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Travel bucket list ideas:

55 Breathtaking natural wonders of the world

  • Multiple countries

Last updated: 12 April, 2024

From wildlife migrations to waterfalls, caves to canyons, nature never fails to captivate and amaze us. So we asked former travel editor of BBC Wildlife Magazine James Fair to round-up the earth’s greatest natural wonders, which will literally take your breath away.

Table of Contents

Grand Canyon

  • Arizona, United States of America (USA)

Grand Canyon

Destination guide

This magnificent 443km-long canyon widens to 29km in places and plunges more than 1.6km down. Yet it’s still not the deepest canyon – both Colca Canyon in Peru and Kali Gandaki Gorge in Nepal are more than twice as deep.

But the drama of the landscape and the multi-coloured geology of this extraordinary, 2-billion-year-old geological phenomenon is unsurpassed.

Galapagos Islands

  • Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

  • Bucket List Experience

front view of a giant tortoise

Experience

A visit to the Galapagos is a life-changing experience. You’ll see wildlife that exists nowhere else on earth, from prehistoric-looking iguanas to Galapagos penguins, blue-footed boobies to giant tortoises.

Marine life abounds in the clear, deep water and graceful sea turtles will glide right past you. Penguins may pop up as you’re snorkelling.

Extraordinary wildlife encounters take place against a backdrop of ancient volcanoes, jagged lava rocks, cacti and beaches ranging from powdery white to glittering olive.

Adult price Varies

Good for age: 13+

Duration: Min 7 days

Antarctica

  • Antarctica, Argentina

  • Bucket List Experience

Guests observing South Goergia's Risting Glacier from the deck.

Experience

The coldest place on Earth, with temperatures touching -94 C, this icy landmass bigger than Europe bewilders for its incredible scenery and sheer remoteness.

Mountains, some 8,000 feet high, their peaks and ridges softened by snow, tower over vast frozen plateaus. Massive, blue-white icebergs in dramatic shapes pepper the freezing seas.

The wildlife here is as prolific as it is captivating – penguins bustle about their business, seals bask on the rocks and whales feed in plankton-rich waters.

Adult price Varies

Good for age: 13+

Duration: Min 10 days

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

  • Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Hunan Province, China

  • Bucket List Experience

Landscape of dramatic stone pillars rising from the mist

Experience

The incredible landscape in China’s Zhangjiajie Mountains, inspiration for the Hollywood blockbuster movie Avatar, sees strikingly tall sandstone pillars rise up through the fog, creating an appearance of rocky outcrops floating above the valley floor – hence it’s more familiar name of the ‘Floating Mountains’. The highest pillar, Doupeng Mountain, soars up 1,890m.

You can ride the eye-watering Bailong Elevator from peak to valley floor, or (dare to) cross the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge, a glass sky bridge spanning a 300m-deep canyon.

Good for age: 13+

Giant Redwood Trees

  • Sequoia National Park, California, United States of America (USA)

  • Bucket List Experience

close up of the base of giant redwoods trees in Sequoia National Park

Experience

Giant redwood (aka giant sequoia) trees are Earth’s largest trees, growing to an astonishing average height of 50-85m tall, with 6m to 8m-wide trunks.

They only grow on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada in California, and the Sequoia National Park is home to the largest of them; the ‘Giant Forest‘ within the Park boasts five of the world’s tallest trees. The star of the show, towering above the rest, is General Sherman, the Earth’s largest tree at an incredible 83m tall and 11m wide.

The Muir Wood National Monument just outside of San Francisco is another great – and accessible – place to see them.

Good for age: 4+

Website >

Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats

  • Potosi Department, Bolivia

  • Bucket List Experience

Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats

Experience

Bolivia’s giant 10,000 sq km salt pan is a landscape of stark and dazzling beauty. It was formed when several prehistoric lakes dried up around forty thousand years ago, leaving a salt crust several metres thick.

It’s remarkably flat – the elevation varies by less than a metre – and inhospitable to most life forms, though it is famously home to vast flocks of flamingos that live on the fiery-red waters of Laguna Colorada.

Good for age: 18+

Iguazu Falls

  • Iguazu National Park, Argentina

  • Bucket List Experience

Aerial view over Iguazu Falls from helicopter

Experience

These remarkable falls, straddling the border of Brazil and Argentina, stretch for nearly 3km and empty 46 million litres of water over an 80m drop every second.

Fringed by lush rainforest and often framed by rainbows rising from the mist, they are majestic – whether flowing in a single curtain – when the river is full or dropping over some 275 separate falls when water levels are low.

Good for age: 8+

Cenote Dos Ojos

  • Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

  • Bucket List Experience

Cenote Dos Ojos

Experience

These twin Mayan Riviera cenotes are spectacular: marking the entrance to one of the longest underground rivers in the world – filled with water as clear as ocean air, passing through submerged caverns covered with spectacular cave formations and teeming with strange cave fish, crustaceans and bats.

You don’t need to be a cave diver to appreciate them, though. Some of the most beautiful caverns are accessible to snorkellers. PADI open-water divers can go further and designated cave divers can explore the deeper caverns. Any diving requires advanced booking.

Adult price 12

Good for age: 8+

Colca Canyon

  • Arequipa Region, Peru

  • Bucket List Experience

Mountains in Colca Canyon

Experience

Two kilometres deep, surrounded by steaming volcanoes, and with condors soaring on the thermals, Colca Canyon is one of Peru’s great natural wonders. It’s twice the depth of the Grand Canyon, far wilder and has wonderful views at every turn.

Day-trippers come to peer over the rim and spot condors. Trekkers hike the rugged trails, stopping to soak in the hot springs or swim in the icy Colca River, which ribbons the canyon floor. And farmers still till the soil on the ancient valley terraces cut long before the Spanish arrived.

Good for age: 13+

Lake Titicaca

  • Puno Region, Peru

  • Bucket List Experience

Small islands in Lake Titicaca

Experience

Straddling the borders of Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is South America’s largest lake by water volume. According to Andean lore, the lake was venerated as the birthplace of the Sun God; located at a staggering 3,830m above sea level, it’s not hard to see why it would inspire such beliefs – and the sunsets are glorious.

The lake was also the cradle of the Incas and the ancient Tiwanaku Empire: archaeological sites litter its shores. Today, the waters of the lake are dotted with artificial floating islands made of reeds by the enigmatic Uros people, using pre-Inca methods.

Adult price 3

Good for age: 13+

Uluru [Ayers Rock]

  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

  • Bucket List Experience

The large red flat mountain at sunset.

Experience

Rising up from the silent desert floor like a gargantuan monolith, ochre-hued Uluru is one of the world’s most bewitching sights – more so, as its colour and appearance constantly change depending on the season and time of day.

Formed more than 600 million years ago, and reaching a height of 348 metres, it overlooks wild and desolate desert landscapes, home for millennia to the Aboriginal people. The area is steeped in their legends and traditions; combined with the scenery, Uluru has an intense, unforgettable atmosphere. The thing has presence.

Good for age: 8+

Great Barrier Reef

  • Queensland, Australia

  • Bucket List Experience

scuba diver with fish and coral on the great barrier reef

Experience

This vast coral reef system, comprising almost 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands, stretches for more than 2,500km off Australia’s eastern coast – it’s so vast it can be seen from outer space.

It supports an astonishingly rich biodiversity, including 30 species of whale and dolphin, 1,500 species of fish, 125 species of shark and ray, and six species of sea turtle. Visit it from chic Port Douglas.

Adult price 140

Min age 4

Good for age: 8+

Duration: 1 day

Daintree Rainforest

  • Daintree Rainforest, Queensland, Australia

  • Bucket List Experience

Eucalyptus trees and ferns in misty forest

Experience

At 180 million years old, this remarkable biodiversity hotspot is home to many ancient and primitive plant forms found nowhere else.

Its wildlife is extraordinarily diverse. Among the critters that call the Daintree home are 430 species of bird, 90% of Australia’s bat and butterfly species, and over 12,000 different insects. The scenery is equally impressive – a landscape of rugged peaks and gorges, spectacular waterfalls, white sandy beaches, mangrove swamps and extensive vistas of pristine tropical forest. See it from chic Port Douglas.

Good for age: 13+

Milford Sound

  • Te Anua, South Island, New Zealand

  • Bucket List Experience

Famous Mitre Peak rising from the Milford Sound fiord. Fiordland national park, New Zealand

Experience

This beautiful, 22km long fjord – one of New Zealand’s most accessible – is hallmarked by beautiful upland scenery, crowned by the Mitre Peak. It’s an awe-inspiring landscape of snow-capped mountains, dense forests and spectacular waterfalls.

See it by pleasure cruise, jetboat, historic steamboat, kayak or helicopter. Better yet, hike the 4-day, world-renowned Milford Track around it, through pristine, fern-filled rainforest.

Adult price 10

Good for age: 4+

Duration: -

Jeita Grotto

  • Beirut, Mount Lebanon Governorate, Lebanon

  • Bucket List Experience

View through stalactite-crusted cave

Experience

This series of interconnected, cathedral-like limestone caverns at Jeita form one of the most beautiful cave systems in the world, spanning 9km within the Nahr al-Kalb valley.

The upper grotto is explored on foot via a manmade walkway; it’s home to the world’s largest known stalactite, an 8.2m behemoth that dangles precariously above the cave floor. The lower grotto can only be visited by boat as it channels an underground river. It’s especially breathtaking, as if you were sailing into a cathedral built by Mother Nature herself.

Adult price 30

Good for age: 4+

Old Faithful

  • Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States of America (USA)

  • Bucket List Experience

Tourists watching the Old Faithful erupting in Yellowstone National Park, USA

Experience

Yellowstone’s cone geyser is the world’s most famous – and most reliable. Old Faithful gets its name from the regularity of its eruptions. Since the year 2000, the geyser has erupted at least once every two hours, sending a plume of boiling water shooting 50m into the air.

Eruptions are caused by hot molten magma heating water below ground, which becomes trapped as steam in underground chambers. Eventually, the pressure of the steam becomes too much, and boom, it explodes upwards, taking cooler water nearer the surface with it.

Adult price 30

Good for age: 4+

Website >

Stromboli

  • Aeolian Islands, Sicily, Italy

  • Bucket List Experience

Night eruption volcano Stromboli Glowing rocks falling down

Experience

Europe’s most active volcano, this tipi-shaped mountain is the place to head for Nature’s fireworks – guaranteed.

Stromboli has been spewing molten rock for 2,000 years and the hike up the 1,000m cone is a relative breeze, given the spectacle that awaits at the summit.

Good for age: 13+

Norway's Fjordland

  • Western Norway, Norway

  • Bucket List Experience

large cruise ship going down Gerainger Fjord

Experience

Norway’s immense, wedge-shaped gorges were carved out of the landscape by glaciers during the last Ice Age. Rugged, wild and decorated with ribbon-like waterfalls and emerald green meadows ablaze with wildflowers, they’re one of nature’s finest achievements.

See them on a cruise, by helicopter or even by kayak.

Adult price Varies

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 3-5 days

Lava Tunnels

  • Iceland

  • Bucket List Experience

View down a long lava tunnel

Experience

These extraordinary tunnel-like caves form when walls of cooled lava develop around the molten flows that melt deep into the surrounding bedrock; when the molten lava flows peter out, ‘tubes’ up to 15m wide and 40 miles long are left behind.

Geothermal Iceland has some of the most accessible to explore.

Adult price 40

Min age 3

Good for age: 8+

Duration: 2+ hours

Blue Cave

  • Vis, Dalmatia, Croatia

  • Bucket List Experience

Inside the dark cave with bright blue illuminated water

Experience

On the unspoilt islet of Bisevo, a narrow tunnel leads into a vast chamber, illuminated an amazing shade of luminescent blue – the so-called Modra Spilja (Blue Cave).

The unique blue glow inside this cave is caused by a partial submarine hole in the cave entrance, which lets in direct sunlight at certain times of day. From inside the cave, the light seems to emanate from the water itself, which casts an aquamarine glow on the walls, while objects in the water appear to be silver. It’s an unearthly, magical sight.

It’s one of many treasures to be found in the beautiful Dalmatian Islands.

Adult price 25

Good for age: 8+

Cherry Blossoms

  • Kyoto, Kansai, Japan

  • Bucket List Experience

Walkway through blossom

Experience

Every spring Japan goes into sakura (cherry blossom) frenzy. The subject of everything from traditional haiku verse and woodblock prints to apps that track its flowering, sakura is deeply woven into Japanese culture.

Sakura are the blossoms of ornamental cherry trees – although found across Asia, Japan has historically been home to especially large varieties which were subsequently cultivated into today’s impressive displays. Reflecting both its aesthetic and its importance to Japanese culture, the cherry blossom is the national flower of Japan. See them in both Tokyo and Kyoto.

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 2 months

When: March & April

Table Mountain

  • Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

  • Bucket List Experience

View of the mountain range from an opposing island

Experience

Cape Town’s 300-million-year-old, iconic flat-topped mountain is 1,085m (3,559ft) above sea level at its highest point, Maclear’s Beacon. The top plateau is home to rare fynbos vegetation.

Aside from being flat, its name actually derives from a thin layer of wind-blown cloud that forms over the flat summit before dropping dramatically over the edge – like a tablecloth.

Adult price 18

Good for age: 8+

Victoria Falls Waterfall

  • Zimbabwe

  • Bucket List Experience

Water tumbling down from the Victoria Falls waterfall

Experience

Straddling the border of Zambia & Zimbabwe, the Victoria Falls waterfall is the world’s largest sheet of falling water – an incredible spectacle that sees the entire 1.7km span of the great Zambezi River tumble off a vertical ridge, sending clouds of mist into the surrounding forest.

First ‘discovered’ by David Livingstone in 1855, it’s one of the largest waterfalls on the planet at a whopping 108m high. One of many great bucket list experiences at Victoria Falls.

Good for age: 4+

Dune of Pilat

  • La Teste-de-Buch, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

  • Bucket List Experience

A large dune with greenery on one side and the sea on the other

Experience

Europe’s biggest sand pile, the Dune du Pilat (or du Pyla) towers near the mouth of Arcachon Bay, 30 minutes from Bordeaux. Standing 107m high, stretching 6km in length and with a volume of 20 million cubic metres of sand, it’s an extraordinary sight.

The view from the top is breathtaking, too – on a clear day you can see all the way to the Pyrenees. After, descend to Pyla-sur-Mer’s golden-sand beach and cool off with a dip in the Atlantic Ocean

Good for age: 4+

Giant’s Causeway

  • Bushmills, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Coast with hexangular rocks

Experience

Tumbling towards the sea on Northern Ireland’s northern-most section of coast – an hour from Belfast – this collection of around 40,000 naturally hexagonal basalt columns is an astonishing rock formation with deep roots in both Irish mythology and ancient geology.

Theories differ on how the neatly-shaped columns and stones came to look this way – some believe they were placed by the giant Finn McCool, on his way to battle in Scotland; others concede the formation was more likely due to volcanic activity…

Good for age: 6+

Niagara Falls Waterfall

  • Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

  • Bucket List Experience

Aerial close up view

Experience

You hear the Falls long before you see them: the roaring cascade of water plummeting down a 50m gorge at a rate of millions of litres per second. The world’s second-largest – but arguably most famous – waterfall is jaw-dropping in its scale and intensity.

They were formed around 12,000 years ago, at the end of the Ice Age, when large torrents of water were suddenly released from the melting ice. The water plunged over the edge of the Niagara Escarpment, draining into the Niagara River.

Good for age: 4+

Sahara Desert

  • Draa-Tafilalet, Morocco

  • Bucket List Experience

Sand dune in the Sahara desert

Experience

Over 9.2 million sq km (larger than either the US or China) of nothing but vast, shifting sand dunes, the world’s largest hot desert covers most of Northern Africa. Average daily temperatures can reach 47°C – only Death Valley can rival it. Mute and empty, beneath flawless blue skies, it’s like nowhere else on earth.

But don’t let that put you off. Safaris into the desert are an evocative, unearthly and surreal experience, and the chance to experience one of the world’s most extreme and beautiful landscapes. You can reach it on fascinating multi-day tours from Marrakech.

Adult price 100

Good for age: 13+

The Dead Sea

  • Sweimeh, Balqa Governorate, Jordan

woman floating in the Dead Sea

Experience

At 423m below sea level, the Dead Sea marks the Earth’s lowest elevation on land. The sea is a natural collection point for salts and minerals, with salinity up to ten times that of ocean water – so dense that swimmers float on its surface, while animals and plants struggle to flourish (hence the name).

The sea’s mineral-laden waters have been revered for their healing properties for thousands of years; they ease discomfort from arthritis, soothe fiery skin conditions such as acne and eczema, heal allergies and boost circulation so helping with detoxing.

 

Adult price 60

Good for age: 8+

Duration: 30 mins

The Everglades

  • Everglades National Park, Florida, United States of America (USA)

  • Bucket List Experience

group of international tourists riding an airboat. The Everglades are a natural region of wetlands in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Florida.

Experience

This 600,000-hectare park, dubbed the ‘river of grass’, is the US’s largest subtropical wilderness – a vast landscape of swamp and tropical forest.

It’s a paradise for its notorious alligators; it’s also home to rare Florida panthers (actually pumas) and more than 360 bird species. Wander one of the boardwalked trails, or take a thrilling ride on an iconic airboat.

Adult price 25

Good for age: 6+

Amazon Rainforest

  • Amazon, Peru

Three tiny amazon milk frog on branch, Panda Bear Tree Frog

Destination guide

Earth’s largest and most spectacular tropical wilderness – over 5 million sq km of rainforest – is an overwhelming landscape of huge waterfalls tumbling off table-top mountains, vast, coloured rivers, and fragrant cloud forests. All filled with astonishing, endemic wildlife.

Nine countries share the Amazon Basin, though the majority, 60% is in Brazil. It’s also home to over 350 ethnic groups – a dwindling few of whom have never had contact with the outside world.

Immerse yourself with a stay in a rainforest lodge, or book on to a once-in-a-lifetime cruise.

Great Wildebeest Migration

  • Masai Mara National Park, Kenya

  • Bucket List Experience

the herd congregating at the edge of the river

Experience

This remarkable natural phenomenon sees an annual circular trek of around two million creatures – wildebeest, Thomson’s gazelle and zebra – from the southern Serengeti to the wooded grasslands of Kenya’s Masai Mara, and back again.

The numbers are terrific, as are the snorting and ‘gnu’ sounds that permeate the air, and the predators that follow this moving feast – from lions and great crocodiles to scavenging hyenas and vultures. It’s possibly the greatest wildlife spectacle on Earth.

Good for age: 13+

Duration: Ongoing

When: All year round

Schooling of Hammerhead Sharks

  • Cocos Islands, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica

  • Bucket List Experience

Schooling of Hammerhead Sharks

Experience

Cocos Island, in the deep Pacific, some 550km off the Costa Rican coast, is the site of one of the great underwater spectacles – the mass schooling of hundreds of hammerhead sharks.

Each year, from June through October, they gather in uncountable numbers, attracted by high concentrations of prey. Cocos Island sits at a convergence of swirling, nutrient-rich currents, attracting vast schools of fish on which the hammerheads feed.

Adult price 3500

Min age 16

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 11 days

Jellyfish Lake

  • Palau

  • Bucket List Experience

Person swimming amidst thousands of golden jellyfish in the lake

Experience

An unobtrusive, ordinary-looking lake, buried deep in the Tarzan-esque junglescape of Palau’s Rock Islands, is home to stingless golden jellyfish – millions of them – that migrate every day across the lake and back again, following the path of the sun.

It’s thought the lake was formed around 12,000 years ago, when rising sea levels filled the lake, before receding. The stranded jellyfish, lacking natural predators, were then able to profilerate and evolve to the lake’s unique conditions.

Adult price 150

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 5-8 hours

Kings Canyon

  • Watarrka National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

  • Bucket List Experience

An overview of a red canyon

Experience

The 100m-deep Kings Canyon gorge epitomises the raw desert beauty of Central Australia. A dramatic sandstone rock formation formed more than 400 million years ago, it also has a long indigenous history, stretching back some 20,000 years.

Located in the protected Watarrka National Park, it is also home to more than 600 species of native wildlife. Visit it from Uluru.

Good for age: 13+

Mount Kilimanjaro

  • Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania

  • Bucket List Experience

Mount Kilimanjaro

Experience

The world’s largest free-standing mountain (5,895m) is also one of its most iconic natural sights – a picture-book peak rising from the primordial plains of Tanzania and topped by a conical hat of snow.

The mountain’s relatively even elevations make it one of the greatest non-technical mountain climbs.

Adult price 1250

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 5-9 days

Mount Everest

  • Mount Everest, East Region, Nepal

  • Bucket List Experience

Mount Everest

Experience

Long revered as a holy mountain by Nepalis and Tibetans, the lure of the world’s highest peak (8,848m) remains undiminished. Set in grandiose Himalayan scenery, and the ultimate climb for any mountaineer, there is no place on Earth that is more iconic and foreboding.

A daring few attempt the summit; most settle for reaching Everest Base Camp, one of the world’s great trekking achievements.

Adult price 2500

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 15+ days

The Northern Lights

  • Yellowknife, Yukon, Canada

  • Bucket List Experience

Small tepee village with people sitting outside tents staring up at Northern Lights

Experience

The world’s greatest light display, Aurora Borealis, is caused by shifts of magnetic energy in the ionosphere. The vibrant, otherworldly lights that play across the night sky can be seen in both polar regions – the phenomenon is called Aurora Australis or the ‘Southern Lights’ in the south.

The viewing is best in the northern hemisphere within the ‘Aurora Belt’, between the Earth’s latitude parallels of 66° and 69°, where the phenomenon appears with the most intense light and greatest colour variations. See our round-up of where, when & how to see them.

Good for age: 4+

Duration: Any

When: Any

Website >

Okavango Delta

  • Okavango Delta, Botswana

Okavango Delta

Destination guide

The truly beautiful Okavango Delta is one of the world’s great natural phenomena, fed by the mighty Okavango River whose waters form a vast inland delta before evaporating.

This unique habitat supports a wide range of endangered birds and iconic African wildlife: elephant, giraffe, lion, leopard and cheetah. It’s home to some of the densest populations of African wild dogs on the continent.

Great Sand Dunes of Sossusvlei

  • Namib-Naukluft National Park, Erongo Region, Namibia

  • Bucket List Experience

Great Sand Dunes of Sossusvlei

Experience

Desert landscapes have an ethereal beauty all their own, and Namibia’s striking Sossusvlei region is surely up there as the greatest, most dramatic of them all thanks to its towering sand dunes.

These vast, sculpted mega-dunes, up to 380m in height, are among the tallest in the world and are distinctive for their high iron content and deep pink-orange hue, which glows in the evening light.

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 1-4 hours

Dean's Blue Hole

  • Long Island, Bahamas

  • Bucket List Experience

Aerial view of a small dive boat by Dean's Blue Hole in Long Island, Bahamas

Experience

Dean’s Blue Hole off Long Island, Bahamas, is a stunning, submarine sinkhole – a cave that imploded long ago to form a deep and perfectly round depression in the reef.

Plunging 202m into the inky blue darkness, this is the world’s deepest known blue hole, and one of the world’s best dive sites too.

Adult price 200

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

Ngorongoro Crater

  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania

  • Official star rating:

Ngorongoro Crater

Place to Stay

Nearly 20km across and 600m deep, the Ngorongoro Crater is a vast caldera, created 2-3 million years ago when a supervolcano collapsed in upon itself.

Today, it provides sanctuary for a wide range of big game, including over-sized lions that have outgrown their cousins thanks to a surplus of prey. All of the so-called ‘big five’ – leopards, lions, buffalos, elephants and rhinos – are present.

Average

Extra beds

Pool

2+ bedrooms

Beach

Kids menu

Fitness center

Kids club

Pamukkale

  • Denizli, Aegean Region, Turkey

  • Bucket List Experience

Pamukkale

Experience

This ancient hilltop spa centre is home to extraordinary scallop-shaped, cotton-white travertine formations that dazzle the eye with their shiny white brilliance.

The terraces form when warm natural springs of water, containing high concentrations of dissolved calcium bicarbonate, cascade over the edge of the cliff. As the water cools, calcium forms and deposits harden creating an unusual series of terraced shelves and ridges – and between them, natural spa baths.

Adult price 8

Good for age: 8+

Fingal's Cave

  • Inner Hebrides, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Fingal's Cave

Experience

Made up of hexagonal columns of volcanic basalt that look as if they could have been moulded in a foundry, Fingal’s Cave was formed (about 60 million years ago) from the same lava flow as the Giant’s Causeway across the water in Northern Ireland.

The cathedral-like cave rises nearly 70m over the sea, and the sound of waves crashing inside inspired the German composer Mendelssohn to write his Hebrides Overture.

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 1 night

Lake Baikal

  • Siberia Region, Russia

  • Bucket List Experience

Lake Baikal

Experience

The world’s largest freshwater lake by volume, Lake Baikal is also the deepest (max depth 1.6km) and the oldest (25-30 million years). On any reasonable assessment it’s immense – more than 30,000sq km, covering as large an area as Belgium, and holding 22% of the world’s surface freshwater.

Water visibility and oxygen levels are exceptional, even at depths, making it a haven for wildlife. Indeed, it’s famed for its rich biodiversity and endemic wildlife, including the planet’s only freshwater seal.

Good for age: 13+

Elephant Rock

  • Westman Islands, Iceland

Close up of Elephant rock

Experience

The Westman Islands, off the south coast of Iceland, were formed from volcanic eruptions, and there are many extraordinary rock formations.

None more so than the Elephant Rock. the overhang that forms the eye, the grey basalt rock resembling wrinkled skin and the upper section of the trunk all create the image of an uncannily life-like pachyderm.

Good for age: 4+

Komodo Island

  • Komodo National Park, Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

  • Bucket List Experience

Komodo Island

Experience

Komodo Island is famous for one reason – the monstrous 3m-long, 70kg Komodo dragons, the world’s largest living lizards.

With their long, deeply forked tongues and toxic bite, and a sprightly top running speed of 20km/h, these are dragons are every bit as menacing as the mythical beasts, capable of eating 80 percent of their body weight in one sitting.

Good for age: 8+

Duration: 1 night

Monarch Butterfly Migration

  • Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, Michoacan, Mexico

  • Bucket List Experience

Monarch Butterfly Migration

Experience

Between January and March each year, an estimated 60 million monarch butterflies overwinter in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, making it one of the biggest congregations of a single species anywhere in the world.

The entire population squeezes into less than 3 hectares. They cluster on the trees in numbers so dense, the blaze of their wings turns the dark green foliage of the forest fir orange.

Adult price 4

Good for age: 8+

Duration: 3 months

When: Jan-Mar

Reed Flute Cave

  • Guilin, Guangxi, China

  • Bucket List Experience

Reed Flute Cave

Experience

This exceptional cave in the southern province of Guangxi is one of China’s most remarkable natural wonders, home to dramatic rock formations, stalagmites and stalactites.

It markets itself as ‘Nature’s Art Palace’ – the whole scene is (artificially) illuminated by coloured lighting, creating a riot of colours and shapes.

Adult price 3

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 1 night

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River

  • Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines

  • Bucket List Experience

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River

Experience

This, the world’s longest subterranean river, is a flooded cave system that stretches for 24km under the St. Paul Mountain Range on the island of Palawan; visitors can access the caverns above the water line by boat from the sea.

It’s a biodiversity hotspot too, with a rare full mountain-to-sea ecosystem. Giant spiders, crabs and snakes inhabit the cave, though in the near darkness all you are likely to see are bats. Highlights also include a 20 million-year-old fossil of a manatee.

Adult price 110

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 1 night

Pohutu Geyser

  • Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand

  • Bucket List Experience

Pohutu Geyser

Experience

The world-famous volcanic town of Rotorua, on New Zealand’s North Island, is a hellish paradise of mud pools, hot springs and geysers spouting scalding water into the air. And the Pohotu Geyser is its star attraction.

The largest geyser in the southern hemisphere, it reliably ‘erupts’ up to twenty times per day, sending hissing (and rather smelly) jets of sulphurous steam and dirt up to 30m (100 feet) into the air.

Adult price 35

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 1 night

Waitomo Caves

  • Waitomo, North Island, New Zealand

  • Bucket List Experience

Waitomo Caves

Experience

This prevailing limestone cavern system, just south of Auckland, is famous for one thing – glowworms. Millions of them. They attach themselves to the cave ceiling, dangling on sticky spider-like threads to capture any passing critters.

To attract prey, they produce bright blue-green bioluminescence that shines in an otherwise inky blackness. The mesmerising effect is a glittering sky of coloured stars.

Adult price 30

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 1 night

Socotra Island

  • Yemen

  • Bucket List Experience

Socotra Island

Experience

Sitting off the coast of Yemen in the Arabian Sea, Socotra Island is to the Indian Ocean what the Galapagos are to the Pacific – a natural, open-air laboratory where more than 700 species of plants and animals have evolved that are found nowhere else on Earth.

The umbrella-shaped dragon’s blood trees – so called because of their red sap – are the most distinctive endemics, but there are a host of birds and reptiles that are also unique.

Adult price Varies

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 1 night

Skocjan Caves

  • Divaca, Littoral, Slovenia

  • Bucket List Experience

Skocjan Caves

Experience

The limestone karst landscape of southwest Slovenia is said to have more than 10,000 registered caves, but the best ones to visit are either those at Postojnska or Skocjan.

Skocjan was carved out by the action of the Reka River, and consists of a series of subterranean chambers 6km long that include those called ‘Paradise’, ‘The Great Hall’ and ‘The Murmuring and Silent’ Caves. The latter is home to giant stalagmites called the ‘Giants’ and ‘The Pipe Organ’.

Adult price 5

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 1 night

Sardine Run

  • Umkomass, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

  • Bucket List Experience

dolphin underwater on reef background looking at you inside a school of sardine fish

Experience

Every year between February and August, gigantic sardine shoals – up to 7km long, 1.5km wide and 30m deep – riding the Aghulas current northwards along South Africa’s eastern coast.

They’re followed by almost every denizen of the deep: Bryde’s and humpback whales, sailfish, blacktip sharks and thousands of dolphins amongst others, that gorge themselves in a vast feeding frenzy unlike anything else witnessed on Earth.

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 7 months

When: February-August

Bats of Bracken Cave

  • San Antonio, Texas, United States of America (USA)

Exterior of Bracken Cave - a cave mouth sunk into the earth

Experience

Hidden inside the unassuming entrance to Bracken Cave are millions upon millions of bats – up to 15 million Mexican free-tailed bats, in fact, making it one of the largest concentrations of any mammals on Earth.

Every evening during the breeding season, they emerge in seemingly infinite swarms, and you can watch this gargantuan exodus nightly between May and September.

Good for age: 8+

Duration: Daily

When: May-Sept

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