Only in very few places in the world, well spread across the globe, geothermal waters have done their magic creating terraced hillside pools in a large scale, sometimes of crazy colors, for the joy of landscape photographers and postcard sellers.
Basically, hot springs eroding rocks high in minerals end up forming deposits of travertine. But to get this shape, like a succession of cascades, the conditions have to be very specific to allow water over-saturated with calcium to sediment into series of small stone dams.
We selected some representative examples of travertine terraces by their size and beauty, ten wondrous locations where you can find a sight like the following one:
1- The waterfall terraces of Baishuitai are in the Tibetan area of China.
Image by Cammy8888
At a high of near 2.500 meters, there's anything but hot water running through these pools.
Image by Bon So
2- One of the most worldwide famous natural features in China is the scenic valley of Huanglong.
Image by Sam Garza
Well, also it's quite cold here, but hot springs are the source of this composition.
Image by Chensiyuan
3- Semuc Champey in Guatemala is a much less well-known spot, but becoming more popular, especially among Central-American backpackers. Image by Ismael Alonso
Semuc Champey is like a tropical version of Huanglong.
Image by Alejo Crisóstomo
4- Badab-e Surt is a hidden gem in the north of Iran.
Image by Elias Pirasteh
Badab-e Surt is not officially protected and they are serious concerns regarding its conservation.
Image by Samaee
5- Mammoth Hot Springs are part of Yellowstone National Park, in Wyoming, USA.
Image by Brocken Inaglory
Algae adapted to survive in temperatures not far from boiling point of water have tinted the travertine pools.
Image by Bill Gracey
6- Hierve el Agua, or the water boils, are a few magnificent pools over the edge of a cliff in Oaxaca State, México.
Image by Carlos Adampol
Hierve el Agua from below. As you can imagine, the process of formation of these deposits it's exactly the same than the stalactites or stalagmites do in a vertical way. Image by Eduardo Robles
7- New Zealand has plenty of geothermal parks like Waimangu. It's near here where after a volcanic explosion in 1886, legendary Pink and White Terraces disappeared for good. Image by Birger Hoppe
We've already been visiting the colourful thermal areas of New Zealand, you can find out much more about them here.
Image by Tyler Ingram
8- However, we could consider Pamukkale hot-spring terraces in Turkey the top of all them.
Image by Ray Wewerka
You are even allowed to have a bath in some of Pamukkale's white terraces. Nearby there's also an underground version, the Kaklik caves. Image by Marcia Taylor
But what makes this Turkish delight stand out from the rest, it's the fact that they are combined with the cultural visit to the ruins of ancient Hierapolis. Image by Frank Kovalchek
9- Heating water with the power of Hammam Meskhoutine in Algeria.
Image by Alasinta
The grande cascade covers a nearly vertical surface of a hundred feet (30 meters) height.
Image by Alasinta
10- The Fly Geyser in Nevada (USA) has got a few small terraces, but they are the most colorful ones of the list.
Image by Michael Flick
The story of this spectacular geyser is quite curious, as it was accidentally created in 1916, drilling of a well.
Image by Ken Lund
There are other interesting and photogenic terraces out there. Some of them are found in several areas in Iceland, like these tiny ones in process of creation. Also Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, Kuang Si Falls in Laos, Bagni San Filippo in Italy, Egerszalók in Hungary or the Havasu Falls in the USA, feature gorgeous travertine wonders.
Image by Eric Montfort