Photos of the Week, The first of 2020: A collection of the most beautiful, natural wonders around the world. Check these out:
  • There are unbelievably beautiful natural wonders across the world – from the tops of mountains to the deepest caves.
  • Photographs capture the vibrant colors of canyons, forests, and rocky shorelines.
  • In Colombia, a unique plant turns a river bright red every year, and in the Maldives, bioluminescent plankton make the beaches glow at night.

Natural wonders come in all shapes and sizes. From Hawaii’s Na Pali Coast to the Verdon Gorge in southeastern France, there are incredible places all over the planet.

Caño Cristales River, Colombia
Also known as “the river of five colors” or “liquid rainbow,” this body of water actually looks pretty normal most of the time – at least until it explodes into color from around July through November.
During this time, Macarenia clavigera, a unique plant that lines the bottom of the river, turns a vibrant red, interspersed with blue waters, green moss, and yellow sand.
Photo by: VarnaK / Shutterstock

Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand
Thousands of twinkling glow worms light up these caves, which have been open to the public since 1889, but known to the indigenous Maori people for much longer. In fact, Waitomo comes from the Maori words wai, for water, and tomo, for hole or entrance.
The magical experience is heightened by the fact that visitors silently glide through the caves by gondola.
Photo by: chriskorah / Shutterstock

Lake Hillier, Australia
The bubble-gum pink lake defies science: no one knows why it’s as pink as it is, or why the color is actually stronger the further from the lake you are. Most believe that it’s caused by a specific algae in the lake that is drawn to its high salinity, as well as a pink bacteria known as halobacteria.
Whatever the reason for its unique hue, the lake sits on Middle Island, an island on the Recherche Archipelago that is used solely for research purposes, and can only be viewed by helicopter.
Photo by: matteo_it / Shutterstock

The Dead Sea, Israel and Jordan
Sitting at 1,410 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest body of water on Earth’s surface. Located in a desert and featuring a high concentration of salt, it’s the perfect spot for floating.
The water is beautiful enough on its own, but the deposits and columns of salt that rise out of the water give it a unique, otherworldly look.
Photo by: Olesya Baron / Shutterstock

The Stone Forest, China
As the name implies, this is basically a 150-square mile forest made of stone – and it’s a whopping 270 million years old. The giant, otherworldly pillars are ancient karst formations, created by water and wind erosion, as well as seismic activity. The forest also features caves, waterfalls, ponds, and lakes, as well as an underground river.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
When lakes near these Bolivian salt flats overflow, they create a majestic mirrored surface that reflects the sky and clouds above. The Salar de Uyuni are the largest of their kind and cover a whopping 4,050 square miles of the Bolivian Altiplano.
The vast oasis of salt boasts a horizon that never seems to end, making this spot a photographer’s dream.
Photo by: Olga Kot Photo / Shutterstock

Masazir Lake, Azerbaijan
Masazir Lake is not far from Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. This pink saline lake gets its color – which is strongest in the summer – from microorganisms called halophiles.
Photo by: Ramin Hasazalinade / Shutterstock

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Ha Long Bay’s natural beauty makes it one of Vietnam’s number one tourist sites. The bay is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The best way to see Ha Long’s awe-inspiring limestone towers is by boat. In fact, many tourists stay overnight on a boat in the bay.
Photo by: Christaltran / iStock

Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park, Gansu, China
Danxia refers to a special type of landscape found in southwestern China. The colorful, striped mountains are made up of layers of minerals and rock, which were disrupted when tectonic plates caused the island that is now India to collide with the rest of the Eurasia continent.
Now a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, the once little-known wonder is a popular tourist draw – and for good reason. Chances are you’ve never seen anything like it before.
Photo by: Alexandra Seixas / Shutterstock

Geiranger Fjord, Møre og Romsdal County, Norway
A fjord is best described as an underwater valley. Formed by glaciers, these long and narrow waterways are deep and surrounded by steep mountains on all sides. The Geiranger Fjord is one of Norway’s most famous, and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Go in the warmer months to see lush greenery offset by deep blue waters.
Photo by: Cookelma / iStock

Lake Nakuru, Kenya
Gorgeous Lake Nakaru sits in a national park famous for its epic bird-watching – especially its bright pink flamingos. The large, shallow lake is surrounded by marshes and grassland, and also home to rhinos, hippos, waterbucks, and buffalo.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Tegalalang Rice Terrace, Tegalalang and Ubud, Indonesia
Indonesia is known for its terraced rice fields – and Tegalalang is one of the most well-known. Entering the vibrant green landscape with its towering palm trees will make you feel like time has stopped. And there’s some truth to that feeling. Farmers here use an irrigation system that’s been passed down for centuries.
Photo by: daphnusia / Shutterstock

Reynisfjara Beach, Vik, Iceland
You probably won’t want to sunbathe on Reynisfjara, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit. The stunning beach looks otherworldly thanks to its black sand, basalt stone columns, and the fog that sometimes envelops it. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
Photo by: Andrey Bayda / Shutterstock

Verdon Gorge, France
The Verdon Gorge’s blue-green waters are a picturesque setting for activities ranging from swimming to kayaking.
Photo by: RossHelen / Shutterstock

The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland
One of Ireland’s most-visited natural attractions, the Cliffs of Moher stretch along the country’s west coast for five majestic miles. The rugged cliffs offer unparalleled views of the ocean below.
Photo by: Shutterupeire / Shutterstock

The Grand Canyon, Arizona, United States
The Grand Canyon is Arizona’s most well-known natural beauty, and for good reason: between its immense size and breathtaking views, this natural phenomenon is a must-see.
The canyon stretches on for 277 river miles and spans 18 miles from side to side. While the South Rim is open all year round, the North Rim is open to visitors on a more seasonal basis.
Photo by: Martin M303 / Shutterstock

Monteverde Cloud Forest, Monte Verde, Costa Rica
Because it’s a rainforest, the weather might not always be ideal at Monteverde, but the fact is it’ll feel and look like a jungle paradise no matter if it’s misty or not.
Even better, this biological reserve is known to be home to a multitude of species. In fact, it’s one of only a few places around the world that boasts all six species of the cat family.
Photo by: Simon Dannhauer / Shutterstock

Na Pali Coast, Hawaii, United States
Between the colorful cliffs and the azure blue waters below, Hawaii’s Na Pali Coast is sure to wow any visitor. Hiking the cliffs will afford you 4,000-foot-high views of the Pacific Ocean and Kalalau Valley, as well as plenty of beautiful waterfalls along the way.
Photo by: Alexander Demanyenko / Shutterstock

Skógafoss, Skógar, Iceland

Skógafoss flows from not one, but two glaciers (Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull). According to legend, a viking named Thrasi hid his chest of gold under this stunning waterfall.
Gold or not, the heavy amount of spray that the waterfall produces makes a sunny-day rainbow sighting here very likely.
Photo by: Maridav / shutterstock

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
The largest gypsum deposit in the world, White Sands National Monument is a serene expanse of glittering, white sand that’s located in the Chihuahuan Desert. The gypsum that forms these gently sloping dunes comes from a nearby ephemeral lake that has a high mineral content. As the water from this lake evaporates, minerals remain, which then form gypsum deposits that are carried by the wind.
Photo by: sunsinger / Shutterstock

Bioluminescent Beaches, Maldives
To experience the Maldives’ magical glowing beaches, you can visit any of the 1,190 islands that comprise the South Asian sovereign state. Some of the top spots to see this natural light show – the result of bioluminescent plankton – include Athuruga, Reethi, and Mirihi.
Photo by PawelG Photo / Shutterstock

Marble Caves, Chile
Located in Patagonia on Lake General Carrera, Chile’s Marble Caves (also known as the “Marble Cathedral”) were created more than 6,000 years ago by waves that eroded the rocks. The caverns’ stunning colors vary as water levels fluctuate throughout the year.
Photo courtesy Shutterstock Wata51

Mono Lake, California, United States
Mono Lake, which spans 65 square miles, is known for eye-catching, calcium-carbonite structures known as tufa towers. With a high salt content, this ethereal lake is also extremely buoyant.
Photo by: Jiri Ambroz / Shutterstock

El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico
Situated outside of San Juan, El Yunque National Forest earns the distinction of being the sole tropical rainforest in the US National Forest System.
Photo by: Dennis Van de Water / Shutterstock

Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Skye’s enchanting Fairy Pools are only accessible on foot via the Glen Brittle forest – but it’s worth the hike to see the clear waters of these natural pools in person.
Photo by: orxy/ Shutterstock

Beach of the Cathedrals, Galicia, Spain
You’ll do a double take when you see the rocky arches at the Beach of the Cathedrals: these incredible buttress-like formations were shaped solely by nature.
Photo by: John_Walker / Shutterstock

Milford Sound, New Zealand
Created by glaciers during the ice age, this fjord – located off the coast of New Zealand’s South Island – is renowned for its dynamic scenery, from waterfalls to soaring mountain peaks.
Photo by: Harley Alexander / Shutterstock

Jeju Island, South Korea
Jeju Island boasts South Korea’s highest mountain, Hallasan, a dormant volcano that towers nearly 6,400 feet above sea level.
The island is also known for its spectacular lava tubes (caves formed by cooling lava
Photo by: Noppasim Wongchum / Shutterstock

Mt. Erebus, Antarctica
It may seem hard to believe, but there are volcanoes in the arctic. Mt. Erebus, the world’s southernmost active volcano, dates back 1.3 million years and stretches a whopping 12,448 feet above sea level.
Photo by: Michael Lodge / Shutterstock

Kjeragbolten, Norway
Kjeragbolten is a 177-cubic-foot boulder nestled in a mountain crevice. It’s surprisingly accessible (you don’t need special equipment to reach it), which makes it a popular photo op for adventurous Instagrammers.
Photo by: Beas777 / Shutterstock

Iguazu Falls, Argentina and Brazil
Spanning Argentina and Brazil, the Iguazu Falls are part of a massive waterfall system that totals around 275 waterfalls.
Photo by King Ho Yim / iStock

Tianmen Cave, Zhangjiajie, China
Situated 5,000 feet above sea level, Tianmen Cave is one of the highest naturally formed arches on the planet. Visitors have to mount a 999-step “stairway to heaven” to reach the site.
Photo by: unge_255Photostock / Shutterstock

Harbour Islands, Bahamas
Known mostly for its pink sand beaches, Harbour Island remains mostly untouched by humans, at least compared to the rest of the Bahamas.
The island’s other draws include Devil’s Backbone, a coral reef filled with marine life, and Dunmore Town, whose pastel-colored homes will charm any visitor
Photo by: Shane Gross / iStock

The Blyde River Canyon, South Africa
For gorgeous natural views, go for a hike along the Blyde River Canyon, which sits at an elevation of more than 2,600 feet. This canyon, known for its unique geology – including the Pinnacle, a looming quartzite column – also boasts diverse flora and fauna.
Photo by: Richardo Zamelloni / shutterstock

Garni Gorge, Armenia
The Garni Gorge is characterized by vertical cliffs notable for their basalt columns. You can only reach this breathtaking site by car. 
Photo by: Marat Zarkaryan / shutterstock

35 of the most amazing photos from around the world was presented by:
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