The world is full of them – inspirational forms of nature that are simultaneously stunning, unique and powerful. From towering waterfalls to vast underwater kingdoms, these geographic wonders are well worth seeing in person.
In honour of Geography Awareness Week, Cheapflights is celebrating 10 great freaks of nature.
Ayers Rock, Australia
This is one geographical wonder that has a lot of monikers. Most people know it as Ayers Rock, but its sacred name according to the Aboriginal people is Uluru, so some also refer to it as the Living Rock. Whatever you call it, this sandstone outcrop southwest of Alice Springs lies in the Australian Outback and is famous not only for its breathtaking appearance, but also its springs, water holds, rock caves and ancient paintings. It’s listed twice as a World Heritage Site (once for its beauty and once for its paintings) and seems to change colour by day or season.
Iguazu Falls, Argentina and Brazil
The height of a 24-story building, Iguazu Falls stretches along a three-kilometre rim that straddles Argentina and Brazil. Each side has its claim to fame: Argentina’s offers varied close-up views, and Brazil’s view is best for stunning panoramic images.
Gunung Mulu National Park, Indonesia
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gunung Mulu National Park in Borneo is celebrated for its caves and karst formations, all within a mountain rainforest setting. It contains one of the most extensive cave systems in the world, which includes 182-meter indoor waterfalls, rock pinnacles, cliffs and gorges – Mount Mulu is its highest point. Supposedly, millions of bats descend from the caves all at once at nighttime, creating jaw-dropping views.
Grand Canyon, Arizona, United States
Usually attached to the phrase “pictures don’t do it justice,” this gigantic monster has been carved out by the Colorado River for millions of years. It rolls through the desert 445 kilometers long and 29 kilometers wide and a little more than a kilometer deep. Sixteenth-century Native Americans referred to the Grand Canyon in the Hopi language as the “Ongtupqa,” which designated it as a holy site and a place of pilgrimage.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The world’s largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef is made up of more than 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands that stretch over 2,575 kilometers on the northeastern coast of Australia. It is home to an enormous cast of biological diversity of both plants and animals, and although it exists as an environmental treasure, the Great Barrier Reef is also perfect for adventurous travellers to scuba dive and snorkel.
Mount Everest, China and Nepal
Travellers with a fear of heights need not apply. Mount Everest is easily the most renowned mountain on earth, mostly for being the tallest, at 8,844 meters high, not including snow covering, and it reportedly grows five millimeters every year. Its summit ridge marks the border between China and Nepal, and while it’s not by any means easy to climb, it’s not terribly difficult to fly in through Tenzing-Hillary Airport to see it.
Sure, it’s not technically a landmass, and it doesn’t exactly exist in one place, but it’s certainly a natural wonder worth appreciating first hand. The Northern Lights show up as a freakishly gorgeous light phenomenon in places like Norway, Sweden, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Alaska and Canada. They dance across the sky from September to October and from March to April, and they never put on the same show twice.
Angel Falls, Venezuela
The highest free-falling waterfall in the world has an uninterrupted drop of 806 meters. Discovered in 1933 by American aviator, James Crawford Angel, the Venezuela waterfalls are far removed from civilization, but worth visiting. Taking a boat trip is the best bet for your trek. Not in the mood to get drizzly? You can also take an aerial fly-by tour of the waterfalls.
Paricutin Volcano, Mexico
Apparently, this is the volcano that came from nowhere. In 1943, a farmer’s cornfield in Mexico opened from the ground and began to erupt, and lava flowed from it with little interruption until 1952. It covered two villages but caused no casualties. Many travellers have climbed to the top of the volcano, which towers at almost three kilometers in the air, and the top of a church can be seen peeking out of the solidified lava.
Size-wise, the Amazon Rainforest rivals that of Western Europe, which speaks not only for its physical mass, but its colossal reputation. More than 6,276 kilometers long, the Amazon River is its lifeblood and the two coexist in nine South American countries. The jungle is thick and its ever-present water is hard to navigate by land, but a guaranteed memorable adventure.
Featured image: Grand Canyon National Park