Outer space truly is the next travel frontier, and some adventurous types are already booking their seats. So much so that Space Perspective, a company that promises to give travelers a bird’s eye view of Earth from a balloon, is already sold out through 2024.
But if space travel isn’t in your near future, why not go somewhere that feels and looks otherworldly, but is right here on our own planet? There are unique landscapes all over for you to discover that will make you feel truly transported. Here are 5 out of this world destinations right here on Earth:
Torri del Vajolet, the Dolomites, Italy
The Dolomites are a mountain range in northern Italy, along its border with Austria. In 2009, the United Nations declared them to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and they are one of the most sought-after mountain climbing sites on Earth. Located at the end of a 3-hour hike in the Dolomites are the Torri del Vajolet – the Vajolet Towers.
The towers are six soaring rock formations, surrounded by a moon-like landscape. The area is only open to hikers in summer, and a mountain guide is highly recommended. It’s also recommended to stay at a mountain hut nearby and start your journey from there. Those who take on the challenge are rewarded with awe-inspiring views. Seasoned mountain climbers can opt to ascend the towers themselves.
Yes, we mean the entire country. Forged out of fire and ice, this thermally-active island looks like a completely different planet just about anywhere you look. Some spots are especially known for their alien landscapes, including the Blue Lagoon and Jökulsárlón, Vatnajökull National Park. One popular way to visit Iceland is to drive the Ring Road, which winds through many of the country’s most beautiful sites.
Iceland is an adventure traveler’s dream, but can also be enjoyed more slowly, with fine dining and plenty of nordic spa time. It’s remote location near the Arctic Circle makes it a premier destination when you feel like you want to get away from it all.
Cappadocia is a region in eastern Turkey that is a magnet for photographers and history buffs. The area is home to multiple ancient (stone churches, rock carvings) and Byzantine (cave churches, religious art) tourist sites, as well as a range of stunning landscapes. Gaze over the Red and Rose Valley, or head underground to one of the region’s subterranean cities.
Back above ground, most visitors opt for a balloon ride over Cappadocia’s rocky landscape. During the flight you’ll get breathtaking views of the cave cities, fairy rock towers, and volcanic formations that make this area unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Take your trip up a notch with a private balloon tour and VIP treatment including a Champagne landing and private transfers.
Bryce Canyon, Utah
Closer to home, the western U.S. states are world famous for their iconic colors, formations, craters, and canyons. Bryce Canyon National Park in southwestern Utah is a must-see in the wild west, with its distinctive red rock pillars called “hoodoos” and endless opportunities for year-round outdoor sports.
In the summer, there is of course hiking and camping, but also horseback riding and photography. In the winter, the elevations (8,000-9,000 feet) of this national park allow for downhill skiing and snowshoeing. It’s also another good time for capturing snow-capped photos of the red rock peaks. For the non-campers out there, there’s the Bryce Canyon Lodge, located inside the park and listed on the National Historic Register.
Wellness travelers should head further south, to the red rock towers of Sedona, Arizona. Driving in is a breathtaking experience – towers suddenly appear out of nowhere to surround the landscape. Once in town, visitors can engage in halotherapy (salt room), red rock yoga, or various healing therapies. A full, luxurious spa menu awaits at the nature chic creekside resort L’Auberge de Sedona.
You can also visit one of Sedona’s four “earth energy” vortexes. People come from all over the world to experience their reported power, and it’s one of the reasons a spiritual and wellness culture has sprung up in the area.
Salinas Grandes, Jujuy and Salta, Argentina
The Salinas Grandes are salt flats that spread throughout parts of two of the country’s provinces: Jujuy and Salta. Located in the far northwest corner of Argentina at an altitude of approximately 11,300 feet, the intrepid travelers who make it there are rewarded with striking vistas of white glistening mineral deposits contrasted with a bright blue sky and the Andes mountains in the distance.
The tiny village of Purmamarca is a favorite jumping off point for a trip to the flats, as is the larger town of Salta, which is a bit further away but still close enough for a day trip. Add on a few days in Buenos Aires for steak and tango or Mendoza for high-altitude wine tours to complete your Argentina getaway.
How to Book Your Out of this World Trip
Any of these destinations can be the main event of your next trip, or added on to larger itineraries. Lugos Travel will arrange your itinerary down to the last detail, so you can enjoy a stress-free trip of a lifetime. We can also include luxury touches like concierge airport service, and 5-star resort and dining experiences. Tell us what your ideal vacation looks like and we’ll get to work making it happen.