Of all the works of art that humanity has created, none of them quite match up to the spectacular visuals that nature can provide. The world’s landscapes offer incredible colours and beauty, and we want to celebrate the best that nature has to offer with these colour palettes.
We’ve selected 10 of the most iconic and beautiful places from around the world to create these palettes, from the glacial whites and blues of Icelandic caves to the lush greenery of Japanese bamboo to the rich reds and browns of an American canyon.
1. Uyuni Salt Flats (Bolivia)
Of all the places on our list, this is the one that least looks like it belongs on planet Earth. But the Uyuni Salt Flats lie in Bolivia, and plenty of people do find them – often with their cameras to take amazing photos with the mirror-like surface. Visit during the day for beautiful blues and whites, or wait until the sunset for a stunning display of colour.
2. Okavango Delta (Botswana)
The Okavango Delta is one of the most lively and vibrant places in all of southern Africa – a wetland wilderness of natural colours, rivers, reed beds and lagoons. Packed full of the wildlife that the river sustains, it more than lives up to every expectation you might have of a natural and wild African landscape.
3. Lake Louise (Canada)
Lake Louise’s stunning emerald colour is the result of rock flour that runs into it from glacial meltwater, and it contrasts beautifully with the snow-capped mountain slopes and verdant green forests. Whether you want to relax and enjoy the vista or kayak on the lake, there’s plenty of activity to be had on its shores and into the mountains.
4. Provence (France)
From the Alps to the Camargue delta and the Gorges du Verdon canyon, Provence offers many natural wonders for visitors to enjoy. But there’s one iconic scene that comes to mind ahead of all of the others: a field of purple lavender. Be sure to visit between late June and early August, when the fields are in full bloom!
5. Halong Bay (Vietnam)
Halong Bay (or Ha Long Bay) was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994, and its emerald waters and rocky islands are major tourist draws. They look especially magical around dusk, when the greens contrast with the hazy oranges in the sky. A cruise around the bay is the best way to take it all in.
6. Vatnajökull (Iceland)
The third largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökul doesn’t roll off the tongue easily, but it’s an incredible area of natural beauty and power. There are active volcanoes underneath it, along with breathtaking ice caves that appear and disappear again each year as the glacier melts. The blues, whites and purple-greys you’ll find in these caves are like nothing you’ll see anywhere else.
7. Arashiyama (Japan)
The Arashiyama district of Kyoto is full of man-made beauty, like its shrines and temples, but even they pale against the remarkable bamboo grove. The towering stalks of bamboo make a walk through the grove feel like a trip to another world, and they’re a must for any trip to Kyoto – even with so much else to see.
8. Mt Cook (New Zealand)
When Sir Edmund Hillary was preparing to climb Everest, he did it at Mt Cook, New Zealand’s tallest mountain. Of course, there’s plenty to see and do even if you aren’t quite that adventurous; hiking, kayaking and even stargazing are popular activities here. And the rich and beautiful turquoise shades of Lake Pukaki would grace any landscape painting.
9. Benagil Cave (Portugal)
The Benagil Cave is one of Portugal’s most beautiful attractions; a sea cave with gorgeous blue waters lapping on the shore of an ‘indoor’ sandy beach, as well as a natural skylight in the limestone rock that looks up to the (usually) blue sky. You have three choices to get to it: a boat tour, a rental kayak or – if you’re brave – swimming.
10. Bryce Canyon (United States)
It may not be the most famous American canyon, but Bryce may well be the most beautiful. For one thing, it has the largest collection of hoodoos – free-standing rock pillars – in the world. For another, just look at all those layers of colours! They don’t call it an amphitheatre for nothing, so come and see the drama unfold for yourself.
Whether you’re looking for a place to visit or seeking inspiration for your next artistic endeavour, we hope these colour palettes have offered plenty of natural inspiration. Which one strikes your fancy?
- Lonely Planet. (2016) Halong Bay. lonelyplanet.com
- 100% Pure New Zealand. (2011) Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. newzealand.com
- AnOther. (2016) The World’s Most Beautiful Cave?. anothermag.com
- Inside Kyoto. (2018) Arashiyama. insidekyoto.com
- National Park Service. (2017) Bryce Canyon. nps.gov
- Guide to Iceland. (2015) Information about Vatnajökull. guidetoiceland.is
- Hardy, P. (2015) The Okavango: why you need a safari in Botswana’s delta. lonelyplanet.com
- Rough Guides. (2018) Provence. roughguides.com
- Banff Lake Louise. (2018) Lake Louise. banfflakelouise.com
- Kruschewsky, G. (2017) Epic Pictures Of Bolivia’s Salt Flats Prove It’s A Photographer’s Wonderland. huffingtonpost.ca