A single lifetime is far too short to ever fully explore the beauty and mystique this planet has to offer. Compared with the frigid wastelands and fiery orbs that are our plantary companions in the Milky Way, earth’s magnificence speaks volumes of the glory of its Creator and the importance of the humans who have been charged with stewardship of the spectacular planet.
Everywhere you look, natural wonders abound if you take the time to marvel at their splendor. From the giant Redwoods to the breathtaking sunset that leaves you standing speechless, from Angel Falls to the exploding force of a crash of lightning outside your bedroom window, nature’s beauty and power is plainly visible to all, well-traveled or not. Although many are familiar with certain wonders of the world, here are ten natural phenomena of which you may not be aware.
10. Salar de Uyuni
The world’s largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia covers 4,086 square miles and contains 10 billion tons of salt. Formed by a long-ago evaporated flooded area, Salar de Uyuni offers colorful mineral deposits in the Andes region of Bolivia. The sparkling white, almost-completely flat desert of salt offers a surreal snow-white plain that draws visitors who wince at the bright glare despite their sunglasses.
A great time to visit Salar de Uyuni is between July and October, when the temperature is most comfortable. If you decide to visit, make sure to visit some of the structures the locals have constructed out of the salt. Some of the toilets are even made of salt!
Visitors to Salar de Uyuni during the rainy season between March and April are greeted by a wet landscape so flat that it reflects the clouds, creating the illusion that there is no break between land and sky. Photos taken at these times are stunning. In them, flaming sunsets fill the vision completely, making it appear as though you were hanging in the sky with no ground below. Even more awesome is when the night sky is reflected. You would really think you were in the middle of the heavens, the stars reflected around your feet appear so clearly. No wonder Salar de Uyuni is known as the world’s largest mirror.
9. Eye of the Sahara
If you stumbled upon the Eye of the Sahara, or the Richat Feature, while tramping across the Sahara, you’d think you’d fallen into a concentric maze system. By viewing it from above, however, you’d be amazed at the symmetry of the strange desert feature.
Large enough to be a landmark for astronauts returning from space, the Eye of the Sahara has drawn much speculation. After decades of study, scientists have come to the conclusion that it lacks evidence of a meteor or impact from anything from space. Instead, the orderly layers of rock looked like lava or even hydrothermal cold water pushed out the strange circles. Since we can’t know for certain at this point, at least we can view them with awed respect and wonder what the Eye of the Sahara might look like from space. Oh, wait…never mind. Let’s just pull it up on Google Earth.