I’ve been trying to find out if there’s an official Seven Wonders of the Natural World, but despite the best efforts of a variety of organisations and polls, it appears there still isn’t a definitive list.
I came across one global website that had determined a seven, including Komodo Island, Table Mountain and the Amazon, but then stumbled upon another, equally authoritative-sounding site with a completely different list, including the Aurora Borealis, Grand Canyon and Great Barrier Reef. The only thing that the two had in common was they carried hardly any of the sights that I would have picked.
Below, in no particular order, are my seven natural wonders – the ones I’ve seen with my own eyes, that is. I’ve not been to every country in the world, so there will inevitably be glaring omissions, but see what you think anyway. I’d love to hear what you believe should be on there and what shouldn’t.
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Wadi Rum, Jordan
A place of incomprehensible scale and outrageous beauty, Wadi Rum is surely one of the most spectacular desert landscapes on the planet. Rock formations burst out of the red sand and reach staggering heights, providing picture-perfect backdrops that could just as easily belong on Mars.
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
The Ngorongoro Crater is a 22km-wide hole in the earth’s surface that is home to one of the densest populations of predators anywhere in the world. The native lions, leopards, cheetahs, rhino and other majestic animals are enough of a spectacle, but the crater itself is also a sight to behold, particularly when seen in its entirety from the rim.
Torres del Paine, Chile
Possibly the finest single sight I’ve ever laid my eyes on, Torres del Paine are three tower-like peaks stood side by side over a turquoise glacial lake in Patagonia. The scale of the mountains is simply mind-blowing and, again, it’s difficult to believe the vista belongs to this planet.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia
The two rock outcrops making up the park, Uluru (also known as Ayer’s Rock) and Kata-Tjuta (also known as The Olgas), are, literally, freaks of nature. About 36km apart, there seems to be no logic to the way they randomly bulge out of an otherwise entirely flat landscape. Both are unflinchingly beautiful and the way they change colour during the day is nature’s own theatre.
An obvious choice, I suppose, but when I gazed upon the world’s highest peak with my own eyes (as opposed to photos, which fail to reflect the scale) from the Tibetan, northern side, I found it difficult to comprehend its astonishing size. Even from the village of Rongbuk, a few miles away, you have to keep leaning back and back before the summit comes into view.
Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
The Perito Moreno Glacier is a stark reminder of how small and powerless we, as individuals, all are when compared with nature. Its simply endless size and phenomenal force are unfathomable, while as a spectacle, there can be few sights on Earth as humbling and impressive.
Imagine standing in the middle of a dozen Sagrada Familias arranged in a circle and that’s not far off what being in the Dolomites feels like. Mountains pierce the sky in jagged and unpredictable formations, creating a 360-degree panorama that is surely a match for anything else in the world.
Seven Wonders of the Natural World: http://sevennaturalwonders.org/