10 lesser-known natural wonders of the world

Fleetwood Mac sang about seeing seven wonders, but you’re going to have to fight the crowds if you want to visit the big guys. For travellers more adverse to highly popular tourist spots, we’ve put together this list of lesser-known, yet equally beautiful, natural wonders.

1. Cascate del Mulino – Saturnia, Tuscany

In Southern Tuscany, you can find free access to natural hot springs that have temperatures sitting at 37.5C. These springs contain sulphur and thermal plankton, and are said to have healing properties for those who bathe in them. The public springs are BYO bathing gear (towels etc), but many of the surrounding hotels offer private access to spas that utilise the beautiful waters from this natural wonder.

2. Verdon Gorge – Provence, France

Also known as Gorges du Verdon, this stunning location is called the Grand Canyon of Europe. Stretching 25 kilometres through Provence, the gorge was created by the Verdon River, which was named for its piercing turquoise colour. The water is perfect for kayaking on, and the view of tall limestone walls and ravines along the trip make it perfect for sightseeing.

A panoramic view of the Verdon Gorge in France. Azure, still water runs through the middle of this scene, subtly winding through the rock formations that surround it. Huge rocks forming the gorge stand tall to both the left and right. There’s dense shrubbery forming on the rocks. People can be seen kayaking through the crystal blue water.

3. The Fairy Pools – Isle of Skye, Scotland

Scotland is famous for its mythology, and The Fairy Pools, although not affiliated with any one particular legend, certainly look like they could play home to such characters. Once a best-kept secret, these crystal clear, picturesque pools have become a must-see tourist destination thanks to the word of the internet. The pools have been named one of the best swimming holes in the world. If you don’t mind a 45-minute walk to get there, grab your bathing suit and your imagination and take the trek!

4. Freycinet National Park – Tasmania, Australia

Underrated, but aesthetically astounding, Tasmania plays home to some of Australia’s most incredible national parks – and Freycinet is just one of them. Named for its location along the Freycinet Peninsula, this beautiful coastal park is known for Wineglass Bay, as well as the pink granite peaks of the Hazards Range, and the pristine beaches. It might not get hot enough for a swim, but this place is perfect for day walks with ocean views.

An aerial view of Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park, Tasmania. Calm water can be coming in from the ocean, forming the beautifully curved bay. On the right, the aqua water meets white sand and the sand joins a lush green forest. In the background there’s a cluster of green mountains with rocky cliff faces that meet the ocean.

5. Waitomo Glowworm Caves – New Zealand

Located on the North Island, these caves are home to the Arachnocampa luminosa – a species of glowworm that is exclusive to New Zealand. Volcanic activity in this area has helped create 300 limestone caves with rivers running through them. Visitors can raft through the caves to see the unique glowworms lighting up in the dark caverns.

6. Fox Glacier – New Zealand

If your dream trip is to see a glacier, there’s no need to fly as far as the Artic Circle to find one – Fox Glacier is only a few hours flight away! Also known under its traditional name – Te Moeka o Tuawe, the glacier is the longest on the New Zealand west coast and has been walked on by tourists since 1928. Other activities offered at this site include heli-hiking and ice hiking – if you are so inclined.

A birds-eye-view of the Fox Glacier in New Zealand. An incredible expanse of light blue, snowy ice forms the glacier, it takes up most of the scene. The ice is rugged with many deep dips on its surface. It travels uphill on the right side of the image. On the left and in the background, the ice joins to a large, dark grey rock on the side of a mountain.

7. Mammoth Cave – Kentucky, USA

In Bowling Green, Kentucky is the world’s longest series of caves – measuring almost 665 kilometres. The caves were once the home to tribes of Native Americans, and later were used as a treatment facility for people suffering from tuberculosis. The cave is now part of Mammoth Cave National Park and is one of the USA’s oldest tourist attractions. We recommend the tour that takes you to the cave of stalactites.  

 

A panoramic view of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Stalactites hanging from a rocky ceiling makes up most of this scene. The stalactites hang low, and in the background they join with the ground. Green and yellow light from torches illuminate the cave. People can be seen on the right walking through the open space of the cave. Boulders - large and small - sit on the bottom of the cave floor. To the left you can see more torches shining brightly.

8. Zion National Park – Utah, USA

Not unlike the Grand Canyon National Park, Zion National Park cuts through similar sandstone settings and exhibits hills of deep red marbled with pinks and oranges. Home to the Navajo people, Zion stretches almost 25 kilometres through the southwest of Utah. If you are interested in the cultural history of the Indigenous North American people – this is the site for you.

9. Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail – Wales

When we think of Wales, perhaps we don’t quite think ‘natural wonder’, but if you’re in the United Kingdom, this National Park –the first to be opened in the area in 1970 – is worth visiting. Almost 300 kilometres long, the national trail lies along the coast of Wales and includes some of the most beautiful scenic experiences you could find in the UK. It comes complete with native flora and fauna, as well as a diversity of landscapes – volcanic headlands, limestone cliffs, beaches, and flooded glacial valleys. For those who love long walks, it is said that completing the national trail is the same amount of hiking as climbing Mt Everest.

10. Adršpach-Teplice Rocks – Czech Republic

Forget Stonehenge, this rock formation is still relatively unknown by the masses of tourists heading to Prague every year – and you can climb up it! Named for the precincts it is located next to, the rocks are an unusual formation of sandstone. It is open for visitors to climb, or participate in the more extreme activity of rock jumping.