Nature has a unique way of filling our souls with peace, wonder, and adventure. For those who find tranquility in the rustle of leaves, awe in the sprawl of landscapes, wonder in nature’s creativity and beauty in the natural world around us, this post is for you.
If you’re drawn to the call of the wild, like we are, certain travel destinations offer experiences that are both profound and unforgettable.
We’ve had the amazing fortune of visiting six of these natural wonderlands for ourselves and the seventh has sat atop our mile long dream destination bucket list for almost two decades. We WILL get there eventually!
7 Best Vacation Destinations for Nature Lovers
Hopefully you can check out all these places for yourself. Until then, here are our top seven best travel destinations that every nature lover should experience.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
For an unforgettable safari experience, the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is a must-visit. Famous for its annual migration of over two million wildebeest and zebras, the Serengeti offers some of the best wildlife viewing in Africa.
Here, you can see the drama of predator and prey in its most authentic form. Accommodations range from luxury lodges to mobile camps, allowing visitors to stay in the heart of the wilderness.
This is the only travel destination for nature lovers on our bucket list that we haven’t marked off yet though we’re hoping it happens sooner than later. Waking up in a camp to the sounds of the Serengeti could only be enhanced if there were giraffes and elephants visible from our tent, something I hear happens often. Thinking of heading there yourself? You’ll likely need a Tanzania visa and a reputable guide.
Banff National Park, Canada
Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park is a paradise for nature enthusiasts. With its surreal turquoise lakes, such as the world-famous Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, towering mountains, and diverse wildlife, Banff offers an unparalleled mountain escape. Hiking enthusiasts can explore trails like the Plain of Six Glaciers or take the scenic drive along the Icefields Parkway.
In summer, you can take a canoe on Lake Louise’s turquoise waters or, if you prefer more solitude, hike up to Consolation Lakes for unforgettable scenery. No matter where you go in the park there are hikes and pathways with plenty of back country opportunities and even a few hot springs to soak in after a long day on the trail.
In winter, the entire park transforms into a snowy wonderland with some of the best skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing and snowshoeing you’ll find anywhere in the world. The extra bonus for us is that it’s only a few hours from our house and was only an hour from Calgary when we lived there.
Amazon Rainforest, South America
Spanning over nine countries in South America, the Amazon Rainforest is the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world. It’s a living, breathing heart of the planet, home to millions of species of flora and fauna.
Adventure seekers can explore the jungle through guided tours, spot exotic wildlife, and immerse themselves in the unique cultures of indigenous tribes. The Amazon is not just a destination; it’s an experience that resonates with the primal essence of nature.
Our time spent in the Amazon involved tons of hiking and exploration. We managed to see all five varieties of monkeys at our La Selva eco lodge, thousands of macaws and more than a few sloths and snakes. We went fishing for piranhas one morning the went for a swim with them in afternoon. We learned how the indigenous people lived and had the opportunity to canoe through some amazing landscapes. It was an unforgettable experience to put it mildly.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system, is a kaleidoscope of marine life and vibrant corals. Located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, it’s a dream destination for divers and snorkelers. The reef is home to a stunning array of sea life, including turtles, sharks, and countless species of fish and corals. Visitors can also explore the beautiful Whitsunday Islands and the quaint coastal towns along the reef.
We spent months traveling Australia’s west coast and there truly are some hidden natural gems scattered in the land down under. We dove the Great Barrier reef twice but we still regret not going on a multi-day dive trip to get to the more untouched zones.
If you’re craving an underwater adventure, not much can beat this corner of Australia and I still consider the Whitsunday Islands some of the most beautiful islands I’ve ever sailed around.
Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park is a spectacle of fjords, rugged mountains, and lush rainforests. It’s a part of the larger UNESCO World Heritage site, Te Wahipounamu.
Nature lovers can explore the famous Milford Sound, take a boat trip to witness the majestic waterfalls, or hike the renowned Milford, Routeburn, or Kepler Tracks. Fiordland is a testament to the raw, unspoiled beauty of nature and how rugged some places so close to civilization can still be.
We enjoyed our time spent in this area on New Zealand’s South Island and have to say that it is a beautiful stretch of land. We went hiking, kayaking and also took the cruise out to the Milford Sound waterfalls. It was an amazing adventure and we’re happy we had the opportunity to check this corner of New Zealand out for ourselves.
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galápagos Islands, situated about 1,000 kilometers off the coast of Ecuador, are a cluster of volcanic islands famed for their vast number of endemic species. These islands played a significant role in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and their isolation has led to the development of unique wildlife not found anywhere else in the world.
Some of the local fauna includes the giant Galápagos tortoise, marine iguanas, and the flightless cormorant plus tons of sea lions, seat turtles, blue footed boobies and even their own penguin species.
The 18 main islands boast diverse ecosystems ranging from barren lava formations to lush highlands. This variety allows for a range of activities, such as hiking to the summit of Sierra Negra Volcano, snorkeling in the clear waters of Devil’s Crown, or exploring the mangroves by kayak.
We spent three weeks in the Galapagos, including day trips from Isabela Island and don’t regret one minute we spent there. From gorgeous beaches to lava tunnel formed water inlets filled with sea turtles, it seemed there was something to see every way you turned. With a very different vibe on each of the three major islands we enjoyed snorkeling, hanging out on the beach and searching for giant tortoises the most.
Sumatra, the sixth-largest island in the world, is known for its rugged tropical terrain, rich biodiversity, and vibrant culture. Considered by many as Indonesia’s last wild frontier, it’s a place where adventure blends nicely with the untamed beauty of nature.
Sumatra’s tropical rainforests are among the most biologically diverse habitats on Earth. The Leuser Ecosystem and Kerinci Seblat National Park are notable for their populations of critically endangered Sumatran tigers, elephants, and rhinoceroses.
The most famous inhabitant is probably the Sumatran orangutan, found primarily in the northern part of the island and is the only place other than Borneo where these soulful creatures still dwell.
Mount Kerinci, the highest volcano in Indonesia, offers challenging treks and panoramic views. You also have Lake Toba, a massive volcanic lake, the largest in Southeast Asia that’s a great area to visit and swim in it’s deep, clear waters. In southern Sumatra, centered around the town of Krui, is a long stretch of winding coastline with world class surfing and an awesome collection of surf breaks that rival anything you’ll find anywhere in the world.
Honestly, we had never thought of visiting Sumatra until five Danes we met while traveling through Southern Asia convinced us to take a ferry over and check it out ourselves. From the ferry ride itself to hiking around Bukittinggi to seeing wild orangutans to chilling by Lake Toba with the locals, those 3 weeks were some of the most memorable travels we have ever encountered and we’re glad that we had the chance to see Sumatra for ourselves.
What Makes These Destinations Special?
Each of these destinations offers something unique to the nature lover. From the serene lakes and mountains of Banff to the vibrant underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef, the variety is astounding.
The Amazon and Serengeti allow intimate encounters with wildlife in their natural habitats, while Fiordland showcases the serene beauty of New Zealand’s landscapes. The Galapagos is unique just for it’s uniqueness and Sumatra gives you a glimpse of the past and how we can never underestimate the natural wonder of the world or the animals that call it home.
Tips for Responsible Travel
When visiting these natural wonders, it’s crucial to travel responsibly. Always respect wildlife and their habitats, stick to designated trails, and follow the principles of Leave No Trace. Choose eco-friendly accommodations and tour operators who contribute to the conservation of these areas. Remember, our actions can significantly impact the preservation of these natural wonders for future generations.
For those who seek a connection with the natural world, these seven destinations offer experiences that go beyond mere sightseeing. They offer a chance to connect with the Earth in its most unadulterated form, to witness the wonder of the natural world, and to be reminded of the incredible beauty our planet holds.
So pack your bags, lace up your hiking boots, and set out on a journey that will leave an indelible mark on your soul.