The Grand Canyon, United States
A steep gorge by the Colorado River, Arizona in United States, this has the most enjoyable scenery. It is 277 miles in length, 4 to 18 miles in width and about a mile in depth. Scientists are of the opinion that the canyon has been created by the Colorado River over a six million year period.
Native Americans built settlements in the caves within the canyon before the emigration of Europeans. It was also considered to be a site of pilgrimage by the Pueblo people. The first recorded visit to the Grand Canyon by the Europeans was in 1869. Although, it is not the deepest canyon in the world, it is known for its extremely huge size and beautifully intricate landscape. The Grand Canyon National Park is said to be one of the first National Parks in the United States and attracts more than five million visitors a year. Weather conditions in the Grand Canyon vary a great deal between seasons as well as elevation. While winter snow is experienced by the higher elevated forested rims, the inner gorge has a desert temperature because of the low elevation.
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
One of the natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef off the east coast of Australia is the world’s largest coral reef. It has the distinction of being placed in the World Heritage as well as the National Heritage lists.
With more than 600 islands and coral cays, the reef covers more than 300,000 sq. km. Corals make up the several reefs and cays and are responsible for a huge variety of sea life in the reef; including green turtles, several varieties of whales and dolphins, dugong, about 4000 types of mollusk, 1500 different species of fish as well as a beautiful colored bird life with 200 species. The Great Reef Marine Park is a huge tourist attraction with more than a couple of million tourists visiting the area each year. Sporting includes activities such as reef sailing, scuba diving and snorkeling amongst several others.
Cape Town, South Africa
Aptly called “heaven on earth,” this beautiful town at the tip of the African continent, with small roads surrounded by huge mountains, makes a person feel small; showing how marvelous and dominating nature can actually be.
The Cape Dutch style buildings depict the architectural heritage of the place. Beauty abounds in the black clouds that seem to pay homage to Table Mountain at all times. Cape Point, Signal Hill, Chapman’s Peak Drive, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Robben Island, Rhodes Memorial and the beaches are some of the famous tourist attractions. Located on the shore of Table Bay, Cape Town is famous for its natural floral kingdom as well as its harbor. This town is one of the most popular tourist attractions of South Africa, with its wine tasting day trips, whale watching and dolphin watching.
Taj Mahal, India
The Taj Mahal in India is one of the wonders of the world and is one of the most beautiful mausoleums constructed by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite queen, Mumtaz Mahal. Located in Agra, white marble is used in the creation of this symbol of love and is considered to be the pinnacle of the famous Mughal architecture.
Story goes that the emperor was grief stricken when he lost his beloved third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It took several thousands of craftsmen, artisans and about twenty years to construct it. The masons, stonecutters, carvers, inlayers, calligraphers, painters and others were brought from the entire empire as well as from Iran and Central Asia. Semi-precious stones were used for inlay ornamentation. It later became the mausoleum of Shah Jahan too. This is a huge tourist attraction with one to two million tourists visiting it every year.
Canadian Rockies, Canada
The majestic Canadian Rockies are the Canadian segment of the North American Rocky mountains. They are a visitor’s wonderland and the playground for western Canada. They are older than the American Rockies and are formed from over thrusting.
The Canadian Rockies house five national parks, out of which four of them along with other provincial parks form a combination of a single UNESCO World Heritage Site that consists of beautiful mountain landscapes, lakes, canyons, waterfalls, glaciers, peaks, limestone caves as well as fossils. Mount Robson is the highest peak of the Canadian Rockies and climbing it is considered a challenge. These beautiful mountains are a haven for hikers and walkers alike.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu in Peru, which means ‘Old Peak,” is one of the most enigmatic ancient sites in the world. According to legend, Machu Picchu was a long time ago considered to be a sacred place. The credit for the creation of the extraordinary city goes to the Inca people who have erected many stone structures and turned the place into an art form.
Two thousand feet above the Urubamba river, these ruins consist of baths, temples, palaces and about 150 houses, all very well preserved. These gray granite structures, some of which weigh more than 50 tons are so perfectly sculpted that they are nothing less than architectural genius. They were rediscovered by a Yale archaeologist in 1911. The ethereal beauty, the workmanship and history of the place attracts millions of tourists each year.
The Pyramids, Egypt
The Egyptian pyramids are massive monuments with a square base and four triangular sides rising up to a point. There was a lot of curiosity associated with the pyramids as to their formation, whether it was natural.
However, the Egyptians started constructing them after 2700 B.C. and were built as tombs for the Pharaohs. The most well-known and the largest pyramids of Egypt are the Pyramids at Giza which are said to be the largest ever built, and the Great Pyramid at Giza took 23 years to complete for about a work force of 30,000. About 118 pyramids have been identified and are very popular with people from all over the world.
Described by the UNESCO as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage, Petra is an archeological site on the slope of Mount Hor. It is one of the new wonders of the world and is famous for its rock cut architecture.
This site was kept hidden till 1812 when it was discovered by a Swiss explorer. It was said to have been prepared by God for the Jewish people. Petra once flourished under the Roman empire but a rapid decline began with the Arabian trade being taken elsewhere. Then an earthquake caused a lot of destruction. Tourists throng the place to get a glimpse of the ruins of this beautiful city.
Great Wall of China, China
One of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China is a man-made structure that was constructed over two thousand years ago and took about 100 years to complete. The vastness of this project brings to light the immense capabilities of man.
The constructions started in the 5th Century B.C. It is actually many walls put together and stretches over 4,000 miles and was constructed to protect the Chinese Empire from the Xiongnu people in the north. The wall was initially built of stone, grass, earth and wood, but bricks were used once the production started. It is believed that about 2-3 million Chinese died as part of this project.
The Iguazu Waterfalls, Argentina-Brazil Border
Heralded as the most beautiful waterfalls in the world, the Iguazu Waterfalls are a true wonder of nature. They are located at the border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. While the Argentinean side allows visitors to walk right around the water or explore the National Park; the Brazilian side is known for its panoramic views and splendor.
First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, upon seeing these falls is claimed to have exclaimed “poor Niagara.” The area of the falls provides ample opportunities for rock climbing as well as water sports. Iguazu has the distinction of having the greatest annual flow when compared to any other falls in the world.
With all these and many more beautiful places that exist in our world, we are lost for choice and the only way to decide on the places to visit is to follow the heart. While some may love the tranquility of water, others may bury themselves deep in the architectural miracles or the serenity of a small town.
Amazon Rainforest – Amazon Basin, South America
Amazon rainforest is the thickest rainforest that spans over a billion acres and encompasses areas in Brazil (60%), Peru (13%), Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Guyana, Bolivia, French Guiana and Suriname. The concentration of wildlife is very high and new species or subspecies of existing species continues to be discovered almost all the time. The majestic beauty and timelessness of this awe-inspiring tropical rainforest is indescribable in words and should be experienced.
Sognafjord (Sogne Fjord) – Norway
The second longest fjord (an inset of the sea between steep slopes) in the world and the largest in Norway, the magnificence of this has to be experienced for the magnitude to be understood. Reaching to more than 1,300 meters below sea level and above 2,000 meters above sea level, the sparkling water, the beautiful cliff faces and the picturesque villages make this a must visit place for nature lovers.
The Himalayas – Asia
This spectacle of awesome dimensions …the 3000 kilometer long towering mountain range with tiers of rock, ranges upon ranges, sky scraping peaks and canyons, is the planet’s highest mountain system and includes the world’s highest peaks; Mount Everest and K2. It stretches through Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan. This is where earth meets the sky!
Yosemite Valley – California
The incomparable beauty of nature changing colors with seasons and the sigh of breeze in the pines can only be experienced at Yosemite Valley (Pronounced Yo-seh-mit-tea). Yosemite Valley is part of Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This alpine valley offers incredible natural beauty and is just one mile in width and eight miles long with vertical granite walls rising above 2000 feet on either side. Nine ethereal waterfalls cascade into the valley. Wilderness hiking trails are as long as 800 miles.
The Niagara Falls – Ontario, Canada and New York, United States
Massive and beautiful waterfalls on the Niagara River, they are also famous for being a source of hydroelectric power. These falls are divided into three drops; Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side and American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls on the American side. These falls are said to have been formed at the end of the last ice age. These waterfalls may not be the highest but are certainly wide and the most powerful in North America.
Mount Kilimanjaro – Africa
Ernest Hemingway described this mountain as, “as wide as all the world, great, high and unbelievably white,” in his book, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.”
The roof of Africa as it is called is the world’s tallest free-standing mountain and a dormant stratovolcano. The Kibo Summit at the top of the mountain is one among the few peaks of Africa that still have glaciers.
Mamanuca Islands – Fiji
They are 20 islands in total. These beautiful islands of Mamanuca are varied; while some are small and can be walked around in a few minutes, others may take days to explore. For those who love nature and water bodies, these islands are a paradise with miles and miles of lilley snow white sand and beautiful turquoise blue beaches.
Sahara Sunset – Sahara Desert
While the Sahara Desert is a wonderful place to see for the wide expanse of sand dunes, the sunset there is sure to take your breath away. A night spent camping on the sand dunes of this three-million year old desert, watching the sky change colors at dusk, is a dream come true for any nature lover.
Natural Springs and Limestone Cliffs of Pamukkale – Turkey
The Turkish people call it the eighth wonder of the world and people who visit the place do not argue. Pamukkale is one of nature’s wonders, with hot pools and white cliffs. The water flowing down the cliffs has turned the place into an exotic white cotton color with stalactites and basins. This elaborate calcium formation is the largest of its kind, spreading miles and miles. The pristine surroundings are not only emotionally but physically cathartic. The water is believed to be therapeutic, curing various maladies. In spite of being filled with tourists, it still retains the old world charm and peace that we long for.Halong Bay (Vinh Ha Long) – Vietnam
The descending dragon bay is Vietnam’s most beautiful natural attraction with thousands of isles and limestone karsts of different sizes and shapes. Legend goes that when Chinese invaders attacked Vietnam, God sent jewel and jade spitting dragons and these jewels turned into islets and islands that linked together to form a wall. Some of the islands are fishermen’s floating villages.
Ayers Rock/ Uluru – Australia
This sacred place of the Aborigines, Uluru, as it is now called is the world’s largest monolith. This is the weathered peak of a mountain range that is buried and rises about 430 meters from the desert. It appears to take on various hues depending on the weather and the distance. Visitors who take mementoes of sand or pieces of rock apparently report bad luck and the belief is that returning them restores normalcy.
Blue Grotto Cave – Italy
German writer, August Kopisch was the first to write about the beauty of the Blue Grotto cave on the coast of the Island of Capri. The blue reflection is caused by sunlight that passes through a cavity underwater and shines through the seawater. The natural cave formations and the crystal blue water take you into a different world.
Victoria Waterfalls – Southern Africa
These falls were named after queen Victoria, by a Scottish Explorer, David Livingstone. Locally, they are called “Mosi-Oa-Tunya,” meaning “smoke that thunders.” They are enormous and most unusual in form. Their width of 1.7 km and height of 108 meters makes them the largest sheet of falling water in the world; although, they are not the widest or the largest. The breathtaking sight of these spectacular waterfalls has to be seen from the air to view its glory.
Antarctica occupies 10% of the land on earth and it is one and half times as big as China. Because of the thin air and high altitude along with the ice and snow on the surface of the solar reflection, this has become the coldest places in the world. The surface is covered with tremendous amounts of iceberg. For animal and bird lovers, there is plenty of action in the form of penguins, sea birds, swallows, skua and fur sea lions (a type of seal). The drop-dead beauty of Antarctica cannot be explained enough.
Bora Bora Island – French Polynesia
The name Bora Bora evokes images of a mythic paradise. This pearl of the pacific is one of the group of Leeward Islands and is the northernmost. The beauty of the lagoon is unparalleled. It has the distinction of being one of the rare places where manta rays (largest of the rays “species”) can be observed throughout the year. Another specialty is houses built over water. This place is a paradise for nature lovers and divers.
Lake Baikal – Southern Siberia, Russia
Lake Baikal – Southern Siberia, Russia
This 25-million year old, 1,637 meters deep lake is the deepest, oldest and also the largest freshwater lake (by volume) in the world and contains much more water than all the great lakes in North America put together. The lake plays host to more than a thousand plant species and animal species. Mountains surround the lake on all sides and with 22 islands on the lake; it offers a most exotic visual treat and thrilling experience.
Rio de Janeiro – Brazil
Meaning River of January, the city of Rio is situated between the Serra da Bocaina mountains and the sea. It is filled with natural beauty characterized by marked contrasts; spectacular mountains, sparkling sea and lush forests, which form a landscape picture of rare beauty. The two beautiful and the most famous vantage points are mountains Pão de Acúcar (Sugarloaf) and Corcovado, atop which there is a large statue of Christ the redeemer, which is world famous. The tropical rain forest is all around the place and covers hillsides beautifully. The dramatic setting framed by miles and miles of dazzling beaches and jungle vegetation is unparalleled. Don’t forget the “caipirinha!”
Canals – Venice
“If this place sinks, the world will be poorer!” The beauty of Venice has been described in several ways. The canals in Venice are world famous and are the most beautiful. It is built on 118 islands connected by bridges and formed by 150 canals. This city with water streets is the only European city where no motorcars are used and all the transportation is on the canals, with the use of water taxis, waterbuses and the most romantic gondolas.
Angel Falls – Venezuela
Angel Falls is a staggeringly beautiful place. Located in the middle of dense rain forests, the sound of the water falling down can be heard from a kilometer. The stream of water is very powerful at the top but with the length of the drop being very huge, most of the water turns into mist before reaching the ground.
Santorini (Thira) Island – Greece
The unparalleled beauty of this famous Greek Island is attributed to God having created it when he was most happy. This island is part of the Cyclades Islands in the South Aegean Sea. It is known as the best place in the world for watching the sunset. The volcanic rim overlooking the sea filled caldera, the breathtaking sunsets and the deep blue are spectacular.
French Alps – France
The French alps offer an outstanding scenery, with the elegantly soaring alpine mountains, lakes and river valleys. They spread from Geneva in the north to the Mediterranean in the south and from Annecy in the west to the Swiss and Italian borders in the east. They also include Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc. They are known to offer the most stunning and beautiful sceneries in the world.Dorset Coast – England
Also called the Jurassic Coast, it is England’s first natural World Heritage site because of the outstanding geology and great beauty. It is one of southern England’s maritime counties. It reveals a beautiful story of the earth’s formation over millions of years, through some of the amazing rock formations and fossils. The bays, cliffs, variety of the finest sandy beaches in the British Isles and forever changing landscape make it a spectacular place.
Bali – Indonesia
Bali is one of the many islands of Indonesia but has an identity of its own, owing to its beauty. The island is about 150 km wide. The highest point is Mount Agung, which is an active volcano that exploded in 1963. It is also known as the “Goddess Island.” Why people consider Bali as beautiful is because of the beauty of nature combined with the culture, arts and music that add to that beauty.
Greenland – Northern North America
It is the biggest island on earth. The island stretches 1,050 km in width and about 95% of it is covered in ice. The unspoiled, glorious landscape will simply take your breath away, unlike anything we can ever dream of. The magnificence of the icebergs, fjords, glaciers and vegetation captivates the visitor’s imagination and heart.
Milford Sound – South Island, New Zealand
Rudyard Kipling described Milford Sound as the eighth wonder of the world. It is located in the exotic Fiordland region of New Zealand. It is surrounded by two peaks; The Elephant and the Lion Mountain. The awesome closeness of the sea, mountains and the beautiful rain forests gives it an indescribable beauty, along with the penguins, seals and dolphins there.
Namaqualand – South Africa
Namaqualand in the Northern Cape Region of South Africa, between the Orange River and the wild coast witnesses a natural flower phenomenon that is regarded as a natural wonder of the world. While this area is dry and arid for most of the year; with the coming of spring in August and September, it transforms into a vast expanse of wild flowers of every color. This extraordinary beauty attracts people from all over the world during the spring.
Glencoe – Scotland
The magical quality of Glencoe astonishes visitors that are unprepared for the breathtaking serenity of this pass. With the history and drama it unfolds, it is certainly Europe’s scenic wonders. Scotland’s hills are rock covered with moss – with waterfalls looking like silver lines sliding down the hillside.
The Meteors – Greece
Meteors are monasteries built on rock pillars. The Meteora houses six monasteries and is the largest complexes of Orthodox monasteries in Kalambaka in Greece. It is only second to Mount Athos. They were built on natural sandstone rock pillars in the plain of Thessaly. The pinnacles are said to have been formed about 60 million years ago. They offer beauty of a different kind!
Crater Lake – Oregon, United States
This caldera lake is blue at times and hidden by clouds at other; but this nature’s design is always magical and enchanting. It is the deepest lake in the United States and the second deepest in North America. Discovered in 1853, this lake located in South Central Oregon, is awe inspiring and famous for its 20-mile circle of cliffs and indescribable deep blue color.
Hudson River Valley – New York
“Nature has been very lavish here in the gifts of her beauty,” wrote the 19th century landscape painter, Frederic Edwin Church, who discovered this place first. The Hudson River Valley, with the beautiful Hudson river and ancient mountains is a treat for the eye.
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