...and 10 of the rest natural wonders
• Mount Everest, Nepal/Tibet: The world’s highest mountain and known in Tibetan as Qomolangma, Everest straddles the border between Nepal and Tibet with its summit reaching 29,029 feet (8,848 metres). Among operators offering packages that take in a visit to the mighty mountain is Gecko’sAdventures. www.geckosadventures.com
• Antarctic: The Antarctic remains one of the wildest, most remote and least-visited parts of the world, but it possible to experience it on a cruise. Quark Expeditions offers an 11-day journey to the region on its newest ship, the 189-passenger, ice-strengthened Ocean Diamond, with the opportunity to go kayaking amidst the ice floes. www.quarkexpeditions.com
• Yosemite National Park, USA: Soaring mountains, towering waterfalls, majestic Giant Sequoia trees – Yosemite encompasses 1,170 square miles (3,030 sq km) of pristine environment in Central California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, nearly 95% of which is designated as wilderness. Yosemite Falls is one of the tallest falls in North America and the fifth tallest in the world, with three cascades dropping a total of 2,425 feet (739m). www.yosemitepark.com
• Table Mountain, South Africa: One of the world’s most recognisable natural icons and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Table Mountain looms over Cape Town, from where you can take a cable car to the summit. The revolving cable cars take visitors 2,310 feet (704m), from the lower station at 1,191ft (363m) above sea level, to the upper station, at 3,500ft (1067m) above sea level. Its distinctive flat top is often covered by white cloud which drapes over the edge, earning it the local nickname of the Tablecloth. The five most venomous snakes found on Table Mountain are the Cape cobra, puff adder, boomslang, rinkhals and berg adder. http://tablemountain.net
• Dolomites, Italy: Sunset in the Dolomites is a breathtaking experience not to be missed; the moment during summer months when a unique natural phenomenon called Enrosadira turns the west facing rock faces – rich in calcium carbonate and manganese – flame red in the dying rays of the sun. Every evening, particularly vivid in July, these stunning peaks lay on a glorious display of colour, starting out bright yellow before turning intense red that softens to indigo and violet before darkness climbs from the valley and finally envelops the mountains. Stay in the Relais & Châteaux Gardena Grödnerhof in Val Gardena’s Ortisei for a prime position to enjoy this amazing spectacle. www.gardena.it
• Bay of Fundy, Canada: Stretching 170 mile (270 km) between the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on Canada’s Atlantic coast, the Bay of Fundy has the world’s highest tides, measuring approximately 50 feet (over 15m). Twice every day, 100 billion tonnes of seawater flows in and out of the bay on each tide – more than the combined flow of all the world’s freshwater rivers. www.bayoffundytourism.com
• Blue holes, Bahamas/Belize: Dean’s Blue Hole, on Long Island in the Bahamas, dipping some 663ft (203m) into the ocean floor right offshore, is said to be the deepest blue hole in the world and the second largest underwater chamber. It is also the site where the Freediving World Record was set in April, 2007. Tour operator Bahamas Flavour offers a package staying at Gems at Paradise in nearby Clarence Town. A must for divers, the Blue Hole is a large submarine sinkhole located at the heart of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, off the coast of Belize. This huge, near-perfect circle – about 412ft (125m) deep and 3,280ft (1,000m) across – was originally a cave which collapsed about 10 million years ago, and can be seen from space. The Blue Hole is part of the larger Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a World Heritage site. Steppes Travel offers packages to Belize which can include a visit to the Blue Hole. www.bahamasflavour.co.uk, www.steppestravel.co.uk
• Cappadocia, Turkey: This stunning region in eastern Turkey has a surreal, almost other-wordly landscape thanks to the way the elements have sculpted volcanic rock into “fairy chimneys” and mushroom-shaped stones over millions of years. You can go underground to see homes, churches and whole cities carved into the limestone, or get an unbeatable view from a hot-air balloon. Intrepid Travel offers a Cappadocia Explorer short break with three nights’ hotel accommodation in Goreme and including a guided tour of an underground city and a meal with a local family. www.intrepidtravel.com
Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand: Two hours south of Auckland, the ethereal Waitomo Caves plunge deep beneath the area’s limestone hills. The impenetrable darkness is broken by a myriad of tiny lights, generated by tiny glowworms that inhabit the cave in their thousands and cover the ceilings leading to an enormous cavern filled with soaring stalactites and stalagmites known as the Cathedral. Tailor-Made Tours is among tour operators offering packages that feature the caves. www.waitomo.com, www.tailor-made.co.uk
• Cliffs of Moher, Ireland: Standing more than 700 feet (214m) above the crashing Atlantic waves, the Cliffs of Moher are a designated UNESCO Geo Park that stretch for five miles (8km) along County Clare’s western seaboard and are one of Ireland’s top visitor attrations. The cliffs are a popular place to watch the sun setting over the Atlantic Ocean and are among Ireland’s most important sites for nesting seabird colonies. www.cliffsofmoher.ie
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