There's always a new country that you can add to your bucket list of places to visit. Here, you'll come across five that are specifically recommended for a nature trip. If you love to see wildlife, animals, mountains, and forests, there are some countries that will satisfy this longing quite well. With this kind of adventure, you'll also give yourself relief from the usual touristy crowds of cities and other busy travel destinations. In a nature trip, you get to relax and simply enjoy the Earth as it is – beauty, rawness, and all.
With the recent clamor for environmentalism, it's often hard to believe that there are still countries that are very much well-preserved. Plastic use, for instance, has wreaked havoc on oceans and other wildlife, with 8 million tons of plastic found all over the world. Thankfully, there are countries that are still immune to this damage. These are countries where you can enjoy nature at its best, and also help preserve the environment. Just be sure that when out in the great outdoors, you do your part also to preserve the condition of these reserves. Avoid plastic and other unsustainable materials, and camp responsibly. Don’t be like everyone else who is included in the statistics of how an average person uses 156 plastic bottles each year. As you travel, do so sustainably as well.
That said, here are some of the best countries to visit, to satisfy your desire for nature adventures:
- SOUTH AFRICA
First on this list is every nature lover's dream country, South Africa. It's a country that everyone should strive to go to, at least once in their lifetime. Everywhere you go, there's just breathtaking scenery for you to enjoy. Whether you're traveling with your kids, friends, by yourself or with your significant other, there's so much to enjoy for every kind of traveler.
In South Africa, your eyes aren't just opened up to the great outdoors, but you also have an opportunity to experience and bask in a new and diverse culture. To start with, here are some important details to remember when planning a nature trip to South Africa:
- English is widely spoken all over South Africa, so you shouldn't feel anxious about the possibility of a lack of communication with the locals. Yes, you can talk, have fun, and build new friendships.
- Because you're planning a nature trip, the best months to visit South Africa would be in the summertime. In South Africa, these are the months from November to February. But, if you're interested in a safari trip, then you should book your stay during the winter months. It helps game drives, and their nature reserves are more bearable, so you don't get too distracted by the scorching heat. These are the months from June to August.
With these basic tips in mind, now it's time to head on to the best places in South Africa to visit so that you can make the most out of your nature sojourn. South Africa is huge, so you don't want to miss any of it, as your time may be limited. Given its abundance of wildlife and nature reserves, the entire country deserves to be explored.
However, to help you narrow down your options, here are some of every nature lovers' top picks:
- Table Mountain National Park. To enjoy the most stunning views, take the cableway to the top. As you may have already seen in photos, the mountain's most recognizable feature is the long, flat plateau. If you're interested in hiking, you can also plan a good hike in the mountain. There, you'll enjoy picturesque views and a chance to explore the mountain's sandstone cave systems.
- Kruger National Park. This is one of the largest reserves in Africa. Especially for young children, now's the chance for them to interact with and see animals in their natural habitat. This would be a far cry from what they might be used to seeing - animals locked in a zoo. There you can spot rhinos, lions, giraffes, leopards, and their local Cape buffalo. This national park was established to conserve endangered animal species.
- Cango Caves. Yes, there are beautiful caves too in South Africa. One of the most stunning is the Cango Caves. If you're more on the adventurous side, you can take a two-hour tour, which requires you to climb the rocks and crawl into narrow passageways. The destination itself is the reward, as you'll come across grottos and pools. Here, you'll also be immersed in natural stalagmites, dripstone formations, stalactites, and ornate crystals.
Now going up North to Scandinavia, there's more to discover here than just learning about their Viking history. In Norway, nature lovers will also enjoy the different and unique landscape that the country has to offer. In particular, do visit Bergen, Norway. Bergen is a UNESCO World Heritage City, where walking around feels like being in a real-life fairytale. Apart from the old, wooden houses that are remarkably well-preserved, a walk through the cobblestones will also allow you to bask in nature's beauty, with flowers everywhere.
That said, here are other exciting things to do while in Bergen:
- Visit The Aquarium. Here, you'll see penguins and seals all in their natural element and habitat.
- Spend A Day At The Fish Market. One of Norway's most visited outdoor markets is the Bergen fish market. Apart from buying fish per se, you'll also get to enjoy the unique charm of the location. It's sandwiched between the fjords and the seven mountains of Bergen. From here, you can also extend your day by taking a day hike to one of the nearby mountains.
- Go Up Mount Floyen. To go up the Mount Floyen, you can take the easy way out, but it’s also a spectacular experience to go on the funicular railway. But if you're a group of hikers, you can choose to hike instead. The trip up to the mountain is already an experience in itself. When you reach the peak, it's a view of Norway that's nothing short of splendid.
Following the second destination above, third on the list is also a country from Europe. Nicknamed as the Land of Fire and Ice, there's so much that nature lovers can enjoy in Iceland. From waterfalls to lagoons and craters, lava fields and icebergs, there's so much to see and do in Iceland.
Here's a list of some of the most beautiful nature destinations that you can visit in Iceland:
- The Westfjords. This is one of the places in Iceland that no nature lover should miss out on. The Westfjords are often labeled as the most visually dramatic part of the already picture-perfect Iceland. In the Westfjords, you'll get to discover some of the most beautiful landscapes ever in the world. If you come during the summertime, the days simply don't end. In the winter, the days are always so dark, but in the summer, it's like the day never ends. Even more so, The Westfjords is also labeled as one of the best off-beaten paths in the whole of Iceland.
- See The Northern Lights. Of course, no trip to Iceland is ever complete without seeing the aurora borealis. In Iceland, the Northern Lights say hello so very often, even more often than people expect. As long as you're looking north on dark and clear skies, always have your camera and your eyes ready. It's a spectacle of a lifetime. Some of the best places in Iceland to see the Northern Lights include Reykjavik, Hella, Hofn, and Skogar.
- Hike Up The Asbyrgi Canyon. In English, Asbyrgi also means "Shelter of the Gods." In Iceland, this is one of the canyons for you to visit. The Asbyrgi Canyon is a part of the Vatnajokull National Park. Here, you'll see a wide variety of trees, waterfowl species, and arctic fulmar. If you wish to go camping, there's also a campsite for you to do so.
- See The Kerid Crater. This is also referred to as Iceland's Rainbow Jewel. When you're there, you're standing on top of the crater itself. Red volcanic rock surrounds you, and the water below you is as fresh and raw as it can be, in the purest aquamarine blue colors. It's not every day that you get to see and experience a site like the Kerid Crater.
Now moving on to a warmer country, in Azores, Portugal, you'll see and experience that wilderness isn't a luxury; it's for everyone to enjoy. Because it's not yet a very well known group of islands, there are not many tourists coming in regularly at present. One of Europe's secret nature gems, it's a volcanic archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. When you arrive at the Azores, you'll realize that it would be the very first time in your life that you've seen so much greenery.
Here are great reasons for you to visit the Azores:
- You'll Come Across So Many Waterfalls. The number of waterfalls in the Azores group of islands is countless. Generally, to see the waterfalls, you'll have to first enjoy a good hike. But if you're traveling with a group where hiking isn't possible, that's alright as there are also many waterfalls that you can see and experience just from the side of the road. If you're up for the adventure, you can even go swimming.
- You'll Experience Postcard-Perfect Breathtaking Views. Nature is breathtaking at the Azores. There's no other way to put it. There are nine islands for you to choose from. But whatever it is that you want, you can rest assured that there will never be a lack of luscious colors to see, both to your left and right. Because you're on a nature adventure, experts recommend for travelers not to forget to bring their binoculars. That way, you won't miss out on the Western Azores Goldcrest, Azores Bullfinch, and Azores Grayling.
- You Can Bathe In Hot Springs. If the waterfalls are too cold for you, then try out the hot springs instead. If you've got a lot of time to relax at the Azores, you can even allow yourself to try both. Swimming in hot springs is always a delight. Most notably, also choose to visit the thermal pool of Furnas. These are enshrined by the Atlantic forest, palms, ferns, and conifers. This landscape makes the whole experience even more surreal.
No nature trip is complete without basking in the most breathtaking landscapes. In the whole continent of Africa, one of the countries that stands out in this aspect is Namibia. This is the dream of every nature lover, especially that of photographers. Here, you'll come across 100 mammal species, 700 species of birds, and a landscape that stretches out as far as your eyes can see.
That said, here are other great reasons why traveling to Namibia will always be worth it:
- You'll See Birds Like You've Never Seen In Your Lifetime. Every day in Namibia, you'll come across birds that you may have never seen before. Rich with 700 species of birds, you’re sure to come across birds of all sorts of colors, shapes, and sizes. Even if you're not a bird person yourself, your perception will eventually start to change after visiting this country.
- You'll Get To Experience Excellent Wildlife Encounters. Namibia is undoubtedly the place to go for wildlife watching. To observe the animals at a very close distance from you, take it one step further by spending a few days at some of Namibia's national parks or game reserves.
- You Can Go Camping In The Wild. Go around Namibia on your vehicle. That way, you can also pick out camp spots where you can camp in the wilderness. You'll be surprised to see that there A LOT of beautiful campgrounds around this country.
There are more reasons that nature lovers go on holiday rather than just to see the place. They wish to unplug, and feel and experience nature at its best. When you come to think of it, there's so much to see of the world in all its raw beauty. Remove the fancy lights, tall skyscrapers, shopping malls here and there, and there's so much more satisfaction that a holiday in a natural setting can bring. With so many incredible places for nature lovers to explore, the list can go on and on. But these five can form the beginning of your new list to work towards. Now all that's left for you to do is to get on to planning the nature trip of a lifetime.