Posted October 18, 2013 by SmarterTravel.com
National parks are kind of an American thing. After all, we
established the first one (Yellowstone) in 1872. But it didn't take long
for the idea to catch on overseas, and these days the international
community can give even our most impressive parks a run for their money.
If you love exotic wildlife, ancient ruins, and otherworldly scenery,
you might want to add these 10 foreign national parks to your bucket
Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Where else can you enjoy mountains, lakes, fjords, and rainforests in
one park? Fiordland National Park, located on New Zealand's South
Island, encompasses a massive almost 3 million acres (roughly 4,687
square miles) formed by glacial flows. The most famous of the park's 14
fjords is Milford Sound, which visitors can explore from all angles:
Take a helicopter ride above it, cruise on the water, or go below
(without getting wet) at the Milford Discovery Center's underwater
viewing chamber, which offers 360-degree views of the ecosystem and rare
black coral some 30 feet underwater.
Tikal National Park, Guatemala
You'll feel like you've traveled back in time at Guatemala's Tikal
National Park, where ruins of an ancient Maya city-state (which housed
approximately 100,000 people from the 6th century BCE to the 10th
century CE) lie deep in the heart of the jungle. Remains of more than
3,000 separate buildings (including temples, palaces, and tombs) are
preserved here. The massive archaeological site feels even more
otherworldly as it is surrounded by 54,610 acres (roughly 85 square
miles) of rainforest, now inhabited by a wide variety of wild animals
such as monkeys, jaguars, snakes, sloths, and armadillos.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Wildlife watchers, this is the park for you. Kruger National Park's
almost 4.9 million acres (roughly 7,722 square miles) are home to an
incredible variety of species: 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507
birds, and 147 mammals—and of course that includes the "Big Five" of
African game (elephants, lions, rhinos, leopards, and buffalo). There
are numerous ways to traverse the park, from the wilderness walking
trails (where you'll be accompanied by armed guards) to traditional
safaris and 4WD trails.
Galapagos National Park, Ecuador
An astonishing 97 percent of the land area of the Galapagos Islands
is part of this national park (the other 3 percent is the inhabited
islands, on which tourists can find overnight accommodations, if they
don't choose to do a cruise). To visit the park, you'll need to pay a
$100 entry fee, and you'll have to be part of a tour that is accompanied
by a Galapagos National Park certified guide—there's no doing this park
solo. You'll be rewarded with one-of-a-kind wildlife spotting,
including the giant tortoise, Galapagos Penguin, marine iguana, and
Kluane National Park and Reserve, Canada
Kluane National Park and Reserve is home to Canada's highest mountain
(Mt. Logan), more than 100 species of birds (including golden and bald
eagles), glaciers, and grizzly bears. Visit in the summer when this
park, located in the southwestern corner of the Yukon, experiences up to
19 hours of continuous sunlight per day! Although more than 80 percent
of the park's landscape is comprised of mountains and glaciers (more
than 4,000 of them), the park still has plenty of greenery—there are
meadows and forests that house wide ranges of wildlife, from mountain
goats to Dall sheep.
Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Japan
This national park consists of four different regions: The Mt. Fuji
area (home to the highest mountain in Japan, fields formed by lava
flows, and five volcanic lakes), the Hakone area (famous for its hot
springs and botanical garden), the Izu Peninsula area (featuring the Mt.
Amagi volcanic mountain range and Atagawa Tropical and Alligator
Garden, which houses 29 reptile species), and the Izu Islands (a group
of islands formed by submarine volcanoes).
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Chile's Torres del Paine National Park is one of the world's most
visually arresting places. Its glaciers, lakes, green forests, and
rivers are framed by mountains and towered over by the Torres del Paine
(granite pillars that rise more than 9,000 feet above the Patagonian
steppe). Amid the beautiful scenery, you'll find more than 100 species
of exotic birds (including parakeets and flamingos), guanacos (similar
to llamas), pumas, and the endangered Chilean huemul (a species of
Canaima National Park, Venezuela
The star attraction of Canaima National Park is Angel Falls, the
world's highest waterfall, which drops for more than half a mile before
hitting the rapids. The park itself is roughly the size of Belgium
(12,000 square miles) and about 65 percent of its terrain is
tepuis—plateaus of rock that create the amazing cliffs and mountains
that make this park so picturesque. This national park is actually
inhabited—it's home to the indigenous Pemon Indians.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
If you want to experience some of Africa's best wildlife viewing,
Serengeti National Park is the place to do it. Every year, more than a
million wildebeest, 200,000 zebras, and 300,000 Thomson's gazelles make
their annual migrations from the northern hills to the southern plains,
making for some amazing safari photo ops. Even if you come when the
migration is not happening, you'll still likely see the Big Five, plus
cheetahs, Nile crocodiles, monkeys, giraffes, and much more.
Swiss National Park, Switzerland
Switzerland's only national park is one of Europe's best-protected
natural environments—hunting, mowing, off-trail hiking, and tree cutting
are all forbidden within the park's more than 42,000 acres. (You can't
even bring your dog.) The park's landscape is classic Switzerland, with
Alpine forests and meadows, The Sound of Music-esque scenery (including edelweiss flowers), and mountain lakes.
You Might Also Like:
Seven Wild National Park Adventures You'll Never Forget
10 National Parks You Never Knew Existed
10 Thrilling National Park Trails
This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 10 Best National Parks Around the World.
Follow Caroline Morse on Google+ or email her at at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted April 3, 2008 by Zak Patten
If you're a traveler like me, your typical vacation will include a trip up to a scenic lookout where you're likely to have the best view of the place you're visiting. And if you're a big wuss like me, as soon as you get to the most scenic vantage point, your knees will start wobbling and you'll grip the handrail with vise-like intensity/strength, thinking, "I could've gotten this view from a postcard in the lobby!" For those of you who like the idea (if not necessarily the reality) of a great view, I've put together the following list of 10 attractions, each of which is extremely nosebleed-friendly.
10. The CN Tower
The CN Tower is 553 meters tall, which is a Canadian way of saying 1,815 feet off the ground. Technically, it's the "tallest free-standing structure on land," but that just means it's not a place where people live or work. Which is just fine by me, because I have absolutely no interest in living or working anyplace higher than my third-floor bedroom or fourth-floor office. The CN Tower was completed in 1973 and is used primarily for TV and radio broadcasts, as well as tourism. Fans of 1940s music will be dismayed to learn that there is no AM antenna on the Tower.
9. The Jungfraujoch Railway Station
What do you get when you cross the Swiss Alps with Europe's love of passenger trains? The Jungfraujoch railway station, which is 11,333 feet above sea level. Okay, that's not much of a joke, but the Swiss aren't known for their sense of humor (kidding!). So once you've made this hair-raising train trip to the top of the world, what can you do besides gorging on Swiss chocolate and fondue? How about checking out an Ice Palace or a ski and snowboard park that's only open in the summer?
om nom nom
8. Mt. Kilimanjaro
For number eight, let's take this a notch higher. It's true that Mt. Kilimanjaro makes the Alps look puny. But with a summit of 19,340 feet, Africa's tallest peak is actually accessible enough for real people to climb, sans oxygen tanks. Of course that's not to say it's an easy task, especially if you're the type who favors the escalator to the stairs.
Floor 5895: Neon hiking gear and ridiculous hats
7. London Eye
Coming back a little closer to earth, the London Eye is essentially a big ol' Ferris wheel. If that doesn't wow you, consider that the 443-foot-tall ride was the tallest of its kind when it opened in 2000. If you want to make your visit more upscale, you can purchase a glass of Champagne for an additional £30. I think I'll pass on the pricey drink. I'll be happy just to hold down my lunch while in one of the pods.
6. Singapore Flyer
With about 100 more vertical feet than the London Eye, The Singapore Flyer took the role of world's highest Ferris wheel when it opened this month. One of the coolest things about the Flyer is its taxi-driver promotion, which currently awards all cabbies a free ride. I guess the idea is they'll be so taken with their trip that they won't be able to stop talking up the attraction to their customers. I'm assuming they're not trying to recruit the drivers to be "pod pilots." Just one warning to those who do take the Flyer: Don't write your name in your cabin. They're not big fans of graffiti in Singapore.
Never Forget: Michael P. Fay
5. The Top of the Rock
The Empire State Building is great, but it's soooo 20th century. For the latest in Big Apple views, you gotta hit the Top of the Rock. The "Rock" in question is Rockefeller Center, and while its 850-foot-high observation deck doesn't reach the Empire State Building's height, , this deck affords a much better view of the ESB than you'll get when you're standing on the building itself. Oh, and our sister site TripAdvisor's users rank the Top of the Rock number one of 1,296 New York City attractions. 'Nuff said.
Hey, is that Tina Fey? Let's not forget her either.
4. La Paz
Just about any spot in La Paz, Bolivia, the world's highest capital city, can make the most grounded person feel as if his head is in the clouds. At 11,942 feet in elevation, La Paz is an attraction in itself. If you go, make sure you're prepared for the altitude. You can take a medicine such as Diamox, or just chew some coca leaves like the locals. La Paz's Museum of the Coca Plant is the place to learn more about the coca leaf and all its interesting uses.
im in ur bolivia sniffin ur cokez
3. The Edge
It might be in Melbourne, Australia, but there is nothing "Down Under" about The Edge, a glass cube that juts out of the Eureka Tower, which at 975 feet is the world's tallest residential building. The worst … er, best part of it all is that The Edge doesn't just sit there like all the other observation decks. No, you get in and it physically moves outward until you're hanging out with nothing between you and a long fall but some chintzy glass panel.
Hello, Hello. I'm at a place called Vertigo.
2. Taipei 101
The Taipei 101 is currently the world's tallest building at a height of 1,670 feet, though the Burj Dubai is set to overtake that record when it officially opens. At that height, I'm really not interested in which one is taller, but rather how the hell I can get down safely. What I think is coolest about the 101 is not just its height, but how big it is relative to the buildings around it. It's as if former NBA big man Manute Bol decided to show up and play pickup hoops with you and your friends. Basically, the Taipei 101 doesn't care about its neighboring skyscrapers—it's going to dunk on their asses.
Manute enlarged to show texture.
1. Insanity, the Ride
Which brings us to number one. Yes, Insanity, the Ride, at Las Vegas' Stratosphere, is not only the most vertigo-inducing attraction in the world, it's probably the most wetting-your-pants/barfing-your-guts-out one as well. The casino-hotel stands 1,149 feet above The Strip, which is what you'll be gaping down at as you are spun at three-Gs by a "massive mechanical arm" extended 64 feet out from the building. I can barely even look at the picture below without feeling queasy.
Serving suggestion, some assembly required, ManuteBucketTM not included.