Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.
Today: Top 10 most beautiful National Parks in the world
The first National Park was founded in 1872, when US President Ulysses S. Grant signed a pact, establishing Yellowstone National Park in Montana and Wyoming “as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people” and placed it “under exclusive control of the Secretary of the Interior”. The idea quickly spread, and today, there are more than 1,000 national parks in over 100 nations, protecting sites of dazzling natural beauty, geographic wonders, and unique flora and fauna, that are open to the public and not altered by man. Though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, here’s my selection of the world’s most magnificent National Parks (or at leasts those parks that impressed me the most during my extensive travels around the globe).
There is more information below the slide show. Think I missed one? Leave a comments!
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10. CANAIMA NATIONAL PARK, VENEZUALA
Canaima National Park is the sixth-largest National Park in the world, spread over 3 million hectares in south-eastern Venezuela along the border between Guyana and Brazil. The majority of the park’s surface is covered by table mountains (tepui) which form a fabulous landscape of sheer cliffs and waterfalls. The tepuis are of great geological interest as they represent unique biogeological entities. Canaima is also home to Angels Falls, which is the world’s highest waterfall (979 m or 3211 ft). The falls are named after Jimmy Angel, an American bush pilot and gold-hunting adventurer, who discovered the in 1937. The height of the falls is so great that before getting anywhere near the ground, the water is atomized by the strong winds and turned into mist.
- Official website: Canaima
- Other accolades: Canaima also features in my top 10 list of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls.
9. KAKADU NATIONAL PARK, AUSTRALIA
Kakadu National Park is Australia’s largest National Park, covering a wilderness area that’s nearly half the size of Switzerland! This timeless place, located a three hours’ drive from Darwin in the Northern Territory, is recognized as a global treasure, UNESCO World Heritage listed for both its environment and living Aboriginal culture. Aboriginal people have lived here for more than 50,000 years, representing the oldest living culture on earth. The park is also famous for its thundering waterfalls, lush rainforests, and wandering wetlands. Exotic wildlife includes 280 different types of birds (around a third of all the bird species in Australia) and its 10,000 crocodiles (which are abundantly present in Cahill’s Crossing and Yellow Water Wetlands).
- Official website: Kakadu
- Other accolades: Kakadu also features in my top 10 list of most epic once-in-a-lifetime trips.
8. CORCOVADO NATIONAL PARK, COSTA RICA
The National Park of Corcovado, located on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica’s southwest corner, is one of the most intense biological places on earths, and the wild beauty of its old-growth wet forests, cloud forests, mangrove swamps, and deserted beaches is breathtaking. The heart of this national park, around the Serena Ranger Station, is teeming with tropical wildlife, such as Red Macaws, tapirs, quetzals, red-eyed tree frogs, boa constrictor boas and various species of monkeys to name just a few. Call yourself extremely lucky when you spot a mountain lion or jaguar hunting for turtles, encounter a tapir on the beach, walk into a herd of peccaries (sainos) or observe the fins of a bull shark when it enters the rivers along the beach.
- Official website: Corcovado
- Other accolades: Corcovado also features in my top 10 lists of the world’s best wildlife adventures and the world’s most spectacular scenery.
7 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, USA
Yellowstone was established in 1872 as America’s first National Park – an idea that spread worldwide – to protect the majority of the earth’s geysers, as well as other thermal wonders that make up an otherworldly landscape composed of steam, bubble, and boiling mud. Located largely in the northwest corner of Wyoming and extending into Montana and Idaho, Yellowstone’s vast wilderness includes mountain ranges, lakes, waterfalls and geologic wonders like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. Grand Teton National Park, located just south of Yellowstone, offers even more amazing scenery. The main reason for most tourists to visit Yellowstone is to observe the amazing wildlife: grizzly and black bear, bison, bighorn sheep, elk and moose roam the plans and valleys.
- Official website: Yellowstone and Grand Teton
- Other accolades: Yellowstone and Grand Teton also feature in my top 10 lists of the most beautiful National Parks in the USA, the world’s most spectacular scenery, the most epic once-in-a-lifetime trips, and the world’s best wildlife adventures.
6. FIORDLAND NATIONAL PARK, NEW ZEALAND
Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s Southern Island was established in 1952 and is part of the larger Te Wāhipounamu wilderness, a UNESCO World Heritage Area. Covering 1.2 million hectares, Fiordland National Park is home to lush rainforests, pristine rivers, crystal clear lakes, mighty cliffs, snow-capped summits, majestic ice-carved fiords, and unique flora and fauna that has been in existence since New Zealand was part of the supercontinent Gondwanaland. Even on the frequent rainy days, the scenery is spectacular, with entire valley walls turning into thundering waterfalls. Highlight is the stunning Milford Sound with Mitre Peak, rising 1692 m (5551 ft) above sea level and one of the most photographed peaks in the country.
- Official website: Fiordland
- Other accolades: Fiordland also features in my top 10 lists of the most epic once-in-a-lifetime trips, the world’s most beautiful roads, the world’s most spectacular scenery, and the world’s most epic hikes.
5. YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, USA
First protected in 1864 and one of the first parks in the National Park Service, California’s Yosemite is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The park’s central feature is Yosemite Valley, which is surrounded by towering granite summits, densely forested with pines, and spectacular waterfalls. But the Park is so much more than just a great valley with waterfalls: within Yosemite’s vast wilderness area, you find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, and more than 800 miles (1300 km) of spectacular hikes. The park has a distinct appeal no matter what time of year: spring brings gushing waterfalls, summer allows for tackling all outdoor pursuits, fall boasts colorful trees and fewer crowds, and winter becomes a snowy wonderland for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
- Official website: Yosemite
- Other accolades: Yosemite also features in my top 10 lists of the most beautiful National Parks in the USA, the world’s most spectacular waterfalls, the world’s most spectacular scenery, and the best once-in-a-lifetime trips.
4. SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK, TANZANIA
Tanzania’s oldest and most popular National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was recently proclaimed a 7th world-wide wonder. The Serengeti is famous for its annual Great Migration, a 1,200-mile odyssey of 1.5 million wildebeest and 200,000 zebras, all of them chasing the rains in a race for life, while being purchased by an incredible amount of predators. Your chances of watching a kill are pretty high when you visit the area in the right season, when 40 km (25 mile) long columns of animals plunge through crocodile-infested waters on the annual exodus north (June) or when they replenish their species in a brief population explosion that produces more than 8,000 calves daily (February).
- Official website: Serengeti
- Other accolades: the Serengeti also features in my top 10 lists of the best once in a lifetime trips and the world’s best wildlife adventures.
3. GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, USA
The one million acre Glacier National Park wilderness area is located in the state of Montana and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. The Park, not to be confused with Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park, was established in 1910 to preserve its pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, glacially carved valleys, and spectacular lakes. Its diverse habitats support healthy populations of grizzly & black bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, moose, wolverines, wolves and mountain lions. With over 740 miles (1200 km) of trails, Glacier is a hiker’s paradise for adventurous visitors seeking wilderness and solitude.
- Official website: Glacier
- Other accolades: Glacier also features in my top 10 lists of the most beautiful National Parks in the USA, the best once-in-a-lifetime trips, the world’s most spectacular scenery, and the world’s most beautiful roads.
2. NAMIB-NAUKLUFT NATIONAL PARK, NAMIBIA
One of the most scarcely populated countries in the world, Namibia is not the right place to get lost. But it is a top destination for those who enjoy unrivaled natural scenery and wildlife viewing. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, the largest game park in Africa, encompassing part of the Namib Desert (considered the world’s oldest desert) and the Naukluft mountain range. The most spectacular area of the park is Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, home to otherworldly looking landscapes with black tree skeletons and red colored dunes, which rank amongst the highest in the world (the highest being the one nicknamed Big Daddy, about 380 m or 124 ft high).
- Official website: Namib-Naukluft
- Other accolades: Namib-Naukluft also features in my top 10 lists of the best things to see & do on Namibia, the best once-in-a-lifetime trips and the world’s most spectacular scenery.
1. TORRES DEL PAIN NATIONAL PARK, CHILE
Declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1978, the Torres del Paine National Park (situated in the Magallanes 12th region in Chile) is internationally recognized as one of the planet’s most uncontaminated. Its breathtaking natural beauty includes vertical granite peaks, immense rivers of ice, wind-swept plains and native beech forest that is home to guanacos, foxes, and pumas. While the most spectacular views will require a bit of effort, anyone can enjoy the park’s main landmarks by driving around, although multiday trekkings are the real thing here. Don’t miss the sunrise, when the horns of the Torres del Paine Massif turn purple and then red.
- Official website: Torres Del Paine
- Other accolades: Torres Del Paine also features in my top 10 lists of the most spectacular scenery in the world, the best once-in-a-lifetime trips, the world’s most epic hikes, and the most amazing places to visit in South America.
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