by minubi: What’s the quickest way to realize how truly amazing our planet is? Simple: Visit the world’s greatest national parks. We’re thankful that governments around the world have set aside these amazing tracts of pristine wilderness, and with the help of the tips and photos from over 1 million travelers on minube, we’ve found the very best stretches of untouched nature for your bucket list. From the plains of Africa to the desert isles of the Caribbean, here are the 35 most amazing national parks on Earth!
1.) Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica — In the middle of the dense Costa Rican rainforest, there’s a rumbling active volcano (yes, you can actually see the lava pouring down the sides), surrounded by hot springs, fauna-filled forests, and plenty of hidden waterfalls. Ask anyone who’s been to Arenal and they’ll tell you: It’s paradise. (Photo by Blake Burton)
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2.) Iguazu National Park, Argentina/Brazil — The Iguazu National Park on the Argentina/Brazil border is easily the most amazing waterfall park on Earth. Whether you prefer to cool off in the clouds of mist or enjoy the over 2000 species of plants, strolling the walkways around this roaring, watery wonderland is an experience you’ll never forget. (Photo by Lucio Sassi)
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3.) Yosemite National Park, USA – There are few sights more breathtaking than pulling up to Yosemite’s Tunnel Overlook in spring when the wildflowers are in bloom and the scenic falls are at their fullest. Whether you opt for crystalline lakes, pine forests, or snowy peaks, Yosemite National Park guarantees postcard-worthy views in all directions. (Photo by Daniel H. Garcia)
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4.) Etosha National Park, Namibia — Africa has plenty of amazing national parks, but none combine such a variety of landscapes and wildlife as Namibia’s Etosha National Park. Not only can you catch a glimpse of giraffes, zebras, and leopards at the park’s watering holes, but you can also explore over 2,000 ancient rock paintings. (Photo by Gabriel Orgaz)
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5.) Banff National Park, Canada — Take one hike through Alberta’s Banff National Park and you’ll understand why it’s the crown jewel of the Canadian Rockies: pristine mountain lakes, massive glaciers, towering peaks, moose, bear… it’s like finding the very best of North American wilderness all in one beautiful package. (Photo by Sergio Lanza Casado)
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6.) Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park, Panama — Too often, we think of national parks as mountains and fjords, but what about those made of reefs, desert islands, and amazing beaches? That’s the case at Panama’s Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park, an authentic paradise of mangroves, sandy isles, and over 10,000 species of plants and animals. (Photo by Naxos)
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7.) Krka National Park, Croatia — Lush forests, jaw-dropping waterfalls, 15th-century monasteries… yup, that’s Krka National Park. It may not be the biggest or most famous park in Croatia, but there are few things that compare to taking a summer swim in the famous Skradinski Buk falls. (Photo by Danilo Veccia)
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8.) Grand Canyon National Park, USA — I don’t think we’d ruffle too many feathers in saying that Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park is easily the most spectacular park in the U.S. Countless travelers agree: sitting on the rim of the canyon and contemplating the park’s vast expanse is a moving and life-changing experience. (Photo by Daniel H. Garcia)
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9.) Tulum National Park, Mexico — Just a short hour from Playa del Carmen, travelers will find over 1,500 acres of ancient Mayan ruins and paradisaical beaches that are home to nesting turtles. Don’t forget to explore the rich sea life and mangroves of the stunning Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve nearby. (Photo by Tibor Mester)
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10.) Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park, China — To say that Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park is magical is to sell it short. Standing amid the five-colored lakes, clear blue sky, and vibrant evergreen forests is amazing on its own, but try to visit in the autumn to experience an extra explosion of color. (Photo by Cliff Fawcett)
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11.) Göreme National Park, Turkey — The rock homes and fairy chimneys of Cappadocia’s Göreme National Park are a bucket list staple the world over. Aside from possessing one of the world’s most singular landscapes, Göreme National Park is also home to ancient Byzantine cave frescoes and even underground cities! (Photo by Maria)
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12.) Pantanal Matogrossense, Brazil — The vast Pantanal Matogrossense National Park is part of one of the world’s largest tropical wetlands, and one of the richest ecosystems found anywhere outside of the Amazon. The best part? The park is massive and you can truly see Brazil’s mammals, reptiles, and birds in their element. (Photo by Sandra Carrillo)
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13.) Cinque Terre, Italy — The Cinque Terre National Park in Liguria, Italy has it all: scenic and colorful villages, boar-filled forests, amazing hiking trails, sandy beaches…and it’s all located on the Italian Riviera! There are truly few places on Earth that blend culture and nature as seamlessly (and beautifully) as Cinque Terre. (Photo by Elzunia1)
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14.) Yellowstone National Park, USA — Yellowstone National Park is a land of superlatives. The world’s first natural park, the continent’s largest volcanic area, and home to the world’s largest herd of free-roaming bison. Yes, from its famous geysers to its mirror-like lakes and amazing wildlife, Yellowstone National Park encapsulates the very best of the American west. (Photo by Ramsey Walcher)
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15.) Snowdonia National Park, Wales, UK — The Snowdonia National Park in Wales is a rugged land of craggy mountains, scenic lakes, and a truly one-of-a-kind local culture. It’s a place to enjoy some of the best mountain biking in Europe (if not the world) before settling down to enjoy the castles, festivals, and charming villages of this unique Welsh-speaking land. (Photo by Alf Bailey)
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16.) Jasper National Park, Canada — While many associate the Canadian Rockies with Banff, Jasper National Park is actually a larger, wilder, and (according to many) richer national park. The solution? See both! After visiting Banff, take the spectacular Icefields Parkway up to see Jasper’s incredible woods, glaciers, and wildlife. (Photo by Naxos)
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17.) Los Roques Archipelago, Venezuela — If you ever get the urge to live out your Robinson Crusoe daydreams, Los Roques is definitely the place. This protected park is made up of over 300 uninhabited islands, all surrounded by crystal-blue water, coral reefs, and some of the best diving and snorkel spots in the world. (Photo by Naxos)
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18.) Torres del Paine National Park, Chile — Torres del Paine is a breathtaking expanse of wilderness in the Chilean Patagonia topped off by the iconic Cuernos del Paine peaks. While the hiking and views are beautiful in their own right, seeing the immense glaciers of the Southern Patagonia Ice Field extend towards the horizon is an experience that hasn’t its equal. (Photo by Carlos Solinis)
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19.) Chitwan National Park, Nepal — Outside of Africa, there are few parks that offer the variety of large, exotic animals as Nepal’s Chitwan National Park: rhinos, cloud leopards, monkeys, and one of the highest concentrations of Bengal tigers in the world. Can you imagine a better place for your first safari? (Photo by Olance)
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20.) Fiordland National Park, New Zealand — Fiordland National Park on the South Island of New Zealand is one of the most rugged, stunning, and, well, EPIC places in the world! To kayak through the silent fjords amid towering peaks and rushing waterfalls is the definition of a life-changing adventure. (Photo by Flechi)
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21.) Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia — Few things can prepare you for the sunrise over an endless sea of sand, especially when you’re atop a 50 million year-old sand dune the size of a skyscraper! Don’t forget to spend a morning exploring the legendary Dune 45, a surreal place immediately recognizable from dozens of Hollywood films. (Photo by Araceli Aranda)
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22.) Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia — Simply put, the Plitvice Lakes are spectacular. 16 emerald and turquoise lakes connected with dozens and dozens of scenic waterfalls ranging from the turbulent to the trickling. The only downside to exploring this park is that you’ll have the fight the continuous urge to dive in! (Photo by Isadora Costa)
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23.) Komodo National Park, Indonesia — As you can probably guess, Indonesia’s Komodo National Park is the premier place to see world’s largest lizard: the Komodo dragon. Beyond just admiring these mighty reptiles, the park is also home to world-class scuba diving, hidden beaches, and everything from savannah to cloud forests. (Photo by Leo&Vero)
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24.) Guilin and Lijang River National Park, China — The misty karst landscapes of China’s Guilin and Lijang River National Park offer one of the most dreamy, evocative panoramas on Earth. The best plan? Take a lazy float down the Li River and enjoy the striking peaks, friendly fisherman, and small riverside villages. (Photo by Juanjo Fontanet)
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25.) Canaima National Park, Venezuela — While Venezuela’s Canaima National Park is most famous for being the home to Angel Falls, the natural splendor certainly doesn’t stop there. The park is also home to vast lagoons, dense jungles, wetlands, and gigantic, otherworldly plateaus like the famous Mt. Roraima. (Photo by David R. Luna)
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26.) Tobago Cays Marine Park, St. Vincent & the Grenadines — Tobago Cays is a pristine archipelago of 5 islands that’s a veritable underwater Garden of Eden. From snorkeling with turtles and rays to sprawling on a white sand beach without a soul in sight, it’s no wonder that Tobago Cays is one of the Caribbean’s most popular eco-tourism destinations. (Photo by Cali Day)
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27.) Serengeti National Park, Tanzania — The Serengeti National Park is one of the reining kings of African national parks. Known for its annual wildebeest migrations, the single largest animal migration on Earth, the Serengeti National Park is one of the few places on earth that can truly be considered a sanctuary for the great animals of Africa. (Photo by Alfonso N. Tappero)
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28.) The Everglades, USA — At first glance, the Everglades can be intimidating. It’s a vast wetland covering a massive chunk of southern Florida, but with a little grit and an airboat, travelers can discover one of the continent’s greatest wildlife refuges, full of crocodiles, deer, migratory birds, and unforgettable sunsets. (Photo by Victor Gomez)
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29.) Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Australia — There are two ways to explore the Great Barrier Reef: by sea and by sky. With its unparalleled diversity of marine life, the Great Barrier Reef is obviously a snorkel and scuba heaven, but for the less aquatically-inclined, you can also opt to see the beautiful colors and coral formations from a plane. (Photo by Gonzalo Moreno)
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30.) Jostedalsbreen National Park, Norway — Oh Norway… a land of epic fjords, scenic villages, and, of course, amazing natural parks, the most stunning of which is the Jostedalsbreen National Park, home of the famous Briskdal Glacier. Just imagine climbing by glacial lakes and churning waterfalls to come upon a massive blue glacier cascading down the mountain. Priceless! (Photo by Alfonso N. Tappero)
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31.) Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania — Mt. Kilimanjaro has the fame of being the highest mountain in Africa and the dream of avid climbers everywhere. The Kilimanjaro National Park is most famous among trekkers looking to challenge themselves on the peak, but the views and wildlife in the surrounding grasslands makes the trip worthwhile for the rest of us! (Photo by Esteban Atilano)
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32.) Tayrona National Park, Colombia — Columbia’s Tayrona National Park is a strip of virgin jungle nestled between the mountains and the Caribbean sea where you can spot monkeys playing in the trees, snorkel among some of the country’s best coral reefs, or simply find a dreamy spot to hang up your hammock and soak it all in. (Photo by Murci3lago)
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33.) Kruger National Park, South Africa — The Kruger National Park is an unbelievably big (over 7,000 square miles!) nature reserve in South Africa and, with more species of large mammals than any other African game reserve, arguably the top safari destination in the world. What else can we say? It’s a must!
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34.) Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina — Few sights are as imposing or awe-inspiring as laying eyes on the Perito Moreno Glacier, the hulking glacier and centerpiece of Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park. To cruise on the water and see football field sized chunks of ice come crashing into the water is truly a humbling sight. (Photo by Juan C. Abatedaga)
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35.) Galapagos National Park, Ecuador — The Galapagos National Park off the coast of Ecuador is home to one of the world’s most interesting and unique ecosystems. Whether you come to marvel at the giant tortoises and iguanas or swim around the coral reefs, Galapagos National Park is a natural gem that must be experienced in your lifetime. (Photo by Juanjo Fontanet)
Source: The Huffington Post