Top 10 Geographical Wonders
The See-Before-You-Die Sights
The world is full of them – inspirational forms of nature that are stunning, unique and powerful. From towering waterfalls to vast underwater kingdoms, these geographic wonders are well worth seeing in person.
Canada is packed full of natural wonders, too many to list, but we've whittled it down to our favourite eight.
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 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. Getting here is no small feat – fly in through Connellan Airport and go from there.
The height of a 24-story building, Iguazu Falls stretches along a 3km-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. Fly in through Puerto Iguazu (IGR) on the Argentinean side and Foz do Iguacu (IGU) on the Brazilian side.
Gunung Mulu National Park
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 almost-200-metre 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 a jaw-dropping atmosphere. It’s way out there, but your best bet is to find flights to Mulu Airport.
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 446km long and 29km wide and nearly 2km 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. It’s a road trip from either Phoenix or Las Vegas, and can also be accessed through Flagstaff’s airport.
Great Barrier Reef
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 for more than 2,600km on the northeastern coast of Australia. It is home to an enormous cast of biological diversity of both plants and animals, and although it is an environmental treasure, the Great Barrier Reef is also perfect for adventurous travellers to scuba dive and snorkel. Fly in through Cairns for the easiest access.
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 8,848 metres high, not including snow covering, and it reportedly grows by 5mm 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 (also known as Lukla 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, our neighbour to the north, Canada. They dance across the sky from September to October and from March to April, and they never put on the same show twice.
The highest free-falling waterfall in the world has an uninterrupted drop of 807 metres. Discovered in 1933 by American aviator, James Crawford Angel, the Venezuela waterfalls are far removed from civilization, but worth visiting. Taking a short flight from Caracas to Canaima and then 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.
Apparently, this is the volcano that came from nowhere. In 1943, a farmer’s cornfield in Mexico opened up 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 more than 3km high, and the top of a church can be seen peeking out of the solidified lava. Fly into Uruapan Airport to see it.
Size-wise, the Amazon Rainforest rivals that of Western Europe, which speaks not only for its physical mass but its colossal reputation. More than 6280km 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. Two major gateway airports are Manaus in Brazil and Iquitos in Peru.