As we go about our busy lives per usual, sometimes we forget how vast and intimidating the world around us really is. This is true especially if we live in a large city with notably tall building, structures, and endless concrete surrounding us. We tend to forget that Mother Nature has some pretty amazing feats of her own. These natural wonders have been around a lot longer than any of our human made structures and will withstand the test of time in a way that modern day technological marvels never will.
Fortunately for us, many brave people across the globe have weathered rough roads and dangerous conditions to climb to the tallest peaks and capture the natural splendor of particular areas for the rest of us to marvel at and enjoy. From breathtaking aerial views of waterfalls and mountaintops to canyons that have been carved to their current shape over thousands of years, reminders of how immense our earth home is are all around us.
The following pictures were taken at great heights and showcase a series of natural wonders that make us feel on top of the world and remind us of how small we truly are.
25 Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa
Home to a large array of flora and fauna that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa is a well-known landmark and a very popular tourist attraction because of the gorgeous views overlooking the waters and town. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the mountain is the relatively flat plateau that measures approximately 2 miles from side to side and is bordered by cliffs. Both hiking and riding the cable car are available for visitors who want to enjoy a beautiful view, but the highest point on the eastern end of the plateau requires a bit of climbing from where the cable car drops you off (capetown.travel).
24 The Longsheng Rice Terraces, China
The Longsheng Rice Terraces, also nicknamed the “Dragon's Backbone” in China are a very unique sight to anyone who has never seen rice terraces before. Because of the many different levels, the rice terraces almost look like huge sloping stairs, except they are between 2,000-2,600 feet above sea level. While there are many different rice terraces to visit around the area, the Ping’an Terraced Fields are the ones that have been most developed for tourism and offer a wide variety of restaurants and accommodations, including a ride up to the terraces where one can catch an amazing view that is truly unlike any other (chinahighlights).
23 Niagara Falls, Canada & United States
Seen from above, Niagara Falls almost looks unreal. Although many people have heard of Niagara Falls, few people are aware that the name actually refers to three separate falls, two on the American side and one on the Canadian side. American Falls and Bridal Falls are 176 feet in height and the Canadian “Horseshoe” Falls are about the same size: 167 feet in height. The Niagara river is only about 12,000 years old which makes it a very young river geologically speaking, and was mostly carved over a period of time from melting ice glaciers. About 12 million visitors on average visit these well known falls every year (niagrafallslive).
22 Denali, Alaska, United States
At one time also known as Mount McKinley, Denali Mountain in Alaska is home to the highest mountain peak in North America with an elevation of about 20,130 feet above sea level and is also one of the largest mountains located entirely above sea level. The mountain is made of two peaks, the South Summit which is higher and the most popular for people who attempt to climb up the mountain, and the North Summit which measures 19,740 feet in elevation. There are five large glaciers that flow off the slopes of the mountain and there is seismic activity beneath the mountain as well (nps).
21 Blue Lagoon, Iceland
One of the most popular attractions in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon refers to a spa that uses the surrounding warm seawater which is rich in minerals that have amazing benefits for the skin. Located in southwest Iceland, the lagoon was not formed naturally, rather it was a result of a nearby geothermal plant. Because the water is continuously moving, you are sure to step in to completely fresh water every 48 hours as it renews itself naturally. The water is completely free of chemicals and can help with a wide range of skin issues which make it a perfect destination for those looking to relax while nourishing their skin (guidetoiceland).
20 Boyoma Falls, Democratic Republic of Congo
Going by many different names such as Kisangani Falls, Stanley Falls, and Wagenia Falls, the Boyoma Falls waterfall in the central part of the Democratic Republic of Congo is known for its volume, which is the highest in the world in terms of annual flow rate, and width which measures 4,500 feet across. The highest fall measures in at 200 feet and the falls extend for over 60 miles along the curve of the Lualaba River, also known as the great Congo River. The rapids make a great backdrop for the railway which connects the towns of Kisangani and Ubuntu (worldwaterfalldatabase).
19 Ama Dablam, Eastern Nepal
Nestled in the Himalayan range, The Ama Dablam mountain in Eastern Nepal translates to “Mother’s necklace” because of the way that the ridges on each side seem to form a pair of arms and the hanging glacier appears to be like the traditional double-pendant worn by many Sherpa women. The first team of travelers scaled the mountain in 1961 and guided treks are available for any group brave enough to hike up its highest peak at over 22,000 feet. It is one of the most popular Himalayan peaks to climb because of its spectacular views, and a special permit is required (alpenglowexpeditions).
18 Grand Canyon, Arizona, United States
Carved by the Colorado River in Arizona, United States, over countless centuries the Grand Canyon is one of the most well known-landmarks in the country. Taking a hike through the Grand Canyon offers spectacular views of well over 2 billion years of the geological history of our planet and looking down over the intimidating drops and colorful landscapes is enough to remind us of how small we are and how intimidating nature can be sometimes. The highest point, Point Imperial, rises up over 8,800 feet and the depth near Grand Canyon Village at the South rim is approximately 5,000 feet (nps).
17 Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
One of the most recognizable pieces of architecture in the world, the view from the Eiffel Tower is incomparable and looks out over the city of Paris. Until the 1930s, it was the world’s tallest man made structure when it was built in 1889 and measures over 1,000 feet in height including the antennas. For those who want to climb all the way to the top, there are two options: either make the climb up 1,665 steps, or simply take the elevator which most people do since it is estimated that the elevator travels a distance similar to 64,000 miles! (livescience)
16 Inga Falls, Democratic Republic of Congo
Situated on the lower Congo River, Inga Falls is the site of one of the world’s largest hydroelectric-dam projects. This means that electricity is produced after water is guided from one elevation to another and the falling water causes turbines to rotate which in turn drive the generators to produce electric energy. With an asymmetrical pattern that creates a very unique looking waterfall, it is amazing that humans were able to harness the power of such a huge natural resource to provide needed resources. Taking a look at the fast moving water which flows about 1,500,000 cubic feet per second is a strong reminder of how important it is to work with nature rather than against it. (britannica)
15 Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Northeastern Italy
Considered one of the most well-known mountain peaks in the Alps, the name Tre Cime di Lavaredo translates into the “three peaks of Lavaredo” which are Cima Ovest (meaning “western peak” with an elevation of 9,754 feet ), Cima Grande (meaning “big peak” with an elevation of 9,839), and Cima Piccola (meaning “little peak” with an elevation of 9,373). The peaks lie on the border of Italy and Germany. Because the mountain range also runs along the Italian and Austrian border, there are several trenches, tunnels , monuments, and commemorative plaques that are still in place from WWI (italiaoutdoors).
14 Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe & Zambia
Spanning a little over one full mile in length, Victoria Falls is a spectacular waterfall situated between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Two parks have been built on either side for visitors to choose from and enjoy the hike and final destination. Victoria Falls National Park on the Zimbabwe side and the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park on the Zambia side, both of which offer guided tours, although unguided tours are also possible. For tourists who are deciding which country to stay in while visiting the falls and which one offers the best views, about 75% percent of Victoria Falls is visible from the Zimbabwe side (victoriafalls-guide).
13 Machu Picchu, Peru
An extremely popular and well known ancient marvel, Machu Picchu in southern Peru is a testament to the Inca people who built their citadel on the Andes mountain ridge almost 8,000 feet above sea level. Declared a Peruvian Historic Sanctuary and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the early 1980s, much of the architecture has been restored in order to give the many visitors that come every year a much clearer idea of what the structures looked like before time and weather started to wear them down. One of the most amazing features of the buildings is how incredibly tight all the stones fit together; necessary steps to take since earthquakes are very common in the area! (nationalgeographic)
12 Matterhorn, Swiss-Italian Border
At a height of about 14,692 feet, the Matterhorn is one of the most well known of the Alps. Matterhorn means peak in the meadows in German and the four faces of the mountain peak are shaped like a pyramid with each side facing one of the four cardinal directions. Created millions of years ago as a result of two landmasses crashing into each other and forcing the ground upward, it is a very popular mountain for climbers to try and scale on both the Swiss and Italian side. One of the more unique features lies at the base of the mountain where you can find the world’s largest igloo and even stay the night! (smithsonianmag)
11 Vermilion Falls, Alberta, Canada
Vermillion Falls in Alberta, Canada is a relatively small waterfall along the Peace River in Northern Alberta. The falls are relatively modest in height at only about 20 feet max, but the crest of the falls is over a mile in length. The name is thought to have come from the distinctive red clay on the edge of the river banks which makes an amazing sight to anyone brave enough to hike through the relatively isolated area surrounding the falls which make it perfect for waterfall lovers who want to view the beauty of a lesser known and lesser seen waterfall (worldwaterfalldatabase).
10 Mount Fuji, Honshu Island, Japan
Mount Fuji is well known for its incredible height; measuring a height of 12,389 feet, it is the highest mountain in Japan, and the 7th highest island peak in the entire world. Recognized easily because of its snow capped mountain peak which is shaped like a symmetrical cone, it is a very popular sight to draw and is widely considered the sacred symbol of Japan. Because of how highly regarded and respected the mountain is, there are several temples and shrines scattered around the base and even towards the bottom of the crater for people who are hiking up the mountain to stop and admire (britannica).
9 The Great Wall of China, China
At over 2,300 years old and with more than 10 million visitors a year, the Great Wall of China is one of the most well known landmarks in the world. As the single longest wall and the largest piece of human made architecture in history, the Great Wall winds over steep mountains and valleys as well rugged terrain. There are certain sections which have been preserved more than others and the most popular section, Badaling, can see up to 70,000 visitors every single day. Because of both time and design, the Great Wall is not a single straight line, there are several sections missing and there are circular walls as well as parallel walls throughout the structure (chinahighlights).
8 Chutes de Khone, Laos
Chutes De Khone, otherwise known as Khone Falls, sits on the Cambodian border in deep southern Laos. Dropping approximately 45 feet down, there are also thousands of small islands that formed near the falls which is why the area is known as “the 4,000 islands”. While some of the islands are extremely small, some of them are currently used as ports to transfer goods around the falls. The highest fall is almost 70 feet tall and with over 2,500,000 gallons of water flowing every second of the day, the volume of Khone Falls is almost double that of Niagara Falls (britannica).
7 Bac Son Valley, Vietnam
Located about 155 miles from Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, Bac Son Valley has not been a popular tourist destination because the small rural village has not necessarily invested in building accommodations, and the hike up to see the gorgeous view of the valley and the town are really only accessible to people who are both fit and adventurous. Once a brave soul makes it up there however, they are rewarded with colors so vibrant they almost don’t look real. The valley is surrounded by gorgeous green on either side and dotted with small lakes which make it a worthwhile view of a lesser appreciated location (asiatouradvisor).
6 Cerro Torre, Chile – Argentina Border
Straddling the border of Chile and Argentina over the Southern Patagonian Ice Field lies the Cerro Torre peak which rises up to over 10,000 feet and has a mountain top covered in ice, making it a very difficult peak to climb. There are four mountain peaks total in the area, with the others being Punta Herron, Cerro Standhardt, and Torre Egger. Not for the faint of heart, the Cerro Torre peak is notorious for its harsh weather which is caused by Pacific storms that drop a lot of precipitation over the mountain, making it dangerous to climb, but all the more beautiful for the lucky few who make it up there (swooppatagonia).