The Natural Wonders

Although the list itself perhaps is not as well known, the 7 Natural Wonders may rival many of the New World Wonders for popularity among travelers. Each wonder on this list must be completely natural ? not only in that it incorporates nature, but in that it hasn?t been manipulated at all. In addition, it must be unique. The Natural Wonders span six continents, with Antarctica being the only one not represented. The list and descriptions below are in no particular order of significance.

Aurora Borealis: Also known as the Northern Lights, these naturally occurring lights appear in the sky, generally around 11 PM or midnight. The closer one gets to the magnetic pole in the Northern Hemisphere, the better your chances of seeing them. Unfortunately, their appearance is rather unpredictable, but you?re most likely to see them in March, April, September, or October.

Grand Canyon: This 277 mile long gorge is located in Arizona, formed by the Colorado River. It?s over a mile deep, spanning in some parts to 18 miles wide. While visitors can simply see the canyon, which is spectacular in itself, many choose to hike, backpack, or explore the canyon on the back of a mule. White water rafting at the floor of the canyon is also a popular activity.

Paricutin: Perhaps the least well known of the Natural wonders, Paricutin is a cinder volcano located in Michoac?n, Mexico, and it?s birth was actually witnessed by humans. While still active, it last erupted in 1952. Visitors can hike or ride horseback through the banks and the lava fields surrounding the volcano.

Victoria Falls: These 360-foot high falls are located on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia and can be seen from either side (though it?s said that the view from the Zimbabwe side is better). While the falls have more water during the rainy season of November to early April, they also produce a lot of mist which make the view more difficult ? not to mention getting the viewers wet. The best time for the view may be June or July, though the falls will be less lush.

Mount Everest: This highest mountain in the world is located in the Himalayas on the border of China, Tibet, and Nepal. Many visitors choose to trek to the base of the mountain, allowing them to experience it without requiring extensive climbing expertise. October and November are the start of the dry season here, so probably the best time to visit. However, weather can be unpredictable, and the most important factor to avoid is active snow fall.

Great Barrier Reef: Located off the coast of Cairns, Australia, it is the largest reef system in the world, with 2900 reefs covering 1600 miles. Snorkeling and SCUBA diving are by far the best way to experience the reef. November through May is the summer season here, though also the rainy season during which the area gets the majority of its annual rainfall.

Harbor of Rio de Janiero: Also known as Guanabara Bay, it is the largest bay in the world based on water volume, and the mountainous surroundings add to its visual appeal. The most popular way to see the harbor is from either Corcovado Peak or Sugarloaf Mountain, both of which offer a panoramic view of the bay, and the city below. The best months for visiting the bay are September and October, when it?s warm enough but not yet as humid as the summer months.


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