10. Scuba Diving in the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most remarkable ecosystems. Located in the Coral Sea, off the northeastern coast of Queensland, Australia, it is world’s biggest single structure made by living organism, so large that it can actually be seen from space.
At such a scale, it’s no wonder the Great Barrier Reef is home to such a diverse range of creatures: there are thousands of species of fish, mollusks, turtles, and even birds, many of which can only be found here. This makes the place one of the best in the world for snorkeling and scuba diving, but you’ll have to be careful – the Great Barrier Reef is a delicate ecosystem and efforts are being made to preserve it for future generations to enjoy as well.
9. Touring Pripyat, a Nuclear Ghost Town
In April 1986, one of the reactors of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, starting a fire which led to one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. The nearby town of Pripyat was abandoned, but decades after the accident it has finally been deemed safe enough to visit once again.
Of course, this isn’t a tour for the faint of heart. While the radiation levels aren’t quite as dangerous anymore, a trip though a Soviet-era ghost town would be scary enough without the thought of the nuclear meltdown which took place only a few decades ago. And the phrase “safe radiation levels” doesn’t sound that alluring either.
8. Discovering New Zealand’s Pristine Landscapes
New Zealand is a place of breathtaking, pristine natural beauty. Its unspoilt landscapes were deemed perfect to depict Middle-Earth in the The Lord of the Rings movies – and for good reason. From green rolling hills to places shaped by the mysterious and powerful volcanic and geothermal forces, New Zealand is a hiker’s paradise: quite remote, but never too far away from civilization.
In addition to the breathtaking geography, the place also boasts remarkable plant and animal life, a lot of which, due to New Zealand’s isolation, is endemic – perhaps most notably the kiwi, a flightless bird which is the national symbol.
7. Rock Climbing in Yangshuo
The town of Yangshuo is located in the southern part of China. In recent decades, it became a popular tourist destination, especially for backpackers, who are drawn to the area’s rugged natural beauty.
Especially remarkable are the numerous rock climbing routes. In fact, Yangshuo rose to prominence, so to speak, after being popularized by legendary American free climber Todd Skinner in 1992, who actually established a few classic routes himself. The most impressive of these is the Moonwalker, which traverses the famous Moon Hill arch, but there are numerous places to climb for everyone from beginners to veterans.
6. Whitewater Rafting on the Zambezi River
After the deafening drop which is Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River continues its eastward course. Its journey takes it through the narrow Batoka Gorge, flowing over 23 rapids in 15 miles, which makes for a really thrilling ride.
In addition to the adrenaline of the trip, what makes this experience truly unforgettable is the scenery. After all, the backdrop is one of the most amazing waterfalls on the planet!
5. Looking Down on the World from the Himalayas
For mountain lovers, the Himalayas are a sort of Shangri-La. No place on the planet has more incredibly tall mountains – in fact, most of the world’s mountains exceeding 7,200 meters (23,600 feet) are part of this range.
And you don’t have to climb Mount Everest (or any other of the tallest peaks, for that matter) to get a feel of this sublime place. There are lots of great trekking routes you can try, as you head for the Everest Base Camp or simply visit the temples and cities Tibet or Nepal, with their otherworldly charm. You can also, of course, admire the majestic Everest or Annapurna from a distance.
4. Living the Nomadic Life in Mongolia
Mongolia is one of the lesser known travel destinations. A landlocked country sitting between Russia and China, it’s mostly a mystery for Western travelers – which is precisely why it’s such an interesting place to explore.
Starting from the arid plains of Mongolia, great conquerors like Genghis Khan created a vast empire, but the Mongolian people have always remained fond of their nomadic lifestyle. Travelers who really want to get close to nature can embark on a trip across the endless steppes, even reaching the Gobi Desert. Means of transportation range from motor vehicles to horses or camels, but the rough terrain and harsh climate definitely isn’t for everybody.
3. Swimming with Sharks in the Bahamas
Snorkeling is a great way of experiencing the underwater world, but there’s a way of making the whole thing even more awesome, while also getting the adrenaline pumping thorough your veins – and that is to add sharks to the equation.
One of the best places in the world to do that is in the Bahamas. Here, the waters are teeming with various species: black tip, bull, tiger, great hammerhead and Caribbean reef sharks. You can swim among them or watch as they are being fed – it’s as close as you could ever hope to get to the ocean’s greatest predators.
2. Visiting the Active Volcano Kilauea
Volcanoes and their eruptions are awe-inspiring forces of nature, however inactive volcanoes are just regular mountains, while active ones are most of the time very dangerous. There are a few places, however, where you can tread that fine line between safety and the spectacular.
One of these places is Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, located on the island of Hawai’i. Its current eruption began in 1983 and there are no signs it’s stopping anytime soon. Active enough to be interesting while being relatively safe to approach, Kilauea is one of the best places to experience first-hand nature’s awesome power.
1. Exploring the Namib, the World’s Oldest Desert
The desert is a great destination for thrill-seeking travelers, as the heat, aridity, and remoteness of the place is perfect for those who want to get out of their comfort zone. One of the best such places you can travel to is the Namib Desert, which stretches along the coast of Namibia, in southwestern Africa.
Aged between 55 and 80 million years old, it is probably the world’s oldest desert and much of it is protected as the Namib-Naukluft National Park. Despite the harsh conditions, there place is home to plenty of wildlife, from snakes and other reptiles, to insects, to larger creatures like gemsboks (a kind of antelope) and hyenas. The Namib also features some of the world’s largest dunes, towering bright orange sand structures which give the landscape a Martian look.
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