World’s 10 Most Astonishing Natural Wonders

Over the course of billions of years, Earth has shaped up some astonishing sights that can’t be labeled as anything but “wonders.” These wonders are of many types, categorized by certain criteria. Even though humankind can definitely pride itself on being responsible for some truly incredible constructions, Mother Nature remains the best sculptor. Scattered all over the globe, the 10 World's Most Astonishing Natural Wonders are definitely destinations that anyone should have on their bucket list.

1. The Grand Canyon

Most Astonishing Natural Wonders - Grand Canyon

There isn’t one person that hasn’t heard about the Grand Canyon before. Not just Arizona’s trademark, it’s one of the most visited tourist attractions in the United States. With a length of 277 miles (446 km) and a width of 18 miles (29 km), this rocky landform gained its unique appearance as a result of millions of years during which the Colorado River has been digging its course through layers of stone. It was considered to be holy land by many Native American tribes, including the Pueblo people, who held pilgrimages in it.

2. The Great Barrier Reef

Most Astonishing Natural Wonders - Great Barrier Reef

Located in the Coral Sea near Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is considered by CNN as one of the Seven Wonders of the World – for good reason, too. The coral reef can be seen from outer space, as it’s the biggest living organism structure on Earth. It became a World Heritage Site in 1981 and ever since numerous organizations are trying to protect it against climate change and coral bleaching. In 2012, it was revealed that the reef lost in the last thirty years more than half of its initial corals.

3. Mount Everest

Most Astonishing Natural Wonders - Everest

The tallest peak in the world is located in the heart of the Himalayan mountain system, bordering Nepal, Tibet, and China. It became the biggest dream of any professional climber. However, the dire conditions resulted from altitude take the lives of those that try to conquer it yearly. The first people to reach Everest’s top were Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

4. Auroras

Most Astonishing Natural Wonders - Auroras

Auroras are nature’s best spectacle of lights. Caused by a reaction between solar waves and magnetic fields, they can be seen around the extreme poles of the Earth. Depending on their location, there are two types of auroras: aurora borealis (also known as the northern lights), and aurora australis (also known as the southern lights). The latter can be seen forming in areas such as Antarctica, New Zealand, and Australia. Moreover, Earth isn’t the only one that benefits from spectacular displays of light: other planets’ skies are also lit up by auroras.

5. Iguazu Falls

Most Astonishing Natural Wonders - Iguazu Falls

A system of waterfalls positioned on the border between Argentina and Brazil, the Iguazu Falls are astonishing through their sheer massiveness. While most waterfalls average around 64 meters in length, the Iguazu Falls reach an impressive 700 meters. An old myth says that they were formed by a deity that was so upset his lover ran away on the river with her mortal lover, he split the water in two and condemned the couple to an infinite fall. The biggest attraction of the waterfalls is Devil’s Throat, a narrow chasm shaped like an U.

6. Parícutin

Most Astonishing Natural Wonders - Paricutin

It may be surprising that a volcano managed to land a spot on this list, but Paricutin isn’t just any volcano. What makes it stand out is the fact that its whole life cycle, from birth to extinction, has been witnessed and documented by humans. First emerging from the cornfields of a local farmer in 1943, it became a topic of interest for many scientists worldwide. Even though today’s Paricutin is extinct, the forces that led to its birth sometimes still quake the Earth. The volcano is a common recurrence on many lists and versions of the Natural Wonders of the World.

7. Jeju Island

Most Astonishing Natural Wonders - Jeju

Also known as Jeju Province or Jejudo, it’s the biggest island in Korea and the smallest province. There are many wonderful things about this idyllic location, including the fact that its secluded position resulted in a civilization that developed its own language and culture. The people of Jejudo are famous for the matriarchal system governing their society. Back in the day, women made roughly 60% of the island’s profit from free diving. They would dive in cold waters without any scuba gears with the purpose of harvesting various marine products. Jeju Island is the home of South Korea’s tallest mountain, which is also a dormant volcano.

8. Table Mountain

Most Astonishing Natural Wonders - Table Mt.

A fascinating looking mountain with a completely flat peak, Table Mountain became a landmark of Cape Town, South Africa. Many tourists are drawn to this wonderful landform on a yearly basis, preferring to get to the top either by hiking or using the cableway. Table Mountain is considered to be one of the New Wonders of the World.

9. Puerto Princesa Underground River

Most Astonishing Natural Wonders - River

North of the Philippine city of Puerto Princesa lies a true paradise corner. Also known as the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, it became a protected area that’s been managed by the government since 1992. Their goal is to try and preserve the natural, raw beauty of the area. During a 2010 expedition, several journeys led to the discovery that the river has a second floor, something that hinted at an alleged existence of a waterfall system. Moreover, the national park houses one of the most complex cave systems in the world.

10. Ha Long Bay

Most Astonishing Natural Wonders - Ha Long Bay

Exhibiting thousands of islets and limestone karsts, Ha Long Bay is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as a highly popular tourist destination. Due to the fairly isolated location of the bay, much of the area has remained unaffected by human intervention. Formations in its composition are the result of over 500 million years of evolution. Also, historical research has shown that pre-historical humans may have inhabited this area.

Our world is big and spectacular. Many of the entries on this list aren’t generally well known, but perhaps in years to come, they will become as famous as the occupants of the first three spots on the list. I’m certain that, despite everything, there are still countless wonders we don’t know much about. These were the 10 World's Most Astonishing Natural Wonders… at the moment.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

5 Strange Trees around the World

Since we got you used to our short trips around the world in the search of the strangest things that occur, you won't be surprised that today we will focus a bit on some very strange trees, as not only the animal reign is interesting, surprising and ever – challenging (as new species are being discovered quite often by researchers and biologists). Some trees around the world should be seen as touristic objectives in themselves, as some species are truly amazing, not to mention downright weird. So next time when you decide to spend your holidays in some exotic destination and show some interest in the fauna there, look into the flora also, because Mother Nature had some bizarre sense of humor when shaping certain trees, shrubs and flowers. So today we will pack our bags, charge the camera's batteries and travel planet Earth in the search of strange trees around the world.

1. The Sausage Tree – Kigelia africana

sausage tree

If you were still intrigued by the natural diversity of this world, the sausage tree might remind you that some exotic species aren't at all how you imagine “trees” in general or how you conceptualize them in drawing. The sausage tree is native to Africa and if you take a look at it from a distance, you will think somebody made a joke. In truth, this tree's fruits look like chubby sausages but they are not quite your newest exotic dish, as they are toxic if consumed fresh. However, traditional African medicine and home made cosmetics include these fruits in local blends and mixes.

2. The Handkerchief Tree – Davidia involucrata

dove tree

This is one of the most amazing strange trees around the world, because its white large leaves (reaching sometimes even 25 centimeters in length) look like somebody turned the tree into a DIY project of handkerchief hanging just for the fun of it. This tree originates in China and is also known as the “dove tree” because in windy days, the white leaves look like birds flying.

3. Jabuticaba – Plinia cauliflora

jabuticaba

This is among our favorite strange trees around the world, because it looks like a very stubborn, independent and original life form: its flowers and fruits develop and grow not only on the young branches, but also on the thick, old branches and also the trunk. So next time you travel to South America and happen to stumble upon a tree covered with tiny fruits that look some sort of berries that cover the tree entirely, don't think there is a disease going on, but pick some fruits and try them, as they are edible in their fresh form, in all sorts of sweet products and in fruit punch.

4. The Indian Banyan – Ficus benghalensis

indian banyan

If you travel to India, watch out for this amazing tree that has the amazing talent of growing aerial roots which develop downward, get stuck in the ground and grow so thick and strong, they begin look like a normal tree's trunk. So if you happen to see a bunch of trees with close trunks, you might be in the presence of a single Banyan. It is a sacred tree in India and you will see many praying places and worship temples hosted by these natural pillars.

5. The Rainbow Eucalyptus   – Eucalyptus deglupta

rainbow eucalyptus

Some strange trees around the world impress by their leafage, their bizarre fruits or the way they seem to defy the laws of nature that we know about and prove us we don't actually know much. Other trees however, are spectacular to see with your own eyes, because sometimes, they look like true paintings. For instance, the Rainbow Eucalyptus (easy to be found in Indonesia, the Philippines or New Guinea) looks like Nature was getting bored one day and decided to try painting on its bark. So now this tree's trunk is a display of abstract colored spots and trails which are jolly and amazing to see with your own eyes. Everybody loves this rainbow tree and landscape artists plant it in gardens or parks for a touch of true natural beauty.

Do you have your own favorite strange trees around the world? How about the Traveler's Tree or the Desert's Rose or some funny cactus species? In your travels, did you meet such incredible manifestations of natural diversity and beauty?

Nature Watch: The Lego Bird

[David Attenborough voice] This, dear reader, is the rarely spotted Lego bird, a species whose biological structure is curiously made entirely out of Lego toy bricks. When seen, they are typically hidden away inside a child’s bedroom closet beside a Lego box, where they sit quietly and motionless, as always. Like the penguin and the Penguin chocolate biscuit, they are flightless creatures, which is probably for the best: an ill-judged landing would most likely result in a child-unfriendly explosion of dislodged plastic bird parts.

The Lego bird’s rarity is commonly attributed to a lack of interest from Lego constructors in building birds with their toy bricks: typical Lego creations are fighter jets and spaceships, which, I think you’ll find, are naturally more awesome. But one enthusiastic creator of Lego birds is self-titled “Lego Monster” Thomas Poulsom, whose miraculous creations you will see below. In a stunning art project, Poulsom has designed many species of Lego birds, including macaws, owls, hummingbirds, blue tits (tee hee), finches and… those yellow ones with the… wings…

So, please scroll down and indulge yourself in the majestic beauty of these fine, plastic creatures while I go and snuggle up beside a fully grown male polar bear in the North Pole. Attenborough out. [Read more…]

20 Amazing Landscape Photos

Tulip fields, Holland

Landscape photos are wondrous by their very nature, and landscape photography is an art form practiced by professional and amateur photographers alike. The folks at OneBigPhoto.com, a site where you can see new big hq photos everyday, created this list of 20 amazing photos taken around the world. Enjoy!

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A Completely See-Through Church in Belgium

They say that God sees all, and now all can see inside of his house. Well, at least inside of a fully see-through church in Belgium.

The artists who came up with this interesting idea are young Belgian architects Pieterjan Gijs and Arnout Van Vaerenbergh, collaborating under the name of Gijs Van Vaerenbergh.

[Read more…]