Most people like to go on relaxing vacations when they get the opportunity to do so. This is why places such as the Bahamas, Cancun, and Italy have become almost synonymous with vacation! But what about destinations for people who seek to be fully immersed in nature for a majestic week or two? Here are some of the best places to take a walk on the wild side...
Botswana, often called the Gem of Africa, is completely landlocked and can be found just to the north of South Africa. Despite not having any access to a coastline, Botswana still sports some of the most beautiful scenery south of the Sahara. Most areas are serviced by full safari tours, some of which even allow extravehicular exploration for those that are even more adventurous.
Chobe National Park, found along the northern border with Zimbabwe, contains one of the densest pockets of native wildlife in Africa. Animals commonly found vary by season and region, but impala, zebra, elephants, antelope, lions, and cheetahs can be seen throughout most of the park.
Other points of interest include the Makgadikgadi Pan, Okavango Delta, Kalahari Game Reserve, and Victoria Falls just over the border in Zimbabwe.
Perhaps you want to find a location within the US, in which case Yosemite National Park might be ideal. Located in the mountains north of Fresno in California, Yosemite is packed with magnificent waterfalls, steep cliffs, and clear lakes. The park offers hotels, lodges, and accommodations for RVs and campers so you can enjoy spending your nights however you prefer. The park also boasts activities and recreation all year, from guided hikes to rafting and snowboarding. You can make sure that each visit is different by traveling at different times of the year.
For those with eyes set on a Caribbean destination, Costa Rica is perfect. Sandwiched between Nicaragua and Panama, Costa Rica has coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Whether you want mountains, volcanoes, surfing, or rafting, this little country has everything and more. With more than a quarter of its land area designated as protected environments, it also allows spectacular views of largely untouched nature in all of its glory, full of all the exotic wildlife you could ever want.
Located on an island in Indonesia, Bali is rated one of the best vacation hotspots in the world - and for good reason! Formed by volcanic processes similar to those that formed Hawaii, Bali has become a true tropical paradise. With Mount Agung standing nearly 2 miles above sea level in the middle of the island, the jungle flows gently down the slopes to meet with the Pacific Ocean, forming a spectacular rim of beaches permitting easy access to some of the greatest marine diversity on Earth. From resorts and bars to jungle tours and local marine cruises, Bali offers excitement for everyone.
Situated far to the east of Bali in the Hawaiian archipelago is the island of Kauai. This tropical island is home to Waimea Canyon, which spans nearly 10 miles in length, most of which contains luscious green trees surrounded by vibrant red and orange cliffs. Along the northwestern edge of the island are the 4,000-foot-tall orange and green cliffs of the Napali Coast, which can only be reached by boat, helicopter, or a two-day hike. Kauai also possesses the Wailua River, one of the only navigable rivers in Hawaii. If your ideal vacation includes seeing all that the Pacific islands have to offer, Kauai is the only place you’ll have to visit.
In keeping with the tropical theme, Belize is always a great option. From the interior rainforests in the west all the way to the beaches and reefs in the east, Belize is one of the best options for viewing exotic wildlife in many different environments. For those who desire aquatic adventures, the Belize Barrier Reef offers many sites for snorkelers and divers alike. In addition to local wildlife, Belize is the site of a large concentration of Mayan ruins and culture.
Situated in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Portugal are nine little volcanic islands that form the Azores Archipelago. The Azores might not have much to offer in terms of heavily wooded areas, but it does have many natural calderas and gently sloping mountainsides. On the islands, you can expect to find attractions such as hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, and paragliding. If you want to be on the ocean, yachting, deep-sea fishing, whale watching, and surfing are great choices. The Azores offer the excitement of an island vacation with the climate of a Mediterranean excursion.
Namibia is situated on the Atlantic coast in southwest Africa and has been referred to as “Africa for beginners” because of its environmental and animal diversity. In Etosha National Park in northern Namibia, you can drive to many of the ponds and lakes and watch the gazelles and elephants come straight to you. While the northern areas receive sufficient rainfall for herd grazing, most of the country is desert, which makes it the driest country in all of Africa. This may sound bleak, but it gives rise to the gorgeous mountainous sand dunes of the Namib Desert.
Thailand sits in southeastern Asia between Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia and provides a habitat for thousands of different species. This perfect combination of tropical rainforest, mountains, and turbulent rivers creates the ideal location for such great outdoor activities as zip-lining, whitewater rafting, and hiking. The warm waters along the coast beckon to divers and snorkelers the world over. Animal lovers are also able to take advantage of a special deal by the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand that enables you to sign up to take a volunteer vacation in which you volunteer to spend your vacation time helping with animal rescue and conservation projects.
The tiny country of Bhutan, with its colorful buildings and high-climbing mountains, is one of the most picturesque pieces of land you will ever have a chance to see. Sharing the majority of its borders with India, its southern grassy plateau rapidly changes into the dominant forested mountain slopes of the Himalayas as you progress to the north where it borders China. As most of the country is comprised of the slopes of a massive mountain range, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking and mountain climbing. In fact, Bhutan is home to Gangkhar Puensum. With an elevation of nearly 25,000 feet, it is considered by many to be the highest unclimbed mountain in the world.