Getting out and seeing the world is one of the great joys of life. Experiencing the beauty in nature is inspiring, but can also cause harm to fragile ecosystems, and individual plants and animals.
However, as the world changes and more people and companies become sensitive to the challenges faced by the environment, travel can also be educational. It can supply a window into the natural world and teach visitors how things used to be and how humans have changed the world.
Here are 7 adventures to explore some of the untouched wilds of the world and learn more about our planet.
Gros Morne, Newfoundland & Labrador
The second largest National Park in Atlantic Canada and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for it’s unique geological features including towering fjords, barren mountain tops, and the diverse forest ecosystems.
Few parks rival the beauty of Gros Morne. It is a great place to put your abilities and clothing to the test. The park is full of hiking trails, and there is something for everyone, and every skill level, from multi-day hikes to easy beginner trails.
The park spans 185,000 hectares and is the perfect opportunity to learn about the early geological forces that helped shape our planet.
Whether you’re looking for rugged off-trail adventure or just want an easy day as a tourist, Katmai is one of the most amazing parks you’ll find in Alaska.
The park itself isn’t the newest park in the United States, but it is among the best. Established in 1980, Katmai spans over 1.5 million hectares of pristine Alaska wilderness and includes the crater lake of Mount Katmai, diverse subarctic habitats, and endless rivers and streams for fishing.
However, most visitors of the park rarely venture past Brooks camp. The area is home to more than 2000 Alaskan Brown Bears, as well as a dedicated research station to study them. Tourists to the park have easy access to view and learn about the bears as they catch salmon from Brooks Falls in Spring and Summer.
Iceland has become an increasingly popular tourist destination lately, and why not? It’s home to gorgeous vistas, friendly people, modern cities, and are dedicated to ecological preservation and sustainability.
Vatnajökull is one of the most amazing places in the world. Also listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site, the park makes up nearly 15% of Iceland. It’s known as one of the most geologically active regions in the world and is home to 2 of the countries most active volcanos.
Visitors to the park can enjoy developed nature trails, sweeping panoramas of fjords and glaciers, and educational programs to learn about the history and importance of the park.
Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
Possibly one of the coolest adventures you’ll ever take.
Located about a 100km Southwest of Mexico City, a visit to the Monarchs can be a life changing experience. The majority of this reserve is off limits to people, but there are a few areas setup for tourists wanting to experience the beautiful landscape and the butterflies.
Monarchs migrate from all over the United States and Canada to nest here during the winter months, and their arrival is considered one of greatest events of mass migration in the world.
The Monarchs begin to arrive around the first week of November and the sites usually open shortly after. Visitors will be expected to adhere to strict rules, no pets, no smoking, and above all else do not disturb the butterflies.
Another UNESCO bioreserve, this is a must stop for anyone looking to get in touch with nature.
The island is home to a range of fauna and flora and has microclimates ranging from marshland to sub-alpine and temperate forests, to stunning shorelines.
Yakushima is also home to a 2300-year-old cedar forests with maintained trails for all skill levels. Those who choose to take on an adventure will feel like they are in an anime film as the mists give way to cliffs and waterfalls.
Additionally, the island is an important nesting ground to endangered loggerhead and green turtles and can be seen every year between May and August.
Travelling to the island is easy with hydrofoil ferries making the journey throughout the day.
The Serengeti National Park is a little different from the others on this list as hiking is rarely offered, and guided tours are the norm. The park is strictly regulated, and tours are conducted by licensed companies. While most offer vehicle tours there are some allowed to do walking tours as well.
Camping is a little less regulated and there are several public campgrounds near the reserve, and also many lodges in the area as well for those looking for a more curated escape.
May to July in the park is the period of the great migration when more than 2 million wildebeest make their journey to feast on the green grasses in the park and give birth to their offspring. The park is also home to more than 4000 lions, 1000 leopards, 500 cheetahs, and hundreds of bird species.
Adventures in the park can be tailored to whatever you’re looking for be it an educational journey, or a unique escape from the city.
Iguazu National Park, Argentina
Part of the Trinational Biodiversity Corridor that spans the borders between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, Iguazu is home to some of the most majestic scenery to be found any where in the world.
The gem of the park is the stunning Iguazu Falls, which has been one of the 7 natural wonders of the world since 2011. It consists of more than 250 waterfalls spanning a total of 2.7 km and includes Devil’s Throat, the tallest at more than 80 metres.
One of the main missions of the park is to bring back the native biodiversity to parts of the park that were previously degraded. The initiative which began in 2001 has included reforestation efforts and building a wastewater treatment system using vegetated cells to transform waste in an ecologically friendly way.
The park is highly accessible to anyone, with raised platforms leading to and from the falls and an ecological train bringing visitors to the parks three main walkways and limiting the impact of tourism on the fragile eco systems.
Pack In, Pack Out, Do No Harm
These parks are just the tip of the iceberg. They stand for some of the best, and well-preserved natural habitats and wonders the world has to offer.
Many of these natural parks and reserves even rely on tourists, government agencies, and charities to not only preserve the environment but reclaim even more for future generations.
It’s important that visitors, whether staying to the trails, or going out into the backcountry remember to take out what they take in, and when they can leave the places, they visit a little better than how they found them.