From the ancient pyramids to modern towering skyscrapers that reach for the heavens, mankind hasn’t done too badly with its building efforts. But no matter how hard we try, nature will always have us beat. Check out this list of 10 natural wonders around the world that you simply have to visit.
Winding its way through nearly 300 miles of Arizona, the Grand Canyon is a natural wonder that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. No doubt you’ve seen plenty of pictures and videos, but nothing can truly prepare you for the heart-stopping effect the canyon has on first-time viewers. Venture out onto the skywalk platform and you’ll be blown away by the canyon’s sheer size, as well as the dazzling display of reds and yellows that make up its vast surface.
Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway earns its nickname from the local legend of Finn McCool, a warrior giant who attempted to build a bridge to Scotland so he could fight another giant. On the other hand, spoil-sport geologists will tell you the causeway was created millions of years ago by volcanic activity. Whichever way you look at it, this series of thousands upon thousands of jutting rock pillars on Ireland’s north coast is a sight to behold, and you can easily spend hours exploring its many nooks and crannies.
Covering millions of square miles, the sheer desolate scope of the Sahara desert is mind-boggling. Dotted with 600ft-high sand dunes that rise and fall on the horizon like waves in an ocean, the Sahara is the largest dry desert in the world. In the south west you’ll find the famous ‘eye of the Sahara’, a swirling circular rock formation that spans 30 miles across.
The Aurora Borealis (better known as the Northern Lights) is a celestial light display that can be seen at night in certain parts of the Northern Hemisphere. As charged particles crash into each other in the atmosphere, the heavens are filled with a glowing swathe of greens, reds and blues that swirl and dance through the night sky. This is an annoyingly elusive phenomenon, but your best chance of seeing it is in remote parts of Iceland or Norway in the winter.
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Yellowstone National Park
It seems Yellowstone National Park is not content with having just one natural wonder to its name. This 3,500 square mile national park is absolutely packed to the brim with examples of nature’s beauty, including the enormous Grand Prismatic Spring, countless fascinating animals, and dramatic mountain ranges. As if that wasn’t enough, it even boasts its own ‘mini’ Grand Canyon, which is twenty miles long and interspersed with dramatic waterfalls.
Great Barrier Reef
For a true example of the natural beauty of the ocean, there is no better place to visit than the Great Barrier Reef. This huge coral reef is home to some of the most impressive exotic fish in the world, which spend their days darting in and out of the brightly coloured coral. However, if you’re considering visiting this natural wonder then you’d better do so quickly, as experts predict that the reef could be ‘functionally extinct’ by 2030 due to global warming.
Tucked in between Brazil and Argentina lies this menacing tunnel of waterfalls, which deposit a staggering 450,000 cubic feet of water per second. The name Iguazu literally means ‘big water’ in the Guarani language, and after seeing the falls it’ll be easy to see why. Despite the thundering sounds of Iguazu, this is a surprisingly peaceful place, with the backdrop of lush green forests and clear blue skies.
This huge sandstone rock formation is a fascinating feature of the Australian skyline. Surrounded by largely uninterrupted flatlands, Ayers Rock dominates your attention from the moment you see it. The dusty sandstone surface is best viewed at sunrise or sunset, and special viewing stations have been set up so you can see it from the best angle. Known as Uluru to the natives, this landmark is sacred to the local Aboriginal population, so if you do visit be sure to respect their beliefs and traditions.
This crystal clear glacial lagoon is one of Iceland’s most impressive natural wonders, with its dazzling blue waters and resident icebergs. These floating behemoths vie for position within the lagoon, crashing into each other and sending huge shards of ice plunging into the depths below. Try to visit on a clear day, as the sunlight shining through the icebergs is not to be missed.
Known as ‘Africa’s Garden of Eden’, Ngorongoro Crater is one of the few places left in the world where animals can roam freely, largely unaffected by the influence of man. Over 30,000 animals call the crater their home, including zebras, lions, elephants and rhinos. All of the animals here are protected by the World Heritage Site status of the area. Organised tours are offered through the crater. On a tour you’ll be able too see the exotic wildlife as well as some of Africa’s most beautiful scenery.