***Copyright: Please visit the photographer links for licensing conditions for each photo. Some are available through a Creative Commons license, but many are copyrighted against unauthorized use. We were granted special permission to feature them in this Matador photo essay. ***

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Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

The largest salt flat in the world reflects the sky during the wet season... Photo: Luca Galuzzi


Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

...and in the dry winter months, it becomes a mosaic of salt tiles. Photo: Sergio Pessolano



Icebergs drift in dark Antarctic waters. Photo: winkyintheuk


The Richat Structure, near Ouadane, Mauritania

A circular feature, 50km across, in the middle of the otherwise featureless Mauritanian Sahara. Picture courtesy of NASA. Photographer: trodel_wiki


Alvord Playa, southeastern Oregon, USA

You might not expect to find a desert in the Pacific Northwest, but this dry lake bed averages only 180mm of rain a year. Photo: rasone


Cappadocia, Turkey

Fairy chimneys dominate the landscape between Cavusin and Zelve. Photo: Timothy Neesam


Socotra Island, Yemen

Socotra's isolation in the Indian Ocean has given rise to plant life you won't see anywhere else. This is the dragon's blood tree. Photo: Sotti


Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA

Best known as the staging grounds for Burning Man, the Black Rock Desert is also home to alien features such as the Fly Geyser. Photo: Stephen Oachs


Black Desert, Egypt

Egypt's deserts come in many colors, including Black... Photo: Gekko82


White Desert, Egypt

...and White. Photo: tronics


Kauai, Hawaii

Seaside lava ledges make for otherworldly experiences on this often-overlooked Hawaiian island. Photo: PatrickSmithPhotography


Namib Desert, Namibia

Sand rarely gets as red as it does in the deserts of Namibia. Photo: Brian Preen


Torres del Paine, Chile

The most alien of the 8 Natural Wonders of Chile, Torres del Paine's mountain spires cut into the blue sky. Photo: winkyintheuk


Dead Sea, Israel/Jordan

Lowest point on Earth, deepest salt lake in the world, saltier than the ocean...the list of the Dead Sea's bizarreness is a long one. Photo: Pennina Neumann


Strokkur Geyser, southwestern Iceland

Visitors to the Strokkur Geyser are rewarded with this display every five minutes or so. Photo: exfordy


Lake Turkana, Kenya

Lake Turkana lies in Africa's Great Rift Valley. Its salty waters comprise the world's largest desert lake. Photo: Yannick Garcin


Four Corners region, USA

The Colorado Plateau gets funky at the Arizona-Utah border. That's where you'll find Vermilion Cliffs National Monument... Photo: gregmote


Four Corners region, USA

...and Monument Valley. Photo: Wolfgang Staudt


Chocolate Hills, Bohol, Philippines

Over 1,700 naturally formed mounds (covered with chocolate brown grass in the dry season) dot the center of the island of Bohol. Photo: Lemuel Montejo


The Sahara

The world's largest hot desert is as big as the entire U.S. Get stranded out here and you'll wish you really were on an alien world. Photo: Jay Brezinsky


The Sahara

"Tunisian Sahara: Desert Stop!" Photo: andzer