Living in a concrete jungle tends to create a hunger to reconnect with nature. A yerning to see what else is out there, beyond the skyscrapers and polluted air. There are several wonders in this world that will take your breath away. Scenary so extraordinary that no man can recreate or duplicate. So majestic that the mere sight of them might alter your life and how you perceive things. These are the seven natural wonders of the world, and they should be on everyone’s bucket list:
Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)
The Aurora Borealis is a natural light display in the sky particularly in the high latitude of the Arctic and Antarctic regions, caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere. The name comes from the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for the north wind Boreas. Aurora seen near the magnetic pole may be high overhead, but from farther away they illuminate the northern horizon as a greenish glow or sometimes a faint red, as if the Sun were rising from an unusual direction. The aurora borealis most often occurs near the equinoxes, so if you want to experience this wonder you can go to either the Scandinavian coast, Northern Greenland, Siberia, Alaska in the north, or Antarctica in the south. There are times though, when the lights are farther south, usually when there are a lot of sunspots. Sunspot activity follows an 11-year cycle. The next peak will occur in 2011 and 2012, so the possibility of seeing auroras outside their normal range is higher these days. Keep your eyes open, and you might get lucky!
The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in the US in the state of Arizona, comprising one million acres of land. It stretches 277 miles (446 km) long, is 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile. Wildlife is rich in the Canyon, with 75 different species of mammal, 50 species of reptiles, 25 species of fish, and 300 species of bird living within its borders.
Parícutin is a cinder cone volcano standing 1,391 feet tall in the Mexican state of Michoacán, close to a lava-covered village of the same name in west central Mexico. What’s so special about it? It holds the distinction of being the only volcano on the planet born in modern times. Eruptions from volcanoes are commonplace occurrences but the birth of an entirely new volcano was unheard of in modern times, until the Paracutin came to life.
It was created by a violant Strombolian eruption, which means the ground cracked and gushed basaltic lava, then exploded from a single vent with lava rising to about 50 feet above the crater’s rim. Paricutin is situated about 200 miles west of Mexico City, yet ashes from the eruption fell as far as Mexico City. Now you must be thinking, why would I wanna visit that? Not to worry, in 1952 all activity ceased and it is now considered a dormant volcano.
The Victoria falls in Zimbabve is 1,708 meters wide, making it the largest curtain of water in the world. Remarkably preserved in its natural state, it drops between 90m and 107m into the Zambezi Gorge and an average of 550,000 cubic metres of water plummets over the edge every minute. The falls and the surrounding area have been declared a National Park and a World Heritage Site, to preserve the area from excessive commercialisation. The closest thing you can get to natural scenary “untouched” by mankind. It’s hard to find a better way to reconnect with nature…
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is at the top of my bucket list. It is larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing on earth visible from space. The reef contains an abundance of marine life and comprises of over 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays and literally hundreds of picturesque tropical islands with some of the worlds most beautiful beaches with the whitest sand and turquise water you can lay your eyes on. Due to its vast biodiversity, warm clear waters and accessibility from tourist boats the reef is a very popular destination, especially for scuba divers. You will see species under water that can not be seen anywhere else in the world. Tourism on the Great Barrier Reef is concentrated in only 7 % of its area due to accessibility.
Mount Everest was formed about 60 million years ago, and elevates 29,035 (8,850m) above sea level. The mountain is a part of the Himalayan range and is located between the Sagarmatha Zone, Tibet, Nepal and China. It’s name in Nepal is Sagarmatha, which means “Goddess of the sky”. In Tibet it is called Chomolungma, which means “Mother goddess of the universe”. The best time to climb Everest is in early May before the monsoon season. At the summit, the temperature can be 100°F below zero. But on a good summit day, a climber can expect around -15°F. You would think that with those types of extreme temperatures, that enduring the cold would be the hardest part of the journey. However the altitude is the greatest challenge to overcome. As the altitude increases, the oxygen content of the air decreases dramatically. The process of acclimatization helps allowing the body to get used to the reduced oxygen content of the air, and severe preparition is required to embark on this life changing journey.
Harbor of Rio Janeiro
The harbor of Rio de Janeiro is in fact a bay which spans an immense 88 miles in length. As a result the majority of the city of Rio de Janeiro is spread across it, giving residents and visitors a majestic view.
Perhaps one of the best views is of the Sugarloaf Mountain; a 1,299 foot tall peak on the Guanabara Bay peninsula. The capital of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, is well known for a number of things, including the stunning mountains that surround it, colorful carnivals and of course the statue of Christ the Redeemer that overlooks the city. Yet Rio’s most famous feature is its harbor, which formed entirely naturally and was colonized in the 16th century by Portuguese explorers.