“Where’s the place you feel most at home in nature?”
This is the question we posed to our network of local travel experts all around the world. They came back with responses about incredible landscapes that make their corners of the earth special. In honour of Earth Day and our focus this month on ecotourism, we’ve compiled their thoughts about some of the best landscapes from around the world.
Lunahuaná near Lima, Peru
Lunahuaná, two hours from the city of Lima, Peru, is a natural paradise where the sun shines for most of the year. It is a mixed landscape situated between the coast and the highlands of Lima, Whether you are looking to chill out in a natural environment, set off on a hiking adventure, go for a swim or practice rafting in its rivers, you will find that lots of outdoor activities are possible in Lunahuaná.
In your downtime, be sure to visit the vineyards, where you’ll find more than three types of grapes. Lunahuaná locals are warm and friendly people, noted for their production of Pisco (Peru’s distilled national liquor made of grapes), as well as for the cuisine with tasty river shrimps as the star ingredient. Around town are comfortable and cosy accommodations to suit different budgets. Some hotels and guesthouses also offer horse riding, and motorcycles and bicycles for rent. Lunahuaná lets travellers can get in touch with nature, adventure and the way of life that its people have preserved!
~ Sara Linares, the whl.travel local connection in Lima, Peru
Agios Gordis in Corfu, Greece
My absolute favourite spot on Corfu is the beach in Agios Gordis at sunset. Here you are in perfect contact with all the elements of nature any time of the year. Imagine feeling the sand beneath your feet and the wind on your skin, while listening to the sound of the waves and gazing at the sun, still warming you, as it slowly disappears below the horizon, casting the most beautiful colours into the sky. This is a landscape I never grow tired of as nature paints different shades for each sunset.
~ Sandra Broedner, the whl.travel local connection in Corfu, Greece
Tea Estates in Malawi
Just 30 minutes from Malawi’s commercial capital of Blantyre is the country’s southern tea-estate region. With Mount Mulanje as a backdrop, it is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. Friday night, heading away from the office, we hit the road. As soon as the tea estates come into sight, our shoulders drop, we breathe deep and relax. A stay at one of these tea estate lodges makes the perfect weekend break.
~ Kate Webb, the whl.travel local connection in Malawi
Arnavon Islands, Santa Ysabel (Solomon Islands)
As a protected area, the Arnavon Islands support marine life in numbers and variety rarely seen anywhere else in the Solomon Islands. The surrounding reefs and islands provide magnificent snorkelling and diving opportunities, with healthy populations of giant clams and huge bumphead parrotfish. This is also the world’s most significant breeding ground of the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle. Visitors have a very high chance of seeing hawksbill turtle hatchlings emerge from their nests and begin their journey to the sea.
Getting to the Arnavon Islands is not easy, but the effort is worth it and you will be one of a small number of people in the world who has actually experienced this wonderful place.
~ Kerrie Kennedy, the whl.travel local connection in the Solomon Islands
Dzūkija National Park in Lithuania
I have more than one favourite natural landscape in Lithuania, among which are Pavilniai Regional Park, Dzūkija National Park and the Curonian Spit. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Curonian Spit is one of the greatest natural wonders of the world, but there are so many places in Lithuanian nature that offer travellers human-free environments. One would need at least two weeks to take it all in.
~ Kestas Lukoskinas, the whl.travel local connection in Lithuania
West Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam
West Lake (Hồ Tây) is the largest lake of Hanoi, Vietnam , with an area of about 5.5 square kilometres and a shore length of 17 kilometres. A vast and beautiful romantic place, it’s considered to be “the lung of Hanoi,” a favourite location for many people to take a walk in fresh air, enjoy the morning fog or watch a beautiful sunset. West Lake is also famous for its beautiful lotus gardens surrounded by bicycle alleys.
~ Hoang Xuan Bach, the whl.travel local partner in Hanoi, Vietnam
White Beach in Boracay, Philippines
Boracay is famed for its White Beach, which is consistently voted one of the world’s top 10 beaches in various magazines and online polls. The sand is white and so soft it feels like you are walking on talcum powder. There are various theories regarding how Boracay got its name, but my personal favourite is that it comes from the word ‘borac,’ which means white cotton. This perfectly sums up the texture and colour of the stunning White Beach!
~ Trudy Allen, the whl.travel local partner in Boracay
Soqotra Island, Yemen
My favourite landscape in Yemen is pristine Soqotra Island, lying 400 kilometres south of the Arabian Peninsula, where the waters of the Arabian Sea meet those of the Indian Ocean. Millions of years of isolation, varied geology and topography, large seasonal and regional climate variability and sustainable land practices have all helped Soqotra preserve its rich flora and fauna. Its endemism is one of the highest in the world.
From amazing beaches with clear waters and coral reefs to the rough Hagghar Mountains, mountain plateaus, deep valleys and desert dunes, the variety of landscapes is sure to excite. If you want to see a real pearl of nature, come to Soqotra Island.
~ Tina Zorman, local travel specialist in Yemen
The Volcanoes of the Philippines
The Philippines has many stunning and breathtaking landscapes, but to me the volcanoes are beyond comparison and truly remind me of the power of nature. There are 37 volcanoes of which 18 are still active. Many are easily accessible and make interesting day trips. The challenge of climbing them is obvious, but the landscape and the views are really worth the effort. I never thought I would say this (the Stairmaster being the object that I loathe most in the gym), but I have become a fan of scaling volcanoes. They never cease to amaze me!
At the top of my ‘easy three’ list is Mayon, which is in Bicol and easily reached from Legaspi airport or via bus from Manila. This volcano has had 50 recorded eruptions, the latest of which was in 2010. It reached the top of my top volcano list, though, for its beauty as it appears to rise from the flatlands somewhat like Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) in Australia’s Northern Territory. Mayon is recognisable for its perfect cone as it has a near symmetrical shape that meets everyone’s idea of a picturesque volcano!
~ Helen Atanacio, the whl.travel local connection in the Philippines
The Limestone Mountains of Laos
Peace, tranquillity and relief are all words that describe how I feel in the presence of Vang Vieng‘s magnificent limestone mountains in Laos. I’ve spent countless sunsets on the banks of the Nam Song River gazing at them, captivated by their size and beauty.
~ Cindy Fan, the whl.travel local connection in Laos
The Azure Window in Malta
The Azure Window is a natural arch located near the village of Dwejra on the Maltese island of Gozo. This breathtaking landmark was created thousands of years ago when two limestone caves collapsed. When visiting Malta, the bay of the Azure Window is a magical location at which to have a picnic, take a swim or go diving.”
~ Daphne Klumpers, the whl.travel local connection in Malta
Jaco Island in Timor Leste
Off Timor Leste’s most eastern shore is Jaco Island, which lies entirely within the borders of Nino Konis Santana National Park. Considered holy by the indigenous population of Timor Leste, Jaco island is uninhabited. It is surrounded by crystal-clear waters and white sand beaches, so it is ideal for swimming and snorkelling and one of the most popular tourism destination in the country.
~ Jim Richards, the whl.travel local connection in Timor Leste
Mt. Ushba in Georgia
Mamuka Burduli (Founder and Director of Adventure Club Jomardi) names Mt. Ushba as his most favourite natural landscape in Georgia. It is located in Svaneti, northwestern Georgia. Towering at an altitude of 4690 metres above sea level, Ushba is often associated with a saddle given its double-summit shape, capped in snow and shrouded in unimaginable tranquillity. The surrounding areas play host to the Ushba waterfalls and foothills covered in colourful flowers. Here one can find pure intimacy with the nature.
~ Ia Kverghelidze, the former whl.travel local connection in Georgia
Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Have you ever felt at one with nature? I just love that feeling, and the closest I have come is at the Kravice Waterfalls, near Medjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Here, you can feel the sand underfoot as you walk by the water. Find a patch of grassy field where you can lay down and soak in the sun. The water is sweet and so clean. While you swim you can open your eyes to the fish and other freshwater species. You can enjoy a natural shower by standing under the falls, feeling the pressure of the water on your shoulders.
~ Zana R-Bilal, the whl.travel local connection in Medjugorje
Morne Seychelles National Park, Mission Lodge, Seychelles
Vens town! This is the place that the slaves chose when they were freed. It is located at about 400 metres above sea level in the middle of what is now known as Morne Seychellois National Park. Seychelles is well known for pristine beautiful beaches, so I don’t know why the slaves (and the missionaries that accompanied them) would chose to stay on a mountaintop, when 200 years ago this place would have been a dense tropical rainforest with limited access.
Vens town is now called Mission Lodge after the missionaries that lived there educating the slaves. It is readily accessible by bus from the Sans Soucis road. Once you have arrived, the magic of the place takes over. On a clear day you can see all five of the bays of the west coast of Mahe island. With the bright sunshine, the sea reflects more green than blue. To experience this place, next time you are in the Seychelles go there. It’s 0.5 euro by bus from Victoria.
~ Pascal Esparon, the whl.travel local connection in Seychelles
Mulu National Park in Borneo, Malaysia
Mulu National Park attracts many foreign visitors to its lush rain forest, beautiful waterfalls and hidden lakes. The star attraction, however, is the park’s enormous limestone caves. In 2000, this national treasure was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Covering 52,865 hectares of primary rain forest, Mulu National Park is home to a number of the world’s record-breaking caves. The pride of Borneo is Sarawak Chamber, the world’s largest underground chamber. It has been said that this enormous chamber could accommodate 40 Boeing 747 jets without overlapping their wings!
The ground above is covered in rich primary rain forest and offers a whole
range of nature-based activities. There are excellent jungle treks and mountain hikes. A favorite climb is to the Mulu Pinnacles, razor sharp limestone formations jutting 45 metres high.
~ Oshin Chin, the whl.travel local connection in Borneo, Malaysia