In the United States, we’re very fortunate to have an abundance of stunning national parks available. From Yosemite to the Grand Canyon, there is always a beautiful slice of nature waiting to be explored. However, it can be easy to forget that there are beautiful national parks dotted all over the world. Many of them, if not more, are just as beautiful as the ones at home.
If you’re a national park junkie, a world traveler, or just looking for your next fix of unadulterated nature, here are some of the most beautiful national parks outside of the US that are definitely worth exploring.
The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, Africa is made up of over 5,700 square miles of amazing wilderness. This park is famous for the annual migration of millions of animals moving towards year-round water holes. Carnivorous animals in large packs follow behind to catch the vast amount of prey out in the open.
The park has been split into three separate locations each with its own flora, fauna, and topography. These are the Serengeti Plains, the Northern Serengeti, and the Western Corridor. While exploring them, you’ll see elephants, wildebeest, zebras, crocodiles, hippos, swampland, and endless tropical plants and flowers that will give you a real feel for the African topography.
One of the best national parks outside the US, lies off the western coast of South America, in total isolation. Galapagos National Park (part of the Galapagos Islands) is about a 4 hour plane ride from Quito, Ecuador. One of the best kept secret places in South America for vacations, this national park is a great place to visit if you want to explore the pristine natural world without too many people. Made famous by Charles Darwin who studied evolution on these islands, the islands and the water around the Galapagos contain some of the most beautiful and diverse marine ecosystems on the planet.
With only 75,000 visitors to the islands each year, it’s easy to explore the unique terrain with its giant tortoises and enchanting plant life in almost total seclusion. While you’re there, you’ll see things you would never see elsewhere outside of a zoo, and enjoy a pleasant climate. Ideally, you should explore the islands by boat so that you can pack in as much of this unique place as possible.
Located on the South Island of New Zealand, Fiordland National Park is the place to be if you’re interested in hiking. Home to more than 4,800 square miles of stunning terrain, a number of huge fjords, rain forests, and snow-capped hills and mountains, you’ll have the time of your life exploring more than 300 miles of trails, staying in hiking huts, and staring at the stars.
Recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, Fiordland National Park is New Zealand’s gem. The park’s most famous attraction is Milford Sound, one of the many deep fiords that were carved by ancient glaciers. Most people take a boat tour of the sound although kayaks are available during the summer months. One of the most popular and highly rated hikes in the world winds through this national park – the Milford Track.
The park has limited entry and access points so do your research before your go. My family and I took a guided tour to Milford Sound. If you’d like to learn more about my experience at Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park, check out a previous post.
This Brazilian beauty encompasses much of the Amazon rainforest, which means it is home to more than 10 percent of the world’s plant and animal species. If you’re a nature lover, you’ll love exploring the 335,00 acres of South American wetland where you’ll see anteaters, tapirs, jaguars, hundreds of tropical birds, and unique vegetation, all in one location. This national park outside the US is known for being one of the world’s largest freshwater wetland areas.
If seeing wildlife is a top priority, be sure to tour in the dry season, which typically runs from May to September. From October to April, it’s the area’s rainy season, and while it can create flooded roads and regions of the park, the flooding and green plant life can become a spectacular sight.
Komodo National Park is quite a unique park because it was initially created for one purpose – to keep its most famous resident – the Komodo Dragon – safe and protected. Even though the main goal of the park when it opened in 1980 was to preserve and protect the Komodo Dragon, it now works to protect all the flora and fauna within the entire area of the islands and the waters that surround it.
Established as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, the park provides a habitat for hundreds of different species of animals among its three main islands. Because the waters that surround the islands are also protected, there is a vast array of corals, sponges, fish, rays, sharks, whales, and turtles which create a diverse marine environment.
If you’re fortunate enough to travel overseas, you can find some truly pristine, beautiful natural environments to explore. Visiting national parks outside the US can be quite a unique and memorable experience that you won’t find in the states.
What’s your favorite national park outside the US? Let us know in the comments!