National parks, the international effort to conserve the natural beauty of the planet. Governments across the world establish boundaries of landscapes for preservation in order to maintain the footprint we, as humans, make on this land. Because of this, these parks often house some of the most jaw-dropping and breathtaking sights the eye can see. So for your next trip, if you’re ready for a picturesque adventure of a lifetime, you should consider traveling to one of these national parks around the world.
1. Lençóis Maranhenses National Park
Off the northeastern shores of Maranhão, Brazil is the beautiful national park of Lençois Maranhenses. The park, comprised majorly of sand dunes and salt marshes, is renowned for its visually striking appearance, both from afar and in close proximity. The image of the area mirrors that of a desert, but the coastal landscape actually gets around 47 inches of rainfall each year (desert status is reserved for areas that receive less than 10 inches). The rainfall that accumulates in these dunes does not dissipate, creating pristine blue bodies of water stretching distances of up to 300-feet long and 10-feet deep. The water levels also connect with surrounding bodies of water transporting small species of fish to the park. It is recommended to visit the park between the months of June to September after the conclusion of the area’s rain season.
© Chris Hill
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2. Los Glaciares National Park
Located to Argentina’s southwestern edge is the network of glaciers and mountains known as Los Glaciares National Park. Unlike most national parks, the vast landscape does not feature forest green foliage and changing seasons. The main attraction here are the 356 glaciers that the park is comprised of, including the famous Perito Moreno Glacier. The glacier is one of several in the park that is stable enough for visitor to hike on. Other than glaciers, visitors also have the option of a more traditional hike. The mountains of the area range from beginner-to-expert so all are welcome to the challenge. With peaks, come valleys, and the ones which accompany the mountains of Los Glaciares include vast lakes. These lakes accumulate from the runoff of the melting glaciers and surrounding rivers. Lago Argentino, Argentina’s largest lake can be found here.
© Danielle Leonard
3. Rapa Nui National Park
The mysterious statues of this island have allowed this natural park to become infamous despite its extremely-remote location. Although lodged deep in the middle of the pack of ocean, the country of Chile lays claim to this island territory and national park. Easter Island, or Rapa Nui (its Polynesian name), has a rich history just waiting to be explore. The national park comprises about 40 percent of the total size of the island. Those mysterious stone heads that are riddled throughout the island are known as Moai. They were believed to have been first sculpted by the Rapa Nui people around 1200 A.D. The landscape of the park is rocky grasslands for the most part without trees obscuring the open land. The island today is home to a population of around 6,000, 60 percent of which being descendants of the original Rapa Nui people.
© Javier Rubilar
4. Kinabalu National Park
Designated as a national park in 1964, Kinabalu National Park is in Sabah, Malaysia. The park is also a designated World Heritage Site by the United Nations, due to its diverse population of plant and animal life. Separated from the mainland of the Malaysian landscape, Kinabalu rests on the northern tip of the politically divided Borneo. the name of the park comes from the historic mountain on which it is built upon, Mount Kinabalu. Mount Kinabalu stands at 4,095 meters high making it the tallest in Malaysia. Along with the mountain, a major attraction of the park is its canopy walk. Visitors can opt to take a full-day tour through the park taking tree bridges, while viewing all that the natural environment has to offer along the way.
© Tunku Rudy
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5. Tsitsikamma National Park
Untapped potential is a pretty accurate descriptor for this next park. Tsitsikamma National Park in both Western and Eastern Cape, South Africa is a wildlife-rich atmosphere that is not easily rivaled. The area, which has held national park status for over 35 years, is still a niche destination overall, so much of the public is unaware of its qualities. It’s name, derives from an indigenous KhoiKhoi language and loosely translates to mean “clear water.” A reason for this being the clear-blue waters of the Tsitsikamma River. Attractions of the park include the suspension bridges that run throughout the Storms River and the historic Bloukrans Bridge. Bloukrans bridge is a hot spot for adrenaline filled travelers daring enough to bungee jump off the nearly 220-meter-high bridge.
© Curd Victor