Massive glaciers, staggering mountains, plains dotted with wild animals: We sure live in a big, beautiful world. And while pinpointing all of nature’s greatest hits could take a lifetime, we think these 8 out-of-this-world landscapes and awe-inspiring wonders:
Angel Falls, Venezuela
Venezuela overflows with natural wonders, including the world’s highest waterfall—the 3,212-foot cascades of Angel Falls, located in the UNESCO-protected Canaima National Park. Canaima is by far the country’s most popular attraction, and the falls stretch an astounding 19 times higher than Niagara Falls.
One of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland’s south region, Seljalandsfoss is a must-visit stop on any drive along the ring road.
That’s right, we put an entire continent on here. Although 99 percent of Antarctica is covered with ice, the landscape still manages to be stunningly diverse—surreal blue glaciers, active volcanoes, the rough waterways of the Drake Passage, and 360-degree views of untouched snow. And those views are made even better when an emperor penguin or humpback whale makes an appearance.
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
This protected land in the Patagonia region is a mix of mountains, glaciers, forests and lakes. Pro tip: Visit during Chile’s summer since the sun doesn’t set on the soaring granite pillars until after 10 p.m.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Japan
Every traveler should experience the ethereal glow and seemingly endless heights of this bamboo grove on the outskirts of Kyoto. The experience even extends beyond the visual realm: In 1996, Japan’s Ministry of the Environment included the sounds here—wood creaking, leaves rustling—as one of the top 100 Soundscapes of Japan.
Li River, China
Take a river cruise down the Li, which runs 85 kilometers through the region of Guangxi in southern China, for some of the country’s most incredible scenery.
The Azores, Portugal
Roughly 900 miles off the coast of Lisbon, this Portuguese archipelago can inspire wanderlust with a single photo. The verdant valleys, steep ocean-side cliffs, rows of blue hydrangeas, and scattering of waterfalls make the Azores a paradise worth exploring—just make sure you visit before everyone you know beats you to it.
One of the quaint fishing villages that make up the colorful Cinque Terre, Manarola is rife with grapevines, lemon groves and medieval walls. You can only imagine the views from here.
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