From Alaska to Zimbabwe, discover 20 incredible natural wonders to visit for the ultimate nature bucket list.
Bucket lists are a great way to think about what you what to achieve in life. For many people, travelling the world comes top of the list – and more over 50s are planning worldwide adventures as part of their retirement bucket lists.
Seeing nature’s greatest wonders is a perfect place to start for bucket list ideas, especially if you love the great outdoors. Here are 20 breath-taking natural wonders that should be on your bucket list if you’re planning to travel the world.
- Cross Victoria Falls
Photo by Philipp Schäufele
Officially the largest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is located on the Zambezi River, on the border between the African countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The indigenous name for the Falls is Tokaleya Tonga, meaning ‘The Smoke that Thunders’.
- Connect with nature at Yellowstone National park
Photo by Brocken Inaglory
Home to bears, wolves, bison and the famous geyser called ‘Old Faithful’, Yellowstone is one of the United States’ most treasured national parks. You can also see the Grand Prismatic Spring (pictured centre), an incredible rainbow-coloured hot spring – the largest of its kind in the U.S.
- Go whale watching in Glacier Bay
Photos by Christopher Michel and Eric E Castro
Glacier Bay in Alaska is the perfect place to tick whale watching off your travel bucket list. You can see humpback whales, minke whales and orcas, as well as sea lions, sea otters and porpoises. If you go at the right time of year, you might even be able to see the Northern Lights at night.
- Try to hug a giant redwood
Photo by James St. John
Also known as giant sequoia, giant redwoods are the largest single tree species in the world. The tallest ever recorded reached heights of more than 94 metres, or 311 feet. You can only see these unbelievable natural wonders in parts of Sierra Nevada, California.
- Hike through the Patagonian mountains
Patagonia is the area at the southern end of South America, covering Argentina and Chile. The mountain ranges in this region are spectacular, offering blue glaciers, ice-fields, grasslands and rocky foothills. It’s a hikers’ dream bucket list location.
- Go scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef
Just off the coast of Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef stretches over nearly 350,000 square kilometres and is home to thousands of species, including many endangered sea life. If it’s on your travel bucket list, don’t wait – sadly, coral bleaching is threatening many parts of this beautiful reef.
- See the sacred site of Uluru
Also known as Ayres Rock, Uluru is a sacred place for indigenous Australians. This incredible natural monolith is said to have been formed after a great battle between two tribes of spirits. Upon seeing the terrible bloodshed, the earth rose up in grief and became Uluru.
- Watch the horizon at Salar de Uyuni
The majestic salt flats of Salar De Uyuni look almost unreal. During the wet season in Bolivia, a thin layer of water covers the expanse of salt, creating a mirror-like effect. For an otherworldly experience, Salar De Uyuni needs to be on your travel bucket list.
- Paddle through the Grand Canyon
One of the greatest natural wonders of the world, seeing the Grand Canyon is on many people’s bucket list. You can admire the breath-taking view from one of its glass viewing platforms, take a spectacular helicopter ride, or go rowing down the Colorado River.
- Scale the Tianzi mountains in China
Photos by Chensiyuan and Rocio Gil
This gravity-defying mountain range can be found in the Hunan Province of China. ‘Tianzi’ means ‘Son of Heaven’, a traditional nickname for the Chinese emperor. If you’re not fond of hiking, you can catch a cable car to the top to take in the spectacular views.
- Submerge yourself in the beauty of the Plitvice Lakes
This UNESCO World Heritage site in Croatia is a stunning network of 16 lakes, connected by beautiful waterfalls. Around the crystal clear blue lakes are more than 300 square kilometres of woodland, home to deer, bears, wolves and boars.
- Go on safari in the Serengeti
The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is home to some of the most fascinating and varied wildlife in the world. Every October and November, over a million wildebeest and more than 200,000 zebras migrate south, and with them come cheetahs and lions, making it an incredible place for a safari.
- Visit Finn McCool’s camel at Giant’s Causeway
This surreal landscape in Northern Ireland is formed by incredible basalt columns. Visitors flock to see the Wishing Chair – a throne-like seat formed by the rocky outcrops – and Finn McCool’s camel, formed from cooling lava and said to be a real camel turned to stone.
- Go hiking in New Zealand
The stunning landscapes of New Zealand make it the perfect bucket list destination for nature lovers. Recently, Tolkien fans have also made the trip to see the majestic backdrops used in the Lord of the Rings films, including the full film set of Hobbiton near Matamata.
- Stand on Pulpit Rock in Norway
Not for the faint of heart, Preikestolen (or Pulpit Rock) towers more than 600 metres above Lysefjord. The sheer cliff face was created by a glacier more than 10,000 years ago, giving it its distinct flat shape.
- Visit the magical Isle of Skye
Connected to the Scottish mainland by a bridge, the Hebridean island of Skye has rugged coastlines, stunning landscapes, and medieval castles. The Storr (pictured right) is a collection of ancient landslips, presided over by the tallest pinnacle known as the Old Man of Storr.
- See Canada’s majestic lakes
The beautiful country of Canada has the highest proportion of freshwater lakes in the world, including the majestic Lake Superior, the largest of North America’s Great lakes. The unique landscape of the Canadian mountains is an unmissable travel bucket list destination.
- Cruise around the Antarctic
Photo by Active Travel
Many travellers dream of visiting every continent and ticking Antarctica off your bucket list isn’t an impossible dream. Antarctic cruises are becoming more popular for tourists, but be prepared for a hefty price tag of around $1,000 per person per day.
- See Sri Lankan elephants in the wild
The beautiful island of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean is home to thousands of wild elephants. Experts advise tourists to avoid elephant orphanages and instead watch these magnificent animals in their natural habitat.
- Walk through Antelope Canyon
Photos by Luca Galuzzi
This awe-inspiring canyon was created by slow water erosion over thousands of years, leaving distinctive ripples in the rock. Always visit with an experienced guide, as Antelope Canyon can see sudden flash floods that catch tourists unawares.
If you’re writing a bucket list, you should also think about practical ways to plan for the future. Find out why a pre-paid funeral plan is a great way to have your say about how you’re remembered.