Unlike Doctor Who, you don’t need the TARDIS to see weird and wonderful landscapes. Just take a look at these places – they’re all on Planet Earth…
We admit it – we’ve got Doctor Who on the brain. And it got us thinking. While the Doctor puts up with a lot – painful regenerations, intergalactic wars, Weeping Angels, and all that jazz – we’re actually pretty jealous of his ability to travel through space and time.
But since we haven’t been granted a key to the TARDIS, we’ll have to make do with Planet Earth. Which, as it turns out, has enough otherworldly landscapes to last a (human) lifetime…
1. Teide National Park, Tenerife
What with its dusty red mountains and weirdly-sculpted rocks, the interior of Tenerife could easily have doubled as the backdrop for The Waters of Mars. It’s also got a national park formed from a volcanic crater that’s big enough to house Mount Teide – the biggest mountain in Spain – and the sprawling Esperanza Forest. Impressive.
We could get specific – massive Gullfoss waterfall, the original Geysir, Snæfellsjökull glacier – but really, the whole of Iceland is like another world. In summer, the country is a mix of lava fields and green hills. And when winter kicks in, natural hot springs steam and smoke among the snowy fields. With a landscape like that, it’s no wonder there’s still a lingering belief in elves and trolls in those parts.
3. Nazca Lines, Peru
Were they gifts for the gods? Are they compass points for incoming aliens? Do they predict the end of the world? So many conspiracy theories, so little time. In reality, these huge geoglyphs of monkeys, hummingbirds and fish probably came from the Nazca civilisation. But, actually, no one really knows.
4. Pamukkale, Turkey
There’s a good reason Pamukkale means ‘cotton castle’ in Turkish. It’s a confection of bright-white tiered pools created by the calcium-rich springs that spill down the mountainside. Rumour has it Cleopatra herself was a fan – in fact, there’s a nearby thermal bath named after the Egyptian queen.
5. Northern Lights, Lapland
It doesn’t matter if they appear as lazy, milky loops or as neon-green paint strokes – seeing the Northern Lights for the first time is enough to bring a lump to your throat and a shiver down your spine. And it’s not just about the lights. With millions of stars above you and the arctic wilderness all around, it’s easy to forget you’re on Earth at all.
6. Chichen Itza, Mexico Caribbean Coast
The spring and autumn equinoxes – usually in March and September – see Chichen Itza at its most mystical. And that’s saying something. On a regular day, this ancient Mayan settlement is a jumble of pyramids, temples and statues. But at sunset on the equinoxes, thousands of people gather to watch a snake-like shadow slither down the iconic El Castillo pyramid. If it’s not on your bucket list, it should be.
7. Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
Coming in at a casual 65 million years old, the Giant’s Causeway gets the UNESCO stamp of approval. Early settlers thought a giant called Finn McCool created them as stepping stones to Scotland. And to be fair, the perfectly hexagonal basalt columns do look hand-carved – but it’s actually all down to Mother Nature.