8 Lunar Landscapes on Planet Earth

While traveling to the moon may still be a distant dream, there are some lunar landscapes that you can visit without leaving planet earth.

Who hasn’t dreamed of taking a trip to the moon? And while booking a spaceship may be out of reach, there are some surreal places in the world capable of catapulting you to another planet.

From the Canaries to New Zealand, Etna and Cappadocia, discover eight terrains of alien beauty that you can visit on planet earth.

1. Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote (Spain)

The Canaries are a hotbed of barren landscapes, rocky and riddled with craggy craters like something from outer space. Lanzarote, one of the most beautiful spanish islands, is the one that most resembles the moon. The Timanfaya National Park in particular has little vegetation and unusual rock formations tinged with burnished red and black, the result of a series of volcanic eruptions that took place between 1720 and 1824.

Options for exploring the strange beauty of the park are endless. To immerse yourself in the world of volcanoes, take the access from Taro de Entrada and explore the area of ​​the Montañas del Fuego. Alternatively, two popular trekking routes are the Ruta del Litoral and the Ruta de Tramesana.

Recommended experience: Lanzarote tour including Timanfaya National Park and El Golfo

2. Teide National Park, Tenerife (Spain)

The Teide National Park is a succession of chimneys, lava flows, volcanic craters and curious rock formations. At 12,188 ft the star attraction is the Teide volcano itself, but points of interest in this extensive natural area are many and varied. Start with the dense network of hiking trails, with no fewer than 41 different routes.

Fit adventurers may want to take the challenge of hiking from Montaña Blanca to Pico del Teide, the top of the volcano; it’s a tough 5 miles that will take you across what seems to be landscapes from another planet. Be sure to make a stop at the Roques de García, curious volcanic rocks shaped by erosion, and at the Mirador de las Narices del Teide, the ultimate viewpoint for sunset lovers.

Recommended experience: Teide National Park tour

3. Etna, Sicily (Italy)

On Mount Etna you can see the setting gradually shift from the sea to cultivated hills, from the woods to where the lava flows. The more you climb, the less vegetation you find. Finally, around 8000ft high, a Mars-like setting emerges where only a few broom shrubs grow.

Explore Etna Park by choosing from a dozen trails, which will lead you to discover the immense Valle del Bove and caves of lava rocks. If you want to reach the summit crater but prefer not to hike, 4×4 buses are available. Taking a buggy excursion is another stellar option.

Recommended experience: Buggy tour on Etna

4. Grand Canyon, Arizona (USA)

At 227 miles long and 1 mile deep, the Grand Canyon in Arizona is the most famous gorge in the world with some wildly alien terrain. Given the vastness of the area, this national park is divided into three zones, each characterized by spectacular landscapes and ever-changing colors: the South Rim, which is also the most served and visited area; the North Rim, the least touristy area; and the West Rim, where the famous Skywalk is located, a transparent glass platform that extends over the canyon.

The distances between the various areas of the park are long so if you only have one day available, choose your selected area carefully. Within the Rims you can choose different routes, depending on the level of difficulty of the trek and the time you have available. And if walking is not for you, why not take a helicopter tour to the Grand Canyon?

Recommended Experience: Grand Canyon South Rim Day Trip

5. Jökulsárlón, Iceland

The unearthly glacial lake of Jökulsárlón covers about 6.9 sq mi but is expanding rapidly due to global warming and the rapid melting of glaciers. One of the most impressive features of this icy lagoon are the pieces of icebergs that detach from the nearby glacier, slowly melt and then end up in the ocean. At the famous Diamond Beach, a short distance from the lake, large chunks of ice dot the black sand, forming frozen sculptures that shine like diamonds.

Recommended Experience: Blue Ice Cave Tour from Jökulsárlón

6. Cappadocia, Turkey

Who hasn’t dreamed of floating in a hot-air balloon through this otherworldly region of Turkey? With 60 million years of history behind it, today Cappadocia is known for its villages carved into the hills, volcanic rocks with extravagant shapes, underground cities, atmospheric cave churches and its almost mystical beauty.

Don’t miss the city of Ortahisar, carved into the rock, with open roads between stone walls and labyrinthine tunnels. Fill up on surreal settings by exploring the Pink and Red Valleys of volcanic origin, with their dusty pink, yellow and orange cliffs and rock formations.

Recommended Experience: Cappadocia Sunset Jeep Safari

7. Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan

Jordan’s largest wadi (a desert area formed around a river or stream bed) is also aptly known as the Valley of the Moon. It’s characterized by a succession of high peaks, like the 5,689ft high Jebel Rum, along with sandy dunes of varying colors, canyons and natural arches. The rocks come in some extravagant shapes, which make the landscape even more extraterrestrial. Several Bedouin tribes still live here today, leading a nomadic life and carrying on ancient traditions.

This Unesco World Heritage site can be explored in many ways. You can hike the long and legendary Jordan Trail, take a 4×4 excursion or opt for a night tour that lets you make the most of the star-packed sky.

Recommended experience: Night experience in Wadi Rum for stargazing

8. Wai-O-Tapu, Rotorua (New Zealand)

This geothermal area is a fascinating world onto itself. Wai-O-Tapu, which in the Maori language means “sacred waters”, is an area characterized by several hot springs with waters of vivid oranges and greens, along with bubbling pots of mud. Despite being a protected natural area, in 2012 a part of the reserve was opened to tourism and named Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. Often referred to as one of the most surreal places on our planet, the park can be explored on foot by following one of the well-marked trails.

At 10.15am be sure to be near the Lady Knox geyser, to witness an explosive jet of hot water that can reach a maximum height of around 65ft. But the main attraction, which is also the most photographed place in the whole park, is the so-called Champagne Pool, a simmering volcanic lake that reaches temperatures as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s known for its fantastic colors, which range from green to yellow to an intense red.

Recommended experience: Hells Gate experience and Wai-O-Tapu thermal wonderland

It’s time to discover those lunar landscapes! Have a look to our travel experiences:

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