Parks, Recreation and Amusement

Parks, Recreation and Amusement


Top Ten South American National Parks

Top Ten South American National Parks

  1. The Atlantic Forest, (Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay)

           The Atlantic Forest is a region of tropical and subtropical moist forest, tropical dry forest, tropical savanna, semi deciduous forest and mangrove forests which extends along the Atlantic coast of Brazil from Rio Grande do Norte state in the north to Rio Grande do Sul state in the south, and inland as far as Paraguay and the Misiones Province of Argentina. The Atlantic Forest is characterized by a high species diversity and endemism. It was the first environment that the Portuguese conquerors encountered over 500 years ago when it was thought to have an area of 1 to 1.5 million square km and stretching an unknown distance inland. Currently, the Atlantic Forest spans over 4000 square km along the coast of Brazil and in a small part of Paraguay and Argentina. The Atlantic Forest region includes forests of several variations: Restinga is a forest type that grows on stabilized coastal dunes. Restinga Forests are generally closed canopy short forests with tree density. Open Restinga is an open, savanna-like formation with scattered clumps of small trees and shrubs and an extensive layer of herbs, grasses, andsedges. Tropical moist forests are forests that receive more than 2,000 mm of rain a year. This includes Lowland Tropical Moist Forests, Submontane Tropical Moist Forest, and Montane Tropical Moist Forest. Tabuleiro forests are found over very moist clay soils and Tabuleiro Savannas occur over faster-draining sand soils. These are humid areas that rely on water vapor from the ocean. Further inland are the Atlantic dry or seasonal forests, which form a transition between the arid Caatinga to the northeast and the Cerradosza savannas to the east. These forests are lower in stature; more open, with high abundance of deciduous trees and lower diversity when compared to tropical moist forests. These forests have between 700-1,600 mm of precipitation annually with a distinct dry season. This includes Deciduous and Semideciduous Seasonal Forest each with their own lowland and montane regions. Montane moist forests are higher altitude wet forests across mountains and plateaus of southern Brazil. Shrubby montane savannas occur at the highest elevations, also called Campo rupestre. The Atlantic Forest is unusual in that it extends as a true tropical rainforest to latitudes as high as 24°S. This is because the trade winds produce precipitation throughout the southern winter. In fact, the northern Zona da Mata of northeastern Brazil receives much more rainfall between May and August than during the southern summer. The Atlantic Forest is now designated a World Biosphere Reserve, which contains a large number of highly endangered species. The enormous biodiversity of the Atlantic Forest results in part from the wide range of latitude it covers, its variations in altitude, its diverse climatic regimes as well as the geological and climatic history of the whole region. The Atlantic Forest is isolated from is neighboring large South American forests: The Amazon Region and the Andean Forest. The open vegetation of the Caatinga and the Cerado separate it from the Amazon, and the dry vegetation of the central depressions of the Chaco separate it from the Andean Forest. This isolation has resulted in an evolution of numerous endemic species, such as lion tamarins, woolly spider monkey, and marmosets. During glacial periods in the Pleistocene, the Atlantic Forest is known to have shrunk to extremely small fragmented refugias in highly sheltered gullies, being separated by areas of dry forest or semi-deserts known as caatingas. Some maps even suggest the forest actually survived in moist pockets well away from the coastline, where its endemic rainforest species mixed with much cooler-climate species. Unlike refugia for equatorial rainforests, the refuges for the Atlantic Forest have never been the product of detailed identification.
    Links: Top Ten Brazilian Attractions, Top Ten Argentinian Attractions, Top Ten Paraguayan Attractions, Top Ten Forests,,
  2. Galápagos Islands National Park, Ecuador

    The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean, 972 km (525 mi) west of continental Ecuador. The Galapagos Islands and its surrounding waters form an Ecuadorian province, a national park, and a biological marine reserve. The islands are geologically young and famed for their vast number of endemic species, which were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle. His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. The first crude navigation chart of the islands was done by the buccaneer Ambrose Cowley in 1684. He named the individual islands after some of his fellow pirates or after the English noblemen who helped the privateer’s cause. More recently, the Ecuadorian government gave most of the islands Spanish names. While the Spanish names are official, many users (especially ecological researchers) continue to use the older English names, particularly as those were the names used when Charles Darwin visited.
    Links: Top Ten Ecuadoran Attractions, Islands,,
  3. Iguaçu National Park, Brazil

    Iguaçu National Park is a national park in Paraná State, Brazil. The park comprises 185,262.5 hectares and a length of about 420 km, 300 km of which are natural borders by bodies of water and the Brazilian and Argentinean sides together comprise around 225,000 hectares. The Iguaçú National Park owes its name to the fact it includes an important area of the Iguaçú river, approximately 50 km of the length of the river and the world famous Iguaçú Falls. It is the most important park of the Prata Basin and, since it is a haven to a significant genetic asset of animal and vegetal species, it was the first park in Brazil to receive a Management Plan. The Iguaçú National Park is spectacular as well as pioneering. The first proposal for a Brazilian national park aimed at providing a pristine environment to “future generations,” just as “it had been created by God” and endowed with “all possible preservation, from the beautiful to the sublime, from the picturesque to the awesome” and “an unmatched flora” located in the “magnificent Iguaçú waterfalls.” These were the words used by Andre Rebouças, an engineer, in his book “Provinces of Paraná, Railways to Mato Grosso and Bolivia,” which started up the campaign aimed at preserving the Iguaçú Falls way back in 1876, when Yellowstone, the first national park on the planet, was four years old. In Brazil the Park has boundaries with the following municipalities: Foz do Iguaçu, Medianeira, Matelândia, Céu Azul, São Miguel do Iguaçu, Santa Terezinha de Itaipu, Santa Tereza do Oeste, Capitão Leônidas Marque, Capanema and Serranópolis. As foreseen by Rebouças, the park’s basic goal is the preservation of the highly relevant ecologically and scenic natural ecosystems, thus enabling scientific research and the development of environmental education and interpretation activities, recreation in natural surroundings and the ecological tourism. The Park is located in the westernmost region of the state of Paraná, in the Iguaçú river basin, 17 km from downtown Foz do Iguaçú. It borders Argentina, where the Iguazu National Park, which was implemented in 1934, is located. The border between the two countries and their national parks is made by the Iguaçú river, whose source is near the Serra (mountain range) do Mar near Curitiba and runs for 18 km throughout the state of Paraná. The river estuary is located 18 km downriver from the Falls, where it flows into the Paraná river. This meeting of rivers forms the triple Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay border. The area of the park open for visitation and where the concession areas of Cataratas do Iguaçú S/A are located, accounts for approximately 0.3% of the total area of the park. The most spectacular sightseeing of the park is the Iguaçú Falls, which form a 2,700 m wide semicircle, while the waterfalls filled visitors with awe as they watch the water foam that plunges down from a height of 72 m. The number of waterfalls ranges from 150 and 300 depending on the Iguaçú river flow. Besides the exuberant waterfalls, there are other attractions such as rich fauna, the Poço Preto (the Black Well), the Macuco Waterfall, the Visitors Center, the Santos Dumont Statue, a homage paid by VASP (an airline company) to the “Father of Aviation,” who lent all his prestige and efforts in turning the falls area into a National Park.
    Links: Top Ten Brazilian Attractions, Top Ten WaterfallsTop 100 BirdsTop Ten Spiders, Top Ten ButterfliesTop Ten Transparent Animals,,
  4. Canaima National Park, Venezuela

           Canaima National Park is a 30,000 km² park in south-eastern Venezuela that borders Brazil and Guyana. It is located in Bolívar State, and roughly occupies the same area as the Gran Sabana region. The park was established on June 12, 1962. It is the 2nd largest park in the country, after Parima-Tapirapecó, and 6th biggest national park in the world, equal, in size to both Belgium and Maryland. About 65% of the park is occupied by plateaus of rock called tepuis. These constitute a unique biological environment, also of a great geological interest. Its sheer cliffs and waterfalls (including the Angel Falls, which is the highest waterfall in the world, to 1,002 m) are spectacular landscapes. The most famous tepuis in the park are Mount Roraima, the tallest and easiest to climb, and Auyantepui, from which fall the Angel Falls. The tepuis are sandstone and date back to a time when South America and Africa were part of a super-continent. The park is home to indigenous Pemon Indians, part of the Carib linguistic group. The Pemon have an intimate relationship with the Tepuis, and believe they are the home of the ‘Mawari’ spirits. The park is relatively remote, with only a few roads connecting towns. Most transport within the park is done by light plane from the airstrips built by various Capuchin missions, or by foot and canoe. Pemons have developed some basic and luxurious camps, which are mainly visited by tourists from across the world. In 1994 the Canaima National Park was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, as a natural reserve that has abrupt relief special and unique around the world, the tepuis, which are a kind of plateau of millions of years old, with vertical walls and almost flat tops.
    Links: Top Ten Venezuelan Attractions, Top Ten Waterfalls,,
  5. Los Roques Archipelago, Venezuela

           The Los Roques islands are a federal dependency of Venezuela, consisting of about 350 islands, cays or islets. The archipelago is located 80 miles (128 km) directly north of the port of La Guaira, and is a 40-minute flight, has a total area of 40.61 square km. Being almost an untouched coral reef, it attracts many “high-end” visitors, especially from Europe, some of which come in their own yachts and anchor in the inner, protected shallow waters. However, development and tourism are controlled. Because of the wide variety of seabirds and rich aquatic life, the Venezuelan government declared Los Roques a National Park in 1972.
    Links: Top Ten Venezuelan Attractions, Top Ten Reefs,,
  6. Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, Bolivia

           Noel Kempff Mercado National Park is a national park in northeast Santa Cruz Department, Province of José Miguel de Velasco, Bolivia, on the border with Brazil.
    Links: Top Ten Bolivian Attractions,,
  7. Sangay National Park, Ecuador

           Sangay National Park is a national park located in the Morona Santiago, Chimborazo and Tungurahua provinces of Ecuador. The park contains two active volcanoes (Tungurahua and Sangay) and ecosystems ranging from tropical rainforests to glaciers. The National Park is an important refuge for rare species of the Andes, like mountain tapirs and spectacled bears. Typical species of the alpine and subalpine areas are mountain tapirs, pumas and Andean foxes. In the forests below live spectacled bears, giant otters, jaguars, ozelots, margays, Brazilian tapirs, white-tailed deer, little red brocket deer and Northern Pudus. About 300-400 bird species also inhabit the Park
    Links: Top Ten Ecuadoran Attractions, Top 100 Flowers, Top Ten Big Cats, Top 100 Birds,,
  8. Manu National Park, Peru

           Manú National Park is a biosphere reserve located in Madre de Dios and Paucartambo, Cusco. The park is fairly inaccessible by road and is largest National Park in Peru, covering an area of 15,328 km². The Biosphere Reserve includes an additional 2,570 km², and a further 914 km² are included in a “Cultural Zone,” bringing the total area up to 18,811 km². The park protects several ecological zones ranging from as low as 150 m above sea level in parts of the Southwest Amazon moist forests to Peruvian Yungas at middle elevations to Central Andean wet puna at altitudes of 4,200 m. Because of this topographical range, it has one of highest levels of biodiversity of any park in the world. Overall, more than 15,000 species of plants are found in Manú, and up to 250 varieties of trees have been found in a single hectare. The reserve is a destination for birdwatchers from all over the world, as it is home to over 1,000 species of birds, more than the number of bird species found in the US and Canada combined. It is also acclaimed as having one of the highest abundances of land vertebrates ever found in Latin American tropical forests.
    Links: Top Ten Peruvian Attractions, Top 100 Birds,,
  9. Central Suriname Nature Reserve, Suriname

           The Central Suriname Nature Reserve was created in 1998 by Conservation International and the government of Suriname to protect the areas pristine tropical rainforest ecosystem, which contains 16,000 square kilometers (6,178 sq mi) of both mountain and lowland primary tropical forest including sections of the Guyana Highlands. Some of the most outstanding features in Central Suriname Nature Reserve are several granite domes, uplifted monoliths of granite rising high above the surrounding rainforest. Barren surface of dark-colored granite is exposed to impact of Sun thus creating unique xerophytic biotope which includes endemic plant species. The best known granite dome is the 245 m high Voltzberg.
    Links: Top Ten Suriname Attractions,
  10. Rio Abiseo National Park, Peru

           The Rio Abiseo National Park is located in the San Martín department of Peru. The park is home to a large number of species of flora and fauna, as well as the location of over 30 pre-Columbian archaeological sites. Since 1986, the park has not been open to tourism due to the fragile nature of both the natural and archaeological environment.
    Links: Top Ten Peruvian Attractions, Top Ten Frogs/Toads,, 
  11. Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

           The Tayrona National Natural Park is a protected area in the Colombian northern Caribbean region and within the jurisdiction of the Department of Magdalena and some 34 km from the city of Santa Marta. The park presents a biodiversity endemic to the area of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range presenting a variety of climates (mountain climate) and geography that ranges from arid sea level to 900 meters above sea level. The park covers some 30 square km of maritime area in the Caribbean Sea and some 150 km² of land. It was the second most visited national park in Colombia in 2009, with 211.833 visitors. The most visited park was the Rosario and San Bernardo Corals National Natural Park.
    Links: Top Ten Colombian Attractions,,
  12. Los Katíos National Park, Colombia

           Los Katíos National Park is a national park located in northwest Colombia which covers 278 square miles (around 720 km², or 72,000 hectares). It is a part of the Darién Gap, shared by Panama and Colombia and is contiguous to Darién National Park in Panama. The Pan-American Highway when completed as proposed will pass near or through Los Katíos National Park. The park was declared a World Heritage Site in 1994 due to the extraordinary diversity of plant and animal species represented. The park contains over 25% of the bird species reported for Colombia in an area less than 1% of the total Colombian territory.
    Links: Top Ten Colombian Attractions,, 
  13. Los Glaciares, Argentina

           Parque Nacional Los Glaciares is a national park in the Santa Cruz Province, in Argentine Patagonia. It comprises an area of 4459 km². The national park, created in 1937, is the 2nd largest in Argentina. Its name refers to the giant ice cap in the Andes range that feeds 47 large glaciers, of which only 13 flow towards the Atlantic Ocean. The ice cap is the largest outside of Antarctica and Greenland. In other parts of the world, glaciers start at a height of at least 2,500 meters above mean sea level, but due to the size of the ice cap, these glaciers begin at only 1,500 m, sliding down to 200 m, eroding the surface of the mountains that support them.
    Links: Top Ten Argentinian Attractions,,
  14. Huascaran National Park, Peru

           Huascarán National Park is a national park in the Cordillera Blanca, a range of the Andes, in Ancash of central Peru. The highest mountain in Peru is located in the park (also named Huascarán, reaching 6,768 meters high). This park is the habitat of the Puya raimondi, the Cougar, the Jaguar, the Llama, the Guanaco, the Marsh Deer, the Peruvian Tapir, the Peruvian Piedtail, a hummingbird species, and many kinds of ducks including the Southern Pochard.
    Links: Top Ten Peruvian Attractions,,
  15. Ischigualasto and Talampaya Natural Parks, Argentina

           Ischigualasto is a geological formation and a natural park associated with it in the province of San Juan, north-western Argentina, near the border with Chile. The Ischigualasto Provincial Park is located in the north-east of the province and its northern border is the Talampaya National Park, in La Rioja, both of which belong to the same geological formation. Talampaya National Park is a national park located in the east/centre of La Rioja Province, Argentina. The park covers an area of 2,150 square km (830 sq mi). Its purpose is to protect important archaeological and palaeontological sites found in the area. It has landscapes of great beauty, with flora and fauna typical of the mountain biome. The park is in a basin between the Cerro Los Colorados to the west and the Sierra de Sañagasta to the east. The landscape is the result of erosion by water and wind in a desert climate, with large ranges in temperature, high heat by day and low temperature at night, with torrential rain in summer and strong wind in spring. The park includes: The dry bed of the Talampaya River, where dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, numerous fossils have been found here; The Talampaya gorge and its rock formations with walls up to 143 meters (469 ft) high; The remains of indigenous peoples’ settlements, such as the petroglyphs of the Puerta del Cañón; A botanical garden of the local flora at the narrow point of the canyon; Regional fauna, including guanacos, hares, maras, foxes and condors.
    Links: Top Ten Argentinian Attractions,,
  16. Links: National Parks,

Recommendations for Soul Searching in South American National Parks

Top Ten Oceanic National Parks

Top Ten Oceanic National Parks

  1. Te Wahipounamu, New Zealand

    Te Wāhipounamu, Māori for “the place of greenstone” is a World Heritage site in the south west corner of the South Island of New Zealand, which incorporates several National Parks, including; Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, Westland/Tai Poutini National Park, Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park. It is believed to contain some of the best modern representations of the original flora and fauna present in Gondwanaland
    Links: Top Ten New Zealand Attractions,,,,,,
  2. Rapa Nui National Park, Easter Island, Chile

           Rapa Nui National Park is located on Easter Island, Chile. The park is divided into seven sections: Puna Pau (named after the quarry where the pukao were carved), Rano Raraku (named after the quarry where most of the moai were carved), Anakena – Ovahe, Ahu Akivi, Costa Norte and Hanga Roa (Urban Area). The early history involves human settlement roughly one millennium before present. Subsequent human overpopulation and resultant deforestation led to collapse of the human society. Archaeological evidence of the earlier habitation consists of the moai themselves as well as the pollen and fossil records. Through these records, scientists have come to understand the role of a now extinct Rapa Nui Palm, which offered food, fuel and transport for the early settlers. Chile first declared the island a National Park in 1935. Park boundaries have since varied on several occasions, to return land to the islanders.
    Links: Top Ten Easter Island Attractions, Top Ten Chilean Attractions, Islands, Top Ten Oceanic Islands,
  3. Fraser Island and Great Sandy National Park, Australia

           Fraser Island is an island located along the southern coast of Queensland, Australia, approximately 200 km (120 mi) north of Brisbane. Its length is about 120 km (75 mi) and its width is approximately 24 km (15 mi). The island is considered to be the largest sand island in the world at 1840 km². It is also Queensland’s largest island, Australia’s 6th largest island and the largest island on the East Coast of Australia. The island has rainforests, eucalyptus woodland, mangrove forests, wallum and peat swamps, sand dunes and coastal heaths. It is made up of sand that has been accumulating for approximately 750,000 years on volcanic bedrock that provides a natural catchment for the sediment which is carried on a strong offshore current northwards along the coast. Unlike many sand dunes, plant life is abundant due to the naturally occurring mycorrhizal fungi present in the sand, which release nutrients in a form that can be absorbed by the plants. Fraser Island is home to a small number of mammal species, as well as a diverse range of birds, reptiles and amphibians, including the occasional saltwater crocodile. The island is part of the Fraser Coast Region and protected in the Great Sandy National Park. Fraser Island has been inhabited by humans for as much as 5,000 years. Explorer James Cook sailed by the island in May 1770. Matthew Flinders landed near the most northern point of the island in 1802. For a short period the island was known as Great Sandy Island. The island became known as Fraser due to the stories of a shipwreck survivor named Eliza Fraser. Today the island is a popular tourism destination. Its resident human population was 360 at the census of 2006.
    Links: Top Ten Australian Attractions, Islands, Top Ten Oceanic Islands,,
  4. Wet Tropics of Queensland, Australia

           The Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Site consists of approximately 8,940 km² of Australian wet tropical forests growing along the north-east Queensland portion of the Great Dividing Range, stretching from Townsville to Cooktown, running in close parallel to the Great Barrier Reef. The rainforests have the highest concentration of primitive flowering plant families in the world.
    Links: Top Ten Australian Attractions, Top 100 Flowers, Top 100 Birds, Top Ten Frogs/Toads,,
  5. Kakadu National Park, Australia

           Kakadu National Park is in the Northern Territory of Australia, 171 km southeast of Darwin. Kakadu National Park is located within the Alligator Rivers Region of the Northern Territory of Australia. It covers an area of 19,804 square km (7,646 square mi), extending nearly 200 km from north to south and over 100 km from east to west. It is the size of Slovenia, about one-third the size of Tasmania, or nearly half the size of Switzerland. The Ranger Uranium Mine, one of the most productive Uranium mines in the world, is contained within the park.
    Links: Top Ten Australian Attractions, Top Ten Waterfalls, Top 100 Birds, Top Ten Rock Paintings, Top Ten Cave Paintings, Top 100 Flowers,,
  6. Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park, Australia

            Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park is located in the Northern Territory of Australia, 1,431 km south of Darwin by road and 440 km south-west of Alice Springs along the Stuart and Lasseter Highways. The park covers 2,010 square km and includes the features it is named after, Uluru/Ayers Rock and, 40 km to its west, Kata Tjuta/Mount Olga and is serviced by flights from most Australian capital cities. Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a large sandstone rock formation in the southern part of the Northern Territory, central Australia. It lies 335 km (208 mi) south west of the nearest large town, Alice Springs; 450 km (280 mi) by road. Kata Tjuta and Uluru are the two major features of the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park. Uluru is sacred to the Aṉangu, the Aboriginal people of the area. The area around the formation is home to a plethora of springs, waterholes, rock caves and ancient paintings.
    Links: Top Ten Australian Attractions, Top Ten Rock Formations,,
  7. The Tasmanian Wilderness, Australia

           The Tasmanian Wilderness is a term that is used for a range of areas in Tasmania, Australia, with areas in South West, Western and Central Tasmania being the most well-known. However, there are also other areas in Tasmania that have the elements of being known as wilderness areas, including the Tarkine and the Cradle mountain wilderness. The area is one of the largest conservation areas in Australia, covering 13,800 km², or almost 20% of Tasmania. The area constitutes one of the last expanses of temperate wilderness in the world, including the renowned South West Wilderness. Remains found in limestone caves attest to the human occupation of the area for well over 20,000 years.
    Links: Top Ten Australian Attractions,,
  8. Gondwana Rainforests, Australia

           The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia formerly known as the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves, are the most extensive area of subtropical rainforest in the world. The reserve includes 50 separate reserves totaling 3,665 square km, clustered around the New South Wales – Queensland border. The Gondwana Rainforests are so-named because the fossil record indicates that when Gondwana existed it was covered by rainforests containing the same kinds of species that are living today. The number of visitors to the reserve is about 2 million per year.
    Links: Top Ten Australian Attractions, Top Ten Rainforests,,
  9. Macquarie Island, Australia

           Macquarie Island (or Macca) lies in the southwest corner of the Pacific Ocean, about half-way between New Zealand and Antarctica. Politically, it has formed part of the Australian state of Tasmania since 1900 and became a Tasmanian State Reserve in 1978. It was a part of Esperance Municipality until 1993, when the municipality was merged with other municipalities to Huon Valley. Ecologically, it is part of the Antipodes Subantarctic Islands tundra ecoregion. Since 1948 the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) has maintained a permanent base, the Macquarie Island Station, on the isthmus at the northern end of the island at the foot of Wireless Hill. The population of the base, the island’s only human inhabitants, usually varies from 20 to 40 people over the year.
    Links: Top Ten Australian Attractions, Islands, Top Ten Oceanic Islands,,
  10. Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

           Tongariro National Park is the oldest national park in New Zealand, located in the central North Island. It has been acknowledged by UNESCO as one of the 28 mixed cultural and natural World Heritage Sites. Tongariro National Park was the 4th national park established in the world. The active volcanic mountains Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro are located in the centre of the park. There are a number of Māori religious sites within the park and the summits of Tongariro, including Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, are tapu (sacred). The park includes many towns around its boundary including Ohakune, Waiouru, Horopito, Pokaka, Erua, National Park Village, Whakapapa skifield and Turangi.
    Links: Top Ten New Zealand Attractions,,
  11. Bonus: Purnululu National Park, Australia

    Purnululu National Park is a national park in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
    Links: Top Ten Australian Attractions,,
  12. Links: National Parks,

Recommendations for Outings in the Oceanic Outback

Top Ten European National Parks

Top Ten European National Parks

Plitvice Lakes National Park4Golden Mountains of Altai3Þingvellir National Park6Golden Mountains of Altai8

  1. The Laponian Area, Sweden
    The Laponian AreaThe Laponian Area2The Laponian Area3
           The Laponian area is a large mountainous wildlife area in the Lapland province in Northern Sweden, more precisely in the Gällivare Municipality, Arjeplog Municipality and Jokkmokk Municipality. The total area is about 9400 km², making it the world’s largest unmodified nature area to be still cultured by natives, the natives in this case being the reindeer herding Sami people. Only parts of the area is actually used for pasture by them. With such a large space, the geography of the area varies greatly; it is dominated by mountains, rivers and lakes. Each nature reserve and national park has its distinctive features. The amount of snow in winter and rain in summer is considerable. 95% of the area is protected as national parks or nature reserves. It consists of the national parks Muddus, Sarek, Padjelanta and Stora Sjöfallet, and the nature reserves Sjaunja and Stubba. The remaining 5% are located in the areas of Sulitelma, Tjuoltadalen, and Rapadalen (part of which is in the Sarek park). The village of Porjus is a natural point of entry to the Laponian area and has recently opened an information center. The Laponia area also contains three major hydropower stations with belonging basins and a big expansion of 100 wind power stations inside the world heritage area is planned. The highest mountain of the area is Sarektjåhkkå, at 2,089 m.
    Links: Top Ten Swedish Attractions, Top Ten Natural Wonders of the World,,
  2. Stora Sjöfallet National Parks, Sweden
    Stora Sjöfallet National ParksStora Sjöfallet National Parks1Stora Sjöfallet National Parks2
           Stora Sjöfallet is a national park in Norrbotten County in northern Sweden, in Gällivare Municipality and Jokkmokk Municipality. The national park is 1278 km² and thereby the 3rd largest in Sweden. It’s located about 20 km above the Arctic Circle and lies north and south of the lake system of the Lule River (which has been broken out of the park because of hydropower construction). It is situated by the Norwegian border. The area was declared a national park in 1909.
    Links: Top Ten Swedish Attractions,,
  3. Þingvellir National Park, Iceland
    Þingvellir National ParkÞingvellir National Park1Þingvellir National Park2Þingvellir National Park3Þingvellir National Park4Þingvellir National Park5Þingvellir National Park6Þingvellir National Park7Þingvellir National Park8
    Þingvellir is a place in Bláskógabyggð in southwestern Iceland, near the peninsula of Reykjanes and the Hengill volcanic area. Þingvellir is a site of historical, cultural and geological importance and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland. It is the site of a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It is also home to Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland. Parliament or Alþingi was established at Þingvellir in 930 and remained there until 1789. Þingvellir National Park was founded in 1930 to protect the remains of the parliament site and was later expanded to protect natural phenomena in the surrounding area. Þingvellir National Park was the first national park in Iceland and was decreed “a protected national shrine for all Icelanders, the perpetual property of the Icelandic nation under the preservation of parliament, never to be sold or mortgaged.”
    Links: Top Ten Icelandic Attractions,,
  4. Golden Mountains of Altai, Russia
    Golden Mountains of AltaiGolden Mountains of Altai1Golden Mountains of Altai2Golden Mountains of Altai3Golden Mountains of Altai4Golden Mountains of Altai5Golden Mountains of Altai6Golden Mountains of Altai7Golden Mountains of Altai8
    Golden Mountains of Altai consists of the Altai and Katun Natural Reserves, Lake Teletskoye, Belukha Mountain and the Ukok Plateau. The site has been described as such; “the region represents the most complete sequence of altitudinal vegetation zones in central Siberia, from steppe, forest-steppe, mixed forest, subalpine vegetation to alpine vegetation.” Altai is also important in its preservation of globally endangered mammals, such as snow leopard and the Altai argali. The site covers a vast area of 16,175 km².
    Links: Top Ten Russian Attractions, Top Ten Big Cats, Top 100 Birds,,
  5. Repovesi National Park, Finland
    Repovesi National ParkRepovesi National Park1Repovesi National Park2Repovesi National Park3Repovesi National Park4Repovesi National Park5
           Repovesi National Park is situated in the municipalities of Kouvola and Mäntyharju, only a few hours north-east of the more populous Helsinki area of southern Finland. Formerly a site for intensive commercial forestry, the Repovesi area successfully transformed into a pristine national park. Pine and birch trees dominate the park. Repovesi abounds with wildlife including bear, deer and various birds. The River Koukunjoki cuts through the park. Other streams and lakes are also situated within the parks boundaries. Attractions include the Olhavanvuori hill, popular among climbers, and the Kultareitti water taxi route. Also located in the park are the Kuutinlahti Bay, with its restored timber rafting channels, the Lapinsalmi suspension bridge and many observation towers. The common fauna of the park includes the Red-throated Diver, the Eurasian Lynx, the moose, many owls and several galliformes.
    Links: Top Ten Finnish Attractions,,
  6. Pyhä-Luosto National Park, Finland
    Pyhä-Luosto National ParkPyhä-Luosto National Park1Pyhä-Luosto National Park2Pyhä-Luosto National Park3Pyhä-Luosto National Park4Pyhä-Luosto National Park5
           Pyhä-Luosto National Park is a national park in Lapland, Finland. It was established in 2005 when Finland’s oldest national park, Pyhätunturi National Park (established in 1938) was joined to Luosto. This makes Pyhä-Luosto Finland’s oldest but at the same time newest national park. The new park covers 142 square km (55 sq mi). The most important features are geological specialties old forests and wetlands. The park’s base is formed by Finland’s southernmost, 12-peak tunturi line. The tunturis are remnants of Alp-like mountains of 2 billion years of age. 200-year-old or older pine tree forests grow on the hills. The highest tunturis are Noitatunturi, 540 m (1,772 ft), and Ukko-Luosto, 514 m (1,686 ft).
    Links: Top Ten Finnish Attractions, Top Ten Lodges, Top Ten Skiing Destinations,,
  7. Mavrovo National Park, Macedonia

           Mavrovo is a region in the northwest of the Republic of Macedonia. It is home to Mavrovo National Park and a winter sports center. Some of the villages and smaller hamlets include: Mavrovo, Nikiforovo, Leunovo and Mavrovi Anovi. This micro region is named Mavrovo because most of the people live in the village of Mavrovo and the more famous families were also from Mavrovo. The region’s location at Bistra Mountain and the Lake Mavrovo have helped it grow into a year-round tourist center. Mavrovo is the most popular ski center in Macedonia. The ski center named Zare Lazareski has two double lift chairs, one single lift chair with over 1,100 person capacity per hour, several ski lifts with synchronized connection and over 5,000 person capacity per hour. The ski center was renovated recently, so the capacity of the ski lifts and the ski chairs is increased. The ski trails start at 1,960m and end at 1,250m above sea level. There are plans to build a ski jumping facility in Macedonia, possibly Mavrovo. The Mavrovo Lake lies at an altitude of 1,220m. It is 12 km long and 3 km wide and covers an area of 13.3 square km.
    Links: Top Ten Macedonian Attractions, Top Ten Ski Resorts,, 
  8. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
    Plitvice Lakes National ParkPlitvice Lakes National Park1Plitvice Lakes National Park2Plitvice Lakes National Park3Plitvice Lakes National Park4Plitvice Lakes National Park5
    Plitvice Lakes National Park is the oldest national park in Southeast Europe and the largest national park in Croatia. The national park was founded in 1949 and is situated in the mountainous karst area of central Croatia, at the border to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The important north-south road connection, which passes through the national park area, connects the Croatian inland with the Mediterranean coastal region. The protected area extends over 296.85 square km (73,350 acres). About 90% of the area is part of Lika-Senj County, while the remaining 10% is part of Karlovac County. Each year, more than 900,000 visitors are recorded.
    Links: Top Ten Croatian,,
  9. Triglav National Park, Slovenia
    Triglav National ParkTriglav National Park2Triglav National Park3Triglav National Park4Triglav National Park5
           Triglav National Park is a national park located in Slovenia and the only one in the country. It was named after Mount Triglav, the highest peak of the Julian Alps and a symbol of Slovenia and Slovenian character. Triglav stands almost in the middle of the national park. From it the valleys spread out radially, supplying water to two large river systems with their sources in the Julian Alps: the Soča and the Sava, flowing to the Adriatic and Black Sea, respectively.
    Links: Top Ten Slovenian Attractions,
  10. Pirin National Park, Bulgaria
    Pirin National ParkPirin National Park1Pirin National Park2
           Pirin National Park is a World Heritage national park that encompasses the larger part of the Pirin Mountains in the southwest of Bulgaria. It has an area of about 400 square km (150 square mi) and lies at an altitude from 1,008–2,914 m (3,307–9,560 ft). Two nature reserves are located within the boundaries of the park, Bayuvi Dupki-Dzhindzhiritsa, one of the oldest in the country, and Yulen.
    Links: Top Ten Bulgarian Attraction,,
  11. Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
    Durmitor National ParkDurmitor National Park1Durmitor National Park2
    Links: Top Ten Montenegrin Attractions,
  12. Tara River Canyon and National Park, Montenegro
    Tara River Canyon and National ParkTara River Canyon and National Park1Tara River Canyon and National Park2
           The Tara River Canyon, also known as the Tara River Gorge, is the longest canyon in Montenegro. It is 82 km long and is 1,300 m at its deepest, making it the deepest river canyon in Europe. The Tara canyon is unique with significant depths averaging around one thousand m, and in some places up to one thousand-three hundred meters. It is ranked right behind the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA. The Tara River, at its end making confluence with Piva, becomes the Drina, and is some 150 km long. In its passage through the Tara National Park, the river has a mean fall of 3.6 m/km, making a host of waterfalls and cascades possible, thus creating with its uniqueness The Montenegrin Colorado. All along its flow, the Tara gets large quantities of water from numerous sources, and quite a few tributaries. The most important tributaries on the left bank of the Tara are Ljutica and Susica, and the most important tributaries on the right bank being Vaskovaska rijeka and Draga. The most important source is the source Bajlovica sige, a source placed on the left bank of the Tara river giving to the Tara a few hundred liters per second, where the water sourcing from the Bucevica cave falls into the Tara more than 30 m high, and more than a 150 m wide. The roar of the breathtaking Tara cascades can be heard on the very peaks of the canyon. There are more than 40 cascades, the most famous being: Djavolje lazi, Sokolovina, Bijeli kamen, Gornji tepacki buk and Donji tepacki buk. Because of the quality of its water, and because of its unique ecological system, Tara in 1977 was put into the program “Covjek i biosfera” (Men and Biosphere) and inscribed into the ecological biosphere reservations of the World, being thus protected under an internationally issued convention. There are rocky and pebbly terraces, sandy beaches, high cliffs, and more than 80 large caves along the canyon.
    Links: Top Ten Montenegrin Attractions, Top Ten Canyons, Top Ten Rivers,
  13. Links: National Parks,

Recommendations for Expeditions into European National Parks

Top Ten Asian National Parks

Top Ten Asian National Parks

Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries8Gunung Mulu National Park4

  1. Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries, Thailand
    Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife SanctuariesThungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries1Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries2Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries3Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries4Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries5Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries6Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries7Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries8Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries9Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries10Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries11Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries12Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries13
           The Wildlife Sanctuary Thung Yai Naresuan is a protected area in Thailand in the northern part of Kanchanaburi province and the southern part of Tak province. It was created as a Wildlife Sanctuary on April 24th, 1974 and was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1991 together with the adjoining Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary.
    Links: Top Ten Thai Attractions,,
  2. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam
    Phong Nha-Ke Bang National ParkPhong Nha-Ke Bang National Park1Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park2Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park3Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park4Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park5Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park6Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park7Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park8Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park9Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park10Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park11
    Phong Nha – Ke Bang is a national park in the Bố Trạch and Minh Hóa districts of central Quang Binh Province, in north-central Vietnam, about 500 km south of the nation’s capital, Hanoi. The park borders the Hin Namno Nature Reserve in the province of Khammouan, Laos by the west, 42 km east of South China Sea from its borderline point. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is situated in a limestone zone of 2,000 square km in Vietnamese territory and borders another limestone zone of 2,000 square km of Hin Namno in Laotian territory. The core zone of this national park covers 857.54 square km and a buffer zone of 1,954 square km. The park was created to protect one of the world’s two largest karst regions with 300 caves and grottoes and also protects the ecosystem of limestone forest of the Annamite Range region in north central coast of Vietnam. Phong Nha-Ke Bang area is noted for its cave and grotto systems as it is composed of 300 caves and grottos with a total length of about 70 km, of which only 20 have been surveyed by Vietnamese and British scientists; 17 of these are in located in the Phong Nha area and three in the Ke Bang area. After April 2009, total length of caves and grottoes are 126 km. Before discovery of Son Doong Cave, Phong Nha held several world cave records, as it has the longest underground river, as well as the largest caverns and passageways. The park derives it name from Phong Nha cave, the most beautiful of all, containing many fascinating rock formations, and Ke Bang forest. The plateau on which the park is situated is probably one of the finest and most distinctive examples of a complex karst landform in Southeast Asia. In April 2009, the world’s largest cave Son Doong Cave, was discovered by a team of British cave explorers of British Caving Association.
    Links: Top Ten Vietnamese Attractions, Top Ten Caves,,
  3. Gunung Mulu National Park, Malaysia
    Gunung Mulu National ParkGunung Mulu National Park1Gunung Mulu National Park2Gunung Mulu National Park3Gunung Mulu National Park4Gunung Mulu National Park5Gunung Mulu National Park6Gunung Mulu National Park7Gunung Mulu National Park8Gunung Mulu National Park9
    Gunung Mulu National Park near Miri, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo that encompasses incredible caves and karst formations in a mountainous equatorial rainforest setting. The park is famous for its caves and the expeditions that have been mounted to explore them and their surrounding rainforest, most notably the Royal Geographical Society Expedition of 1977-1978, which saw over 100 scientists in the field for 15 months. This initiated a series of over 20 expeditions now drawn together as the Mulu Caves Project. The national park is named after Mount Mulu, the 2nd highest mountain in Sarawak.
    Links: Top Ten Malaysian Attractions, Top Ten Caves, Top Ten Mountains,,
  4. Kinabalu National Park, Malaysia
    Kinabalu National ParkKinabalu National Park1Kinabalu National Park2Kinabalu National Park3Kinabalu National Park4Kinabalu National Park5Kinabalu National Park6Kinabalu National Park7Kinabalu National Park8Kinabalu National Park9
           Kinabalu National Park or Taman Negara Kinabalu in Malay, is one of the most important biological sites in the world with more than 4,500 species of flora and fauna, including 326 bird and around 100 mammal species. Located on the west coast of Sabah, east Malaysia on the island of Borneo; it covers an area of 754 square km surrounding Mount Kinabalu, which at 4,095.2 m, is the highest mountain on the island of Borneo. The park is one of the most popular tourist spots in Sabah and Malaysia in general. In 2004, more than 415,360 visitors and 43,430 climbers visited the Park.
    Links: Top Ten Malaysian Attractions,, 
  5. Western Ghats, India
    112511910Bengal tiger stalking, Panthera tigris tigris, Western Ghats, India1314726
    The Western Ghats or the Sahyādri constitute a mountain range along the western side of India, which is one of the eight “hottest hotspots” of biological diversity in the world. It is sometimes called the Great Escarpment of India. The range runs north to south along the western edge of the Deccan Plateau, and separates the plateau from a narrow coastal plain, called Konkan, along the Arabian Sea. A total of 39 properties including national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests were designated as world heritage sites, 20 in Kerala, 10 in Karnataka, 5 in Tamil Nadu and 4 in Maharashtra. The range starts near the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra, south of the Tapti river, and runs approximately 1,600 km (990 mi) through the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala ending at Kanyakumari, at the southern tip of India. These hills cover 160,000 km2 (62,000 sq mi) and form the catchment area for complex riverine drainage systems that drain almost 40% of India. The Western Ghats block rainfall to the Deccan Plateau. The area is one of the world’s ten “Hottest biodiversity hotspots” and has over 5,000 species of flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species and 179 amphibian species; it is likely that many undiscovered species live in the Western Ghats. At least 325 globally threatened species occur in the Western Ghats.
    Links: Top Ten Indian Attractions, Top 100 Birds,,
  6. Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal
    Sagarmatha National ParkSagarmatha National Park1Sagarmatha National Park2Sagarmatha National Park3Sagarmatha National Park4Sagarmatha National Park5Sagarmatha National Park6
    Sagarmāthā National Park is a protected area in the Himalayas of eastern Nepal containing the southern half of Mount Everest. The park was created on July 19, 1976 and was inscribed as a Natural World Heritage Site in 1979. Sagarmāthā is a Sanskrit word, from sagar, meaning “sky” and māthā, meaning “forehead” or “head,” and is the modern Nepali name for Mount Everest. The park encompasses an area of 1,148 square km (443 square mi) in the Solukhumbu District and ranges in elevation from 2,845 m (9,334 ft) at Jorsalle to 8,848 m (29,029 ft) at the summit of Mount Everest. Barren land above 5,000 m (16,000 ft) comprises 69% of the park while 28% is grazing land and the remaining 3% is forested. Most of the park area is very rugged and steep, with its terrain cut by deep rivers and glaciers. Unlike other parks, this park can be divided into four climate zones because of the rising altitude. The climatic zones include a forested lower zone, a zone of alpine scrub, the upper alpine zone which includes upper limit of vegetation growth, and the Arctic zone where no plants can grow. The types of plants and animals that are found in the park depend on the altitude. The park contains the upper watershed of the Dudh Kosi river basin system. The park’s visitor center is located at the top of a hill in Namche Bazaar, also where a company of the Nepal Army is stationed for protecting the park. The park’s southern entrance is a few hundred meters north of Monzo at 2,835 m (9,301 ft), a one day hike from Lukla.
    Links: Top Ten Nepalese Attractions, Top Ten Big Cats, Top 100 Birds,
  7. Komodo National Park, Indonesia

    The Komodo National Park is a national park in Indonesia located within the Lesser Sunda Islands in the border region between the provinces of East Nusa Tenggara and West Nusa Tenggara. The park includes the three larger islands Komodo, Padar and Rincah, and 26 smaller ones, with a total area of 1,733 km² (603 km² of it land). The national park was founded in 1980 in order to protect the Komodo dragon, the world’s largest lizard. Later it was dedicated to protecting other species.
    Links: Top Ten Indonesian Attractions, Top Ten Lizards,,
  8. Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra, Indonesia

           The Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra comprises three Indonesian national parks on the island of Sumatra: Gunung Leuser National Park, Kerinci Seblat National Park and the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park.
     Top Ten Indonesian Attractions, Top 100 PlantsTop 100 Flowers,
  9. Namdapha National Park, India
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           Namdapha National Park is the largest protected area in the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot and is located in Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India. It is also the 3rd largest national park in India in terms of area. It is located in the Eastern Himalayan sub-region and is recognized as one of the richest areas in biodiversity in India. The park harbors the northernmost lowland evergreen rainforests in the world at 27°N latitude. The area is also known for extensive Dipterocarp forests.
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten National ParksTop Ten Asian National Parks,,
  10. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Philippines
    Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National ParkPuerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park1Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park2Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park3Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park4Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park5
           The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is located about 50 km (31 mi) north of the city center of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines. The National Park is located in the Saint Paul Mountain Range on the northern coast of the island. It is bordered by St. Paul Bay to the north and the Babuyan River to the east. The City Government of Puerto Princesa has managed the National Park since 1992. It is also known as St. Paul’s Subterranean River National Park, or St. Paul Underground River. The entrance to the Subterranean River is a short hike from the town of Sabang. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is one of the 28 finalists for the “New Seven Wonders of Nature” competition.
    Links: Top Ten Philippines Attractions, Top Ten Caves,,
  11. Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal
    Royal Chitwan National ParkRoyal Chitwan National Park1Royal Chitwan National Park2Royal Chitwan National Park3Royal Chitwan National Park4Royal Chitwan National Park5Royal Chitwan National Park6Royal Chitwan National Park7
    Chitwan National Park is the first national park in Nepal. Formerly called Royal Chitwan National  Park it was established in 1973 and granted the status of a World Heritage Site in 1984. It covers an area of 932 square km (360 square mi) and is located in the subtropical Inner Terai lowlands of south central Nepal in the Chitwan District. In altitude it ranges from about 100 meters (330 ft.) in the river valleys to 815 m (2,674 ft.) in the Churia Hills. In the north and west of the protected area the Narayani-Rapti river system forms a natural boundary to human settlements. Adjacent to the East of Chitwan National Park is Parsa Widlife Reserve, contiguous in the south is the Indian Tiger reserve Valmiki National Park. The coherent protected area of 2,075 square km (801 square mi) represents the Tiger Conservation Unit (TCU) Chitwan-Parsa-Valmiki, which covers a (3,549 square km) (801 square mi.) huge block of alluvial grasslands and subtropical moist deciduous forests.
    Links: Top Ten Nepalese Attractions,,
  12. Yakushima, Japan

           Yakushima, one of the Ōsumi Islands, is an island of about 500 km² and roughly 15,000 islanders to the south of Kyūshū in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. The Vincennes Strait (Yakushima Kaikyō) separates it from Tanegashima. The highest point on the island is Miyanoura-dake at 1,935 metres (6,360 ft). It is covered in dense forest noted especially for old growth Cryptomeria trees known as sugi in Japan and magnificent rhododendrons. The island forms part of Kirishima-Yaku National Park. It is the largest nesting ground for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle in the North Pacific. Yakushima is Japan’s wettest place with one of the world’s highest precipitation rates at 4,000 to 10,000 mm. It is the southernmost place in Japan where there is snow in the mountains, often for months, while the ocean temperature is never below 19°C. The Yakusugi Forest is visited by 300,000 tourists every year. It is said to have inspired the forest setting in Hayao Miyazaki’s film Princess Mononoke. The island has been a test site for Honda’s hydrogen fuel cell vehicle research. Yakushima’s electricity is more than 50% hydroelectric, and surplus power has been used to produce hydrogen gas in a small experiment by Kagoshima University. There are no hydrogen cars stationed on the island but a few electric cars are run by the municipality.
    Links: Top Ten Japanese Attractions,,
  13. The Sundarbans

           The Sundarbans is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world. The name Sundarban can be literally translated as “beautiful forest” in the Bengali language. The name may have been derived from the Sundari trees that are found in Sundarbans in large numbers. The forest lies in the vast delta on the Bay of Bengal formed by the super confluence of the Padma, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers across Saiyan southern Bangladesh. The seasonally-flooded Sundarbans freshwater swamp forests lie inland from the mangrove forests on the coastal fringe. The forest covers 10,000 square km of which about 6,000 are in Bangladesh. The Sundarbans is estimated to be about 4,110 km², of which about 1,700 km² is occupied by waterbodies in the forms of river, canals and creeks of width varying from a few meters to several kilometers. The Sundarbans is intersected by a complex network of tidal waterways, mudflats and small islands of salt-tolerant mangrove forests. The interconnected network of waterways makes almost every corner of the forest accessible by boat. The area is known for the eponymous Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), as well as numerous fauna including species of birds, spotted deer, crocodiles and snakes. The fertile soils of the delta have been subject to intensive human use for centuries, and the ecoregion has been mostly converted to intensive agriculture, with few enclaves of forest remaining. The remaining forests, pain together with the Sundarbans mangroves, are important habitat for the endangered tiger. Additionally, the Sundarbans serves a crucial function as a protective barrier for the millions of inhabitants in and around Khulna and Mongla against the floods that result from the cyclones.
  14. Links: National Parks,

Recommendations for Adventuring in Asian National Parks

Top Ten African National Parks

Top Ten African National Parks

  1. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

           The Serengeti National Park is a large national park in Serengeti area, Tanzania. It is most famous for its annual migration of over one and a half million white bearded (or brindled) wildebeest and 250,000 zebra. Serengeti National Park is widely regarded as the best wildlife reserve in Africa due to its density of predators and prey.
    Links: Top Ten Tanzanian Attractions,, 
  2. Marojejy National Park, Madagascar

    Marojejy National Park is a national park in the SAVA Region of northeastern Madagascar. It covers 55,500 ha (214 sq mi) and is centered around the Marojejy Massif, a mountain chain which rises to an elevation of 2,132 m (6,995 ft). The wide range of elevations and rugged topology of the massif create diverse habitats that transition quickly with changes in altitude. Warm, dense rainforest can be found at lower elevations, followed by shorter forests at higher elevations, followed still by cloud forest, and topped near the peaks with the only remaining undisturbed mountain scrub in Madagascar. This habitat diversity lends itself to high levels of biodiversity. At least 118 species of bird, 148 species of reptile and amphibian and 11 species of lemur are known to live within Marojejy National Park. One of the lemurs, the silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus) is listed among “The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates.” The Helmet Vanga (Euryceros prevostii) is considered the iconic bird species of the park. One path leads from the entrance of the park to the summit. There are three camps along the route: Camp Mantella at 450 m (1,480 ft) in elevation in lowland rainforest, Camp Marojejia at 775 m (2,543 ft) at the transition between lowland and montane rain forest, and Camp Simpona at 1,250 m (4,100 ft) in the middle of the montane rainforest. Camp Simpona acts as a base camp for the trek to the summit, a route that stretches 2 km (1.2 mi) and can take up to four or five hours.
    Links: Top Ten Madagascan Attractions, Top Ten PrimatesTop 100 BirdsTop Ten Lizards, Top Ten Best Dressed Animals,
  3. Maasai Mara, Kenya

           The Maasai Mara National Reserve is a large game reserve in south-western Kenya, which is effectively the northern continuation of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is named after the Maasai people (the traditional inhabitants of the area) and their description of the area when looked at from afar: “Mara,” which is Maa (Maasai language) for “spotted,” an apt description for the circles of trees, scrub, savanna and cloud shadows that mark the area. It is famous for its exceptional population of Big Cats, and the annual migration, known as the “Great Migration,” of zebra, Thomson’s gazelle, and wildebeest from the Serengeti every year from July to October. The Maasai Mara National Reserve is only a fraction of the Greater Mara Ecosystem, which includes the following Group Ranches: Koiyaki, Lemek, Ol Chorro Oirowua, Olkinyei, Siana, Maji Moto, Naikara, Ol Derkesi, Kerinkani, Oloirien and Kimintet.
    Links: Top Ten Kenyan Attractions,,
  4. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

           Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in southwestern Uganda in East Africa. The park is part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and is situated along the Democratic Republic of Congo border next to the Virunga National Park and on the edge of the western Great Rift Valley. It comprises 331 square km (128 square mi) of jungle forests and contains both montane and lowland forest and is accessible only on foot. The forest is one of the richest ecosystems in Africa and has a vast diversity of species. The park provides habitat for some 120 species of mammals, 348 species of birds, 220 species of butterflies, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos and many endangered species. Floristically Bwindi is amongst the most diverse forests in East Africa, with more than 1,000 flowering plant species including 163 species of trees and 104 species of ferns. The northern (low altitude) sector is rich in species of the Guineo-Congolian flora. These include two species internationally recognized as endangered, Brown mahogany (Lovoa swynnertonii) and Brazzeia longipedicellata. In particular the area shares in the high levels of endemisms of the Albertine Rift. The park is a sanctuary for colobus monkeys, chimpanzees and many birds (such as hornbills and turacos). It is perhaps most notable for the 340 Bwindi gorillas, half the world’s population. There are four habituated Mountain Gorilla groups open to tourism: Mubare; Habinyanja; Rushegura near Buhoma; and the Nkuringo group at Nkuringo.
    Links: Top Ten Ugandan Attractions, National Parks, Top Ten African National Parks, Top 100 BirdsTop Ten Butterflies,
  5. Mana Pools National Park, Sapi and Chewore Safari Areas, Zimbabwe

    Mana Pools is a wildlife conservation area in northern Zimbabwe constituting a National Park. It is a region of the lower Zambezi River in Zimbabwe where the flood plain turns into a broad expanse of lakes after each rainy season. As the lakes gradually dry up and recede, the region attracts many large animals in search of water, making it one of Africa’s most renowned game-viewing regions. Mana means ‘four’ in Shona, in reference to the four large permanent pools formed by the meanderings of the middle Zambezi. These 2,500 square kilometers of river frontage, islands, sandbanks and pools, flanked by forests of mahogany, wild figs, ebonies and baobabs, is one of the least developed National Parks in Southern Africa. It was saved from a hydro-electric scheme in the early 1980’s which would have seen the flooding of this subsequent World Heritage site. It has the country’s biggest concentration of hippopotamuses and crocodiles and large dry season mammal populations of elephant and buffalo.
    Links: Top Ten Zimbabwean Attractions,,,
  6. Masoala National Park, Madagascar

           Masoala National Park, in northeast Madagascar, is the largest of the island’s protected areas. Most of the park is situated in Sava Region and a part in Analanjirofo. Created in 1997, the park protects 2,300 square kilometers of rainforest and 100 square km of marine parks. The Masoala peninsula is exceptionally diverse due to its huge size and variety of habitats. Altogether, the park protects rainforest, coastal forest, flooded forest, marsh and mangrove.
    Links: Top Ten Madagascan,,
  7. Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar

           Ranomafana National Park is located in the southeastern part of Madagascar in Haute Matsiatra and Vatovavy-Fitovinany. With more than 41,600 hectares (161 square mi) of moist forest climate, the park is home to several rare species of flora and fauna such as the lemur. The park was established in 1991 with the purpose of conserving the unique biodiversity of the local ecosystem and reducing the human pressures on the protected area.
    Links: Top Ten Madagascan Attractions, Top Ten Frogs/Toads, Top Ten Lizards, Top Ten Spiders,,
  8. West Coast National Park, South Africa

           The West Coast National Park lies 120 km north of Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It is 27,500 hectares (106 sq mi) in size. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and the R27 coastal road, and runs from the town of Yzerfontein in the south up to the Langebaan lagoon. The park is particularly well known for its bird life and for the spring flowers which occur in the months from August to October, especially in the Postberg flower reserve section of the park.
    Links: Top Ten South African Attractions,, 
  9. Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania

           Kilimanjaro National Park is a national park, located 200 miles south of the equator near Moshi, Tanzania. It is centered on Mount Kilimanjaro, and covers an area of 753 km² (291 square miles). In the 1910’s, Mount Kilimanjaro and its forests were declared a game reserve by the German colonial government, but by 1921 it was made a forest reserve. In 1973, the mountain above the tree line (about 2,700 m / 9,000 ft.) was reclassified as a National Park and was opened to public access in 1977.
    Links: Top Ten Tanzanian Attractions, National Parks, Top Ten African National Parks, MountainsTop Ten African Mountains,
  10. Chobe National Park, Botswana

           Chobe National Park, in northwest Botswana, has one of the largest concentrations of game in Africa. By size, it is the 3rd largest park of the country, after the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Gemsbok National Park, and is the most diverse. It is also the country’s first national park.
    Links: Top Ten Botswana Attractions,,
  11. Makgadikgadi Pans National Park and Santuary, Botswana

           The Makgadikgadi Pan is a large salt pan in the middle of the dry savanna of northeastern Botswana. It is one of the largest salt flats in the world. The pan is all that remains of the formerly enormous Lake Makgadikgadi, which once covered an area larger than Switzerland, but dried up several thousand years ago.
    Links: Top Ten Botswana Attractions, Top 100 Birds,
  12. Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia

           Simien Mountains National Park is one of the National Parks of Ethiopia. Located in the Semien (North) Gondar Zone of the Amhara Region, its territory covers the Simien Mountains and includes Ras Dashan, the highest point in Ethiopia. It is home to a number of extremely rare species, including the Ethiopian wolf, Gelada Baboon and the Walia Ibex, a wild goat found nowhere else in the world. The Caracal also occurs within the Simien Mountains. More than 50 species of birds inhabit the park, including the impressive Bearded Vulture, or Lammergeier, with its 10-foot (3m) wingspan. The park is crossed by an unpaved road which runs from Debarq, where the administrative headquarters of the park is located, east through a number of villages to the Buahit Pass, where the road turns south to end at Mekane Berhan 10 kilometers beyond the park boundary.
    Links: Top Ten Ethiopian Attractions, Top Ten Horns,
  13. Matobo National Park, Zimbabwe

           The Matobo National Park forms the core of the Matobo or Matopos Hills, an area of granite kopjes and wooded valleys commencing some 35 km south of Bulawayo, southern Zimbabwe. The Hills were formed over 2,000 million years ago with granite being forced to the surface, this has eroded to produce smooth “whaleback dwalas” and broken kopjes, strewn with boulders and interspersed with thickets of vegetation. Mzilikazi, founder of the Ndebele nation, gave the area its name, meaning ‘Bald Heads.’ The Hills cover an area of about 3,100 km², of which 424 km² is National Park, the remainder being largely communal land and a small proportion of commercial farmland. The park covers some beautiful scenery including some spectacular balancing rocks and impressive views along the Thuli, Mtshelele, Maleme and Mpopoma river valleys. Part of the national park is set aside as a 100 km² game park, which has been stocked with game including black and white rhinoceros. The highest point in the hills is the promontory named Gulati (1549 m) just outside the north-eastern corner of the park. Administratively, Matobo National Park incorporates the Lake Matopos Recreational Park, being the area around Hazelside, Sandy Spruit and Lake Matopos.
    Links: Top Ten Zimbabwe Attractions,,
  14. Garamba National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo

           Garamba National Park, located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa, was established in 1938. One of Africa’s oldest National parks, it is (or at least was) the home to the world’s last known wild population of Northern White Rhinoceros. Due to poaching of the rhinos within the park, it was added to the list of World Heritage in Danger in 1996. The park is also well known for its African elephant domestication program started in the 1960’s, which managed to train tourist-rideable animals from the naturally wild beasts.
    Links: Top Ten Democratic Republic of Congo Attractions,,
  15. Kahuzi-Biéga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo

           Kahuzi-Biéga National Park is in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, 50 km west of the town of Bukavu in the Kivu Region, near to the western side of Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border. The park is one of the last refuges of the rare Eastern Lowland Gorilla. Prior to conflicts which have plagued this part of Africa since the 1990’s, only an estimated 600 gorillas remained throughout the range. It is likely that recent war in the region has taken a terrible toll on their numbers. One recent estimate in 2005 has suggested that as many as 60% of the population of nearly 300 recorded in Kahuzi-Biéga in 1990 may have perished. The ongoing fighting in the Congo has moved within the boundaries of the park causing looting, burning of the forest, and poaching of the animals. The Park is named after two extinct volcanoes, Mount Kahuzi (3,308 m) and Mount Biéga (2,790 m). Mount Kahuzi is the highest in this part of Kivu.
    Links: Top Ten Democratic Republic of the Congo, Top Ten Primates, 
  16. Tassili n’Ajjer, Algeria

    Tassili n’Ajjer, Berber for “Plateau of the Rivers,” is a mountain range in the Sahara desert. It is a vast plateau in south-east Algeria at the borders of Libya, Niger and Mali, covering an area of 72,000 sq. km. The exceptional density of paintings and engravings, and the presence of many prehistoric vestiges, are remarkable testimonies to Prehistory. From 10,000 BC to the first centuries of our era, successive peoples left many archaeological remains, habitations, burial mounds and enclosures which have yielded abundant lithic and ceramic material. However, it is the rock art (engravings and paintings) that have made Tassili world famous since its discovery in 1933. 15,000 engravings have been identified to date. The nearest town is Djanet, about 10 km southwest of the range. Much of the range, including the cypresses and archaeological sites are protected in a National park, Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site, named the Tassili n’Ajjer National Park. The plateau is also of great geological and aesthetic interest: the panorama of geological formations with “rock forests” of eroded sandstone resembles a strange lunar landscape.
    Links: Top Ten Algerian Attractions, Cave PaintingsTop Ten African Cave Paintings, Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten Paintings Depicting ExtraterrestrialsTop Ten Extraterrestrial Related Artifacts,, 
  17. Teide National Park, Canary Islands, Spain

           Teide National Park is a national park located in Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain). It is centered on 3,718 m Mount Teide, the highest mountain of Spain and the islands of the Atlantic, it is the 3rd largest volcano in the world from its base. It was declared a National Park on January 22,1954, making it one of the oldest national parks in Spain. Another volcano located in the park (next to the Teide) is the Pico Viejo, the 2nd largest volcano in the Canary Islands. Since the end of 2007, it has also been one of the 12 Treasures of Spain. Midway up the mountain are the telescopes of the Observatorio del Teide. Territorially, it belongs to the municipality of La Orotava. Teide is the most visited National Park in Spain, with a total of 2.8 million visitors, according to the Instituto Canario de Estadística. The Teide is the most famous natural icon not only of Tenerife but also of all the Canary Islands.
    Links: Top Ten Canary Islands Attractions, Top Ten Spanish Attractions,,
  18. Lake Malawi National Park, Malawi

           Lake Malawi National Park is a national park located in Malawi at the southern end of Lake Malawi. It is the only national park in Malawi that was created to protect fish and aquatic habitats. Despite this, Lake Malawi National Park does include a fair amount of land, including several small islands in Lake Malawi, and is home to other animals such as baboons. A large baobab tree, purportedly over 800 years old, is said to have been a favorite of Dr. David Livingstone as a place where he could give sermons and speak with other missionaries. The graves of five early missionaries are also found in the park. The many endemic fish species make it a key example of specialized evolution.
    Links: Top Ten Malawian Attractions, Top 100 Fish,,
  19. Pendjari National Park, Benin

    The Pendjari National Park lies in north western Benin, adjoining the Arli National Park in Burkina Faso. Named for the Pendjari River, the national park is known for its wildlife and his home to some of the last populations of big game like elephants, lions, hippopotamuses, buffalo and various antelopes in West Africa. The Park is also famous for its richness in birds. The Pendjari National Park is an area of 2,755 square km in the far north-west of Benin. The park is part of the WAP complex (W-Arli-Pendjari) which is a vast protected area in Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. The hills and cliffs of the Atakora range make the north-west one the most scenic areas of Benin. They provide a wonderful backdrop to the Pendjari National Park, which, in its isolation, remains one of the most interesting in West Africa.
    Links: Top Ten Bennin Attractions,,
  20. Links: National Parks,

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