The Grand Canyon is a spectacular destination beyond compare. Located within Grand Canyon National Park in the state of Arizona in the United States, the Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, 18 miles (29 km) wide, and over 6,000 feet (1,800 meters) deep. This UNESCO World Heritage Site and Wonder of the Natural World was carved by the Colorado River over an estimated 17 million years. Now, it tells two billion years of geological history through the layers exposed on its walls. Visitors to the Grand Canyon can enjoy the view from a popular viewpoint on the South Rim. Rafting the Colorado River, or descending the walls of the canyon by hiking or horseback-riding are also popular activities. Helicopter tours of the Grand Canyon are also available for tourist willing to splurge. The closest international airports to the Grand Canyon are in Las Vegas, Nevada; and Phoenix, Arizona. From there, visitors can reach the park by car.
The majestic Mount Roraima is the highest mountain in the Pacaraima Mountains. Roraima lies on the three borders of Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana. The mountain is part of Venezuela’s Canaima National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Angel Falls is also part of this beautiful park. Mount Roraima’s highest point is Maverick Rock at 2,810 meters (9,219 feet), and the whole of Mount Roraima’s fairly flat top surface area is surrounded by 400+ meter (1,312+ feet) high sheer cliffs. Mount Roraima can be climbed, though all routes besides the Paraitepui route require technical climbing gear. Visitors can get a stunning view of Mount Roraima and the greater Canaima National Park from a memorable helicopter ride.
The Giant’s Causeway is a magnificent basalt rock formation located on Ireland’s northeast coast. The tops of the incredible hexagonal basalt columns form stepping stones to the ocean. The Giant’s Causeway is preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Nature Reserve in Ireland. Visitors to the area can also enjoy a ride on the historic Giant’s Causeway Tramway, a railway originally built in 1883. The nearest town to the Giant’s Causeway is the tiny community of Bushmills, only 3km (2 miles) north. The slightly larger towns of Ballycastle and Coleraine are also nearby. Belfast, the largest city and capital of Northern Ireland, is 95km (59 miles) to the south.
Peru is home to one of the most visited ancient ruins today, Machu Picchu. Literally meaning “Old Mountain”, Machu Picchu is a pre-Columbian Inca site that was built around 1400 CE. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that sees around half a million visitors each year. In January 2010 Machu Piccu was in the news worldwide when heavy rains washed away access roads to the site, trapping over 2,000 tourists and 2,000 locals who then had to be evacuated. Machu Piccu reopened to the public on April 1st, 2010. Most visitors to Machu Piccu stay in the nearby town of Cusco where all manner of accommodation can be found.
The Patagonian Perito Moreno Glacier, located in the Los Glaciares National Park of Argentina, is part of the Andes system and is one of the major tourist attractions in Patagonia due to its ease of accessibility and impressive size. The glacier is 5 km (3 miles) wide and has an average above-water height of 74 meters (240 feet). Perito Moreno Glacier sees daily bus tours as it’s just a 2 hour bus ride from the small town of El Calafate. Visitors can walk around the glacier to see it from a few different angles, or take a short trek on the glacier itself.
The massive Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a sandstone rock formation in central Australia. Officially located in the Northern Territory, Uluru is an inselberg (literally “island mountain”) which is a leftover section of a mountain range after erosion has removed the original mountain range. The formation is home to ancient wall paintings, springs, and caves. Uluru stands 348 meters (1,142 ft) tall. It is popular with photographers during sunset when it appears to glow red. Many visitors opt to enjoy a steep hour-long climb to the top of Uluru. Uluru is located inside the Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park and visitors must pay a $25 fee to enter the area. There is a nearby airport for those interested in a short and easy visit to Uluru. Visitors wishing to stay longer can find accommodation in the nearby town of Alice Springs.
The incredible moonscape hills and the impossibly beautiful cities of Turkey’s Cappadocia region are a sight to behold. Located in the center of Turkey, the Cappadocia region includes the towns of Avanos, Göreme, Nevsehir, Ortahisar, Uçhisar, and Ürgüp. Popular activities in the region include visits to the underground cities, viewing the ancient Christian cave art, exploring numerous hiking trails and volcanos, seeing the “fairy chimney” rock formations, and taking sunrise hot air balloon rides for a view of the breathtaking landscape from above.
Built between 802 CE and 1220 CE, the stunning Angkor Wat temple complex includes hundreds of temples stretching over an area of 400 square kilometers (249 square miles). The most popular temples are Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Ta Phrom (setting of the Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider movie). Recommended activites include exploring the temples, watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat, watching the sunset at one of the west-facing temples, and for those more adventurous types: getting in a hot air balloon or a helicopter for a breathtaking view of Angkor Wat from above. Visitors to the temples are required to buy a 1 day ($20), 3 day ($40), or 7 day ($60) temple pass. In the last decade Angkor Wat has exploded onto the tourist scene. 15 years ago the nearby town of Siem Reap had only 1 hotel, now there are hundreds.