These beautiful photos of planet Earth will lift your spirits



Slide 1 of 41: While for many of us vacation plans are tricky right now, or indeed on hold entirely, there are still ways to admire the unique beauty of our world. From animal kingdoms to otherworldly sights, there are plenty of beauty spots on Earth that are simply magical. Here, we take you on a journey in pictures to some of the most inspiring and uplifting places on the planet.
Slide 2 of 41: A rugged landscape of jagged peaks, shimmering lakes, ancient forests and vast glaciers, Patagonia is a region that captures the imagination. The three sharp granite towers that rise well over 8,000 feet (2,500m) are one of the vast national park's most striking landmarks. Known as Torres del Paine, they formed millions of years ago, and the park surrounding the peaks is also home to the Patagonian wild horses, also known as baguales.
Slide 3 of 41: Yellowstone's most famous hot spring, the Grand Prismatic's vivid blue center is surrounded by bands of rusty orange, yellow and green, making it look otherworldly. The largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world, Grand Prismatic is around 160 feet (50m) deep and the hot water reaches a temperature of around 160°F (70°C). Multi-layered sheets of microorganisms called microbial mats give the bands their distinctive colors, that tend to change slightly with the seasons. Take a look at vintage images of America's most historic attractions.
Slide 4 of 41: Covering almost 115 square miles, Plitvice Lakes National Park is found near the Bosnia and Herzegovina border, two hours south by car from Zagreb in Croatia. The park, founded in 1949, is famous for its collection of 16 crystal clear, color-changing lakes – they morph between shades of green and blue due to their high mineral content – plus over 90 waterfalls. It's a truly magical landscape. Here are stunning pictures of Europe's best national parks.

Slide 5 of 41: As its name suggests, this geological wonder in Northern Ireland is linked to the legend of two giants: Irish Finn McCool and his archenemy, the fearsome Scottish Benandonner. The story goes, McCool was determined to defeat his enemy once and for all, so he broke off great hunks of the Antrim coast and arranged them in the sea to make a pathway to Benandonner.
Slide 6 of 41: One of Turkey’s most beautiful sights, the surreal travertine terraces of Pamukkale (meaning 'cotton castle') are a geological phenomenon. The striking pools are a result of the mineral-rich hot springs that bubble away beneath the ground. Here are more of the world's most beautiful natural wonders.
Slide 7 of 41: An ancient city now abandoned, Bagan is one of Myanmar's greatest treasures and one of the most spellbinding sights in the world due to its otherworldly beauty and history. Local rulers began building here in 1057, until earthquakes and Kublai Khan’s Mongols destroyed the Pagan Kingdom in 1287. Today, some 2,230 temples, palaces, pagodas and monasteries survive, standing cheek-by-jowl along the Irrawaddy River. In fact, Bagan has the most concentrated area of Buddhist religious structures in the world. Here are the world's stunning sunrises that will brighten up your day.
Slide 8 of 41: Stretching across an immense 4,086 square miles, the Salar De Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat – and a breathtaking natural mirror. The surface becomes reflective when water floods the plane, making it look as though everything is suspended in the clouds. The dream-like spot is located in Potosí, southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes.
Slide 9 of 41: When one waterfall just isn’t enough, there’s Iguazú Falls – the world’s largest waterfall system and certainly among the most awe-inspiring sights. The chain of cascades, which encompasses more than 270 waterfalls and covers 1.7 miles (2.7km), straddles the border of Brazil and Argentina, and flows in a staircase formation. Its setting, in the heart of a national park thick with rainforest, is equally beguiling.

Slide 10 of 41: The valleys of Antelope Canyon in Arizona were created over thousands of years by flash flooding, which eroded the sandstone pathways and shaped the distinctive curves you see today. What many don't know is that it's actually two separate slot canyons – Upper Antelope Canyon or The Crack and Lower Antelope Canyon or The Corkscrew. Take a look at stunning images of the world's most incredible canyons.
Slide 11 of 41: Iceland seems to overflow with waterfalls, each with its own fascinating features. Seljalandsfoss, in the south, isn’t the tallest (with a drop of 200 feet/61m) but it’s one of the few waterfalls in the world that can be admired from all angles. It's beautifully contrasted by a landscape of seemingly endless green meadows, dotted with yellow and violet flowers watered by the fine spray, creating a fairy-tale like image. Here are the world's most beautiful waterfalls.
Slide 12 of 41: The Okavango Delta in Botswana is often described as Africa's last Eden – not too bold a claim given the unspoiled nature and diverse wildlife of this sprawling wetland area. The fluctuating delta is created as the Okavango River floods the Kalahari Desert, and is at its largest from March through to June. Some 160 species of mammal can be found within the delta area, from the African bush elephant to big cats like lions and cheetah as well as hippos wading through the lush wetlands.
Slide 13 of 41: Few sights rival that of sunrise over Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple, with Mount Merapi in the distance. Yet there is a dark paradox behind the serene image: Merapi is volcanic, and many scientists now believe that eruptions and earthquakes between 928 and 1006 led monks to abandon Borobudur. The Mataram Kingdom erected Borobudur in around AD 824. That means it enjoyed barely 200 years of use before the forest reclaimed it. It was re-discovered by British and Dutch explorers in 1814.
Slide 14 of 41: Most often seen enveloped in mist, the world’s most famous Inca site has a spectacular setting amid forest-clad Andean peaks. Built in the 15th century, the citadel is thought to have been both a residential and religious center, although plenty of theories and legends surround its mystical setting. The most significant archaeological site in South America, it's thought the emperor Pachacutec built the soaring citadel in the clouds, but new discoveries continue to uncover the history of this fascinating site even today.

Slide 15 of 41: An archipelagic province of the Philippines, located to the east of the country, between Sulu Sea and South China Sea, it's a regular on various most beautiful island lists. Here, steep, jungle-clad mountains rise up from the azure waters, creating plenty of hidden coves and deserted beaches. The marine life here is equally gorgeous, filled with coral reefs home to schools of colorful fish, while barracudas in Coron Bay have made shipwrecks their playground.
Slide 16 of 41: Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is one of Kyoto's most enchanting sights and it's easy to see why. The lush green stalks of bamboo rise tall, filtering the light from above and creating a magical atmosphere down below. Part of the Arashiyama district in the western outskirts of Kyoto, it's a nationally designated Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty alongside the Moon Crossing Bridge, Tenryu-ji temple and the hamlet of Kiyotaki. Take a look at stunning photos of the world's most beautiful trees. 
Slide 17 of 41: The lavender fields of France's Provence region explode in a fragrant haze of purple from around mid-June up until August (though they're at their peak in early July). The most concentration of lavender fields is on the high plateau around Sault, at the foot of the Mont Ventoux and around Apt and Gordes. Lavender is an important part of life in Provence as it has countless uses, from beauty products and soaps to aromatherapy, as a natural remedy and even in cooking.
Slide 18 of 41: Alberta's Banff National Park is chock-full of gorgeous lakes, from the park's most famous, Lake Louise, to the incredible turquoise expanses of Peyto Lake and Moraine Lake (pictured). Most lakes here get their distinctive blue color from the reflective glacial silt that makes its way into the water. Situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, the lake sits at an elevation of about 6,181 feet (1,884m) and has a surface area of 120 acres. Take a look at stunning images of Canada's jaw-dropping natural wonders.
Slide 19 of 41: Located on the uninhabited island of Big Major Cay in the Bahamas, Pig Beach takes its name from the colony of feral pigs inhabiting the island. Quite how they came to set up home here is uncertain. Some say they were left on the island by sailors who planned to return to eat them or that they swam ashore after a shipwreck. There are now about 20 pigs and piglets that stroll on the beach and swim in the surrounding shallows.
Slide 20 of 41: This breathtaking natural wonder is considered one of Thailand's finest waterfalls. Found inside Srinakarin Dam National Park in western Thailand, the tiered fall drops for seven levels and stretches around 1.2 miles (2km). Surrounded by a stunning jungle landscape, this scenic chain of waterfalls is especially picturesque in fall.
Slide 21 of 41: Perched around 2,300 feet (700m) up on Trotternish Ridge, the Old Man of Storr is one of Scotland's most recognizable natural landmarks. Characterized by its towering rocky pinnacles, this theatrical monument is shrouded by folklore tales. Legend has it the Old Man was a giant, who upon being buried in the earth, left his thumb exposed.
Slide 22 of 41: Australia’s natural wonders come in a kaleidoscope of colors, including bright pink. The pretty-hued Lake Hillier can be found on Middle Island in Western Australia’s Recherche Archipelago, around 70 miles (130km) from Esperance. Framed by green forest and blue water, it’s an extraordinary sight. Unlike other colored lakes, Hillier doesn't change its color and is permanently bright pink – this is thought to be caused by the presence of a micro-algae commonly found in sea salt fields. Take a look at 40 of Australia's most stunning natural wonders.
Slide 23 of 41: High in the Western Ghats, this hill station and former resort for the upper echelons of the British Raj looks out over lush plantations and mist-covered hilltops. Dotted by tea estates, which were originally established by the Scottish, there are also plenty of up-to-no-good elephants, which are often spotted (or heard) crashing through the greenery. The region is also famous for the elusive neelakurinji flowers, which only bloom every 12 years. The next event is due to happen in 2030.
Slide 24 of 41: The stunning rainbow landscape of the Zhangye Danxia mountains, dubbed "the eye candy of Zhangye" by locals, is located in Gansu, China. Geologists believe the colorful layers of red sandstone and other mineral deposits built on top of each other over millions of years before a dramatic tectonic shift caused the mountains to form.
Slide 25 of 41: The Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, is a natural light display occurring between late September and late March and is visible in multiple locations across the world, including Alaska, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland and even Scotland. Although these majestic purple and green bands of light cover a wide geographical area, some of the most spectacular shows happen above Iceland, as seen in this image taken in Glacier Lagoon. See 24 stunning images of the Northern Lights here.
Slide 26 of 41: Located in the remote part of Fjordland in the South Island, Sutherland Falls is made up of three streams that thunder from a height of 1,904 feet (580m) – putting it among the world’s tallest. There’s often not a soul around to hear their roar as the falls are tucked within remote bushland, with water flowing from Lake Quill. Here are 50 more reasons to love New Zealand.
Slide 27 of 41: Home to several national parks – Denali, Katmai and Kenai Fjords among others – Alaska's wildlife is famous across the globe. Sprawling over six million wild, ruggedly gorgeous acres, Denali National Park surrounds North America’s tallest peak and has a varied landscape, from alpine forest to snowy slopes. The park is home to wolves, grizzlies and black bears while brown bears have found home in the vast Katmai National Park. Over 2,200 bears live in Katmai – here a brown bear cub has found a better vantage point on its mother's back.
Slide 28 of 41: A serene four-mile-long (7km) pine-lined shoreline with Mount Fuji rising tall in the distance, Miho no Matsubara is regarded as one of Japan's most beautiful sights and was designated a National Place of Scenic Beauty of Japan in 1922. It is also the location of a legend that says a celestial being was overwhelmed by the beauty of the bay, so she took off her robe to bathe in the water. A local fisherman saw her and refused to give back her robe until she performed a dance for him. A statue of the fisherman watching the dance now stands at the entrance of the park.
Slide 29 of 41: One of the most recognizable walls in history, The Great Wall of China stretches across the country’s northern border, from Shanhaiguan in the east to the Gobi Desert in the west, running for 12,400 miles (19,995km). Designed to protect both Chinese land and culture, its sections were linked together from the 3rd century BC to the 1600s – although some foundations and parts are believed to date as early as the 7th century BC. Over time it's been repaired and rebuilt, most famously by the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) who added garrisons and watchtowers. Discover secrets of the world's most famous walls.
Slide 30 of 41: This remote island, 869 miles (1,398km) east of the Falklands, may not have any permanent human inhabitants but it is home to millions of penguins as well as dazzling glaciers and deep fjords. In spring, the island, and especially the Salisbury Plain, become incredibly busy as around 10,000 penguins of various species come here to start their breeding season. The island is also home to a large seal population as well as many seabirds, including albatross and gulls.
Slide 31 of 41: The gorgeous forest-covered cliffs of the Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park on Kauai Island are an exquisite sight to see. Like something straight out of the Jurassic Park, some of the rugged red and green rocks of Hawaii's Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park look more suited to Mars than Earth. Nā Pali means high cliffs in Hawaiian – a very fitting name when the tallest mountains here soar to 4,000 feet (1,200m). 
Slide 32 of 41: This wave-beaten outcrop is the most westerly point in Europe, situated in Portugal's Peniche area. From up high, the drama of the natural rock formations come into the fore. Beaten into shape over many years by wind and water, the crags look like mismatched jigsaw puzzles, with determined greenery forcing its way through the cracks. 
Slide 33 of 41: The famous coppery buttes of Monument Valley are synonymous with the southwest USA and the image of the American West. The red rockscape, 30,000 acres of which is protected as a Navajo Tribal Park, is located on the Arizona and Utah state border. The imposing buttes rise up as high as 1,000 feet (305m) above the valley floor.
Slide 34 of 41: This row of fat-bottomed baobab trees is as bizarre and beguiling as the island’s tangerine-eyed lemurs, and probably just as frequently photographed. The Avenue of the Baobabs, on a dirt road between Morondava and Belon'i Tsiribihina in western Madagascar, is made up of majestic centuries-old trees, reaching up to 100-feet (30m) tall.
Slide 35 of 41: Rub' Al Khali, part of the Arabian Desert, means empty quarter in Arabic and this sprawling area covers swathes of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and the UAE. It lays claim to being the largest continuous area of sand on the planet. From above, the shrub-flecked landscape appears surreal with sandy orange crests and shadowy ridges. It's not hard to see why it was used as a location for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Slide 36 of 41: India’s tallest plunge waterfall has a dramatic drop of around 1,100 feet (335m) but it would be beautiful at a tenth of the height. It rushes over red-rock cliffs thickly blanketed with forest, which surrounds the falls with swathes of emerald green trees draped in mist. Heavy rainfall here in Meghalaya, in eastern India, keeps the landscape verdant, while locals have created bridges from living trees to help them get around in times of monsoon.
Slide 37 of 41: The rolling sand dunes of this vast national park in Tularosa Basin, New Mexico are so snow-white it looks freezing cold. Dunes curve and dip seemingly endlessly, although actually the desert covers 275 square miles (443sqkm) between the San Andres and Sacramento mountain ranges.
Slide 38 of 41: In the north of this vast, fascinating country, Simien Mountains National Park has gaspingly gorgeous vistas at every turn. The green, undulating mountains are roamed by curved-horned wail ibex, Ethiopian wolves and endemic gelada monkeys, who gather in groups to preen and play in the meadows.
Slide 39 of 41: The Great Barrier Reef is famously so vast it can be viewed from space. It looks good both underwater and from dry land. It’s the world’s largest reef system, made up of nearly 3,000 reefs and encompassing more than 135,000 square miles (350,000sqkm). It’s also home to whales, dolphins, sea turtles and thousands of species of fish. Even without all that, the dazzling, dappled expanse of blue is pretty lovely to look at.
Slide 40 of 41: Each year, following the rainy season, the largest mammal migration on Earth sees at least 1.5 million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle make an epic journey over a 11,583 square-mile area, traveling northwest from the plains of the Serengeti in search of greener pastures. This amazing event is known as The Great Wildebeest Migration and is often regarded as one of the most spectacular wonders of the natural world.
Slide 41 of 41: The state of Utah has a bounty of scenic vistas, from the jagged rocks of Bryce Canyon to the green peaks of Wasatch Mountain State Park up north. But one of the most impressive bird's-eye views is of Reflection Canyon, a dramatic rock formation in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Here, the remote canyon can be seen in all its glory from above. Here are 60 more places you won't believe are in America.

Our beautiful world

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming, USA

Yellowstone’s most famous hot spring, the Grand Prismatic’s vivid blue center is surrounded by bands of rusty orange, yellow and green, making it look otherworldly. The largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world, Grand Prismatic is around 160 feet (50m) deep and the hot water reaches a temperature of around 160°F (70°C). Multi-layered sheets of microorganisms called microbial mats give the bands their distinctive colors, that tend to change slightly with the seasons. Take a look at vintage images of America’s most historic attractions.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Covering almost 115 square miles, Plitvice Lakes National Park is found near the Bosnia and Herzegovina border, two hours south by car from Zagreb in Croatia. The park, founded in 1949, is famous for its collection of 16 crystal clear, color-changing lakes – they morph between shades of green and blue due to their high mineral content – plus over 90 waterfalls. It’s a truly magical landscape. Here are stunning pictures of Europe’s best national parks.

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland, UK

Pamukkale, Turkey

One of Turkey’s most beautiful sights, the surreal travertine terraces of Pamukkale (meaning ‘cotton castle’) are a geological phenomenon. The striking pools are a result of the mineral-rich hot springs that bubble away beneath the ground. Here are more of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders.

Bagan, Myanmar

An ancient city now abandoned, Bagan is one of Myanmar’s greatest treasures and one of the most spellbinding sights in the world due to its otherworldly beauty and history. Local rulers began building here in 1057, until earthquakes and Kublai Khan’s Mongols destroyed the Pagan Kingdom in 1287. Today, some 2,230 temples, palaces, pagodas and monasteries survive, standing cheek-by-jowl along the Irrawaddy River. In fact, Bagan has the most concentrated area of Buddhist religious structures in the world. Here are the world’s stunning sunrises that will brighten up your day.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Iguazú Falls, Brazil and Argentina

Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA

The valleys of Antelope Canyon in Arizona were created over thousands of years by flash flooding, which eroded the sandstone pathways and shaped the distinctive curves you see today. What many don’t know is that it’s actually two separate slot canyons – Upper Antelope Canyon or The Crack and Lower Antelope Canyon or The Corkscrew. Take a look at stunning images of the world’s most incredible canyons.

Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

Iceland seems to overflow with waterfalls, each with its own fascinating features. Seljalandsfoss, in the south, isn’t the tallest (with a drop of 200 feet/61m) but it’s one of the few waterfalls in the world that can be admired from all angles. It’s beautifully contrasted by a landscape of seemingly endless green meadows, dotted with yellow and violet flowers watered by the fine spray, creating a fairy-tale like image. Here are the world’s most beautiful waterfalls.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

Borobudur, Indonesia

Few sights rival that of sunrise over Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple, with Mount Merapi in the distance. Yet there is a dark paradox behind the serene image: Merapi is volcanic, and many scientists now believe that eruptions and earthquakes between 928 and 1006 led monks to abandon Borobudur. The Mataram Kingdom erected Borobudur in around AD 824. That means it enjoyed barely 200 years of use before the forest reclaimed it. It was re-discovered by British and Dutch explorers in 1814.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Most often seen enveloped in mist, the world’s most famous Inca site has a spectacular setting amid forest-clad Andean peaks. Built in the 15th century, the citadel is thought to have been both a residential and religious center, although plenty of theories and legends surround its mystical setting. The most significant archaeological site in South America, it’s thought the emperor Pachacutec built the soaring citadel in the clouds, but new discoveries continue to uncover the history of this fascinating site even today.

Palawan, Philippines

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Japan

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is one of Kyoto’s most enchanting sights and it’s easy to see why. The lush green stalks of bamboo rise tall, filtering the light from above and creating a magical atmosphere down below. Part of the Arashiyama district in the western outskirts of Kyoto, it’s a nationally designated Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty alongside the Moon Crossing Bridge, Tenryu-ji temple and the hamlet of Kiyotaki. Take a look at stunning photos of the world’s most beautiful trees. 

Provence, France

Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Alberta’s Banff National Park is chock-full of gorgeous lakes, from the park’s most famous, Lake Louise, to the incredible turquoise expanses of Peyto Lake and Moraine Lake (pictured). Most lakes here get their distinctive blue color from the reflective glacial silt that makes its way into the water. Situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, the lake sits at an elevation of about 6,181 feet (1,884m) and has a surface area of 120 acres. Take a look at stunning images of Canada’s jaw-dropping natural wonders.

Pig Beach, Bahamas

Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall, Thailand

Old Man of Storr, Scotland, UK

Lake Hillier, Western Australia, Australia

Australia’s natural wonders come in a kaleidoscope of colors, including bright pink. The pretty-hued Lake Hillier can be found on Middle Island in Western Australia’s Recherche Archipelago, around 70 miles (130km) from Esperance. Framed by green forest and blue water, it’s an extraordinary sight. Unlike other colored lakes, Hillier doesn’t change its color and is permanently bright pink – this is thought to be caused by the presence of a micro-algae commonly found in sea salt fields. Take a look at 40 of Australia’s most stunning natural wonders.

Munnar, Kerala, India

Zhangye National Geopark, China

Northern Lights

The Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, is a natural light display occurring between late September and late March and is visible in multiple locations across the world, including Alaska, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland and even Scotland. Although these majestic purple and green bands of light cover a wide geographical area, some of the most spectacular shows happen above Iceland, as seen in this image taken in Glacier Lagoon. See 24 stunning images of the Northern Lights here.

Sutherland Falls, New Zealand

Located in the remote part of Fjordland in the South Island, Sutherland Falls is made up of three streams that thunder from a height of 1,904 feet (580m) – putting it among the world’s tallest. There’s often not a soul around to hear their roar as the falls are tucked within remote bushland, with water flowing from Lake Quill. Here are 50 more reasons to love New Zealand.

Alaska, USA

Home to several national parks – Denali, Katmai and Kenai Fjords among others – Alaska’s wildlife is famous across the globe. Sprawling over six million wild, ruggedly gorgeous acres, Denali National Park surrounds North America’s tallest peak and has a varied landscape, from alpine forest to snowy slopes. The park is home to wolves, grizzlies and black bears while brown bears have found home in the vast Katmai National Park. Over 2,200 bears live in Katmai – here a brown bear cub has found a better vantage point on its mother’s back.

Miho no Matsubara, Japan

A serene four-mile-long (7km) pine-lined shoreline with Mount Fuji rising tall in the distance, Miho no Matsubara is regarded as one of Japan’s most beautiful sights and was designated a National Place of Scenic Beauty of Japan in 1922. It is also the location of a legend that says a celestial being was overwhelmed by the beauty of the bay, so she took off her robe to bathe in the water. A local fisherman saw her and refused to give back her robe until she performed a dance for him. A statue of the fisherman watching the dance now stands at the entrance of the park.

Great Wall of China, China

One of the most recognizable walls in history, The Great Wall of China stretches across the country’s northern border, from Shanhaiguan in the east to the Gobi Desert in the west, running for 12,400 miles (19,995km). Designed to protect both Chinese land and culture, its sections were linked together from the 3rd century BC to the 1600s – although some foundations and parts are believed to date as early as the 7th century BC. Over time it’s been repaired and rebuilt, most famously by the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) who added garrisons and watchtowers. Discover secrets of the world’s most famous walls.

South Georgia Island, British Overseas Territory

Nā Pali Coast, Hawaii, USA

The gorgeous forest-covered cliffs of the Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park on Kauai Island are an exquisite sight to see. Like something straight out of the Jurassic Park, some of the rugged red and green rocks of Hawaii’s Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park look more suited to Mars than Earth. Nā Pali means high cliffs in Hawaiian – a very fitting name when the tallest mountains here soar to 4,000 feet (1,200m). 

Estrada Marginal Norte, Peniche, Portugal

This wave-beaten outcrop is the most westerly point in Europe, situated in Portugal’s Peniche area. From up high, the drama of the natural rock formations come into the fore. Beaten into shape over many years by wind and water, the crags look like mismatched jigsaw puzzles, with determined greenery forcing its way through the cracks. 

Monument Valley, Utah/Arizona, USA

Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar

Rub’ Al Khali, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen & the UAE

Rub’ Al Khali, part of the Arabian Desert, means empty quarter in Arabic and this sprawling area covers swathes of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and the UAE. It lays claim to being the largest continuous area of sand on the planet. From above, the shrub-flecked landscape appears surreal with sandy orange crests and shadowy ridges. It’s not hard to see why it was used as a location for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Nohkalikai Falls, India

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico, USA

The rolling sand dunes of this vast national park in Tularosa Basin, New Mexico are so snow-white it looks freezing cold. Dunes curve and dip seemingly endlessly, although actually the desert covers 275 square miles (443sqkm) between the San Andres and Sacramento mountain ranges.

Simien Mountains, Ethiopia

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef is famously so vast it can be viewed from space. It looks good both underwater and from dry land. It’s the world’s largest reef system, made up of nearly 3,000 reefs and encompassing more than 135,000 square miles (350,000sqkm). It’s also home to whales, dolphins, sea turtles and thousands of species of fish. Even without all that, the dazzling, dappled expanse of blue is pretty lovely to look at.

Serengeti, Tanzania and Kenya

Reflection Canyon, Utah, USA

The state of Utah has a bounty of scenic vistas, from the jagged rocks of Bryce Canyon to the green peaks of Wasatch Mountain State Park up north. But one of the most impressive bird’s-eye views is of Reflection Canyon, a dramatic rock formation in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Here, the remote canyon can be seen in all its glory from above. Here are 60 more places you won’t believe are in America.

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