Cano Cristales, Colombia
Flowing through the Meta region of Colombia, this tributary of the Guayabero river is swirl of colours ranging from bright yellow to inky black. Most of the colours come from the mineral rich rocks on the riverbed, but the distinctive red colour comes from an unusual species of riverweed that grows in the fast flowing clear water.
Seven Coloured Earths, Chamarel, Mauritius
Formed as lava rocks eroded in to mineral clays, these surreally coloured sand dunes have other weird property; if the colours are mixed together they eventually separate in to striped layers. Visitors aren’t allowed on the dunes to prevent damage to the area but there are several viewing points and nearby shops sell jars of mixed colours so you can see the separation effect for yourself.
Morning Glory Pool, Yellowstone NP, USA
Named after the Morning Glory flower this curious two-tone effect is caused by bacteria living in the hot spring. The pool was originally a jewel-like blue but has yellowed over the years. It’s thought that visitors throwing pennies and other items in to the water has blocked some of the volcanic vents in the bottom of the pool, cooling the water and changing the bacteria present in the water.
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone NP, USA
Sticking with the volcanic pools of Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States. Its rainbow rim is caused by microbes; and changes colour from red in summer to green in winter. The middle of the pool is so hot it’s completely sterile. This super pure water creates the iridescent blue colour of the centre of the spring. It may look inviting but at 70C even a splash will cause scalding, so no need to pack your swimsuit.
Zhangye Danxia Geopark, China
Created at the same time as the Himalayas by the Indo-Australian tectonic plate crashing in to the Eurasian plate, Zhangye Danxia is the result of layers of sedimentary rock being pushed up in to craggy mountains. The striped cliffs and slopes were then further sculpted by wind and rain to form the surreal landscape seen today.
Lake Hillier, Western Australia
Lake Hillier is a saline lake on Middle Island, just off the southern coast of Western Australia. Accessible by helicopter or boat, it gets its highly unusual pink colour from tiny harmless organisms that live in the salty water. Take a dip in the lake for beach pictures with a difference; like the Dead Sea the high salt content makes floating easy.
Marble Caves, Chile
Straddling the border between Chile and Argentina, Lake General Carrera in Patagonia has several unusual caves to explore. Accessible only by boat, the semi-submerged structures are formed from marble eroded by the lake’s water over the last 6000 years. The colours and patterns in the marble are further enhanced by the glacial blue water, and the changing light and weather means no two visits are the same.
Hitachi Seaside Park, Ibaraki, Japan
Covering nearly 200 hectares on Japan’s eastern coast, Hitachi Seaside Park is famous for its huge plant beds featuring millions of flowers. Visitors can hire bikes or catch a train ride around the park to view the gardens and there’s also some retro rides such as a ferris wheel and a small rollercoaster. Visit in spring or autumn for the most vivid blooms. Mito is the nearest town, but the park can also be reached by a 90 minute train ride from Tokyo.
Tulip Fields, Netherlands
From March to May, huge fields of tulips burst in to colour all over the Netherlands. Head to the north of the country to the “bollenstreek” (bulb district) to see bulb farms, or go to Keukenhof near the village of Lisse. This former hunting park is transformed every spring with over 7 million bulbs planted in a variety of styles, from rolling fields to intricate gardens. Look out for organised cycle tours of the country if you want to combine your Instagramming with some cardio.
Laguna Colorada, Bolivia
High in the Bolivian Andes, Laguna Colorada is one of many lakes coloured by mineral salts in this area. However its the only one to turn a deep shade of blood red. Despite covering around 60km2 the water is only knee deep, making it easy to explore. The lake is also popular with flamingoes and has white islands of borax deposits. The red, white and pink contrast with the rocky hillsides surrounding the lake for some stunning views.
Waitomo Caves, New Zealand
Formed in an earthquake fault eroded by rain water, the Waitomo river flows through these impressive caves hung with stalactites. If that wasn’t enough already, the caves are home to millions of glow worms that create stunning twinkling light displays. Visitors can take a genteel boat ride through the glow worm grotto, while more adventurous types can explore the smaller caverns in rubber tubes on a black water rafting tour.
Peyto Lake, Canadian Rockies
Easy reached from the scenic Icefield Parkway route, Peyto Lake is one of many beautiful lakes in the Canadian Rockies. The lake has a particularly high level of glacial silt which colours it a vivid turquoise and is located under Bow Summit, the highest point on the Icefield Parkway. The result is a stunning vista across the lake, forest and surrounding mountains that is easily accessed by even the most inexperienced hiker.
This is part three of our colour season. Remember to catch part one No Filter Needed At The World’s Most Colourful Cities and Towns and part two Supercharge Your Insta Feed At The World’s Most Colourful Festivals to get your colour fix.