From the tallest trees in the world to salt flats in Bolivia, soak up exotic scenery in faraway lands. You’ll have to see them to believe they really exist (and bring your camera and binoculars)
You can’t beat that feeling of arriving somewhere and being humbled by what you see. Whatever it is that makes us go ‘wow’ – be it picture-postcard scenes, Mother Nature, or the sheer size and antiquity of a place – it’s a feeling that melts our stresses away as we are reminded that the world is an amazing place.
Here are some of the most scenic places in the world that never fail to excite us.
SRI LANKA TEA PLANTATIONS
There is something magical about the lush Sri Lankan hills where plantations were carved into the land to make the most of the region’s abundance of rain. As the mist rises off the hills, it seems to reveal a land that time has forgot.
Tea production is a relatively new thing in Sri Lanka; the industry has only been active since the early 19th century. But in a short space of time, tea has become synonymous with the south Asian country.
What is it that makes the scenery here so atmospheric? Perhaps it’s the fact that nature reigns supreme here. Or maybe it’s the greenery that stretches as far as the eye can see and looks as though it was placed here for the sole purpose of producing tea.
WATERFALLS AND RAINFOREST OF VENEZUELA
From the tallest waterfall in the world to idyllic Caribbean beaches and the far-reaching plains of Los Llanos, Venezuela is a land of contrasts where you never know what you will see next.
La Isla Margarita, just off the coast of Venezuela, is often described as the Pearl of the Caribbean, and rightly so: crisp white beaches are lapped by azure waters.
However, the real pearl of Venezuela is Angel Falls, which is hidden from the world deep in the rainforest of Canaima National Park. Camping in the spray of the falls is a memorable experience, and you can swim in its pools below. But for the best view, ensure your pilot (you can only reach it by light aircraft) gives you a full panorama from above.
THE CALIFORNIA REDWOODS
On the west coast of the US grow the tallest trees in the world: Californian redwoods. Some of these towering trees, which seem to reach on forever, have survived thousands of years. They are the oldest living things on Earth.
There are few more sublime things than to stand by the trees’ roots and look up at the canopy, way up high, and imagine what the trees must have seen throughout the years. Look closely at the woods with binoculars to spot elk, black bears, ravens and wild turkeys.
These trees grow naturally along much of the Californian coast (though not in the south) and to see them standing proud as they have for millennia is a sight to behold.
THE SALT FLATS IN BOLIVIA
It’s no exaggeration to say that the optical illusion that occurs on the salt flats in Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni region is out of this world. Standing on the cracked slats of salt as mounds appear to float mid-air is as close to walking on the moon as most of us will ever come.
At 11,985 feet above sea level and covering an incomprehensible 4,633 square miles, it’s the leftover of a prehistoric lake that would have once covered most of the country. The sense of desolation is poignant.
THE LOCHS OF WESTERN SCOTLAND
This land of mountains, lochs and glens is one of the most dramatic in the world. It’s no wonder it has inspired myths and legends, from the giant of Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa to mysterious spirits that protect the land.
The emptiness and sheer scale of this part of the British Isles is enough to make you feel as though you are the only person left on Earth. Standing on the edge of Loch Ness, which in terms of mass is the largest lake in Britain, the Loch Ness Monster story doesn’t seem so preposterous. You canimagine that when dinosaurs roamed the world it looked pretty much like this.
To see the coast and islands in startling effect, take the seaplane to Loch Lomond or the Isle of Skye, or jump on the Jacobite steam train (from May to October) along the West Highland Railway, one of the most beautiful rail routes in the world.