Finding Nemo

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Natural Wonders of the World

Pretty good list. Here are the top 10 with my own snark added:

50 natural wonders: The ultimate list of scenic splendor
These awe-inspiring views will make you wish you'd paid attention in geography class

Water, fire and ice have combined to make some of the most spectacular scenery in the world -- from giant crystal caves to mud volcanoes and rock formations that look like works of art.
If your office and daily commute aren't a fitting reminder of the extraordinary natural diversity of planet earth, get some inspiration from these incredible scenes.

1 Pulpit Rock, Preikestolen, Norway
Pulpit Rock, Preikestolen
If there are any preachers here, they'll be telling you to get back.

With a 604-meter drop from a flat plateau down to Lysefjord with no safety railings, this is not a place for vertigo sufferers.
Keep well back from the edge and you can still enjoy the fantastic scenery over Kjerag peak, which itself drops 984 meters.
Preikestolen is south of Jørpeland. From the designated car park it's a 90-minute hike to the viewpoint. Guided tours can be arranged through the Stavanger tourist board:; +47 51 85 92 00
Nemo says: "holy crap! I have to see this"

2 Gran Salar de Uyuni, Boliva
1Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Pass the fries.
The Gran Salar de Uyuni in southern Bolivia takes in more than 10 square kilometers of salt. It feels more like a desert than a lake.
The flat, white landscape causes optical illusions and reflects colors. There's even a hotel made almost entirely of salt and an island where giant cacti grow in the middle of the salt lake.

Gran Salar de Uyuni is 533 kilometers south of La Paz and 200 kilometers southwest of Potosì. Guides can be arranged through or

Nemo says: "Really?! A barren salt flat is #2 in the whole world? *Plleeebbbbttt*"
3 Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania

Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania
More than enough room to swing a very big cat.

The Ngorogoro Crater is Africa’s Eden. Created when a huge volcano exploded 2-3 million years ago, the 300 square kilometer caldera now offers the best chances of seeing Africa’s wild animals.

Lions, rhino, leopards, elephant and buffalo are the “big five” present among around 25,000 animals, and nearly every species present in East Africa, which call the area home.
Besides that, the crater itself offers dramatic vistas, especially at sunrise.
From Kilimanjaro International Airport you can fly or drive the 55 kilometers to Arusha, from where you can organize tours and accommodation inside and outside the crater:
Nemo says: "Stay on the rim in a tent. Then when you get up pee in the middle of the night, and you find youself face to face with a male bull elephant, you can practice your fight-or-flight instinct"

4 Paria Canyon, Arizona
Paria Canyon, Arizona
Not all great waves can be surfed.

The Paria River in northern Arizona carved its own smaller version of the Grand Canyon. Some of the rock formations, including The Wave, are just as spectacular.
Visitors need a permit from the Bureau of Land Management -- the permit for an overnight trek comes with a “human waste bag,” so if you want to visit this natural wonder, you'll have to prepare to pack your waste.
Fee: US$6 per person (and per dog) for day hiking and US$5 for overnight hiking.
The Paria Contact Station is 69 kilometers east of Kanab. You can hire a guide through the Bureau of Land Management -- see their website for a list of authorized guides:
Nemo says: "one day... when I'm old and have a camper van"

5 Volcanic eruptions at Stomboli, Italy
Volcanic Eruptions at Stromboli
A fireworks show millions of years in the making.

Part of the Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily, Stromboli is a small volcanic island with several hundred brave inhabitants.
Unlike most volcanoes, Stromboli's is constantly spewing lava fountains, gas and ash. Fascinating for volcanologists, but also great for day-trippers who fancy seeing live lava action.
For natural fireworks, take a boat trip around the island at night.
Fee: Boat trips cost €15-20 (US$21-28) per person.
Arrange boat tours from harbors on the north coast of Sicily (Messina, Cefalù, Palermo).
Nemo says: "pretty good. but nothing beats walking up the Pacaya volcano in Guatemala and dipping your shoe into real live magma!"
6 Mud volcanoes of Gobustan, Azerbaijan
Mud volcanoes of Gobustan
One of the few places you can bathe in a volcanic eruption.Mud lovers trek to Gobustan's strangely Martian landscape, 65 kilometers south of Azerbaijan's capital Baku, where thick gray mud regularly spews from small volcanoes.
The mud is thought to have medicinal qualities, so don't be surprised if you see people stripping down and lathering themselves in the goo. Look out for the area's Roman inscriptions and the petroglyphic rock art.
About 70 kilometers west of Baku
Nemo says: "again, this is good but I doubt it gives you the 'Holy crap this can't be real! I feel like I'm on another planet!' feeling you get at, say, Mt Bromo in the Eastern tip of Java"

Jeita Grotto, Nahr al-Kalb Valley
Cavemen didn't have it so bad after all.
7 Jeita Grotto, Nahr al-Kalb Valley, Lebanon

Eighteen kilometers northeast of Beirut, these underground limestone caves were inhabited in prehistoric times and continue to attract human visitors with their vivid colors and stalactite formations. The biggest stalactite in the world is here.
The caves consist of a network of chambers -- with an upper and a lower gallery -- stretching out for nine kilometers and accessible by an underground river.
The nearest town is Juniyah, just a few kilometers away. Cave tours last two hours.
Nemo says: "stalagtites are good. caves filled with waterfalls and Hindu temples are better! try Gupteswor cave in Pokhara Nepal instead"

Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail
You can almost hear the male choirs in the distance.
8 Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail, Wales

Rated by Cheap Flights as one of the 10 best hiking trails in the world, this path twists 300 kilometers from St. Dogmaels to Amroth in southwest Wales.
It's often wet and windy, but if you strike lucky on a sunny day this is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Scented gorse and crimson heather brighten the way.
Look for seals in the waters below.
Paths are signposted -- join the path on the coast between St. Dogmaels and Amroth. Details on guided walks and activities can be found on the National Trails website -- including self-guided walks with baggage transfer.
Nemo says: "I just puked in my mouth. This is blasphemy. NO WAY this is the top-rated hike on this list. A stroll through Wales compared to Tiger Leaping Gorge or New Zealand or Nepal is like saying McDonalds is better than Inn n Out Burger."

Pangong Tso Lake
Beautiful to look at. But swimming here is only for masochists.
9 Pangong Tso Lake, India-China

This saltwater lake deep in the Himalayas at an altitude of 4,350 meters lies astride a disputed border area between India and China-governed Tibet.
Don't let that put you off -- the rarefied air make the colors and clarity of the lake intense.
Pangong Tso is reached by a mountain road from the Indian town of Leh, but you'll need to get a permit via a registered tour guide.
Get to Leh by road from Jammu, or by plane from Delhi. At Leh arrange a permit and travel by road 4-5 hours to the lake. Permits and tour guides can be arranged through reputable travel agents such as Kuoni
Nemo says: "This list is getting more retarded by the minute.  Yeah a salt-water lake in the Himalayas is interesting, but with the back-drop of the boring brown hills of Tibet? C'MON! you are putting this above lakes like the lightning-rod Maracaibo in Colombia or Lake Titicaca (it wins on name alone) or gorgeous Lake Louise in Banff???! I need to breathe.... 1...2...3...4...5... ok. I feel better"

West Norwegian Fjords
Not a Norwegian motor car.
10 Geirangerfjord and Naeroyfjord, Norway

If you only have time to visit two fjords in your lifetime, make it the Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord in southwest Norway.
These are among the world's longest and deepest fjords, with high vertical cliffs, deep waters and giddy waterfalls. Both are on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Nemo says: "Fair play, this one is high on my own list. But I do wonder, why does Norway get 2 top 10 spots and New Zealand's spectacular Milford Sound, for instance, gets the shaft? Methinks the author has been to Norway but not many other places..."

Read the full list here

1 comment:

  1. We're heading to Norway this year. We'll definitely hit the fjords but we're debating priekestolen (probably not) unless we can somehow harness the kids in.