When friends or coworkers ask, ‘what would you do with a year off work’, many answers are the same: travel. Do you realize landscapes and the outdoor environment play a significant role in deciding where you want to vacation? Relaxing beaches, icy mountains, ancient ruins and caves full of history and wonder are all part of the natural landscape which surrounds us. Whether you are the adventurous type or someone who prefers a vacation full of relaxation and the occasional sight-seeing, there are many gorgeous landscapes around the world that belong on your travel bucket list.
Here are 13 destination ideas that will have you saving your pennies and getting your passport renewed:
Name: Plitvice Lakes National Park
Known for: 16 lakes, waterfalls and cascades
The Skinny: Located in Southeast Europe, Plitvice Lakes National Park is about 73,000 acres of protected area and is famous for its 16 lakes interconnected by waterfalls and cascades. Much of the landscape around the lakes is made up of algae, mosses and water plants. The lakes appear blue, green and grey due to minerals, organisms and/or the angle of sunlight.
Noted: The area is so world-famous, expect crowds. Be sure to dedicate a few hours to this park and start your day early. You can travel this park by boat, bus or foot. Swimming is not permitted.
Name: Rio Tinto
Known for: Red-stained river
The Skinny: Over 5,000 years of mining pollution is said to be the reason for the highly acidic, red state of the river. The state of The Red River contributes to research of extra-terrestrial life because of its extreme environment and unusual organisms.
Noted: If your inner scientist wants a glimpse of this place, hop on the Rio Tinto railway and take a ride by the red river. Stop by the Ernest Lluch Mining Museum also and learn all about the areas rich history and mining days.
Name: Antelope Canyon
Known for: Uniquely-shaped canyons with beautiful beams of sunlight
Location: Arizona, USA
The Skinny: The canyons are located on the largest land area retained by a Native-American tribe, The Navajo Nation. The Antelope Canyons are a result of flash flooding and erosion of Navajo sandstone. The lower and upper canyons are both a thing of beauty and make for popular destinations for photographers.
Noted: Only authorized tour guides are allowed in the canyon. During the summer when the sun is at its highest, prepare to marvel at the light beams radiating color against the canyons.
Name: Yellowstone National Park
Known for: Wildlife and geothermal features
Location: Wyoming, USA
The Skinny: If you are the outdoorsy type, Yellowstone National Park is for you. The park is made up of vast grasslands, forests, lakes, rivers, canyons and mountains. Geothermal features include an active volcano, Yellowstone Caldera, hot springs and geysers. Yellowstone is also the most famous area known for large animals. Grizzly bears, elk, wolves and bison live in the park among many other species of mammals.
Noted: You can hike, boat and even camp in the park. If you decide to go during the winter, you may catch some people sight-seeing via snowmobile.
Name: Keukenhof Tulip Fields
Known for: Blanket of tulips
The Skinny: Landscape architects, Jan David Zocher and his son Louis Paul Zocher designed the Keukenhof castle gardens in the 1850s. The castle eventually developed into a spring park that is now famously known for its beautiful array of tulips in the springtime. Can you imagine witnessing 7 million tulips fully blooming in one space?
Noted: The garden is only open in the springtime: late April-late May.
Name: Ashikaga Flower Park
Known for: 150-year old Wisteria
Location: Tochigi, Japan
The Skinny: The wisteria stretches so wide, you will feel like you’re living in tree full of whimsical flowers. Think Tree of Souls from the movie Avatar but located in Japan not Pandora. Magical.
Noted: Wisteria trees grow in tunnels throughout different parts of Japan giving you many opportunities to catch these beauties during your travel.
Name: Salar de Uyuni
Known for: The world’s largest salt flat
Location: South-western Bolivia
The Skinny: The world’s largest salt flat is a result of a dried up lake. Although the freezing temperatures and dessert dryness may keep many animals away, you can catch flamingos roaming around during the month of November.
Noted: Plan your trip in the late summer or early fall. You may see some rain during your visit but don’t let that get you down. When it rains, Salar de Uyuni turns into a mirror making it feel as though you’re walking on the clouds.
Name: Machu Picchu
Known for: Stone walls
The Skinny: Machu Picchu was recently declared as one of the New Seven Wonders of the Modern World in 2007 and sits at an altitude of about 8,000 ft. It was built in the classical Inca style with polished dry-stone walls. The beautiful terraces, ramps and walls resemble the steep terrain the sanctuary rests on.
Noted: Plan to travel the Inca trails by foot to reach this destination. There are other ways to access Machu Picchu but if you decide to endure the long hike, you won’t be sorry.
Name: Marble Caves
Known for: Marble Cathedral
The Skinny: The Marble Caves are located on a peninsula of solid marble bordering Lake General Carrera. The swirling blue caves were formed by 6,000-plus years of waves washing up against calcium carbonate.
Noted: There is a long journey ahead of you to this destination but many people believe it is worth the trouble. The caves are not easily accessible so instead of getting yourself lost, take a boat tour.
Known for: Cascading travertine pools
The Skinny: Pamukkale is composed of natural and man-made materials and is located at the site of the Greek-Roman city of Hierapolis. Turkey’s single most visited attraction, the white travertine terraces and warm pools resemble a cascading waterfall.
Noted: Nowadays, people are only allowed to swim in the smaller pools. Regardless, this area is such a rare site; you do not want to pass up a chance to see this.
Name: Denali National Park
Known for: Highest mountain in North America
The Skinny: Denali is a national park and preserve located on the highest mountain in North America. The six million acre ecosystem is composed of many glaciers and glacial valleys, forest terrain, rivers and countless species of plants, flowers and wildlife.
Noted: If you like adventure, this place is for you. The climate is very unpredictable in Denali National Park. Check your weather app while packing for your trip; it can snow during the summer months!
Name: Hallerbos Forest
Known for: The Blue Forest
The Skinny: Hallerbos Forest is also known as “The Blue Forest” due to its blanket of bluebells on the wooded forest floor during spring. This destination is for the dreamers. The blue and purple blooms give off the feeling of living in a fairytale.
Noted: The foggy conditions make for some Instagram-worthy images.
Known for: Black sand beach
The Skinny: Most of us rave about white sand beaches but what about black sand beaches? As stated by many people who have visited the coastal beach near the village of Vik, Iceland, the black sanded beach is hauntingly beautiful, rugged and untamed. Reynisfjara is covered with black sand pebbles surrounded by cliffs, basalt columns and powerful waves from the Atlantic.
Noted: Mother Nature cannot be predicted, especially near this destination. Pack clothing conducive for cold (by cold I mean freezing) and rain. Be sure to ask about the spooky Icelandic folklore stories about the beach.