The world around us is full of magic. It’s everywhere you look, whether it’s love, architecture, human connection, or whatever you define as magic. But the kind of magic that is truly extraordinary is natural magic, natural wonder. It’s amazing to think that something so extraordinary just naturally exists, nobody had to do anything. No human created it, it created itself.
Looking at the following natural wonders will make you believe in true magic and in natural beauty. Some of them are so rare and hard to imagine, you just might have to visit these spots to truly believe in them. So, why not?
Victoria falls, Zimbabwe
The Victoria Falls are a natural wonder at the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia are considered to be one of the world’s largest waterfalls. They stretch for a width of 1,708 m and are 108 m tall/deep. This extent makes them two times as wide and two times the depth of the Niagara Falls in Canada. In 1989, they were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
They are not only breathtaking to look at, but also habitat for many abundant wildlife and plant species, making them a definite necessity to preserve. Talking about preservation, in 2020, National Geographic announced that climate change is causing a major threat to the natural existence of the falls. The rising temperatures make the region grow hotter and drier every year. If you want to see them yourself, consider doing it sooner rather than later. Who knows how long they will exist in the way they did for many years before?
FYI: If you like a little danger, it is possible to swim directly at the edge of the falls in the “devil’s pool”. Although considered safe, there is no guarantee of not slipping over the edge.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
The Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt playa, covering a surface of 10,000 square kilometers. This natural wonder was formed when multiple prehistoric lakes transformed and became one. Covered with a salt crust of several meters, it is absolutely flat. The average elevation only varies within one meter over the entire extent of the salt playa.
However, this flatness can make it turn into a pool. Sounds odd, right? But let me explain. Once any of the nearby lakes or regions overflow, all the water flows here and, obviously, has nowhere else to go, since the elevation is practically nonexistent. The view of this place overflowing is probably the only region in which overflowing not only looks amazing, but also does not do much harm.
Aurora Borealis, Iceland
Who has never heard of the natural wonder of the Northern Lights? They are probably on most bucket lists worldwide. But it is actually not as easily done as said. Sadly, it’s not possible to see them every day and it takes a bit of planning. Lucky you – I’m here to help.
Your chances of seeing Aurora Borealis rise between October and March and during the night. Since some regions get up to 19 hours of darkness in a day, there is more opportunity to see them, but most sightings do happen between 11 PM and 2 AM.
Moreover, there are some places in which a sighting is more likely than in others. Those include Reykjavík, Vík, Westfjords and Northern Iceland, and Pórsmörk.
A few last tips to make your experience even more memorable: by taking pictures you would benefit from increasing your ISO to at least 800 and high (depending on your lens). Furthermore, use long exposure shots since your aperture should be as low as possible. Practice beforehand so you won’t have to adjust any settings when the moment comes.
The Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming
The Grand Prismatic Spring in Wyoming is part of the famous Yellowstone National Park. Although you might have already heard of Yellowstone, not many actually know about the natural wonder of the Grand Prismatic Spring. It is the largest hot spring in the US and the third largest worldwide.
The striking thing about it is its fantastic coloration. The colors match those of a rainbow; red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. This fact is due to the microbial mats in the mineral-rich water. They produce different colors dependent on the ratio of chlorophyll to carotenoids. The center of the pool is completely turquoise-y and blue-ish, because of the intrinsic blue color of the water and the sterility due to the extreme heat.
Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
The Giant’s Causeway is an assortment of over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns in Northern Ireland. This result of an ancient volcanic eruption is the biggest attraction of Northern Ireland. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 and named the fourth greatest natural wonder in the UK in 2005.
Most of the basalt is hexagonal, but some are square, octagonal, or pentagonal. Some reach up to 12 m in height and the hard lava is 28 m thick in some places. It is very hard to imagine that a sight like this is actually of natural emergence, and it looks like it belongs in a scene of Harry Potter.
There is a legend which says they are the remains of a causeway a giant built. The giant Fionn (Irish) was challenged to fight Benandonner (Scottish). He accepted and built the causeway so the two could meet. Fionn tries to hide from Benandonner once he realizes that he is way stronger than himself. Sadhbh, Fionn’s wife, disguises him as a baby and when Benandonner sees how big this “baby” is, he reckons Fionn must be a giant among giants. He runs away to Scottland and destroys the causeway after him so Fionn will be unable to get to him.
Niagara Falls, Canada
The Niagara Falls are arguably the most famous waterfalls on this planet earth. But only few actually know that they are divided into three parts. Two, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls, are located in New York, while the most famous part is located in Canada. The Canadian Falls are also called Horseshoe Falls.
They drop about 51 meters deep and stretch over 822 meters. During the day-time, more than 168,000 m3 of water falls every minute.
Again, they are not only absolutely fascinating to look at, but they also serve a higher purpose. There are several hydropower plants all along the Niagara River and currently 50% to 75% of the flow is diverted by four tunnels that arise upstream from the waterfalls. After flowing through these tunnels, the water passes through hydroelectric turbines and afterwards returns to the river again.
Lake Hillier, Australia
What comes to your mind when you think of the color bubblegum pink? Clothing? Nails? Hair? Bubblegum (duh)? I bet it’s not a lake. But actually, Lake Hillier is famous for its striking bubblegum-pink colored water. This natural wonder is a saline lake right by the Indian Ocean on the southern coast of Western Australia. It’s not that the sand underneath is pink, it actually truly is the water. The color doesn’t fade when you grab it or put it in a separate container.
There is no guaranteed evidence, but the vibrant color is believed to be caused by the organism Dunaliella saline, which lives in this lake. Although looking (and seeming) strange and unusual, the lake has no known negative side effects on humans. BUT, it is not allowed to swim here without approval by the Western Australia Department of Environment Conservation.
It is actually very hard to get there. Scenic flights are the most common route, but some small cruise ships are also an option.
The natural wonder of Pamukkale translates to Cotton Castle in Turkish. The landscape is defined by mineral forests, travertine terraces (filled with thermal water) and solidified waterfalls. Hierapolis, an ancient Greco-Roman city, was built on top of the formation.
The surface looks like snow-white limestone, which was shaped by calcite-rich springs over many, many millennia. Mineral-rich waters drip down the mountainside and into the pools between the terraces.
The legend about the origin says that the formations are hardened cotton, which giants left out to dry.
Marble Caves, Patagonia
The Marble Caves in Patagonia are some of the most isolated natural wonders of the world. They are a series of sculpted caves with pastel-colored walls and clear ice-blue water. Wave erosion created this spectacular beauty over 6,000 years ago by continuously crashing against the walls and eroding the marble.
The only way to reach them is by boat and, although it is possible to swim here, please don’t try to. The water stays extremely cold throughout the entire year, which makes swimming or even accidentally falling into the waters fairly dangerous.
Mount Everest, Himalaya
Mount Everest, with its 8848 m is the tallest point on earth and is located in the Mahalangur Himal. It takes approximately (at least) 40 days to climb it and demands everything from you – physically and mentally. Heights above 8000 m are also called “Death Zones”, since surviving longer than 48 hours is extremely unlikely.
Climbing this giant is not your only option. You can still book flights around the mountain and see it from an amazing aerial view. Moreover, you can take a glimpse of the peak from the hill station in Nepal, sitting in a comfortable lodge.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world for a reason. The massive and colorful landscape forms a view you won’t be able to take in anywhere else. It is visited by countless visitors, hikers, and researchers every day. Most of them head to the South Rim and can even spend a whole day admiring what’s in front of them.
It is possible for you to head down into the canyon and follow one of many hiking trails. If you’re not into it, you can also book helicopter tours, which are equally as unforgettable. The story behind the formation is enormously interesting and I definitely advise you to step into the Geological Museum to learn the story behind the Grand Canyon.
Sauna Cave, Antarctica
The most Southern volcano on this earth is home to one of the most striking natural wonders worldwide. The Sauna Cave is a gigantic fumarole in the Antarctic Ross-island, beneath the frozen slopes of Mount Erebus. The Sauna Cave was created because of hot, volcanic steam escaping from a deep slot.
A tall slot reaches into the air on the surface where the hot ascending air bounces against the ice-cold air. The melting water runs down on the inside, touches the hot cliffs, turns to steam, and heats the sauna.
San Andreas Fault, California
The San Andreas Fault is a visual reminder of the time when the North American plate and the Pacific Plate first encountered about 30 million years ago. The fault draws through all of California, one of the most inhabited states.
In 2006, a study published in the journal Nature stated that the fault had already reached stress levels high enough to cause earthquakes of a magnitude higher than 7.0. The risk is mostly focused on the Southern section, which includes Los Angeles and surrounding areas.
The Ngorogoro Crater, Africa
The Ngorogoro Crater was naturally created when a volcano erupted around 2-3 million years ago. The caldera is around 300 square kilometers wide and offers one of the best places to see the amazing variety of African wildlife. Chances are you will see lions, rhinos, leopards, elephants, and buffaloes. And these are only five of the over 25,000 species inhabiting East Africa.
Moreover, the Ngorogoro Crater offers some of the best views of the sunrise worldwide. It is not too touristic, so you can soak up the beauty without disturbance.
Why you should visit natural wonders
To put things in a nutshell, natural wonders are simply awe-inspiring. It is one thing to see and visit places that keep you in awe, but to see something extraordinary that was created naturally, is absolutely breathtaking. It makes you appreciate the true beauty of the earth around us. Moreover, it is a way to understand history. Every human on this earth that has lived before you has seen these sights in the same way as you did.
It is a way of grounding yourself. Things don’t have to be artificially created to be beautiful. Beauty can be in everything around us and it can be found wherever you are. The only thing you have to do is open your eyes. And maybe visiting these cool spots – it’s up to you.
Feature image credit: Alex Rhee / Unsplash