Forget Mars, Here's 10 Alien-Like Places On Earth

You could put yourself forward for a lifetime on a remote planet with little chance of survival, or you could just take a trip to one of these instead.
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We’ve already given our suggestions for the Brits who most deserve to be sent to the red planet in 2025’s Mars One mission, braving the risks of space travel and other-worldly living so we don’t have to.

But what about the rest of us? Will we be content watching Total Recall on repeat, knowing that our fellow beings are experiencing the wonders of another world in person?

The good news is, there’s no need to risk your health or abandon your home for the rest of your life to explore other-worldly environments – there are plenty of fascinating, albeit weird and alien-like destinations right here on earth.

Images supplied by Alamy

1. Chott el Jerid

Mound of salt on salt lake in winter at Chott el-Jerid, Tunisia under dramatic sky. Image shot 2008. Exact date unknown.

Not only did the salt flats of Chott el Jerid in Tunisia serve as the filming location for Tatooine in the Star Wars movies, but the area has also been described as the most Mars-like place on earth. Its sun-baked surface with hard crust of sodium chloride covers a vivid red ground that closely resembles the red planet itself.

2. Spotted Lake

Spotted Lake, British Columbia

Spotted Lake in British Columbia, Canada is brimming with huge quantities of minerals like sodium, calcium and magnesium sulfates, causing these intriguing circular patterns to appear on the surface. Located near the city of Osoyoos, the lake is just off the side of a highway, so you can experience the feeling of another planet without even leaving the road.

3. Rotorua

Unusual panoramic view of the Champagne Pool at Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, Rotorua, New Zealand.

Waitotapu Thermal Wonderland in Rotorua, New Zealand, is a vibrant volcanic area caused by centuries of geothermic activity. These pools are world famous for their alien-like qualities and the pungent eggy smell that accompanies them is enough to have even the sturdiest tourist wrinkling their nose like ET himself.

4. Atacama Desert


The vast lands of the Atacama Desert in Chile have been used by NASA to test instruments for Mars Missions, thanks to the similarities in the landscapes. This dusty plain covers a 1,000km strip with red sand and mineral rocks, and is considered to be one of the driest deserts in the world.

5. Rio Tinto


Spain’s Rio Tinto river runs red thanks to years of iron mining in the area. The river is now poisonous due to high acidity levels, but is a beautiful sight for visitors, with its various hues of yellow, orange and rusty red.

6. Giant’s Causeway

Giants causeway captured in the evening.

The Giant’s Causeway in Ireland is formed of iconic basalt columns that create a stepping-stone landscape on the cliff’s edge, making this famous location resemble a backdrop from Star Trek. This mysterious formation is the result of a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago and is now the only World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland.

7. Goblin Valley State Park

USA, Utah, Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley State Park stretches through the vast Utah desert and boasts a landscape covered in alien-like sandstone goblins, with red dust causing the area to resemble Mars itself. This landscape could be prime territory for your own Cowboys vs Aliens standoff.

8. Mount Tianzi

Sandstone peaks of Mt Tianzi (Son of Heaven Mountain), Wulingyuan Scenic Area, Hunan Province, China. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown.

No, that’s not Pandora. The Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve in China is home to huge rocky peaks and drifting mists that shroud the surrounding mountains in an eerie fog. This forest of rock looms sky high and offers visitors picturesque views of deep valleys and winding hills, but not a Na’vi in sight.

9. Waitomo Caves

Glowworms phosphorescence underground at Waitomo caves New Zealand. Image shot 2007. Exact date unknown.

You could be mistaken for thinking you’re about to enter light-speed, but these extra-terrestrial lights that shine deep within the caves of Waitomo in New Zealand are caused by the lights of the glow-worms that live there.

10. Plitvice Lakes

Blue-green waterfalls. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia Water-colored from limestone and travertine

Located between Zagreb and Zadar in Croatia, the Plitvice Lakes National Park seems both Jurassic and alien-like simultaneously, with waters flowing over limestone and chalk causing natural dams. The resulting caves, waterfalls and lakes draw a huge variety of fauna and flora – like a calm Day of the Triffids.

All images from Alamy