The World’s Most Unusual Lakes and Rivers

Did you know that the world is filled with lakes and rivers that are not only considered geological wonders but also transfix visitors due to unimaginable colors and shapes? Rich with rare minerals and elements, their views are to die for, even though it’s too dangerous to actually swim in many of them! These bizarre bodies of water are filled with algae, bubbles, salt or gases that seem like cinematic special effects to those who gaze upon them. Let’s take a look at some of these amazing locations!

North America

North America is home to dozens of wondrous geological phenomena. Several wonders can be found in Yellowstone National Park, which encompasses areas of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Utah is another state where you can observe striking blue potash ponds in the desert, endless salt flats, and beautiful emerald pools in Zion National Park. Some lakes share their unique secrets in the winter, emitting bubbles of gas or making strange noises. Others put on their best show in the summer, like Spotted Lake in British Columbia, which reveals huge patches of minerals that change in size and color due to evaporation.


Do you want to see a park that turns into a lake? During the winter months, the Green Lake in Tragoess, Austria, is a beautiful park and a splendid hiking destination. In the spring, when snow from the surrounding mountains and forests melts, the park fills with ice-cold turquoise water. Another eye-catching spot is the Rio Tinto River. This bright-colored river cuts a vivid red streak through the landscape in Andalusia, Spain, home to the famous mines of King Solomon. You won’t believe your eyes when you get to Lake Sørvágsvatn in the Faroe Islands. This lake seems to “hang in the sky” above the ocean, due to a mind-blowing optical illusion. And in Northern Estonia, local folklore has claimed that the Witch’s Well in Tuhala village was of a magical origin.

South America

Let’s take a look at one of the most beautiful rivers in the world! Known as the "Liquid Rainbow” or "The River of Five Colors" due to amazing prismatic colorations, the Caño Cristales River is a must-see natural wonder in Colombia. This river is easily accessible via the mountain range of Serranía de la Macarena. However, some of the unusual bodies of water in South America are located in places so remote, you have to be a real adventurer to reach them. For example, Laguna Roja, also known as Blood Lake, was only discovered in 2009! Located in the Camarones area of the Chilean Andes, at 3,700 meters above the sea level, some locals actually believe the devil owns this lake! Laguna Verde is another treasure of the Andes, located in Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve in southern Bolivia. And let’s not forget, Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Brazil which stretches for 1500 square kilometers, and is dotted with beautiful turquoise lagoons scattered among sand dunes. To find a scenic lake atop Quilotoa volcano, head to the Ecuadorian Andes.


Unique Loktak Lake is famous not because of its color but due to its shape. This freshwater lake, which is the largest in Northeast India, is covered by floating vegetation called phumdis. It’s an amazing organic formation and India’s only floating national park! While water is commonly associated with life, some can also be rather deadly! The Japanese city of Beppu has 2,800 hot springs. The eight most distinguished ponds are called '8 hells of Beppu'. According to local legend, these ponds were used to boil sinners! Meanwhile, the Philippines has an enchanted river called The Hinatuan that is located on the island of Mindanao. This beautiful, turquoise river flows into the Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean. A local legend says that fairies made the river so intensely blue by adding the colors of sapphire and jade.

Australia and Oceania

Australia’s astonishing Hutt Lagoon owes its bright pink color to human activity. Located in the Mid West region of Western Australia, this lagoon hosts the largest system of algae farms in the world! These algae farms produce a unique coloring pigment, called Beta-Carotene. In contrast, Blue Lake, also known as Rotomairewhenua, is a natural wonder of New Zealand that boasts the world's clearest waters. It is located within the Nelson Lakes National Park conservation area in the northern parts of South Island. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is also created by nature. However, most of these brightly-colored pools are too hot to enjoy a dip. Instead, feast your eyes on daily geyser eruptions, steaming grounds, and boiling muds.


Lake Natron is a pearl among African geological wonders. Located in the Arusha Region, it is fed by mineral-rich hot springs and contains lots of salt and soda. In addition to amazing colors, the stunning scenery of this bright red lake includes thousands of pink flamingos. Another colorful basin is Lake Retba in Senegal, also known as Lac Rose. It owes its stunning color to Dunaliella salina algae. Chott el Djerid Lake, set amidst the largest salt pan in the Sahara Desert, is visually astonishing with white, green and purple shades. The lake only appears in the rainy season and dries up in the summer.