The 25 most spectacular national parks in the world

       

From the lakes of Patagonia to the valley of Ordesa, amazing landscapes that can be visited and photographed.

1. National Park of Iguazú (Argentina and Brazil)

In Argentina, the Iguazú Falls, a natural border with Brazil, are simply known as “Cataratas”. They are the great water jump par excellence, 275 jumps in reality, located mostly on the Argentine side, although from Brazilian territory you get spectacular panoramic views of the Garganta del Diablo, where the highest flow of these waterfalls is concentrated. in 2011 they were chosen as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The water drops from 80 meters high, causing volutes of steam visible kilometers away.

2. Vatnajökull National Park (Iceland)

The Vatnajökull was created in 2008 and includes two other parks, Skaftafell (pictured) and Jökulsárgljúfur, as well as the Vatnajökull glacier and its surrounding area. The result is the largest national park in Europe (occupies 12% of the surface of Iceland), where rivers, glaciers and volcanoes have formed a territory of vast biodiversity that combines highland areas without inhabiting, and without only services, with lowlands where several visitor centers and other tourist resources are concentrated.

3. Corcovado National Park (Costa Rica)

Exotic, exuberant. These are some of the qualifications earned by Corcovado National Park, in the isolated Osa Peninsula, in southern Costa Rica, one of the largest and only tropical primary rainforests in the world, where several ecotourism agencies operate. It was created to protect so much biological wealth from gold prospectors and forestry exploitations, and in its 13 ecosystems – mangroves, palm groves, swamps – live the quetzal, the arrow toad, the crocodile, the puma and the jaguar, and four species of marine turtles.

4. Los Glaciares National Park (Argentina)

The largest ice field outside of Antarctica and Greenland is in the Los Glaciares National Park, in the region known as Andes Australes, in Argentina, which includes a huge portion of the Andes mountain range covered with snow to the west, and the Patagonian steppe to the east, occupying almost half of the reserve. In the southern area stands its most renowned glacier, the Perito Moreno, famous for its continuous movement, with spectacular detachments of its ice front. There are two great lakes, the Argentino and the Viedma (in the photo), the result of the melting of this ecosystem.

5. Komodo National Park (Indonesia)

On March 6, 2017, Google dedicated one of its popular ‘doodles’ (special designs of its logo to commemorate special dates) to the 37th anniversary of the Komodo National Park in Indonesia, created to protect the unique Komodo dragon (in the photo) that gives it its name. The ‘doodle’ in question tested the knowledge of users about this lizard, the largest in the world, and on the park itself, located on the three largest islands – Komodo, Padar and Rinca – and 26 smaller ones , of the Sonda archipelago, of volcanic origin. In 1991 it was declared a world heritage site by Unesco.

6. Plitvice Lakes National Park (Croatia)

There are those who know the Plitvice Lakes National Park, in the Croatian region of Lika, as the water paradise. Its 16 lakes at different heights, connected by streams and waterfalls (the largest of 76 meters of fall) constitute the visitable heart of its almost 30,000 hectares dominated by forests of beech, fir and pine, home of the European brown bear, the wolf, the eagle, the owl, the lynx, the wild cat or the capercaillie. The entrance includes an electric boat ride and a panoramic train tour.

7. Banff National Park (Canada)

Rocky peaks, turquoise glacial lakes (in the photo, the Moraine), beautiful mountain villages, lots of wildlife and many routes and walks to explore such biodiversity: hiking, cycling, skiing, or the possibility of camping in one of the mountainous landscapes more impressive of the world. It is the Banff National Park offer, the first created in Canada and, according to the country authorities, “the flagship of the Canadian national park system”. Banff is part of the great Rocky Mountain Park of Canada, declared a World Heritage Site.

8. National Park of Ordesa and Monte Perdido (Spain)

The massif of Monte Perdido (3,355 meters), with the tops of the Three Sorors, from where the mountain is dropped towards the valleys of Ordesa, Pineta, Añisclo and Escuaín, dominates the orography of the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, in the Pyrenees of Huesca. A landscape of great contrasts that combines the aridity of the high areas, where the rainwater and the melting water seep through the naked rock, into the carpeted valleys of meadows and forests, with waterfalls, canyons and ravines. It is also a world heritage site of Unesco.

9. Canaima National Park (Venezuela)

The considered sixth largest national park in the world is also one of the most famous for hosting the largest waterfall known on the planet, the Angel Falls (on the left of the image), with 979 meters of fall. The huge column of water that erupts furious from the top of the Auyantepuy tepuy (the tepuyes are the characteristic mountains of this region, with mesetary summits and unique ecosystems) and it descends with a deafening roar before reaching the Churún River. Some areas of the Venezuelan park are only accessible by plane or by canoe navigation over the rivers.

10. Galapagos National Park (Ecuador)

The Galápagos, a group of seven major islands and 14 smaller islands (in the photo, that of Bartolomé) rise up 1,000 kilometers to the west of the coast of Ecuador. In the opinion of the experts, it is the best preserved volcanic archipelago in the world. The national park occupies 97% of its land surface. Its most representative species is the giant tortoise, but its fauna richness is enormous and it treasures multiple endemisms: petrels, cormorants, Galápagos sparrowhawks, penguins, terrestrial and marine iguanas. There are 17 species of mammals, 152 of birds, 22 of reptiles and about 2,000 of invertebrates.

11. Kruger National Park (South Africa)

The Kruger Park has a surface similar to the province of Cáceres and is one of the iconic destinations for safari tourism from around the world. A succession of ecosystems divided into three large regions, with huge plains, savanna, baobabs, sandy areas, thickets, low acacia forests. Habitats in which live some 500 varieties of birds and almost 140 species of mammals, including the so-called big five: lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and buffalos.

12. Gran Paradiso National Park (Italy)

The most massive tourism is usually centered in other alpine territories of northern Italy, such as Lake Como, often overlooking the wild scenarios of mountains and lakes of the Gran Paradiso national park (in the photo, Lake Trebecco, in the valley of Aosta). Nor is it unknown (the peak that gives it its name is one of the most visited four-mile of the Alps), and invites you to contemplate its impressive landscapes, climb them in summer and cross them with skis in winter. From the Orco river basin to the valleys of Soana and Cognes, with its villas of traditional stone houses.

13. Oulanka National Park (Finland)

Entered in Lapland lands, near the border with Russia, the Oulanka National Park extends. Walking along its paths and wooden walkways, the traveler will see pink and white calypso orchids (icons of the park), and reindeer, and will reach the most impressive waterfalls in Finland. The Karhunkierros (pictured), which runs through it, is the most popular hiking itinerary in the country: completing its 80 kilometers can take up to seven days, through forests and rivers, spending the night in the log cabins at no charge. along the way. There are also canoe routes.

14. Torres del Paine National Park (Chile)

Those who have visited the Torres del Paine National Park (in the photo), in the region of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctic, agree in highlighting the exceptionality of its landscape: majestic massifs, turquoise lakes, icebergs, rivers, forests of lengas (oak of Tierra del Fuego or white oak), vast pampas covered by guanacos, ñandúes and pumas. This Unesco Biosphere Reserve receives such an influx of visitors that it is mandatory to book overnight in their camps and mountain shelters.

15. Namib-Naukluft National Park (Namibia)

Namib-Naukluft, with its almost 50,000 square kilometers, became the largest protected area in Namibia in 1979. It is part of the Namib desert, considered the oldest in the world, with dunes up to 300 meters (pictured here) ); the Naukluft Mountains, with peaks close to 2,000 meters high; Port Sandwich, about 45 kilometers from Walvis Bay, surrounded by dunes and with a shallow lagoon to the south, home to flamingos, cormorants and pelicans; the Sossusvlei salt flat, surrounded by high dunes of red sand, and the Sesriem canyon.

16. Kalkalpen National Park (Austria)

The largest forest area in Central Europe stands in Austria under the name of Kalkalpen National Park, with the largest karst in the country. It is situated in the Pyhm-Eisenwurzen region and extends to the Alpine regions. Karst canyons and springs and alpine meadows provide shelter for a multitude of plant and animal species. Common deer, deer and deer, the alpine salamander, the grouse or the lyre, the Danube trout, birds, butterflies and rare orchids. Offers active tourism activities.

17. Jostedalsbreen National Park (Norway)

One of the largest glaciers in Europe, the Jostedalsbreen, is the heart of the national park of the same name, the fourth largest in Norway, where in spite of the rigors of the climate more than 300 species of plants and flowers grow. Meanwhile, the mountains of Stryn harbor one of the largest reindeer reserves in the Nordic country, although lemmings abound in these valleys and, to a lesser extent, wolves, brown bears and lynxes. There is a visitor center in the area.

18. Blue Mountains National Park (Australia)

Less than two hours by car or train from Sydney is one of the most spectacular national parks in Australia, the Blue Mountains. Its name derives from the blue mist that surrounds its landscape, produced by the oils that the eucalyptus forests that carpet it release into the atmosphere. Canyons, deep valleys, waterfalls and the famous rock formation of the Three Sisters (in the image), with legend included: three sisters of the Katoomba tribe, Wimlah, Meehni and Gunnedoo, turned into stone by falling in love with those who should not.

19. Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park (China)

The Jiuzhaigou Valley is a national park, perhaps the most recognized in China, located in the province of Sichuan, southwest of the country. A dream landscape full of valleys, waterfalls, mountains, virgin forests that turn brown and red in autumn, and that are seen in the blue, green and turquoise waters of its dozens of lakes. Its name means “of the nine villages” and refers to the nine Tibetan villages (seven of them still populated today) that are within this nature reserve, home, also, of a hundred species of birds and two of the most threatened mammals in China: the giant panda and the flat-nosed golden monkey.

20. Göreme National Park (Turkey)

When you see the typical photo of balloons in the Cappadocian sky, in Turkey, the landscape below will probably be that of the Göreme National Park and Rupestrian Sites of Cappadocia, a veritable open-air museum, world heritage, and the less “natural” park of this photo gallery: a succession of valleys modeled by erosion, with fairy chimneys, monasteries, dwellings and troglodyte and underground villages excavated in the rock and erected from the 3rd and 4th centuries. You can go on horseback or on hiking trails.

21. Serengeti National Park (Tanzania)

The Serengeti National Park, Tanzania’s main tourist attraction, is famous for the migrations of wildebeest and the richness of its wildlife, among which are the five great African mammals: lion, leopard, black rhinoceros, elephant, buffalo. In the Serengeti region, in the south-west of Kenya, a landscape of savannah dotted with the characteristic acacias, extends Masai Mara, a national nature reserve that can actually be considered a continuation of the Tanzanian park; it owes its name to the Maasai tribe that inhabits it and to the Mara River, which crosses it.

22. Cairngorms National Park (Scotland)

Five of the six highest mountains in the United Kingdom are located within the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland, a popular skiing destination that also offers hiking, climbing or mountain biking trails. Forests of ancient trees, waterfalls, lakes like the one in Loch an Eilein, perfect for a picnic (in the photo the An Loch Uaine or Green Lake), or the only reindeer herd released from Britain, in Glen More. Also a visit to the Glenlivet distillery of Tomintoul, which is part of the Malt Whiskey Route.

23. Chitwan National Park (Nepal)

The authorities of the Chitwan National Park, in the Terai, at the foot of the Himalayas, in the subtropical south of Nepal, confess that after three decades they have a “rich experience” resolving conflicts between the exuberant nature that they protect and the demands intervention of the human being. The reserve includes 544 species of birds, 56 of reptiles and amphibians, 126 of fish and 68 of mammals. It is especially renowned for its protection of several species in extreme danger of extinction, such as the Indian rhinoceros (pictured), the Bengal tiger or the gavial (a crocodile). By the way, the word Chitwan means “the heart of the jungle.”

24. Fiordland National Park (New Zealand)

Located on the South Island of New Zealand, on a huge stretch of rugged coastline, the Fiordland National Park is a magnificent mix of snow-capped mountains, fjords, lakes, waterfalls and lush rainforests full of life. It includes one of the most touristic points of the country, the Milford Sound fjord (pictured): a tongue of water that extends 15 kilometers inland from the Tasman Sea, flanked by peaks over 1,200 meters high. A network of 500-kilometer trails allows visitors to explore the park.

25. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (United States)

During 2016, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, an immense forest that stretches between North Carolina and Tennessee, received 11 million visitors, almost twice as much as one of the most popular in the United States, the Grand Canyon of the Colorado . This redoubt of biodiversity is home to a huge variety of animals, from black bears (there are an estimated 1,500 specimens) to salamanders. And it still preserves cultural vestiges of the southern Appalachian Indians. It is a world heritage of Unesco.

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