Words & Pictures by: Saifuddin Ismailji In a recent campaign, the New Seven Natural Wonders of the world chosen through a global poll included Amazon Rainforest South America, Halong Bay Vietnam, Iguazu Falls Brazil and Argentina, Jeju Island South Korea, Komodo Island Indonesia, Puerto Princesa Underground River and Table Mountain Australia.
In a yet another list of 7 Natural Wonders, research traveler Howard Hillman give his version, agreeing to some of the above but includes the spectacle of Serengeti Migration of over a million wildebeests, zebras and wild animals (along the borders of Kenya and Tanzania); Galapagos Island Ecuador; Grand Canyon; and the Great Barrier Reef Australia. Several institutions and independent researchers have widened the perspective of Natural Wonders relating it to each of the seven continents of Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America, Australia, and Antarctica. Travel Track lists Natural Wonders of Asia and includes K2 (Pakistan) and Gobi Desert (Mongolia) among the others. http://travel.allwomenstalk.com/natural-wonders-of-asia/3/Pure Travel lists Wonders in Europe including the Mount Matterhorn in Switzerland (and Italy) and Norwegian Fjords – among the others. www.
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puretravel.com/blog/2013/09/24/top-7-natural-wonders-in-europeWith my journeys across the continents, I have carefully research, keeping in view the true aspects required in defining a thing of nature that display an absolute wonder in all its perspectives. This list not necessarily suggests a ranking order, thus appear in alphabetical order: AlpsLocated in the South-west Switzerland, the Valaisan Pennine Alp features a rare combination of natural wonders of World Heritage value in an amazingly intact and superlative natural ecosystem. The four sided pyramidal Mount Matterhorn has two distinct peaks – the highest: Swiss Summit rising 4,478 m, and the second peak (on the Italian side) at 4,476 m. Mountain lovers regard the Matterhorn among the most photogenic marvel of nature’s architecture. The sight wonder extends into the more heavily glaciated wilderness of Gorner glacier – access via Gornergrat Bahn (train) from Zermatt, showcasing 28 of the 76 four thousand meters peaks, abound rich biodiversity of high alpine lakes, and array of flora-fauna. The entire Gorner glacier area (57 kilometer square) is the second largest in the Alps that marks the highest point: Monte Rosa Massif (Dufour 4634 m), which display its grandeur in the surrounding icy peaks including Dom 4545m, Lyskamm 4527m, Matterhorn 4478m, Weisshorn 4506m. Year 2015 celebrates 150 years of 1st ascent on Mount Matterhorn.
www.naturalwondersofeurope.com/matterhorn/ Amazon Rain ForestThe Earth’s Lung, Amazon represents over half the remaining rainforests worldwide. Home to an amazing variety of wild life and plant species, the Amazon tropical forest system span over 1.7 billion acres (7,000,000 square kilometers), while the actual tropical rainforest spread over 1.4 billion acres. With 60% of the Amazon jungle contained within Brazil, the Amazon spreads out in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Peru and Venezuela.
The largest basin area in the world, Amazonia is home to about 2.5 million insect species, tens of thousands of plants, and more than 2,000 birds and mammals. So far, at least 40,000 plant species, 2,200 fishes, 427 mammals, 428 amphibians, and 378 reptiles have been known to exist. One in five of all bird and fish species live here.
Among large variety of flower and fauna the water lily (Victoria regia) is an aquatic plant native to the Amazon. Toucan bird (the earl of Amazonia), Rainforest jaguar, Scarlet Macaws (indigenous to the South American tropics), tupi (a red-Brazilian bird), sloth, Amazon dart (reticulated) frog, emerald boa, iguana, piranha fish are just a few to name in the list of hundreds of thousands of species. Concordia K2 PakistanLocated in howling isolation of heavy glaciated valleys of Baltistan in North Pakistan, glaciers of the central, highest mountains, including Hispar, Chogo Lungma, Braldu, Biafo, Baltoro, Godwin Austin and Siachen ( 45 miles, 70 km long) – all meet at the junction of Concordia – the place out of this world; an ultimate expression of mountain greatness of monolithic range of the Kara-Koram with a cluster of some of the highest peaks in the world, comprising four of the world’s fourteen eight-thousanders (meters) and many seven thousanders amidst countless number of 6000m – 5000m mountains.
With 360 degree view of sight wonder, the Concordia is the base camp to trekking and mountain expeditions to Chogori K2 (8611m) second highest in the world; Gasherbrum K5 (8080m) 11th highest; Broad Peak K3(8047m) 12th highest; Gasherbrum II K4 (8035) 13th highest; Gasherbrum III (7,952m); Gasherbrum IV (7925m); Masherbrum K1 (7821m); Chogolisa (7655m); Muztagh Tower 7273m); Snow Dome (7160m); Biarchedi (6781m): Biarchedi 6781m) Mitre Peak (6010m). A derivative of Turkic word meaning Black Rock – the entire Kara Koram mountain system spans about 80,000 square miles (207,000 square km). The 150 miles (240 km) deep, Karakoram range runs in length from 300 miles (500 km) to 500 miles (800 km), extended into the eastern most Qiangchenmo in China and Pangong ranges of the Tibetan plateau. The formation of the uplifting of the Karakoram Range has been a continual process since the past 540 million years back in time. The region in a violent collision zone of continental plates, up thrust the mountain and trigger massive rock and ice avalanches.
This geological wonder in all its extremities, a beyond compare jaw-dropping sight to behold, seem to have been left out by groups and organizations (with a biased agenda) in not recognizing this nature’s phenomenal creation on top of the list that easily surpasses all the measurements required in the acknowledgment of a natural wonder. Last year (2014) K2 celebrated 60 years of its first ascent with the Pakistan flag hurling on top of the mountain by a group of climbers in Pakistan.Grand CanyonA must visit for all travelers to the United States, the Grand Canyon story unfolds the history of nature’s architecture spanned over a billion years – still into formation.
The Grand Canyon is 446 kilometers (277 miles) long, up to 29 kilometers (18 miles) wide from rim to rim, and over 1600 meters (a mile) deep. At different time of the day the canyon walls reflects varying colors from crimson to earth colors of brown, orange and red. The formation of Marble Canyon and the Colorado River, which has played a key role in making up of the rugged gorges as the river cuts through the canyons; even today remain an isolated wonderland.Great Barrier Reef (GBR) The Great Barrier Reef in Australia’s Tropical North Queensland is undisputed World Wonder – underwater.
The coast that stretches 2300 kilometers (1400 miles) in the Coral Sea contains 3,000 coral reefs plus many islets, atolls and coral cays. The GBR, over recent years has come under severe risk of damage of its fragile ecology, threatened by tourism activities, global warming, over fishing and pollutants that sweep into the waters.On a clear day, coral reefs can be seen from mid air while hovering in a helicopter. The GBR has in its area a treasure trove of 10,000 species including 1500 types of fishes and 200 kinds of birds and other inhabitants that include whales, dolphins and sea turtles.
Ngorongoro Crater Imagine seeing an abundant wild life within a crater, which collapsed since it became Inactive! Most of the big game animals (Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion and Leopard) including cheetah, hippopotamus, hyena, giraffe, herds of zebra, wildebeests and gazelle roam around the wilderness of the crater with a number of water holes. African crowned-crane, flamingo, stork and a variety of bird species also reside within the crater walls.Located in Tanzania, the nearby area is a heritage to human history after the discovery of full skeleton of ‘Lucy’ – what historians claim the earliest ancestor to humans known to mankind. Norwegian Fjords The elements of wonderment in the Norwegian Fjords lies in the nature’s phenomenal art as Glacier ice sheets slowly carved the Fjords of Norway out of hard-rock coastal mountains. The serrated eastern shoreline extend from central to the north of Norway with site of natural wonder in the form of narrow fjords walled in by extraordinarily steep cliffs, lush slopes and icy mountain summits.
Traveling north on train and boat for about 70 kilometers from Bergen; Sognefjord offers breathtaking scenery at a stretch of 204 kilometers inland. Sailing by boat North towards Hardanger via Ulvik, the fjordscapes with picturesque rural vistas heightens the natural wonder with the mountains soaring 180 meters.Victoria Falls I single thing of beauty – the Victoria Falls befit a Natural Wonder in all perspectives. On the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, the 1700-meter (1-mile) wide perimeter of the Victoria Falls plunges steep 100 meters to the bottom. Immediately after rainy season, the sight wonder exude soaring mists and thunder, the spectacle that I experienced even while in the room of my hotel balcony that overlook the fall. Best time to witness the falls and be mesmerized can be during Mid May to Mid September. ———–End (Story Text = 1469 words)