Mark it, pin it and write it down on your bucket list. 7 wonders of the world you must visit before you die.
I was sort of a geography nerd in my school days. I am pretty sure, among all the people reading this blog, I am not the only one that had an interest in geography. As a part of our curriculum, we had to study about the “7 wonders of the world” and learn to place them on the map of the world. You had the ancient wonders of the world, the modern wonders of the world, the natural wonders of the world and what not!
So as everyone does, I decided to sit down with our team and friends and create a list of 7 places out of countless places we have visited and make a list titled “7 wonders of the world”. Now, don’t be fooled, these aren’t the answers to your exam questions, neither have these places been awarded by UNESCO or some other international body. This is a personal list, a list of places that changed our views towards the world, deepened our understanding of human history and strengthened our bond to the wonderful planet that we call home.
This is a list of 7 top places that we wouldn’t hesitate to suggest anyone else, this is our 7 Wonders of the World.
Experience wildlife like nowhere else in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Firat in our list of 7 wonders of the world, we travel to Africa, the birthplace of humanity. And I say that more than just poetically as you will soon discover. As our jeep descended down the long and windy roads, leading us down to Ngorongoro Crater, the scenes burnt an unforgettable image in my mind. The clouds flew over
what I can only describe as a vast cauldron of Savannah grasslands flanked on all sides by hills thickly covered with lush, dark greenery.
I could see clouds of mist floating above a lake at a distance, short trees interfered the stretch of flat land here and there. And animals! Wild animals almost everywhere you turned your eyes towards.
“Ngorongoro”, our guide said in his deep, cinematic voice , “It means “gift of life”.
Ngorongoro Conservation area falls under the same ecosystem as Serengeti National Park. Infact, it was only in 1959 that it was made a separate entity from the Serengeti National Park.
The obvious attraction here is the Ngorongoro Crater which is the largest unbroken caldera in the world. The Crater has it’s own ecosystem and is almost like a separate state with it’s own resident colony of wild animals. You can see wildebeests, zebras, gazelles as the migratory species while you can see resident animals like elephants, rhinos, hartebeests in the Crater. Gol Mountains and Ndutu Lake are also famous for animal viewing. Ndutu Lake is where you can see the giraffes. The topography includes high hills with forests, marsh, grassland and lakes. Hippos can be seen in the lakes.
You can visit Lake Magadi, located in the Crater. Along with Lake Ndutu and Lake Wmpakaai, it makes a great place to watch birds like flamingos which are just one out 550 species of birds that can be seen here.
Apart from it you can visit the Maasai Village and Olduvai Gorge which is the place where the oldest human fossils were found, it could be the birthplace of human species!
This incredible mixture of dense wildlife, native Massai grazers and the sheer beauty of the land itself makes Ngorongoro one of the 7 wonders of the world.
Experience the geological and cultural history in Uluru
After Africa we hop onto Australia for the second entry in our list of 7 wonders of the world. To be more specific, we travelled right to the center of Australia, the Red Center.
Uluru is a monolith. I have always found that the word “monolith”, although technically correct, takes away from the shock value from it’s meaning. It means that the entire gargantuan mountain you see in front of you is a single rock! It rises 348 meters above ground level but it is believed that it’s roots go as deep as 5 kms down the earth!
We drove to Uluru early in the morning in a car from Perth so as to see the first rays of light there. The size fascinates you, the way the wall of rock rises out of seemingly nothing fascinates you too. But for me, personally, the thing that fascinated me the most is how the hues on the face of the rock face changes as the sun climbs up with the day. It goes from dull almost brownish colour to majestic reddish orange, it’s a vista of a lifetime.
Uluru is also an important site for the native Australian Anangu people. On the base of the rock are a series of caves covered with paintings that are the visual representation of the Tjukurpa stories that form the core part of the native Anangu people that have lived here for more than 10,000 years.
A trip to Uluru is not just a geologically fascinating one but also an experience of learning an old, preserved culture. The shift in the colour on the face of the rock, the sheer size, the folklore and cultural stories attached with Uluru make it one of the 7 wonders of the world.
Take the trek of your life to Makalu Barun Valley
There are so many places in Asia that could easily go into our list of 7 wonders of the world. But among all the wonders in this diverse continent, we travel to the lesser known nation in the lap.of Himalayas, Nepal.
I don’t think I can start telling you anything about Makalu Barun Valley without a disclaimer first. It’s a physically demanding trail. There may be stretches on the trail where you may have to walk for 10-11 hours. So if you aren’t a big hiking fan, this may not be for you.
But, rest assured, every drop of sweat, every sigh of ache is well worth it because the vistas on the trail and the destination itself are jaw dropping. The valley feels like it came straight out of some mystical fairy tale.
Nepal is a popular destination among mountaineering and hiking enthusiasts and offers a lot of trails that are packed with tourists during trekking seasons in the country. Everest Base Camp trek and Mount Everest is undoubtedly the ultimate prize for mountaineering enthusiasts and also a part of the 7 natural wonders of the world. But what neighboring Makalu Barun trail offers you is pristine solitude and a chance to see rare flora and fauna nesting in breathtaking views all along the trail.
Stretching over a land of 1,500 sq. km this trail takes you to Makalu Barun National Park, one of the remotest and untouched areas of Nepal. You will get to see Mera Peak, Mount Chamlang, Mount Baruntse, and of course the world’s fifth tallest mountain: Mount Makalu standing unbothered at 8,463 meters. The topography is diverse with stretches of grass fields, waterfalls that cascade down from tall hills, deep gorges, and flower beds below tall mountains. The area is famous for the protected wildlife species red panda and Spiny Babbler, a species of bird that you will not see anywhere else in the world. Musk deer, snow leopard, wild yak, and around 400 species of birds can also be seen living in harmony with the local Sherpa, Rai, and Limbu people.
The Makalu Barun Trail gives you a chance to explore one of the remotest parts of Nepal and rewards you with views and experiences that will forever be etched in your mind which makes it perfect for our list of 7 wonders of the world.
Get lost in the hustle and bustle of Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Breaking the trend of hopping from one continent to another continent, we travel only slightly North Eastwards from Nepal to Vietnam for the next entry in our list of 7 wonders of the world.
In this list, we have visited National parks, grasslands, remote areas and what not. But, you know, sometimes what you need is not solitude and quiet but the bustling and brimming energy of a busy city centre. Trust me, you will be hard pressed to find an area as full with people, food, different cultures and contagious energy as Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
Lying between Hang Ga and Tran Nhat Duat in Hoan Kiem District, the Old quarter is a maze of 76 streets. 36 streets out of those 76 streets are dedicated to specific trades or craftsmanship and hence their names start with “hàng” which translates to “goods” or “products”. You can check out the local craftsmanship and also get your hands on some cheap copies of designer products in these streets.
There is no way that we talk about Hanoi’s old quarter and not talk about the food. Asia is packed with great food destinations all over the continent but if someone were to ask me personally, I would say the busy streets of Old Quarter Hanoi is a paradise for food lovers. Try the Bun Cha, Banh Mi, Bun Ca wash it down with Bia Hoi, the local beer. And if you are bored of eating your food in regular cafes, try the Train Street where you can eat by the train track and quickly evacuate when the train arrives. Yes, you heard that correct.
Along with it’s French colonial architecture, Chinese and Vietnamese influences Hanoi’s Old Quarter is a slice of life turned to the max settings. The life and energy this place radiates makes it one of the 7 wonders of the world.
The postcard town of Tallinn
If you thought that we would include some European cities with beautiful streets, beautiful old buildings, cute cafes, and markets, the stereotypical image that comes to mind when they hear “Europe”, in our list of 7 wonders of the world, you are absolutely correct, we will. And we have. But it is not the cities you might have guessed.
Located in North-Western Estonia, on the shores of the Baltic Sea is Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. My connections with Tallinn go beyond just tourism, in fact, I knew this city as the hub of IT and digital innovation, and startups. But that was before I physically visited Tallinn.
Tallinn is easily accessible through a cruise ship from Helsinki or a direct flight from anywhere in Europe but boy does the culture and architecture and history of this place present itself in complete contrast to it’s Scandinavian neighbours! You can see the influences of both Nordic and Russian cultures here.
The heart of the city is the Old Town, a largely intact medieval town built between 15th to 17th centuries, whose cobbled up streets lined with medieval architecture will make you feel like you are a protagonist in some romantic movie set in some picturesque town in Europe. You can walk around the narrow streets, try local food in the restaurants and visit the Town Hall Square / Raekoja Plats. If you look carefully, you will find a round stone with a compass engraved on it in the centre of the Square. It’s the perfect spot to find the tops of Tallinn’s five famous spires looking down at you.
Apart from the Old Town heart, you can also visit places like Alexander Nevsky Cathedral which is very noticeably Russian in it’s architecture and indeed was made by the Russians in 1900 as a show of power. Nearby is the pink coloured Toompea Castle, the Museum if Occupations which details the life under Nazi and Soviet occupation. You can also visit the Seaplane Harbor, Kumu Art Museum ans Kadriorg Park.
We were once young people freshly out of college with dreams of being in a picturesque European town. Tallinn more than fulfills our dreams and hence gets an entry in the 7 wonders of the world list.
See the rainbows rise over the misty water of Iguazu Waterfall
South America is an incredibly beautiful place and incredibly diverse in it’s natural and historical gifts too. It proved to be a very difficult task to pick one out of so many places for our list of 7 wonders of the world. Nonetheless, we have picked one.
There are times when you know you are in the presence of such a powerful entity that you start questioning how puny your own existence is. I stood by the viewing balcony in Iguazu National Park in Argentina, clutching the railing really hard, viewing what must be one of the meanest names you could name any spot: Garganta del Diablo. Garganta del Diablo can be translated to the “Devil’s Throat”. I mean, come on, that’s one intimidating name and I could see why they would name it that way. The humongous mass of water thunders down from three sides in a horse shoe shape and falls down into a cloud of mist of it’s own making.
Stats say that on average 62,000 cubic feet of water falls 82 meters down per second giving rise to a mist that rises as high as 150 meters in the air. But, no stats can compare to the feeling of actually seeing this sight. The noise not just drowns any other noise around you but also rings you from inside, you feel it within your thoracic cage, like thousands of drums continuously rolling. On a sunny day, the water droplets splattering everywhere because of the protruding rocks create a rainbow over the mist that hides the bottom of the waterfall. It’s a sight of a lifetime.
However the Garganta del Diablo is only one cataract among 275 separate waterfalls that make up the Iguazu Waterfall system. The Iguazu waterfall is an umbrella of waterfalls that arise on the Iguazu river and make up a small portion of the Argentina-Brazil border. You can see the waterfalls from either of those nations, however, most of the 2.7 km long waterfall falls in Argentina while most of the river Iguazu runs through Brazil. And if you aren’t satisfied just seeing the waterfall from thoughtfully placed catwalks all along a trail way that takes you around the National Park, then you can take a boat ride under the waterfall! Whatever you choose, be ready to be drenched and awed.
Iguazu Falls evoked the emotions of pure awe in me, I found myself subconsciously bending to it’s unadulterated power and for this reason I had to include it in my 7 wonders of the world list.
Take a small vacation in Banff, Canada.
It’s a difficult task to point out one thing to do in the town of Banff. Everywhere you turn, you see sights that would want you to take your camera out and click away, never wanting to miss even an inch of this spectacular place. If someone would ask me to describe this town in one word, I would probably say: luxurious. In this list, I have talked about hike trails and national parks and lakes and waterfalls but there is something about Banff that screams luxury, at least to me personally. The luxury stems from not just from the postcard-worthy hotel of Fairmont Chateau on the banks of Lake Louise but also from the natural and scenic affluence of this town. Despite having so many hike trails through forests and unabashed rivers and wild animals like bears that you see while driving here, there something so eye soothing about the whole town of Banff.
You have perhaps Canada’s most famous lake Moraine Lake which is so famous that you have to fight tooth and nail for a parking spot nearby! Canoeing down the turquoise waters of Lake Louise and looking at the jaw-dropping views of snow-capped mountains is an experience of a lifetime. If you want something more comfortable, you have the picturesque Fairmont Chateau right on the banks of Lake Louise which offers you views and food that make you feel like you are somewhere luxurious.
This is just a small taste of the wonderful adventures that Banff has in store for you. Banff has something for travelers of all walks of life searching for different things from their travels, be it an adventure, breathtaking natural landscape or just an idyllic get away from the suffocations of life. That is exactly why we included Banff in our 7 wonders of the world.