If your idea of an epic adventure is more about natural wonders than man-made sights, you’ll know that the world is full of jaw-dropping marvels. Leaving the pavement behind is good for the soul and unplugging for a few days can really help push back your stress levels. Next time you’re searching for a getaway, consider exploring one of our all-time favorite places to escape into nature.
1. Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland (Canada)
The island of Newfoundland lies off Canada’s eastern coast, dotted with picturesque “outports” and some of the most magnificent scenery on the planet. Gros Morne is a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Island’s west coast that boasts dramatic tablelands, tundra, fjords, mountains, and rugged shorelines. No traffic lights and plenty of moose, caribou, black bears and arctic foxes.
2. Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Long revered as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, this is where to go if you need to switch off for awhile. The perimeter of this huge body of water is lined with volcanoes and covered with native wild flowers. Immerse yourself in the predominantly Mayan communities – and just listen to yourself breathe.
3. Husey, Iceland
Reykjavik is a great town, but you haven’t really experienced Iceland until you’ve gotten out of the city. Husey covers about 16 square miles of the eastern part of the country, nestled between two glacial rivers, and is a haven for sea birds, puffins and reindeer. The dramatic mountains provide the perfect backdrop to the black sands of the coast where hundreds of seals come to lounge in the sun. The best way to see Husey is on horseback, so come prepared for the ride of your life.
4. Milford Sound, New Zealand
Let’s face it, is there anywhere in New Zealand that isn’t a paradise for nature lovers? Milford Sound is the quintessential destination for anyone setting off to hike through Fiordland National Park. The fjord itself is majestic, but so too are the mountains, rivers, waterfalls and glaciers that grace this gorgeous part of the South Island. Travel a little further afield to see Hokitika Gorge, Lake Wanaka, or the Moeraki boulders on Koekohe beach.
5. Plitvice, Croatia
This UNESCO Heritage Site is filled with breathtaking waterfalls tumbling into sixteen shimmering turquoise lakes. The park is Croatia’s most popular tourist attraction but covers over a hundred square miles, so you can still find a corner all to yourself. It’s located close to the Bosnian border and one of the few places left in Europe that provides a natural habitat for brown bears and wolves. Keep your eyes open for eagles, owls and over 300 different kinds of butterflies.
6. Göreme, Turkey
The Göreme valley was sculpted by thousands of years of erosion which formed stunning hoodoos and caves in the volcanic rock. People lived in underground villages throughout this area as far back as the 4th century. This is one of those places that needs to be seen to be believed, a unique natural phenomenon that make the American badlands look pretty tame in comparison.
7. Phu Chi Fa, Thailand
If you really want to experience a “moment”, this sacred mountain never fails to deliver. The climb to the top is only about half a mile, but the view is incredible. Go early in the morning to catch the sunrise and watch the mist slowly melt to reveal the tributaries of the Mekong River. It’s a popular and reverential trek for locals, but you won’t find too many western tourists marveling at the unparalleled view of the world at your feet.
We could easily find another 700 places to be awed by our planet’s beauty, but we hope you’ll find your own special somewhere on your next grand adventure.