Our planet provides a vast array of dazzling scenery and natural wonders. Distinctive locations with unique natural beauty and biodiversity exist all over the world. Many fascinating landscapes were created through wind and water erosion, volcanic activity, and other factors. Although these creations formed over millions of years, they can disappear much more quickly. Specialized environments rely on complex ecosystems and specific conditions. Altering just one aspect of the environment can have devastating consequences. You may want to visit some of nature's most extraordinary attractions before they're lost forever.
The Amazon rain forest covers 1.4 billion acres across 8 countries and is home to approximately 1 out of every 10 known species. Visitors can take walking tours or stay in jungle hotels designed to let guests experience the wonders of the rainforest. Tourists also observe amazing scenery and wildlife through boating tours on the Amazon's many winding rivers. Many regions of the rainforest are disappearing due to climate change, deforestation, and forest fires. Some marvels found in the Amazon rainforest may be gone very soon.
Joshua Tree National Park covers parts of the Mojave Desert and Colorado Desert. Although the desert landscape looks rugged and barren, it's actually filled with life. Tourists may spot coyotes, bighorn sheep, jackrabbits, and bobcats. The famous Wonderland of Rocks contains some formations that are approximately 1.7 billion years old. Joshua Tree receives very little rainfall under normal circumstances, so severe droughts influenced by climate change are a significant environmental threat.
Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia is a network of brilliantly colored lakes connected by waterfalls and underground watercourses. Travelers may glimpse rare animals, including bears, wolves, and the captivating lynx, in forests surrounding the lakes. Plitvice is also known for an abundance of beautiful birds, butterflies, and dragonflies. The lake's dazzling colors come from minerals and geochemical processes above and below ground. Water pollution and climate change are the biggest threats to these unique lakes.
The Florida Everglades is a unique conglomeration of freshwater ponds, large saltwater pools, sawgrass marshes, prairies, and forested areas. It is a large tract of subtropical wilderness filled with endangered or threatened species. Famous species include the Florida panther, American crocodile, and American alligator. Over 347 bird species reside in the Everglades, and Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are often spotted in the Florida Bay.
Conservation International considers Madagascar a biodiversity hotspot. The island is famous for lemurs and beautiful scenery. Most of Madagascar's thousands of plant, animal, and insect species are endemic, which means they're found nowhere else in the world. Unfortunately, over 90% of the island's native forests are already gone. It would be best if you visited very soon to see the extraordinary plants and animals of Madagascar before they vanish.
Glacier National Park in Montana is a popular destination for family camping trips and adventurous hikers. Guided tours and over 1,000 campsites help guests explore forests and meadows throughout the glacial-carved valleys. Hikers can discover hidden alpine meadows and fish in lakes fed by melting snow from the mountain peaks. Diverse wildlife includes grizzly bears, wolves, mountain goats, and over 300 bird species.
Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DROC, is a vibrant jungle surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks. It's Africa's oldest national park after becoming a protected area in 1925. Over 1,000 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians live in Virunga, including the iconic mountain gorillas. The DROC only allows tourism when the country is safe. Lucky guests who can visit the park can enjoy active volcanoes and explore forests, savannas, and lava plains. Poachers are a constant threat to Virunga's wildlife, and sporadic violence puts the park at risk.
The Sundarbans Reserve Forest is a vast mangrove forest in the coastal regions of the Bay of Bengal. Its unique ecosystem relies on a network of mudflats, small groves of mangrove trees, and tidal waterways. Thousands of diverse species inhabit a mix of freshwater, marine, and brackish aquatic habitats punctuated by small islands. Tourists are drawn by the constantly changing water channels and abundant wildlife, including Bengal tigers, estuarine crocodiles, and dolphins. Delicate ecosystems in the Sundarbans are threatened by pollution and excessive water diversion from the Ganges river.
The Dead Sea is actually a lake with 10 times more salt than ordinary seawater. The salt density lets people float naturally, and visitors come from all over the world to experience the famed healing properties of the mineral-laden waters and rich mud. Health and beauty spas dot the lake's shores. Unfortunately, the Dead Sea is shrinking, and sinkholes formed by collapsed aquifers line the Israeli and Jordanian coasts. You may want to take a dip in the Dead Sea soon before it becomes a dry plain.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest collection of coral reefs in the world. It contains 400 species of hard and soft corals, 1,500 fish species, and over 4,000 species of mollusks. Visitors enjoy the vibrant corals, colorful fish, and other marine life, such as the dugong and endangered green sea turtles. This natural marvel may not exist much longer. Rising ocean temperatures cause bleaching across huge swathes of reefs, which is a sign of dying coral.