National parks around the world offer so many splendid sights, smells, and sounds from rare fauna to exquisite flora. Entering into a national park is an adventure of the soul and while there are hundreds of fabulous parks across the globe, these 10 are exceptional for a variety of reasons and all deserve the attention and admiration of outdoor enthusiasts, wildlife lovers, and curious travellers alike. Add these national parks to your bucket list and start breaking in your outdoor gear!
10. Chitwan National Park, Nepal
Most people head to the Himalayas when the land in Nepal but Chitwan National Park is well worth a portion of your itinerary. The national park protects the One-Horned Rhino, the Royal Bengal Tiger, and boasts a huge roster of other mammals, bird species, and fish. The Chitwan National Park is the oldest conservation area in Nepal with over 30 years of protective status.
9. Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a natural paradise of eco-friendly tourism throughout the entire country. Arenal Volcano is an active volcano located near the town of La Fortuna. By day you can see smoke emitting from the top of the crater and by night you may see fiery lava spilling from the spout. The conservation area is a wealth of biodiversity, you can spot the white-faced monkey or endemic species like the Pitcaimia Funkiae. There are many activities to keep you busy inside the park zone like hiking, rafting, rappelling, and hot springs.
8. Torngat Mountains National Park, Labrador, Canada
This is true wilderness, untamed, unspoiled, nature at its finest and most surreal. Torngat Mountains in Labrador is one of the lesser known national parks in Canada, in fact it was the 42nd inaugurated park. The protected zone covers 9,700 square kilometers of otherworldly landscape deep in the heart of Inuit territory. Torngat Mountain National Park is rife with mountains, lakes, rivers, polar bears, and caribou.
7. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park is a network of 16 lakes connected by waterfalls. Bears, deer, wolves, boars, and birds call this stunning landscape home. The highest lake is at an elevation of 1280 metres and the lowest lake drops down to 380 metres, there is a path that connects the lakes that you can follow along. The paths are very crowded during the peak summer months.
6. Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of The Congo
The Virunga is the most legendary park on this list and while most of the park is off limits and indeed there are travel advisories to the country, if you do manage to make it to The Congo, you’ll be in for a real adventure. Virunga is the oldest and most biodiverse national park in Africa and also the most endangered due to oil companies and rebel militia trying to take control of the area. The park rangers protect the park and the gorillas from poachers and militia. From Goma, you can enter the park to visit the endangered mountain gorillas, the money from your visit goes directly to conservation efforts. You can also trek Nyiragongo Volcano to take in the views of the largest lava lake in the world and spend the night on the rim of the crater.
5. Komodo National Park, Indonesia
The Komodo National Park achieved conservation status as a way to protect the Komodo Dragon endemic to the island in Indonesia. The entire conservation area covers 3 main islands as well as the marine space that is teeming with coral reef mangroves, and marine life. The Komodo Dragon is a fierce looking lizard that could have been an extra on Jurassic Park, these animals are powerful predators so keep your distance and stay close to a park ranger.
4. Montagne d'Ambre (Amber Mountain) National Park, Madagascar
Madagascar is full of endemic species including the incredible lemur and the fossa as well as 35 different birds. The park Montagne d/Ambre (Amber Mountain) was inaugurated in 1958 as a protected site and includes the mountain, tropical rainforest, deciduous forest, and unrivalled biodiversity. Over 100 planmt species makes this place look like Ferngully.
3. Los Glaciares National Park
Towering jagged mountains, glacial lakes, woodland, and rivers located in the Andes mountain range, Los Glaciares National Park is a natural wonderland. The park covers 750,000 hectares of surreal icy blue lakes and towering glaciers, the most famous of which is where the Glacier Pepito Moreno. The best way to see this area of Patagonia is by hiking and trekking.
2. Sequoia National Park, California, USA
Camping and hiking under a canopy of the world’s largest trees, in a landscape made for giants. The Sequoias are home to 300 species among them are Black Bears, Sierra Nevada Big-Horn Sheep, and Mountain Yellow-Legged Frogs. Not just a forest, there are karsts and caves to explore, mountain views to gaze at and thousands of lakes.
1. Ngorongoro National Park, Tanzania
Tanzania boasts so many national parks, they have one of the highest proportion of protected land in the world with 48% of their total land given some level of protective status. Driving into Ngorongoro Conservation Area first brings you through lush rainforest and then you descend into the crater to see a multitude of animal species grazing and frolicking in their little groups. Lionesses hunt buffalo while their cubs roll around in the grass and the male lions nap in the tall grass, ostriches with their heads buried in the dirt occasionally popping up to watch the land cruisers roll by, and hippos bathe in the pond. The Ngorongoro Crater is The Lion King come to life.
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