Modern life can make us feel disconnected from our true selves. Why not swap the noise of the urban sprawl with the chorus of bird song, the murmurings of the wind through a forest canopy or the gentle hum of evening cicadas. These five destinations will wash away the city and reacquaint you with nature.
It may be small but Switzerland certainly has a lot to offer. Dramatic snow-capped peaks in winter, a vibrant spectrum of green in the summer. Any trip to Switzerland must include the lakeside town of Lucerne. Aside from the lake itself – try out wakeboarding, water-skiing and a host of other water sports on its glimmering waters – Lucerne is the quintessential mediaeval Alpine town; picturesque and with mountain-views around every corner. For panoramas of the town and the surrounding peaks take the historic funicular up to the Château Gütsch hotel. For even more elevation take the “Dragon Ride” cable car from Lucerne up Mount Pilatus, especially designed to provide 360-degree views of the spectacular Swiss scenery. Mount Rigi is also accessible from Lucerne, and provides ample hiking trails, with plenty of lookout points to rest and drink in the fresh alpine air. For skiing in Switzerland head to Zermatt, the highest resort in the Alps and backdropped by the imposing Matterhorn. Elsewhere there’s the prestigious St. Moritz, two-time Winter Olympic host and one of the oldest winter sports venues in the world.
Check out our suggested nature trip template for Switzerland here
To imagine Canada is to imagine nature; polar bears, grizzly bears, moose, bobcats not to mention thousands of kilometres of forest, meadows, rivers, and lakes. Canada is synonymous with the great outdoors. Whistler is nothing short of a winter sport wonderland in the colder months, and a mecca of other alpine pursuits in the summer. The spectacular Banff Park, not far from the city of Calgary, offers a dizzying range of all-seasons activities centred around the natural world; horse drawn sleigh-rides, trips along the Icefields Parkway to the Athabasca Glacier, ice walks along the Johnston Canyon, canoe rides, caving, hiking – however you want to experience nature it’s available at Banff. Canada is also one of the best countries in the world to gaze upon the natural spectacle of the Northern Lights. The vast white wildernesses of the Northwest Territories, Alberta, Manitoba, and Newfoundland are all provinces where the Aurora Borealis is particularly visible. Various specific locations exist across the north catering to visitors for this specific purpose. Don’t forget too that the US state of Alaska borders Canada’s west and offers a similar array of nature-themed get-aways.
Check out our suggested nature trip template for Canada here
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the biggest coral reef in the world and hosts an enormous range of marine-life, perfect for scuba-diving or snorkelling. Glass-bottom boat rides are available amongst other ways of discovering the reef, while several Queensland coastal towns provide a stopping off point, including Cairns, Townsville and Rockhampton. Away from the coast the Australian outback provides thousands of miles-worth of exploration potential. The iconic Ulruru, or Ayers Rock, is an iconic monolith of physical geography situated in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Still in the Northern Territory and not far from Darwin is Kakadu National Park. Famous for its rivers, wetlands and the unique wildlife that inhabit them, it’s also famous for its prehistoric Aboriginal cave-artworks. Further south Nitmiluk National Park is famous for its dramatic gorge, perfect for canoeing, swimming or simply gazing at the spectacular sandstone cliffs. Back to Queensland but way down south is Fraser Island, a World Heritage site 250 km from Brisbane. Sea, lake, river and saltwater bath swimming, beach-walks, dingo and whale watching, shipwreck exploring – it’s all to do on this island made entirely of sand.
Check out our suggested nature trip template for Australia here
Tanzania’s most recognisable natural wonder is Mount Kilimanjaro. A dormant volcano and the highest mountain in Africa it offers some of the best trekking, mountain climbing, and cycling anywhere in the world – an array of guided expeditions is available of various distances and difficulties covering a vast network of routes. Another Tanzanian wonder is The Serengeti National Park. Here wildlife is the main attraction. The big five – lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, and rhinos – as well as the annual wildebeest migration – are all features of the park. The latter is considered one of the wonders of the natural world, in particular the route from Serengeti to The Maasai Mara National Park in Kenya. Various options exist in terms of game drives. On Tanzania’s northwest border is Rwanda, one of only a handful of places in the world where wild mountain gorillas can be observed, specifically in the Volcanoes National Park. Various companies operate gorilla treks into the mountain forests, with various packages on offer.
Check out our suggested nature trip template for Tanzania here
Given its equatorial location it’s little wonder that Malaysia has some of the best tropical nature in the world. Tigers, leopards, and orang-utans can be spotted in the forests of Malaysia. Its seas and waterways are equally abundant; five species of turtle live in the seas around the peninsula. Kinabalu National Park in Borneo offers outstanding jungle trekking while in Poring visitors can enjoy the Canopy Walkway; a series of suspension bridges hung up to 40 metres above the forest floor – very useful for spotting the nature that only exists in the forest canopy. Borneo is also home to Orangutans. Sabah state is the best place overall to see them. Try Danum Valley, Deramakot Forest Reserve and Tabin Wildlife Reserve to name just three potential spotting locations. Langkawi island, meanwhile, is the only UNESCO geo-park listed in this part of the world, and for good reason; the island is a natural paradise of turquoise seas, waterfalls, mangroves and forests, and home to various species of monkeys. You might see a few of them from the 2 km long ‘Skycab’ cable car, along with spectacular views of the island as a whole.
Check out our suggested nature trip template for Malaysia here
So then: Five countries, five fantastic opportunities to observe a grand spectrum of the planet’s natural wonders.
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