We live in a remarkable world where glacier-carved valleys, vast deserts, lush rain forests, and jagged snow-covered peaks stretch across countries and continents. During this time where home is our most-traveled destination, we thought we’d share some of our favorite satellite images that may give you a new perspective on the places we love. These images, courtesy of the US Geological Survey, will inspire you to view the world in a new and exciting way.
Along the southeastern coast of the largest island in the world, an intricate network of fjords funnels glacial ice to the Atlantic Ocean, while the exposed rock of mountain peaks, tinted red in this image, hints at a hidden landscape. During summer, newly calved icebergs join slabs of sea ice and older, weathered bergs in an offshore slurry that the southward-flowing East Greenland Current sometimes swirls into stunning shapes. Learn more about this fascinating island on our Greenland trips.
In Namibia’s vast Namib Desert, you’ll find the ecological preserve of Namib-Naukluft National Park. This unique swath of land is continually shaped and reshaped by coastal winds, creating the tallest sand dunes in the world—some dunes reaching 980 feet in height! We visit this surreal region on our Namibia journeys.
Western Asia, the world’s largest continent, occupies one-third of the Earth’s landmass. Western Asia encompasses the Middle East including Jordan, and fascinating countries that surround the Caspian Sea, including Kazakhstan and Russia. Check out a number of our hiking and cultural journeys in Asia.
Flanked by towering peaks and sheer cliffs that rise straight from the sea, the fjords of Norway are among the most unique geological formations in Europe. We discover epic fjords on our Norway trips every summer, when the days are long, giving us plenty of time to make the most of our adventure. Some fjords are more than a thousand feet deep, revealing deep blue—almost black—waters that meander back into the crevices of the glacier-carved valleys.
Mt. Etna, Sicily
Mt. Etna is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. In this image of the volcano in 2001, a plume of steam and smoke rising from the crater drifts over some of the many dark lava flows that cover its slopes. The volcanic soil and arid environment create the ideal place to grow grapes, and Sicilian wine is some of the most well-known—not to mention delicious—in all of Europe. We hike on the coastal trails and up to Mt. Etna on our Hiking in Sicily adventure.
Atacama Desert, Chile
Vivid colors of lilac and cobalt blue paint the arid landscape of northern Chile’s Atacama Desert. This is one of the driest places in the world, where salt pans and gorges brim with mineral-streaked sediments and give way to white-capped volcanoes.
The red and black tint in this image may overshadow the icy glacial landscape of southern Iceland, but in fact, the gray-black filaments are past glacial melting outbursts called jökulhlaups. These past floods cascade the plain called Skeiðarársandur, one of the world’s largest. The Skeiðarárjökull Glacier reaches down from the top left of the image. The plain is mostly devoid of vegetation, but red coloring indicates low moss, birch shrub, and other grass species.
This stretch of Iceland’s northern coast resembles a tiger’s head complete with stripes of orange, black, and white. The tiger’s mouth is the great Eyjafjörður, a deep fjord that juts into the mainland between steep mountains. The name means “island fjord,” derived from the tiny, tear-shaped Hrisey Island near its mouth. On our Iceland: Off the Beaten Path journey, we visit the city of Akureyri, which lies near the fjord’s narrow tip, and is Iceland’s second-largest population center after the capital, Reykjavik.
Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
This image perfectly captures the different ecological zones around Mt. Kilimanjaro (picture right with the blue indicating remaining glaciers and snow). Kilimanjaro actually has six ecological zones, and you’ll hike through all of them on our Climb Kilimanjaro! adventure.
Soaring, snow-capped peaks and ridges of the eastern Himalaya Mountains create an irregular white-on-red patchwork between major rivers in southwestern China. The Himalayas are made up of three parallel mountain ranges that together extend more than 1,800 miles. Take a look at all our adventures through the Himalayas.
Lakes District, England
The emerald landscapes of the Lake District in northwestern England lie in U-shaped valleys that were carved by glaciers during the last ice age. Morecambe Bay, below the Lake District, opens into the Irish Sea. On our England Coast to Coast trip, we christen our boots in the Irish Sea and collect a pebble to carry with us on the journey, a time-honored coast-to-coast tradition, then start our hike through the Lake District’s famously scenic landscapes of sapphire lakes and craggy peaks.