City breaks are great and all, but when it comes to sheer beauty and awe-inspiring scenery, nothing can beat good old Mother Nature.
As such, whether it’s spotting rare and wonderful wildlife, or just some time passed sitting on the grass in the sunshine with a few friends and a picnic enjoying the spectacular views, spending some time at a national park while on holiday can be the perfect way to make sure your trip lasts long in the memory. Below is a varied but by no means the exhaustive list of just some of the great national parks around the world that could be perfect destinations for holidaymakers.
Serengeti National Park
You can’t talk about great national parks without mentioning Africa. The continent is home to dozens of national parks most of which are pretty amazing places to visit. And of course, mainly attract tourists because of the incredible wildlife on show. But if I had to pick just one African national park to go to, it would be the Serengeti. Located in Tanzania, the Serengeti National Park is home to lions, elephants, rhinoceroses, giraffes and most of the other animals you would hope to see on an African Safari. But it is also famous as being the setting of the annual wildebeest migration, which sees more than 1.5 million white bearded wildebeest and 250,000 zebras make their way across the park in what is one of the most spectacular sights in nature.
For something a bit closer to home but also offering tonnes of natural beauty, try the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve in Portugal. This lagoon landscape stretches along the eastern Algarve coast from Faro to the village of Cacela Velha near Tavira and was created by the last great oceanic earthquake back in 1755. Here you’ll find stunning sand dunes and islands surrounded by the open sea along with rare species of water birds and other animals, as well as archaeological sites comprising Roman and pre-Roman settlements. One of the best things about Ria Formosa, however, is its accessibility, with cheap flights to Faro available with airlines such as Monarch from the UK. There are also plenty of picturesque villages in the region where you can enjoy a drink or a meal while enjoying the landscape.
Despite being one of the most visited national parks in the world and possessing a slight ‘Disneyland’ feel thanks to being highly developed for tourism, Yellowstone is so vast that it’s still easy to escape the human population and immerse yourself in nature. Well-known landmarks such as the Old Faithful geyser attract the crowds, but there’s plenty else to see including lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges, as well as Yellowstone Caldera, the largest supervolcano on the continent.
Canaima National Park
Canaima National Park in Venezuela covers a vast area roughly the size of Belgium, and the park is occupied by plateaus of rock called tepuis. which, with vertical walls and almost flat tops, make for a unique biological environment as well as one of the most astonishing natural landscapes anywhere on Earth. The star of the show, however, is undoubtedly Angel Falls, which at 972m is the highest waterfall in the world and a truly mesmerizing sight.
Difficult and expensive to get to but well worth the cost and effort, the Galapagos Islands are a nature lover’s dream. Made famous by Charles Darwin, the Galapagos hosts an incredible array of wildlife, but also offers plenty else to do, from lounging on idyllic beaches to trekking across uninhabited islands.