The natural world is resplendent with wonders. It’s easy to forget that when you’re caught up in the hustle of everyday life, stuck in traffic, or putting in more hours at the office. But do you really know what you’re missing out on?
The remote, out of the way, lesser-known spots often have some of the best views you’ll ever see. Check out some of the most amazing scenes nature has to offer – you’ll be making new plans and counting down the days to your vacation before you know it.
1. Fairy Meadows, Pakistan
Fairy Meadows is the name of the base camp in Nanga Parbat which literally translates in to ‘Naked Mountain’. Nanga Parbat is the ninth highest peak in the world and it is also the western anchor of the Himalayas. Apart from ‘Fairy Meadows’ this base camp is also known as ‘Heaven on Earth’ due to its atmosphere.
2. Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania
A UNESCO World Heritage Site in East Africa, Ngorogoro Crater sits just to the south of Olduvai Gorge, the seat of humanity; they are within the same conservation area. The crater was formed by an ancient volcano and is now a lush, verdant land, home to black rhinos, hippos, Cape buffalo, wildebeest, zebras, gazelles, and lions.
3. Mud Volcanoes of Azerbaijan
You may not have heard of it before, and it sure isn’t easy to spell, but Azerbaijan is famed for its mud volcanoes. It’s home to almost one-third of the world’s mud volcanoes. Locals and tourists alike will trek to the mud volcanoes for the mud’s therapeutic effects.
4. Mount Roraima, Venezuela/Guyana/Brazil
Of the tabletop mountains in the area – some of the oldest on Earth – Mount Roraima is the highest and, with its 1,300-foot cliffs, is clearly the most breathtaking. It plays a significant role in the myths and legends of the local indigenous people, and may have inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World.
5. Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock), Norway
It’s only accessible by a 2.4 mile hike, but what a view at the end! Rising almost 2000 feet, Preikestolen features an 82 square-foot flat top that has become one of Norway’s most popular natural tourist destinations.
6. Jeita Grotto, Lebanon
One of Lebanon’s natural crown jewels, Jeita Grotto is actually two caves, upper and lower, connected by an underground river. The upper chamber contains the world’s largest stalactite, while the lower chamber contains a lake, the “Dark Lake”.
7. Gran Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
At a shade over 4,000 square miles, Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat. Between 50% and 70% of the world’s lithium is contained with the salt flat. And, because it’s such a large, flat surface, many of the world’s satellites used it to calibrate their altimeters. Because it’s located far from cities, locals built hotels out of salt blocks at the site to accommodate the many tourists.
8. Paria Canyon, Arizona
The signature feature of Paria Canyon is the sedimentary formation known as The Wave. It’s obviously one of the most photographed places within the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, but you need a permit to get there. You’ll be given a “human waste bag” for , so be prepared to lug that around all day – and did we mention it’s only accessible by, at minimum, a three-mile hike through open desert?
9. Moraine Lake, Canada
Does it get more scenic than crystal blue water, stands of pine trees, and majestic, towering mountains? They’re all here, at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park. You almost have to put in some effort to take a bad photo here. The lake gains a natural blue color from rock flour deposited by the glacial runoff that feeds the lake.
10. Lauterbrunnen Valley, Switzerland
Lauterbrunnen Valley isn’t where the hills were alive with the sound of music; but it was Tolkien’s inspiration for the elvish city of Rivendell in Lord of the Rings. It’s a quaint, scenic area with quaint mountain villages and it contains 72 waterfalls, including Europe’s highest free-flowing waterfall, Staubbach falls.
11. Cascate del Mulino, Italy
The Italian village of Saturnia has fewer than 300 inhabitants, but it receives thousands of visitors who flock to the nearby hot springs. Hot, sulfurous spring water (37.5 C) collects in pools as it cascades down two waterfalls. They are open to the public and free, year-round.
12. Vatnajokull National Park, Iceland
Being one of the most active volcanic areas in the world has left Iceland with a dramatic landscape, and nowhere is that on display better than in Votnajokull. The centerpiece of the park is Svartifoss waterfall, which is not particularly high, but it flows over black basalt columns, giving it an otherworldly appearance.
13. Freycinet National Park, Australia
Apart from the red and pink granite formations and rugged Tasmanian landscape, Freycinet National Park contains Wineglass Bay, which is consistently listed among the best beaches in the world.
14. Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, Madagascar
Often called the “eighth continent”, over 90% of Madagascar’s wildlife can’t be found anywhere else on Earth. And it’s home to some weird landscapes, like the karst limestone formations in Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can be tough to reach and tougher to get around in, but you won’t see anything like it anywhere else.
15. Naica Crystal Caves, Mexico
The Naica Crystal Caves were only discovered in 2000, when workers at the mine above drilled through the Naica fault over flooding concerns. The cave contains some of the largest natural crystals ever found. However, because the cave reaches temperatures up to 136 F with over 90% humidity, much of the cave remains unexplored.
16. The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
It’s easy to see why the Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s top tourist destinations. Rising almost 400 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, the cliffs have been featured in numerous films, including Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and The Princess Bride – the “Cliffs of Insanity”.
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