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The 7 Wonders of the Natural World

May 18, 2016

There are many different lists of natural wonders, but the most popular and widely used is the list created by CNN. Unlike the New7Wonders lists, which was determined by popular vote, this list was determined by experts around the world who ranked sites based on statistical and traditional significance, uniqueness, and pure splendor.


1. Hopi Point, Grand Canyon

No matter how many photos you’ve seen of the Grand Canyon, nothing compares to being perched, in person, on the rim of its everlasting views. And in the late afternoon, the play of shadow brings the gorges into gorgeous relief. Plan to stay for sunset. Bring a blanket; even summer nights can be chilly, and winter evenings, when the crowds are thinner, can feel glacial at 7,000 feet above sea level. As day disappears behind the distant plateau, breathe in the vista and revel in the fact that you are not stuck in traffic somewhere in some man-made rush hour; you’re here, soaking up geologic time.


2. Mount Everest, Nepal 

Going to Mount Everest is an experience that will leave you in awe of how big everything is in the Himalaya. Sleeping at 16,000+ feet is without a doubt a highlight not to be missed when in Tibet. Make sure you are reasonably fit and spend many nights along the way to help acclimatize to the altitude. Bring a hat and gloves, as your fingers will stop working in short order when it’s cold.

victoria falls

3. Victoria Falls National Park from the Zimbabwean Side

Seeing the Victoria Falls is truly amazing. I’ve been lucky enough to view the falls from both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides, and I have to say that I am partial to the Zim side. Better value for money, unique lodges and camps and better views even when the water levels are low in the dry season (August onward). Check out Elephant Camp and Ilala Lodge.


4. Tomso, Norway

But bring a change of underwear (or two), as “the night” in Tromsø lasts from November 21 until January 21, with the short dawn bringing stunning light conditions. Despite the dark, the town is alive with festivals and cultural events, with an even livelier nightlife than during the rest of the year.

After the sun returns, you’ll have a few hours of daylight to enjoy downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowboarding. A high latitude means there’ll be snow until May. Tromsø is also considered the best place on the planet to view the northern lights, which tend to come between 6 pm and 1 am from November to March.

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Top Photo: Paul Fundenburg

AFAR inspires and enables those who travel the world seeking to have deeper and more fulfilling travel experiences. AFAR's platforms include the award-winning AFAR Magazine;, recently named a Top 10 Site That Makes Travel Easier; the non-profit foundation Learning AFAR; and the immersive travel series AFAR Experiences.