Halong Bay, Vietnam: This stunning landscape features some 3,000 limestone pillars rising out of the emerald waters on the northwest coast of the Gulf of Tonkin. Local legend has it that the islands were created by giant dragons, summoned by the gods to fight Chinese invaders.
Valley of Desolation, Dominica: This valley was a lush rainforest until a volcano erupted in 1880. Fauna is now reduced to lizards, ants and cockroaches while boiling mud and fumaroles dot the landscape.
Painted Desert, Arizona, USA: Vibrant reds, oranges, blues, greys and pinks decorate the sun-baked Painted Desert on a high plateau in Arizona. Home of the Hopi and the Navajo peoples, the latter known for their ceremonial sand paintings, it’s an utterly unique part of the planet.
Purnululu National Park, Australia: Until the release of aerial photos in the early 1980s, this remote area in Western Australia was all but unknown to the outside world. Traditionally used by Kija Aborigines during the wet season, the rugged web of gullies, cliffs, gorges, domes and ridges hold aboriginal works of art and burial sites.
Petrified Forest, Argentina: This flat arid land in Patagonia’s Santa Cruz province is strewn with the stumps of fossilised trees. Some 130 million years ago, during the Jurassic period, wet forests of giant araucaria trees covered the area. During the formation of the Andes, large-scale volcanic activity buried Patagonia in ash and these forests turned to stone.
Wadi Rum, Jordan: The forbidding beauty of Wadi Rum was the perfect backdrop for the 1962 epic Lawrence of Arabia. This desert wilderness is certainly cinematic – sand valleys and dunes punctuated by a maze of monolithic rock, natural arches, slender canyons and fissures, beautifully moody colours at dawn and dusk, and night skies sprinkled with a multitude of stars.
Lake Myvatn, Iceland: The Apollo 11 crew were sent here to train for their moon walks. It is lined with craters, lava pillars and mud pits, while volcanic islets are scattered across the water. If not for all the ducks roaming the sandbars, it could well be on another planet.
Cappadocia, Turkey: So inhospitable is the landscape here in the heart of Turkey that early dwellers went underground, building churches and houses into the soft cliffs. Above ground, honeycomb cliffs and volcanic cones – known as ‘fairy chimneys’ create dramatic landscapes.
Lake Bogoria, Kenya: So shallow is the earth’s crust in this sinister landscape that the surface looks like a giant witch’s cauldron, with scorching springs and geysers. Rich in sodium salts and minerals, the lake has no life bar the blue-green algae, eagles flying overhead and the incredible number of flamingos that feed here.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia: Blindingly white and dizzyingly high, this vast salt flat near the crest of the Andes could easily be mistaken for a Salvador Dali painting. Eerie and otherworldly, Salar de Uyuni holds intensely blue skies, red and green lagoons, pink flamingos, smoking volcanoes, giant cacti, hot springs and spitting geysers.