“Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert
Traveling beyond the cities and into the great outdoors, often makes way for a whole new perspective on the world and the everyday places around us. While we still love the cities and iconic landmarks around the world, we have found 16 natural wonders that will make stepping outside well worth the trip!
1. Valbone Valley National Park (Albania)
The Valbonë Valley National Park is nestled in the Albanian Alps, surrounded by peaks and lush terrain. This trans-boundary park lies on the borders of Albania and Montenegro. The green hills, crystal blue waters and open spaces are the perfect way to escape!
2. Iguazu Falls (Argentina)
Iguazu Falls is the largest waterfall system in the world. In total there are 275 falls of different heights, and they spill over the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
3. Cathedral Grove (Canada)
Cathedral Grove is a majestic forest on Vancouver Island surrounded by ancient trees (some up to 800-years old). It’s the stuff that fairy-tales are made of!
4. Plitvice Lakes National Park (Croatia)
Plitvice Lakes National Park has become quite the tourist attraction in recent years. However, it’s uniqueness has been recognized since 1979, when it was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site! The Park’s lake system consists of 16 named and many smaller, unnamed lakes flowing into one another.
5. Lake Assal (Djibouti)
Lake Assal is the lowest point in Africa, lying 570 feet below sea level. This salt lake found in Djibouti comes in second for the saltiest lake in the world (the other is in Antarctica). Here, you’ll find yourself standing before a lake of different hues of blue, surrounded by the Ardoukoba Volcano (dormant since 1978).
6. Blue Hole (Egypt)
On the coast of the Red Sea, is the Blue Hole. Due to the easy access from the shore and the lack of current, this 100m hole in the clear blue water is popular for free-diving. If you’re feeling brave, it will be so worth the dive!
7. Cliffs of Moher (Ireland)
The Cliffs of Moher stretch for 8km along the west coast of Ireland! These steep cliffs appear to be endless and they reach a height of 214m at the highest point.
8. Wadi Rum desert (Jordan)
Wadi Rum desert, is also known as the Valley of the Moon. The red-pink sand and rock formations leave visitors feeling as if they’ve left Earth and stepped onto Mars!
9. Blue Lagoon (Malta)
The Blue Lagoon on the small island of Comino is a paradise for divers, snorkelers and windsurfers. An added bonus to the beauty of this place is that the island is car-free and virtually uninhabited.
10. Caves of Hercules (Morocco)
Found in the Cape Spartel of Morocco, the Caves of Hercules are said to be the resting place of the Roman god, Hercules while he was completing his labors. The cave complex has two openings, one from land and the other from the sea, of which the latter is famously known as “The Map of Africa”.
11. Te Waikoropupū Spring (New Zealand)
Te Waikoropupū Spring (commonly known as ‘Pupu Springs’) is the largest cold water spring in the Southern Hemisphere. But more than its size, scientists and visitors have been drawn by its clear blue waters. Scientists claim that some of the clearest water ever measured has been found in these springs!
12. Lagoa das Sete Cidades (Portugal)
Found on the Portuguese archipelago, Lagoa das Sete Cidades (“Lagoon of the Seven Cities”), is an oasis of twin lakes found within a dormant volcano’s crater. While the two lakes seem to be linked, the one is a dark shade of blue and the other a shade of green. Legend goes that the green is filled with the tears of a princess and the blue is filled with the tears of the shepherd boy that she loved but was forbidden to marry.
13. National Park of High Tatras (Slovakia)
The Tatra Mountains form a natural border between Poland and Slovakia – the National Park of High Tatras is home to more than 100 lakes and many spellbinding waterfalls. In 1993 the park was recognised as a UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves, which protects areas that exhibit a balanced relationship between people and nature
14. Namaqualand Flower Route (South Africa)
The Namaqualand Flower Route runs between the Northern and Western Cape provinces of South Africa. Namaqualand is considered to be South Africa’s ‘outback’ but once a year the usually desolate area buzzes with visitors – all keen to see the rainbow of flowers! There are over 4, 000 different plant species and dependent on the weather, the flowers can make their colourful appearance anytime between July and October.
15. Pamukkale (Turkey)
Pamukkale, meaning “Cotton Castle” in Turkish, is famous for the healing waters that the Romans once bathed in. The springs reach an average temperature of about 35 °C all-year round. Found in the Denizli Province of Turkey, these springs are the most visited site in Turkey.
16. Niagara Falls (United States of America & Canada)
The Niagara Falls act as a natural border between the USA and Canada. The falls consist of three different waterfalls – the American Falls (USA), the Bridal Veil Falls (USA) and the Horseshoe Falls (Canada). The American Falls have a volume of 567,811 litres per second; but the Canadian Horseshoe Falls have a whopping 2,271,247 liters per second!
Whenever you’re ready to leave the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle behind, you now have a list of mother nature’s beauties to choose from.