blue, and nature image

Giant’s Causeway

Location: Northern Ireland. It is speculated that the rocks were created after a volcano eruption about 60 million years ago. As the lava reached the surface, it cooled down and shrunk, which are now the pillars of basalt. Legends say though that the Giant’s Causeway are the ruins of a path between Northern Ireland and Scotland, created by two rivalling giants.

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Sea Of Stars

This is the last official fantastic place, but probably one of the most impressive places out of all of them and my personal favorite. At night time a phenomenon occurs on the already beautiful Vaadhoo Island (Maldives), called ‘Sea of stars’. There’s not an easy way to explain this, really, but the sea of stars is caused by a chemical reaction known as bioluminescence. The microorganisms that live in the sea are disrupted by oxygen, and as result of that, you see the dazzling sea water. And when waves crash onto the beach, the water glows in the dark reflects the stars above.

beach, sea, and night image blue, beach, and sea image beach, blue, and night image beach, nature, and sea image


So…. this is the part that originally wasn’t supposed to be here. You see, the very first thing that came to my mind when I was thinking about writing this article, is the following picture.

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As you can obviously see, that picture is incredibly beautiful and extraordinary wrapped up into one. And I knew about this picture, too, as I’ve had it as my wallpaper on my laptop for a few months. So I was crazy excited to do a bit on this picture and learn more about the background of it.

…… and it turned out the be fake. Well, the vibrant purple colors in the picture are unfortunately fake. Which means that this fantastic place is nowhere to be found.
I’m still going to give you background on it, as I think this project is actually really interesting.

The pictures above and below are made by a photographer named Richard Mosse. For a project series called ‘Infra’ , he travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The pictures are taken by a camera that registers chlorophyll in plants, and the result of this is the vibrant pink, red and purple colors that make the landscape look beyond dreamy.

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A snippet of the pictures from the Infra series. He has taken pictures of both nature and military, so if you’re interested, here’s a link to his site: http://www.richardmosse.com/projects/infra


Thank you so much for reading this article, I hope you enjoyed reading about these fantastic places! I probably will make this an article series, but that will maybe be slightly different. It'll still be about fantastic places, but more about finding out where the extraordinary places in famous photos are.

Please let me know what you thought of this article, I'd love to hear your feedback and ideas :)

Au revoir lovelies!

xx Sabine (@the_night_skies)


Videos about places mentioned:

The Crystal Cave: what it truly looks like

Hank Green explaining the flora and fauna on Socotra Island

Catatumbo lightning for over 2 minutes

Bioluminescent funghi

Kawah Ijen Volcano

Plitvice Lakes

Abraham Lake

Video footage of Vaadhoo Island

Richard Mosse talking about his work