When asked about travel goals, many often reveal their dreams of visiting the 7 Wonders of the World. That’s certainly amazing but if nature is at the peak of your interest, you should be checking out the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
The New 7 Wonders of Nature campaign started in 2007 and gained over 100-million global votes. 440 candidates across 220 countries took part, which was trimmed to 77 before a panel of experts further reduced it to 28 finalists and finally global votes via text messages, Internet, social networks and telephone selected the 7 winners.
Check out these seven fabulous places where nature is waiting to give you a giant bear hug!
If you love waterfalls, Iguazu Falls should be at the top of your bucket list. Not only is it listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it's also one of the largest waterfalls in the world and lies on the border between Argentina and Brazil, ringed by inland rainforests teeming with wildlife.
What sets it apart from other well-known waterfalls is its massive size and uneven plateau where the streaming river clambers and forms 275 cascades - the tallest one known as "Devil's Throat", at 80 metres high.
To aid your vision, it's almost twice the height of Niagara Falls.
You could hear the gushing soundtrack of the falls while walking through the jungle trails, and it's not uncommon to spot toucans, hummingbirds, rare butterflies and coral trees. When you finally reach the majestic falls, you'll run out of words.
Fronted by huge, mighty waterfalls forming cloudy mist over the abyss, surrounded by lush forest and at times, scenic rainbows arching over - this moment lives forever in your memory.
Walking over a route of rustic boardwalks to embrace the best views is one way of doing it, but the real deal is taking a speedboat to the foot of the falls to feel the pulse of nature’s open shower. To raise the romance factor, opt for the Moonlight Tour.
Named after the largest lizard on Earth, Komodo Island is one of the 17,508 islands that represent Indonesia and is part of the Komodo National Park. From the tiny town of Labuan Bajo, where numerous resorts and budget-friendly hostels are located, take a boat ride to this island.
You'll find abundant of these monstrous lizards roaming around; protecting their nests, hunting fishes and simply sun bathing. Best to explore with a guide to know more about these reptiles.
A stark contrast to the surrounds is the pink sand beach, one of the only seven places in the world. Simply stroll along the Instagram-worthy beach, take in the sceneries or up your adventure game by snorkelling and scuba diving, where you'll spot sea turtles, manta rays, colourful fishes and preserved corals.
Take advantage of the nearby islands too. Hike up to the peak of Padar Island to soak in the mind-blowing views and spend some time on a motorboat over Kalong Island waters during sunset to witness a colony of bats dot the skyline.
Jeju Island is the largest and most southerly island in South Korea. Travellers with all sorts of interest are showing no signs of slowing down to explore this one-of-a-kind island.
It’s entirely formed by volcanic eruptions approximately two million years ago. At the heart of the island lies the commanding Hallasan, a dormant volcano and the tallest mountain in the country, rising 1,950 metres above sea level. Surrounding the island are 360 other satellite volcanoes.
Don't miss the Lava Tubes, where magma once flowed and now, the result is a series of deep, narrow, intricate caves that are waiting to be explored. Then, head to the Sangumburi Crater, the only crater lake in the nation, 328 feet deep and home to over 400 species of flora and fauna.
If relaxation is what you seek, walk along the palm-fringed tropical beaches, nosh down some fresh tangerines, rub shoulders with friendly locals and stay in breathtaking beach resorts. You'll also spot experienced sea-women (haenyo) diving into the ocean to catch octopus, clams, abalone, squid and seaweed which turns into delicious meals at local restaurants.
Withstanding six million years of erosion and offering an iconic landmark to Cape Town, this flat-topped mountain has been drawing visitors from all over the world. From the beaches or centre of the city, it's easy to catch a glimpse of this magnificent mountain.
Many prefer to whizz up to the top by cable car, while the adventurers at heart hike their way up the numerous trails. Definitely worth the effort, as you'll be accompanied by amazing views and cool breeze all the while. Part of the mountains forms the Table Mountain National Park, which is home to the richest yet smallest floral kingdom on earth, together with rare, endangered species.
No surprise, the plateau is the main draw, flanked by impressive cliffs (Devil's Peak to the east and Lion's Head to the west) and approximately three kilometres long. It's impossible to take your eyes off the fabulous views of Cape Town and the Atlantic Ocean.
Nature commonly punctuates the "table" with a table cloth - orographic clouds covering the summit of the cliff. Add in a sunset to embrace nature in all its glory.
Ha Long Bay
Known as the “descending dragon bay” in Vietnamese and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ha Long Bay has always been in the good books of island buffs.
Tourist density is rapidly rising over the years but its complete trifles compared to the overall charm and experience. Either stare out at the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin as the coastline sand tickle your toes or be part of a cruise tour that navigates you closer to the towering limestone pillars and islets in various shapes and sizes.
Opportunities for adventure are endless as numerous hollow islands are pitted with caves, mysterious grottoes and dense jungle while some of the larger ones have their own secluded lakes.
Do visit the floating villages, where fishermen live, to get to know their daily life.
Knowing that adventurers are normally big eaters, food options are widespread here. Chomp down the famous squid sausage, grilled horseshoe crab and fried sea snails with chilli sauce.
It's also pretty easy to understand why honeymooners fall in love with the picture-perfect resorts.
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Palawan, made up of a stretch of islands, is widely revered for its untouched nature and one of its most prominent spots is the Puerto Princesa Underground River at the Puerto Princesa National Park.
It's the longest navigable underground river in the world at 8.2km and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
From Sabang town, a boat ride takes you to the entrance, before another boat navigates you to this hidden slice of nature which impresses at the dot. At the mouth of the underground cave lies a blue-water lagoon, framed by ancient trees.
But it only plays second fiddle to the 45-minute guided, paddle boat ride into the river.
The echoes of water drips, bats moving around stalactite and stalagmite formations and tiny river channels that finally outflows directly to the sea will set an otherworldly experience.
Amazon Rainforest and River
Informally known as “the lungs of the Earth”, Amazon is the place to be if you're really looking to get off the grid and reconnect with nature.
It's huge, largely uninhabited, wonderfully wild and represents over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests. Not forgetting, the Amazon River is the largest in the world by volume - more than the top ten rivers in the globe combined!
Jungle trekking is a common choice but looking beyond would definitely be extra fun. Partake in canopy tours to explore the thick forest at a higher level, go piranha fishing, kayak and stand-up paddle board over the calm river, engage with the Amazonian tribe to learn more about their original beliefs and customs and swim with unique pink dolphins.
Keep your eyes keenly alert to spot Gold Lion Tamarin, poison dart frogs, tarantula, Harpy Eagles, jaguars and more than 1,000 species of butterflies.
The eye-catching jungle lounges here may eliminate technology but never calm and comfort.