13 Top Destinations for Nature Lovers
People choose to explore the world for many different reasons. Some reasons include immersing oneself in the culture, sampling exotic food, or learning a new language. However, some travelers are only interested in the natural beauties that countries have to offer. So, they go to great lengths to visit them.
If you’re one of those, you’re definitely spoiled for choices. While you could say that some countries are luckier than others when it comes to nature, every country in the world has a treasure of their own.
Whether you love beaches, mountains, forests, or even deserts, read on to find the best destination for your next trip.
1. Costa Rica
Located between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica is a true paradise for eco-travelers. While the country only represents 0.03 percent of the world’s landmass, it’s home to five percent of all its biodiversity. Furthermore, 25 percent of its land is part of protected national parks.
When you take into consideration that Costa Rica is home to 1,500 species of orchids and more than 800 species of birds — 50 different hummingbirds alone — there’s plenty to see there. Go to Corcovado National Park for tropical forests, dolphins, and humpback whales, Tortuguero National Park for turtles and manatees, or Arenal Volcano National Park for an active volcano!
Tanzania’s fame is partly due to the impressive Mount Kilimanjaro. In fact, it’s the highest mountain in Africa at 5,895 meters above sea level. However, the country has a lot more to offer, including national parks, lakes, waterfalls, and the incredible semi-autonomous Zanzibar Islands.
Head to Serengeti to see the famous wildebeest migration, go to the Mahale Mountains to get up close with chimpanzees, or Ngorongoro Conservation Area to see lions, hippos, and the stunning volcano crater. You can also visit three of Africa’s Great Lakes: Lake Victoria, Lake Malawi, and Lake Tanganyika.
Ask anyone who’s visited Iceland and they’ll tell you it’s like walking on a different planet. Located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the Iceland Hotspot, the country is known for its intense geological activity. Despite its name, only around 10 percent of the land is covered by glaciers.
Don’t leave Iceland without bathing in the Blue Lagoon, the popular outdoor pool heated by geothermal activity, watching the powerful Strokkur geyser, which erupts every eight to 10 minutes, or seeing Gullfoss, one of the prettiest waterfalls in the country. And if you have time, head to Vatnajökull glacier, the largest glacier in Europe.
Much like its neighbors in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is a heaven for nature lovers. In fact, the country is home to 16 percent of the world’s biodiversity with nearly 16,000 species of flora alone. It has 126 conservations areas, some of which are UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.
Travelers can explore its network of distributaries of the Mekong River Delta in the south, traverse the impressive Phong Nha-Ke Bang Cave in the central region, or cruise the iconic Halong Bay with its hidden lagoons and uninhabited islands.
While many travelers go to Japan to experience its unique culture and preserved history, the country’s brimming with natural beauties that shouldn’t be ignored. It sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire. As such, it has 108 active volcanoes, including the famous snow-capped Mount Fuji.
Head to the country’s northernmost tip to find Shiretoko National Park, a remote and unspoiled region with stunning lakes and waterfalls. You can also go to Yakushima Island in the south to behold the majestic old cedars — some believed to be around 7200 years old — and spot giant turtles laying their eggs from the end of May.
From the Himalayas in the north, passing through the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, all the way to the backwaters of Kerala, India seems to have it all when it comes to its vibrant ecosystem. With roughly 21 percent of its land covered by forests, over 120 national parks, and more than 500 wildlife sanctuaries, it’s easy to see why.
If you’d like to see the endangered Bengal tiger, visit Bandipur National Park in the south of the country. If you’re looking for white crocodiles and Indian pythons, head east to Bhitarkanika National Park.
India’s also home to Keibul Lamjao National Park. Located in Loktak Lake, this is the only floating park in the world.
With 444 protected areas and around 37,000 known species, Croatia has a lot to offer. The country is especially popular during the European summer holidays. During these holidays, hordes of tourists head to its incredible beaches and islands dotted along the Adriatic Sea, particularly the historical Dalmatian coast.
However, as soon as you go inland, a new world of natural treasures surface. A UNESCO Heritage Site, Plitvice Lakes National Park is home to 16 lakes that connect to each other via marvelous cascades. Due to its Karst topography, Croatia has several caves. Some of which are deeper than 250 meters.
8. New Zealand
It’s impossible to talk about the world’s natural wonders without including New Zealand. The country is home to glaciers, forests, mountains, pristine beaches, volcanoes, and geysers.
Those visiting the North Island can see the gigantic Kauri trees in the Waipoua Forest, climb Mount Taranaki in the west, or watch the volcanic activity in Rotorua. On the South Island, it’s possible to hike Franz Josef Glacier, cruise the magical Milford Sound in the Fiordland National Park, or watch the humongous seal colonies in Kaikoura.
Being the second-largest country in the world by total area, Canada offers natural wonders from the Atlantic all the way to the Pacific.
Due to its northern location, winters can be quite harsh. However, that’s the ideal time to visit Banff National Park. Especially if you’re a fan of the snow and like skiing and snowboarding. During the summer, visitors can go hiking or horseback riding in the mountains, watch the mighty Niagara Falls, or sail around the Great Lakes.
Unbeknownst to many, Canada is also part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. So, you can head west to do some volcano trekking on Mount Meager.
Brazil is home to the colossal Amazon Rainforest, otherwise known as “the lungs of the world.” That alone should attract any nature lover in a heartbeat, especially considering that the country has nearly 10 percent of all species in the world.
Add to that the wetlands of Pantanal, the canyons of Chapada Diamantina, and the massive coastline with hundreds of paradisiac beaches, and any traveler will have a hard time picking the ideal destination.
With over 18,000 islands, Indonesia is the largest island country in the world. Roughly 70 percent of its land covered by forests. As it lies on the Ring of Fire, it has nearly 1,200 volcanoes, with 130 being active.
Head to Kerinci Seblat National Park to see the largest flower in the world, behold the scary Komodo Dragons at Komodo National Park, and see the gentle orangutans in Kalimantan.
Morocco tends to be associated with its proximity to the Sahara Desert, where travelers can visit the Berber tribes and spend the night among sand dunes and grumpy camels. But the country has plenty more to offer.
The central region is home to the Atlas Mountains, which is ideal for hiking and skiing in the High Atlas or the incredible scenery of the cedar forests in the Middle Atlas. To the west, the coast is bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, which is perfect for surf lovers. If you aren’t a fan of surfing, the north enjoys the calm Mediterranean waters.
Colombia has a very peculiar landscape. The country has beautiful Caribbean beaches to the north, part of the Andes mountain range in its central region, remote beaches along the Pacific coast, and the Amazon to the southern tip.
Since it’s part of the Ring of Fire, Colombia has active volcanoes and is prone to earthquakes. Head to Tayrona National Park for amazing beaches, the Santa Marta mountain for a jungle trek to Ciudad Perdida, and Amacayacu National Park to see the indigenous tribes of the Amazon.