Top ten nature spots in the world
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1) Ngorogoro Crater, northern Tanzania. Safaris are amazing. Seeing Lions, elephants, wildebeasts, giraffes (my favorite), an rhinos in their natural surroundings is amazing anywhere you happen to go on safari. But Ngorogoro Crater tops them all. This gigantic depression is teaming with wildlife. Only a few nomadic herders live in the crater, and the animals basically live as they have for centuries. The crater walls make for beautiful backdrops as you watch the animals graze in the lush fields. To fully understand how beautiful it is, you have to have gone there yourself.
2) Band-i-Amir Lakes, central Afghanistan. The deep hues of blue of these lakes are without comparision. The red and yellow sandstone cliffs above the lakes make the scene absolutely surreal. And the lack of any vegetation despite all the water makes it totally bizarre. These spring-fed lakes have a very high mineral content, giving them their amazing color, and making the area barren of vegetation. Interestingly, these lakes have created natural dams as the minerals collect over time. So, the lakes actually sit above the surrounding area, dammed in by calcium deposits that have grown 15-20 feet high over the ages. The whole dam is covered by crystal clear water falls that cascade into streams that are almost transparent since the water is so clear. If you want more info on how to get there, look up www.greatgametravel.com
3) The underwater reef wall of the Red Sea. No where else is visibility so high underwater. It is possible to see 100 feet underwater, and scuba diving along this wall can actually cause you to have a sensation of acrophibia. The bright red and yellow coral, the abundant fish life, and the clear water make this the top scuba diving location in the world.
4) The beach at Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. Rarely do beaches and jungle coexist in a pristine state. But Costa Rica has kept its reputation as a top eco-tourism destination by preserving the jungle surrounding the Manuel Antonio Beach. While the surf can be quite rough (nearby Quepos is a favorite surfing location), the water is deep blue, and the sun usually shines. The jungle behind hosts howler monkeys, spider monkeys, and sloths, as well as smaller criters such as iguanas. Since no construction is allowed anywhere on the peninsula, only day visits are allowed to this pristine jungle beach.
5) Greenland Ice shelf. I have not actually set foot on Greenland, but one of the most amazing flights I have ever had was a mid-summer flight from Europe to the US. The route we took, took us over central Greenland during the daytime. Beneath, the ice shelf and glaciers created some of the most beautiful shadows imaginable as the sun hung low on the horizon. The ice stretched off into the distance toward the north pole. No human artist could have come up with a more beautiful painting than this shining natural creation.
6) Yellowstone National Park, Western USA. Americans know how to preserve and protect their nature better than anyone else. Thanks to Teddy Roosevelt, this area, which became the first national park of the United States preserves some of the best landscape of the American continent. The only drawback is the crowds of tourists coming to get away from the big city rush, only to find it on the narrow mountain roads of the park.
7) Tortuguero, Costa Rica. The northeast corner of Costa Rica is an endless flat jungle crisscrossed by slow-moving chanels that amble for mile after mile before reaching the mouth of the delta at the Caribbean Sea. This area is teeming with wildlife and a tour on a canoe will quickly take you within inches of crocodiles, past howler monkeys and spider monkeys. You will definitely see dozens of wild toucans, vibrant green macaws, as well as other amazing birdlife. As you trek through the jungle you will step over poisonous little red frogs whose venoum was once used by Misquito Indian hunters. Even the insects are absolutely amazing with giant ants whose sting hurts more than a wasp, and all types of other crawleys. But the most amazing part of a visit to tortugero is to see the giant marine leatherback turtle come to lay her eggs. These turtles can weigh as much as 2000 pounds, and can be up to 8 feet long. I myself saw a 6 footer come in and lay its eggs one night. It is a spectacle never to be forgotten!
8) Trekking in the Wakhan, camping at Zebok, Afghanistan. Zebok is probably the pretiest camp site I have ever had. This valley in northeast Afghanistan sits at the northern reaches of the Hindu Kush mountains, not far from Naoshaq (24, 497 feet), the highest mountain in Afghanistan. Small springs sprout up all along the valley floor, and a beautiful, tight grass covers the whole valley, giving the impression of a giant golf green. Clear streams converge throughout Zebok until finally, the Kochka River is formed, which gushes out of the valley and across Badakhshan Province. The snow-capped mountains, quiet serenety, and the sound of streams makes this one of the most beautiful spots on earth. But the true treat comes at night. With no electric lights for hundreds of miles in any direction, this high mountain valley has one of the best places to watch the stars. Never have I seen the milky way and thousands upon thousands of stars shine so brightly as I did the moonless night I camped at Zebok. For more information on how to get to Zebok, you can look up www.greatgametravel.com
9) The sand dunes in Rajastan, India. Sand dunes can form soft shapes that contrast vividly with the harshness of the barrenness of the desert. Taking a camel trek into the surounding dunes near Rajastan is one of my top experiences with nature. To sleep on the sand, and watch shooting stars in the middle of the night cannot be described in words. And to wake up to the cool morning air, and see the tiny ripples in the sand change shapes as the sun rises above the horizon gives an appreciation for the simple beauty of the world.
10) The top of Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala. Ok, I almost died doing this (see my top 25 times I almost died blog). But to watch the forces of nature act in their full fury, and see the hot molten lava shoot up in the air was amazing. One thing I never knew about volcanos is that the ashes along the sides of the crater wall begin to puff just before the lava begins to boil and shoot up in the air. It was absolutely amazing! Like watching the Discovery Chanel live. I don't recommend you ever do this, but watching a volcano explode has to be one of the top nature experiences I've had.