7 Natural Wonders You’ve Never Heard Of
You’ve heard about the Grand Canyon, but these lesser-known, more remote natural wonders deliver a similar “wow” factor.
Salt Flats Of Uyuni, Bolivia
From lakes to deserts, Bolivia offers many natural wonders, including the world’s largest salt flat. Set in the southwestern part of the country, the Salar de Uyuni delivers 10,582 square kilometers of glistening white salt. “Few North American travelers ever get to Bolivia, opting for more popular Peru, Chile, and Argentina,” says Rebecca Rhyan, destination specialist, Latin America, for Cox and Kings. “The salt flats are an other-worldly landscape for anyone who enjoys a bit of adventure.” Although the topography is mostly flat, the destination sits on the Altiplano at 11,995 feet above sea level; except chilly temperatures when the sun goes down.
Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)
One of the richest archaeological sites in Asia, Bagan (also referred to as Pagan) is home to a collection of more than 2,200 temples, stupas, and pagodas. The collection represents a scenic tribute to the religious history and devotion of the settlers of Myanmar over the centuries; some temples, such as the graceful circular Shwesandaw Pagoda built by King Anawrahta, date back to 1057. Though gaining popularity, Burma is still very much off the beaten track when compared to Thailand and Vietnam, explains Vinni Bernal, destination specialist, Asia for Cox and Kings. The Buddhist culture in Burma is among the most authentic in any Southeast Asian nation, and in Bagan, travellers witness some of the most intact temples in the world. “Burma is like Thailand 30 years ago,” says Bernal. “The Buddhist culture is fully intact and the tourism infrastructure is improving.” While many temples can be explored by foot, an early morning hot air balloon ride over Bagan is one of the best ways to see the site.
Karijini National Park, Australia
Known as the Grand Canyon of Australia, Karijini National Park in Australia’s Pilbara region on the west coast is the country’s second-largest park, offering more than 6,216 square kilometers of mountains and escarpments rising from flat valleys, rocky water pools, waterfalls, and unique wildlife like red kangaroos and rock wallabies. Hiking the red rocks, spotting more than 800 species of wildflowers, and swimming in the crystal clear waters of the gorges and pools are highlights. While the water of the gorges and pools can be alarmingly cold, summer temperatures in the desert environment can soar to more than 100 degrees.