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Otherworldly destinations

Virgin Galactic is set to launch commercial sub-orbital space flights as early as next year… and if you have $200,000 to spare you can book now! As such, it would seem realistic and affordable commercial space travel is still some way off.

For those on a tighter budget, there are places right here on planet earth that could double for lunar landscapes or extraterrestrial worlds far from our own. They may look surreal but they really do exist!

The Flexicover Team looks at some that wouldn’t look out of place in a science-fiction film.

Pamukkale, Turkey

Pamukkale literally means ‘cotton castle’ and is one of Turkey's most awe-inspiring natural wonders. Located in the south-west, about 12 miles north of Denizli, the main attraction is the bright blue pools encrusted in white mineral deposits which cascade down the cliff. The water contains high levels of calcium carbonate forming the limestone which gives Pamukkale its distinctive colour; from a distance you could be forgiven for thinking it was snow. Just above these pools is Turkey’s other main attraction, the ancient Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis, founded by Eumenes II, king of Pergamon, in 190BC, housing the largest necropolis in Anatolia (containing over 1,200 tombs) and a fantastically preserved 12,000-seat Roman amphitheatre! Take a dip in the warm water of the Sacred Pool, located inside Pamukkale Hotel and feel a world of difference!

The Wave, Coyote Buttes, Arizona, USA

Near the Utah/Arizona border, you will find a stunning 190 million years old sandstone rock formation called the Wave. After a moderately difficult 3 mile hike from the Wire Pass Trailhead it suddenly opens up, looking more like a Photoshop creation than a natural phenomenon with its stark, colourful undulating form. Restricted strictly to just 10 walk-in permits a day, this memorable location can be found at Coyote Buttes!

Craters of the Moon, Taupo, New Zealand

Located north of Taupo, these thermal mud pools bubble away and steam erupts from the earth, while plants not normally native to a temperate nation thrive in the hot and partly noxious environment. This phenomenon was triggered in the 1950s when a nearby geothermal power station lowered the underground water level causing the remaining water to boil violently and steam to vent in to the air. Wooden pathways allow visitors to walk in relative comfort. If you ever go, remember to avoid open-toed footwear!

Zhangjiajie Forest, Hunan, China

If you’ve seen James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar then you’d be able to instantly spot the similarities between the quartzite sandstone pillars and the floating Hallelujah Mountains of Pandora. In fact, it is claimed the spectacular sandstone pillars were the inspiration behind the filmmaker’s vision and the 3,544ft Southern Sky Column was officially renamed “Avatar Hallelujah Mountain” in 2010. These gigantic pillars are scattered throughout the forest and the park is often shrouded in fog giving it a truly surreal and otherworldly feel!

Giant's Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

The causeway is made up of more than 40,000 basalt columns that are locked together forming a path that stretches out in to sea. Science tells us that it was created by volcanic eruptions over 60 million years ago but the local legend claims it was the stomping ground of the giant Finn McCool, who is said to have thrown the columns into the sea. Whichever explanation you prefer, the Giant’s Causeway is a ‘must-see’ location, especially when you consider it’s so close to home. Whilst there, take a trip about two miles south to the Old Bushmills Distillery, supposedly the oldest licensed (13th century) whiskey distillery in the world.

Wherever you decide to travel, however unrealistic the location, Flexicover Direct, the travel insurance specialists, are committed to providing the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.

If you are travelling soon, have a great trip!