Massive volcanic craters, acres of raw jungle and stretch of deserted sand dunes: the work of Mother Earth is beyond our imagination. Thanks to these natural wonders, our Earth has been blessed with gorgeous landscapes and undulating backdrops. Without environmental protection, they might be gone faster than we expect. To pay tribute to these phenomenal sites, here’s my roundup (based on readings and travels) of the world’s top natural wonders.
1. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The world’s largest coral reef system stretches over 2,600 kilometers and can be seen from outer space. Supporting a wide diversity of marine life, the Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage site since 1981. A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which helps to limit the impact of human use, such as overfishing and tourism. A trip to Australia would be ideal from November to May, when summer temperatures are pleasant and Queensland’s vibrant aquatic life is at its most active.
Photo by Sarah Ackerman
Photo by Brewbooks
2. Amazon Rainforest, South America
An extensive forest covering most of the Amazon Basin of South America, is spread across 8 different countries and covers over 5.5 million km sq. Home to proliferate wildlife and nearly-extinct primitive tribes, the Amazon Rainforest is the largest and most species-rich tropical rainforest in the world.
The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, with Rio de Janeiro as the best place to enter the jungle from. We trekked through the Ecuadorian part of the jungle, visiting tribes and exploring the forest at night.
3. Grand Canyon, USA
A steep-sided gorge carved by the Colorado River in Arizona is one of the most awe-striking natural site in the United States. The Grand Canyon is a creation formed by over two billions years of nature’s work. Aside from casual sightseeing from the South Rim, the floor of the valley is accessible by foot, mule or rafting. Other activities like whitewater rafting, hiking and running are especially popular.
Photo by Andy Won
4. Sahara Desert, North Africa
The Sahara is the world’s largest hot desert covering over 9 million km sq of area. Spanning most of Northern Africa (Morocco, Egypt, Sudan, Chad and Algeria), it’s almost as large as the continent of Europe. Consisting of rocky formations and large sand dunes, a trip through the Sahara is one of mystique and desolation. Visitors can experience the various cultures around the desert through the little Saharan villages.
Photo by wonker
5. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Over 972km west of continental Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands have been secluded from humans for thousands of years, resulting in unique and endemic species of wildlife. This volcanic archipelago of 13 islands is sprouting with marine lizards, giant land tortoises and blue-footed boobies everywhere. An opportunity to visit the islands makes one feels privileged to experience such rare sights in this modern world.
6. Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
The crater is a sprawling conservation land, with one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in Africa. As a natural sanctuary to thousands of birds, lions, zebras, black rhino, it is often called Africa’s Eden.
Known as the “largest unbroken caldera in the world”, the crater is 610 meters deep and 260 sq km. Only the indigenous tribe of Maasai are allowed to live in the land.The crater is most popular for bird watching, photography, walking safaris, and game viewing.
7. Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong Bay – meaning ‘Descending Dragon Bay’ in Vietnamese- is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It features thousands of limestone karsts and oddly-shaped islets rising from emerald green waters. The evolution of these limestone karsts has taken over 20 million years to form, under the impact of the tropical wet climate. With such biodiversity and ecologically-rich grounds, there is also a thick cultural and historical side to the country.
Photo by Ethan Crowley
8. Iguazu Falls, South America
Located on the Argentinean-Brazilian border, the falls divide the countries, as if the waters were plunging off the edge of the tectonic plates. It has been compared with the Victoria Falls and Niagara Falls, but the Iguazu definitely offers better views and well-designed walkways. At the Devils’s Throat, you are standing in the midst of the torrential waters, surrounded by 360degrees of waterfalls. Visitors can see the falls from the Brazilian side (Foz de Iguacu) or the Argentinean side (Puerto Iguazu).
References: TravelChannel and Wikipedia.
*Photos not credited are shot by myself and Alberto Molero.
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