By Gina Lawrence
Landscapes lure us from ourselves. The Romantic poets of 18th century developed the concept of the ‘Sublime’, the feeling of being simultaneously overwhelmed and invigorated by the raw power of the natural world, leaving behind a sensation of both fear and empowerment. With Exodus leading the way, seeking out these scenic showstoppers has never been easier.
Smouldering earth blackened and blistered by a temper tantrum centuries old. Spewing steam from fumaroles and vents, glistening hunks of solid fire lava fields and apocalyptic vistas worthy of science fiction – Mount Etna’s jagged rocks and black, still hot soil form the highest active volcano in Europe.
Taking you there: Sicilian Vocanoes
Rock of Ages
Striated rainbows of rock transform Jordan’s Petra from ancient city to surreal landscape. The strange pattern alternates between metallic ribbons of copper, demure pinks, heat-stained ruby, fiery orange and bruised purple. The aeons old rock holds enough charm on appearance alone, let alone the fascinating history it hides.
Taking you there: Holidays to Jordan
The White Continent
For a sheer sense of scale, Antarctica wins our vote. Shrink yourself to a tiny coloured dot in a world of white, surrounded by tabular icebergs swollen to the size of shopping malls and hulk-like humpbacks breaching in the wakes of zodiacs. Here, man is miniscule – both in size and in power.
Taking you there: Antarctic Expeditions
The Avenue of the Baobabs
With branches looking more like roots, Baobabs are frequently called ‘upside down trees’. Turn things on its head with a trip to Madagascar to see these arboreal beauties, their russet-red trunks bulbous with stored water reserves.
Taking you there: Holidays to Madagascar
The Black Sands of Vik Beach
The chilly Atlantic Ocean brushes against the brittle flecks of black sand on Iceland’s southern shores. It is easy, standing on these monochrome shores, to see how it inspired mythical beasts of Icelandic sagas.
Taking you there: Discover Iceland
Where the Wild Things Are
The forests of almost Arctic Finland groan and bend under the weight of innumerable snowflakes. These strange lumpy creations occur every year as the Ice Queen visits the pristine wilds of Oulanka National Park, resembling a stage for the world’s most bizarre ballet.
Taking you there: Finnish Wilderness Week
65 foot (or 20 metres) above the ground, the highest point of freestanding ‘Delicate Arch’ is a beacon for any landscape enthusiast. Like a bowlegged cowboy, the arch straddles a spectacular panorama across Arches National Park, especially dramatic when the setting sun lights up the orange sandstone.
Taking you there: National Parks Walk
The Fairytale Chimney’s of Cappadocia
Cappadocia looks like Gaudi and Dali got together and decided to make art. The “fairytale chimneys” that crown the underground cities create a dreamlike landscape sculpted from almond and honey rocks.
Taking you there: Walking in Cappadocia
Salt of the Earth
The Bolivian salt flats are no stranger to surrealism. The Salar de Uyuni is the ultimate optical illusionist, playing with perspective and messing with minds. Discover vibrant thermal lagunas, abstract rock formations, flamingos and a cacti oasis amidst the salty expanses as you explore the moonscape on 4×4.
Taking you there: South American Adventure
Dunes & Dust
Silence descends at the same rate as the sun sinking into the horizon. It’s like watching the world through orange-tinted glasses as the light drenches the dunes in a golden haze. Below, a small Himba village winds up the day the way they have for centuries: this is a million miles from home.
Taking you there: Holidays to Namibia