The Abdication of Europa:
- Plitvice National Park, Croatia
Situated in the mountainous Karst area of central Croatia, at the border to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Plitvice park’s protected area extends over 296.85 km2. The important north-south road connection, which passes through the national park area, connects the Croatian inland with the Adriatic coastal region. In 1979, Plitvice Lakes National Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage register. The park is world-known for its 16 lakes arranged in cascades with distinctive colors ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. These lakes are a result of the confluence of several small rivers and subterranean karst rivers.
- Vatnajökull national park, Iceland
Located in southern Iceland around Vatnajökull glacier, this national park is characterized by massive glaciers, ice caves, snowy mountain peaks, active geothermal areas, and rivers. The region includes Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon with icebergs, and the Svartifoss and Dettifosis waterfalls. The park is 13.920 km2, representing approximately 14% of Iceland, which makes it Europe’s second largest national park in terms of area after Yugyd Va in Russia. The choice of visiting season is of crucial importance for the area, as the scenery varies extensively. In the winter you will find lesser crowds and no leaves on the trees. The biggest change though is the outlet glaciers that crawl down to the lowland. Their appearance changes completely from white to blue, creating a stark contrast from what you see in the summertime. However, the days are much shorter, so bear that in mind before finding yourself hiking in the dark.
If you want to go East, don’t go West:
- Jiuzhaigon Natural Reserve, China
Located in the north of Sichuan province in China, Jiuzhai Valley as it is known in English is part of the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. The area is one of the only homes to the Giant Panda (there are approximately 20 living there) and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 and a World Biosphere Reserve in 1997. The areas’ breathtaking beauty can be explained in part by its tectonic activity, which lies on major fault lines on the diverging belt between the Tibetan Plateau and the Yangtze Plate, with earthquakes that have shaped the landscape. Jiuzhaigou’s best-known feature is its dozens of crystal blue, green and turquoise-colored lakes. Originating in glacial activity, they were blockaded by rockfalls and other natural phenomena that then solidified by processes of carbonate deposition. As a result, the water has a high concentration of calcium carbonate making it of astonishing clarity, so much that the bottom is often visible even at high depths. The lakes vary in color and aspect according to depth, residues, and surroundings. The only issue is the high affluence of tourists, so we advise to go there prepared in terms of tickets, bus passes, and accommodation.
- Göreme National Park, Turkey
Found in the spectacular landscape of the volcanic zone of Cappadocia in central Turkey, the Golem valley is entirely sculpted by erosion, its surroundings contain rock-hewn sanctuaries that provide exceptional evidence of Byzantine art in the post-iconoclastic period. Dwellings, troglodyte villages, underground towns, and the remains of a traditional human habitat dating back to the 4th century can be admired. The area with its distinctive natural fairy chimneys has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.
- Parambikulan Tiger Reserve in Kerala, India
Located in the south western state of Kerala, also known as God’s Own Country, the Spice Garden of India, or the Land of Coconuts among other titles and nicknames, The Parambikulan Tiger Reserve has gained international notoriety for setting a great example of ecotourism notably through its Participatory Forest Management Scheme (PFMS), and its engagement of local tribes (there are four: the Kadar, Malasar, Muduvar and Mala Malasar settled in six colonies) in its tourist activities as guides and more. The neighboring mountains of The Western Ghats, Anamalai Sub-Cluster, including all of the Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary, is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site. The flora and fauna of the reserve’s wealth provide a habitat to Bengal tigers, Indian leopards, wild boar, sambar, but also a multitude of snakes, turtles, lizards and other reptiles, 268 bird species and more…