A Guide to the 7 Natural Wonders of the World
The Earth offers spectacular natural wonders that only a small percentage of people will ever see in their lifetime. A global popularity poll announced seven provisional winners that outrank other splendid sights. These 7 natural wonders of the world include the Northern Lights, the Grand Canyon, Paricutin, Mount Everest, Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, Victoria Falls, and the Great Barrier Reef.
Many of these naturally-formed displays require an aerial view to capture the vastness of each phenomenon. Avid explorers, daredevils, backpackers, expatriates, and tourists should place these 7 natural wonders on their bucket lists of destinations to visit.
1. The Northern Lights: Aurora Borealis
The Northern Lights have become a sensation for tourists traveling in the Northern Hemisphere. The Northern Lights are auroras, or naturally occurring phenomena that consist of mystifying displays of light in the sky. The northern lights dance across the sky and emanate a diffused glow along the northern horizon.
The intensity of northern lights increases as you head north towards the magnetic pole in the Arctic. Unfortunately, the northern lights appear only randomly, making it a challenge for travelers to see while on a short trip. They are more often experienced by locals who live in these northern regions.
Planning a trip to the see the northern lights presents a variety of options for interesting destinations around the world. The best places to see the northern lights are in the far part of the Northern Hemisphere, including Canada's far north, Alaska, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland.
The probability of seeing Northern Lights increases during the winter months. They occur throughout the year but the dark skies in winter make them easier to see.
2. The Grand Canyon
You only need to stand on the rim of the Grand Canyon once to know why it's one of the 7 natural wonders of the natural world. The Grand Canyon's massive and colorful landscape provides breathtaking views that can't be found anywhere else in the world.
Most visitors head to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and spend a full day admiring the views from the overlooks that stretch along the top of the canyon. If you are in good shape and want to have a more immersive experience, head down into the canyon on one of the numerous hiking trails. For something a little less strenuous, take a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon for an unforgettable lifetime experience.
If you are interested in the formation and geology of the canyon, stop in at the Geological Museum to learn about what you are seeing. From Lipan Point along Desert View Drive, you can get a great view of the rock layers in the canyon wall.
The Grand Canyon is located in Arizona, USA. The closest major cities are Las Vegas and Phoenix.
Even avid travelers may not know about Paricutin, mainly because this natural wonder resides in Michoacán, Mexico. This cinder cone volcano was named one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, even over famous volcanoes, such as Yellowstone.
Paricutin last erupted in 1952. It was coined one of the natural wonders of the world because mankind witnessed its birth and rapidly growing formation. You can venture on a twelve-mile round-trip to the peak of the volcano, either by hiking or horseback. Hikers will walk through sandy banks and lava fields surrounding the volcano.
You can explore Paricutin at any time of the year. It's located about a seven-hour drive from Mexico City. Combine a trip to the volcano with a visit to the capital city for a bit of nature and culture all in one. Accommodation near the volcano can be found in the city of Urapan.
Read More: The Eruption of Paricutin
4. Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls is located in Africa along the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe. This spectacular waterfall runs off from the Zambezi River.
Visitors can access the falls from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Livingston in Zambia. Cross the border to gain different perspectives of this magnificent natural wonder. The best views are from Zimbabwe, but you can get a closer experience from Zambia. Helicopter tours and microlight tours are another great way to see the falls. If you are brave, consider a swim in the Devil's Pool, located pretty much at the edge of the falls on the Zambia side
The rainy season runs from late November through early April. A good time to visit is immediately after this, when the volume of water coming over the falls is still immense, but the weather is pleasant.
Getting to Victoria Falls is easy whether you choose to fly into Zambia or Zimbabwe. The airport in Zambia, Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport (LVI), is closer and the more popular of the two. Most people fly into Johannesburg and then fly out from there to the falls. Be sure to keep an eye on your baggage weight, as the smaller planes flying into these airports have lower limits.
5. Mount Everest
Mount Everest has an approximate elevation of 29,029 feet. Mountaineers consider this mountain the highest spot on Earth; however, it is not the tallest mountain in the world, a title that belongs to Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Everest lies within the Himalayan mountain range on the border of Nepal and Tibet, China.
If you don't want to climb Mt. Everest, you still have options. Visitors can schedule a flight around the mountain for an awe-inspiring aerial view. Adventurous trekkers can hike to base camp to fully experience Mount Everest's landscape. Alternatively, you can capture a distant view of the peak from the comfort of a lodge at a hill station in Nepal.
Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Nepal
6. Great Barrier Reef
As the world's largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef includes over 900 islands, roughly 3,000 separate reefs, and sustains a diverse ecosystem. Measuring approximately 2,300 kilometers in length, it covers an immense area of the ocean, much of it a long way offshore.
Boat trips and excursions offer visitors a chance to experience the highlights of the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkeling or dive trips can be arranged, and provide opportunities to see colorful fish, coral, and marine life. Tours can be day trips or multi-day excursions. Popular destinations from which to explore the reef include Cairns, Port Douglas, and the Whitsunday Islands.
7. Harbor of Rio de Janeiro
The Harbor of Rio de Janeiro is surrounded by granite mountains and pinnacles covered in greenery. Iconic sights surrounding the harbor include Sugar Loaf Mountain, Corcovado Peak, and the Tijuca hills.
The traditional way of seeing this natural wonder is to travel via the rack railway to Tijuca National Park. This takes you to the uppermost region, where the statue of Christo Redentor stands atop one of the granite peaks that overlooks the harbor. From the viewing platforms, soak up the spectacular views of the beautiful beaches below you and the mountains in the distance.
For a jaw-dropping experience, explore the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro on a helicopter flight to capture a breathtaking aerial view.
- Read More: Things to See and Do in Rio de Janeiro
More Wonders of the World
The above list covers only natural wonders. A number of compiled lists exist from classical antiquity to the present day that catalog the world's most amazing wonders, including man-made structures. Some of these ancient sights, many of them lost for various reasons over time, include the Great Pyramid of Giza, Statue of Zeus at Olympia (lost), the Colossus of Rhodes (lost), and the Lighthouse of Alexandria (lost).
Other no less spectacular sights from around the globe include some of the most fantastic World Heritage Sites. A few of the more well-known ones include Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Machu Picchu in Peru, Tikal in Guatemala, and the Taj Mahal in India.
An international non-profit organization named CEDAM International produced the 7 wonders of the underwater world that includes Palau, Lake Baikal, the Northern Red Sea, the Galapagos Islands, and the Deep-Sea Vents. The 7 wonders of the industrial world include the SS Great Eastern, Brooklyn Bridge, Panama Canal, and the Hoover Dam.
If you're looking for more inspiration to guide your travels, the top tourist attractions in the world may be just the answer.