A Guide to the New 7 Wonders of Nature | ccklpl.com

A Guide to the New 7 Wonders of Nature

What happens when 100 million people from around the world vote on the most amazing natural wonders in over 200 countries? You wind up with The New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Similar to the New 7 Wonders of the World, which nominated the greatest man made buildings from recent history, online voting lasted several years until the campaign crowned seven natural winners on three different continents. These wonders vary in size from a 700 square mile island, the world’s largest waterfall, and a subterranean national park, to the world’s longest river, a photogenic bay, and a flattop mountain.

The list isn’t perfect, mind you. The Grand Canyon and Great Barrier Reef controversially didn’t make the final cut. Nor did any place from North America, Europe, or Australia, suggesting that political enthusiasm from other continents played a significant role in the outcome.

Nevertheless, there’s no denying the natural beauty and heightened status of the winners. If you could only visit seven natural wonders in your lifetime, you wouldn’t be wrong for zeroing in on these. Here’s an alphabetical rundown of each, as well as key considerations before planning your next visit.

Amazon Rainforest | South America

7 Wonders of Nature

What is it? Predominantly located in Brazil, Amazonia includes both the namesake river and rainforest of what is often called “the world’s lungs,” given how much oxygen it produces. Compatible in size to Australia, the rainforest and river basin include over 400 billion trees and 16,000 animal species that spill into neighboring Peru, Columbia, Bolivia, and Ecuador, among others. Amazingly, there are indigenous inhabitants here that have never made contact with modern society.

How do I get there? Like the Caribbean, cruising the river from January to June is the most popular way to see the Amazon, albeit on tiny passenger boats that hold around 30 people. Staying in lodges is another popular way to see this far out bucket list destination. In terms of wildlife, the further upstream you can go, the better, which make Peru, Ecuador, and (to a lesser extent) Bolivia more accessible and affordable when compared to the nether regions of deeper Brazil (although Manaus is a popular launch pad). Either way, getting here ain’t easy. There are only a handful of boat or tour operators in this largely untapped part of the world, not to mention some health risks. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Halong Bay | Asia

7 Wonders of Nature

What is it? Located in northern Vietnam, Halong Bay is famous for its boat-filled, picturesque harbor  that looks as though a giant, tree-covered dragon were swimming through it. It was designated a protected national landmark in the 1960s, but over tourism in the ensuing decades has led to serious water pollution and environmental concerns, something local officials continue to combat. The area is undoubtedly stunning, though, especially if visiting during the off peak, low crowd season from May to September, or when shining at night with junk ships and battened sails dotting the horizon. Either way, chances are you’ve already seen this wonder on the silver screen or social media—it’s a real looker.

How do I get there? The most convenient way to Halong is flying into Hanoi, then taking a two hour bus ride the rest of the way. Once there, you have several popular options for exploring the bay. An overnight or day cruise is the most popular, followed by a seaplane tour or Queen cable car and Sun Wheel. You can also get fantastic, panorama views of the entire bay from the tippy top of Titop Peak or Bai Tho Mountain. Best admired during sunset, most visitors spend an average of two or three days taking it all in.

Iguaçu Falls | South America

7 Wonders of Nature

What is it? Iguaçu or (Iguazú in Spanish) means “big water,” which is one of the greatest understatements ever told. In fact, Iguaçu is the tallest, widest, and largest waterfall system in the world. Upon seeing it for the first time, Eleanor Roosevelt exclaimed, “Poor Niagara!” which is a third shorter and significantly narrower. Located on the border of Brazil and Argentina, these falls are one of the most spectacular natural phenomena I have ever seen. Prevailing wisdom says that, “Argentina has the falls, but Brazil has the view,” which is totally true.

How do I get there? Several Argentinian and Brazilian airlines offer daily flights into the area from major cities on both sides of the falls. While the elevated Argentinian side gets you up close and personal to the lips and throat of the falls, the lower, more spacious, and boardwalk-heavy Brazilian side offers better, wetter, and louder views of the ungodly amounts of raging water. Brazil offers boat rides into the cascading curtains too, which seriously adds to the fun. Still, Iguaçu is worth seeing from both sides on a full day, guided tour. Wow.

Jeju Island | Asia

7 Wonders of Nature

What is it? The largest island in Korea that’s half the size of Rhode Island. Unlike Rhode Island, this sucker is green, verdant, and uniquely mountainous. Formed by a volcano two million years ago, Jeju is home to several national parks, waterfalls, seaside cliffs, craters, golden beaches, botanical gardens, sweeping vistas, and water parks. Popular among newlywed and vacationing locals, key attractions include Seongsan Ilchulbong (aka Sunrise Peak), Bijarim and Jeolmul Forests, Hallasan National Park, and Jeongbang and  Cheonjiyeon waterfalls. In terms of aesthetics, can I call it Asia’s Ireland?

How do I get there? Flying one hour south from the capital of Seoul or the nearby beachside city of Busan is the most direct route for most people. While getting to the island is easy, getting around it can require a bit of time (if using buses) or money (if using Ubers or taxis). In terms of duration, most people can see all of Jeju over a long, three day weekend. In addition to sightseeing and people watching, the island is famed for its raw seafood and barbecued black pork.

Komodo Island | Asia

7 Wonders of Nature

What is it? Komodo Island in Indonesia is home to the fascinating Komodo dragon, the largest lizard on earth. The reptile was only recently  “discovered” a hundred years ago by the Western World and is still being studied today. But its natural habitat is just as wild, where fighting dragons outnumber native peoples. Komodo is also home to one of only seven pink beaches in the entire world, not to mention a rainbow of turquoise water, blue skies, and green hills converging into one striking destination.

How do I get there? Getting to Komodo requires several steps. First you’ll fly into Labuan Bajo, where you’ll need to overnight, due to flight schedules. Then you’ll need to join a boat tout the following day to the actual island. Once there, popular activities include hiking to see the dragons from a safe distance, enjoying the unique beach, and diving the nearby coral reef. For ideal weather conditions, April to June is the best time to visit. Being an 11 hour flight from Los Angeles, many visitors pair their visit with Bali and/or Jakarta.

Puerto Princesa | Asia

7 Wonders of Nature

What is it? A Subterranean River National Park in the Philippines whose exterior could justifiably double as Halong Bay under the right lighting conditions. Outside looking in, you can explore Puerto Princesa’s underground caves cut by subterranean rivers on one of many guided kayak tours. The National Park is also popular among divers, snorkelers, island hoppers, and above water photogs. There’s also a thriving nightlife, shopping, and cuisine scene in town, which is actually a two hour drive from the famous caves.

How do I get there? Getting to Puerto Princesa International Airport by plane is the easiest way to arrive from Manila, most major Philippine cities, and several others abroad. Once there, you’ll need to arrange a two and a half hour car ride to the seaside village of Sabang, from where you can hire one of the many “banka” boats into the park. Other popular activities include swimming, visiting Honda Bay, exploring mangrove forests, and enjoying a leisurely stroll along the waterfront bay walk, which is lined with restaurants, cafes, shops, and stunning sunset views. Don’t forget your headlamp.

Table Mountain | Africa

7 Wonders of Nature

What is it? Table Mountain is one of the most famous mountains in the world. Known for its elongated, flat top plateau, the picturesque mountain towers above beautiful Cape Town, which puts off some serious Rio de Janeiro vibes. A popular tourist attraction in South Africa’s second largest city, Table Mountain might not be as majestic as Half Dome. But it doesn’t have to be to still warrant your attention. Together with Signal Hill, City Bowl, and the surrounding harbor, Table Mountain forms a natural amphitheater you won’t soon forget.

How do I get there? There are two ways to the top: a demanding but rewarding three mile hike up giant rock steps and steep verticals that require several hours to finish. Or a two minute cable car ride. I hiked up then cabled down for a best of both worlds approach. Once at the top, you can take high flying photos, mosey around, buy souvenirs, or enjoy a bite at the cafe. Outside of that, you really only need a half day total to see and do it all, unless of course you hike both ways, enjoy rock climbing, or attempt the summit by mountain bike.

See also: A Guide to the New Seven Wonders of the World

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