There are many reasons to make your next trip one that’s all about nature. Being immersed in nature offers lots in the way of stress relief and many other benefits – it’s a great way to take advantage of the outdoors to stay fit while enjoying spectacular scenery too. If you aren’t sure where to begin, start with these nature travel trips that should all be on your bucket list.
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Waterfall Hopping in Iceland
What Is It? There are more than 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland, and they come in all shapes and forms thanks to the frequent rain, snow and glaciers that melt in the summer.
Why Do It? Visiting some of the most magnificent falls in Iceland is the perfect way to create your own self-drive adventure that guarantees lots of postcard-perfect photographs.
Good to Know: Start with Gullfoss, AKA Golden Falls along the famous Golden Circle route, known as Iceland’s own Niagara Falls the watch the geysers erupt in the Geysir Hot Spring area nearby. Journey to the south coast and marvel at Seljalandsfoss, one of the most photographed falls in the country – you can even walk behind the veil of water. Skogafoss is just another 30 minutes from here – climb to the top to take in a unique perspective of the falls and a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape.
Wildlife Watching in Borneo
What Is It? Borneo is the world’s third-largest non-continental island, shared by Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. It’s renowned for its biodiverse rainforest, beautiful beaches and wildlife.
Why Do It? It’s one of the few places in the world where you can watch endangered orangutans in the wild. You’ll also be able to spot all sorts of other animals like proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants, wild cats and crocodiles.
Good to Know: One of the best ways to see the wildlife is to join a river cruise on the Kinabatangan River in Sabah. Day trips and multi-day trips are available that include night walks with nature guides who will point out the wildlife you’d probably miss heading out on your own.
Bird Watching and More in the Ecuador Amazon
What Is It? Located in eastern Ecuador, the Ecuadorian Amazon is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. The country is a birdwatchers’ paradise with 1600 species of bird, many of which are found here, like toucans, macaws and tanagers.
Why Do It? The Ecuador region of the Amazon makes a great pick not only for its biodiversity but eco-friendly lodges and more affordable cruises on the Amazon River.
Good to Know: The Yasuní National Park and Biosphere Reserve are the main areas of the Ecuador Amazon. They should only be explored with a knowledgeable local guide. Local tribal-run ecolodges in the area often have community guides leading excursions on both the land and water to view the myriad of birds and all sorts of other wildlife.
Swimming with Sperm Whales, Dominica
What Is It? Known as “The Nature Island of the Caribbean,” Dominica is an obvious choice for those who want to get back to nature, located in the West Indies.
Why Do It? The island’s lush landscape is filled with volcanic hot springs, natural mud baths, countless waterfalls, rivers, natural swimming holes and pristine rainforest. Enjoy black sand beaches and even swimming with whales. Dominica has a resident population of sperm whales that live just offshore, with the sheer underwater drop-offs around it creating deep, sheltered bays that make it the perfect haven for getting up close to the massive animals who come here to breed and calve.
Good to Know: While the whales are here year-round, your best bet for sightings and the opportunity to snorkel or dive with them is from November to March.
Floating Through a Glowworm Cave in New Zealand
What Is It? New Zealand was made for nature lovers with terrain that includes mountains, waterfalls, rushing rivers, glaciers, wild coastlines and more, but the Waitomo Caves offer one of the more unique adventures in New Zealand, home to glowworms that are endemic to the country.
Why Do It? The Waitomo Caves are one of the most popular attractions in New Zealand, and for good reason. A boat ride through this fantasy-like world will bring you to witness thousands of the tiny creatures that radiate their intense luminescent lights.
Good to Know
Tours of the caves run every 30 minutes and take about 45 minutes to complete but there are many other things to do in the area like an underground walking tour and rafting.
Hiking the Na Pali Coast in Kauai
What Is It? The Na Pali Coast is a stretch of rugged coastline on the northwest shore of Kauai. One of the world’s most breathtaking natural wonders, it can’t be accessed by car.
Why Do It? The 11-mile span of the coast is the original trail used by the Hawaiians who lived in Kalalau Valley, and for hikers this is a true bucket-list trek, experiencing up close the sheer cliffs that drop straight down, thousands of feet into the Pacific.
Good to Know: If you don’t have time for the 22-mile round trip journey, the first two miles of the trail, starting at Ha’ena State Park, is ideal for a day hike, ending at Hanakapi’ai Beach. If you want to hike another two miles you’ll reach the valley where you can enjoy a refreshing dip next to the Hanakapiai waterfall.
Snorkeling with Sea Lions in the Sea of Cortez, Baja California Sur, Mexico
What Is It? The Sea of Cortez is home to Isla Espiritu Santo, a UNESCO-listed nature reserve, and a nature lovers’ dream home to a significant population of sea lions and a diverse array of other marine life.
Why Do It? Visitors can snorkel in what’s been called the “world’s aquarium” right alongside the 300+ resident sea lions while surrounded by an abundance of tropical fish.
Good to Know: The island can only be visited on a boat tour, such as the highly-rated local outfitter Baja Sur Tours, departing from La Paz, about two hours north of Los Cabos.
Zip Lining in Costa Rica's Arenal Volcano Park
What Is It? Arenal Volcano Park is a protected area in northern Costa Rica renowned for its hot springs, volcano and wildlife while being one of the world’s top spots for ziplining and other outdoor adventures.
Why Do It? This area boasts one of the country’s most biodiverse ecosystems, with a zipline ride providing the opportunity to soar over the dense jungle with views of the volcano and possible wildlife like monkeys, toucans and sloths.
Good to Know: Costa Rica Sky Adventures is a great pick with seven zip lines that stretch over the lush rainforest, ranging from the longest at nearly 2,500 feet to shorter glides at 656 feet.