Best National Parks in the World, 16-18

Best National Parks in the World, 16-18

We just keep on going! Keeping you up to date with the Best National Parks in the World, part of All World Travel’s MegaLists Series!

16. Iguazu Falls, Brazil, Argentina

Iguazu Falls, located on the Iguazu River at the border between Argentina and Brazil, is one of the most breathtaking and awe-inspiring natural wonders in the world. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is composed of a system of 275 individual falls, spanning nearly 2 miles (3 kilometers) in a semi-circular shape.

Photo Credit to Jaime Dantas

The falls are surrounded by lush rainforests, adding to the overall spectacle of the site. The most famous and spectacular section is the Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo in Spanish or Garganta do Diabo in Portuguese), where a U-shaped cascade plunges with incredible force. Visitors can experience the falls from both the Argentine and Brazilian sides, each offering unique views.

Photo Credit to Jeffrey Eisen

The surrounding national parks on both sides of the border provide opportunities for wildlife viewing, including diverse bird species and native animals. The town of Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil and Puerto Iguazú in Argentina serve as gateways, offering accommodations, guided tours, and access to the falls. Iguazu Falls is a testament to the raw power and beauty of nature, drawing visitors from around the globe to witness its majesty.

Photo Credit to Julia Caeser

17. Aoraki (Mount Cook), New Zealand

Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, nestled in the heart of New Zealand’s South Island, is a captivating expanse of alpine beauty and glacial wonders. Established as part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Te Wahipounamu – South West New Zealand, the park is named after Aoraki / Mount Cook, the tallest peak in the country, soaring to an impressive 3,724 meters (12,218 feet).

Photo Credit to Casey Horner

The park’s defining feature is the majestic Aoraki / Mount Cook, an iconic snow-capped mountain that draws adventurers, hikers, and photographers alike. Surrounding this pinnacle are vast glacial landscapes, including the renowned Tasman Glacier, New Zealand’s longest.

Hiking enthusiasts are enticed by the park’s diverse trails, with the Hooker Valley Track offering panoramic views of Aoraki / Mount Cook and its breathtaking surroundings. The park’s designation as an International Dark Sky Reserve also makes it a celestial haven for stargazers, providing unparalleled opportunities for observing the night sky.

Photo Credit to Arina Wong

Despite the challenging alpine conditions, Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park hosts a variety of resilient plant and animal species uniquely adapted to the mountain environment.

Managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC), the park provides amenities in the nearby Aoraki / Mount Cook Village, ensuring that visitors have access to accommodations and information centers. Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park stands as a testament to New Zealand’s natural splendor, inviting exploration and appreciation for its alpine grandeur and glacial landscapes.

Photo Credit to Sebastian Goldberg

18. Machu Pichu, Peru

Perched high in Peru’s Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu is an awe-inspiring testament to Incan genius, securing its status as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. This ancient citadel, nestled strategically with breathtaking views, showcases the Inca Empire’s architectural prowess and cultural resonance.

Photo Credit to Seiji Seiji

Machu Picchu’s complex features include finely crafted stone structures, terraced fields, and ceremonial plazas, a testament to the Inca’s advanced engineering skills. The precision of the stonework, achieved without mortar, remains a marvel of ancient craftsmanship.

Functioning as a sacred retreat, the citadel harmonizes with the surrounding Andean landscapes and the meandering Urubamba River. The Intihuatana stone, believed to be an astronomical device, adds an extra layer of intrigue.

Simon Schwyter

Pilgrims traverse the revered Inca Trail, a historic footpath, to reach Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate, offering glimpses of ancient ruins and diverse ecosystems. The iconic peak, Huayna Picchu, invites adventurous hikers to ascend its challenging trails for panoramic views.

Beyond its archaeological significance, Machu Picchu symbolizes Incan heritage and was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911, capturing global fascination. The town of Aguas Calientes serves as the gateway, providing accommodations and services while strict regulations maintain the site’s authenticity. Machu Picchu, draped in mystery against the Andean backdrop, invites modern explorers to unravel its ancient secrets and bask in the grandeur of this historical marvel.

Photo Credit to Adrian Dascal

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