10 Best Natural Wonders from the Cotta Brothers Travel Club Podcast
On the Cotta Brother’s Travel Club we often say tourism has four pillars: Food, Drink, Culture and, perhaps the most underrated, Nature and Excursions.
Depending on the destination, spending time outside may not even be on a travelers to-do list. However, what we have learned from our podcast guests, is that nature is a quintessential part of life in most cities and destinations. This list represents 10 incredible nature parks and/or natural wonders that were discussed on the Cotta Brothers Travel Club. Each place is unique, and each story about these places was amazing and inspiring. We’re definitely adding these to a bucket list when we return to exploring the world and the great outdoors.
1. Everglades National Park (Episode 1 – Miami) Many people that live in or visit Miami, rarely get out to the Everglades. It is one of America’s largest protected areas and home to an under-appreciated abundance of biodiversity. Like many places on this list, the Everglades will introduce you to views and scenery that seems almost other-worldly.
2. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (Episode 2 – Singapore) Sungei Buloh sits on the river that separates Singapore and Malaysia. These wetlands are home to fresh water crocodiles, a variety of rare birds, and thousands of mangrove trees. Visitors can explore the many trails that lead around the preserve and over the marshy habitat of this famous ASEAN Heritage Park. It’s a beautiful escape from the density of Singapore’s city living.
3. Seljalandsfoss (Episode 6 – Iceland)
At 200 feet tall, Seljalandsfoss is a magnificent waterfall all on it's own, but the best aspect of this wonder is the trails surrounding it which offer a full 360-degree view of the waterfall. A shallow cave behind the falls gives visitors a unique perspective on this landmark. The backside of a waterfall used be something you could only see on Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise, and if you don’t get that reference we feel bad for you.
4. Reykjadalur Hot Spring Thermal River (Episode 6 – Iceland) This entry by no means detracts from the very popular Blue Lagoon, but by now everyone knows that spot is a hit. These hot springs are also close to Reykjavik, but offer something completely different than more popular thermal baths. You must hike to these springs from a trail head near Hveragerði. The best thing about this site, is that visitors can bring all snacks and beers they can carry on the mile-long trek to the river. The thermal river comes down from a volcanic mountain which allows you to select the temperature of the pool you wade in, because they get hotter the closer you get to the hills.
5. Scarborough Bluffs Park (Episode 4 – Toronto) “The Bluffs” stretch along the shore of Lake Ontario, and were highly recommended by our friend Simon Cummings. The sheer cliffs represent a unique geological icon in the Toronto area. The park space is also a popular attraction for the locals who enjoy hiking and running on the many trials throughout the area. Some paths lead down to the sandy beaches beneath the overlooks. This is a great place to visit to escape the city life on a trip to Toronto.
6. Frankfurt City Forest (Episode 10 – Diversity, unity, and how to explore Frankfurt) As we heard from our guest Pierre Slack, the vast forest that encircles Frankfurt means something different for every resident in the metropolitan area. There are tons of trails and interesting landmarks throughout the woods, you may even stumble across a few WWII bomb craters. For a city known as the banking capital of the EU, there is unexpected harmony with nature.
7. Mount Rainier National Park & Olympic National Park (Episode 7 – Seattle) This is a two for one because both parks are very near the city of Seattle. Mount Rainer is a favorite of our guide, Connor, who described the sheer side of the mountain to be similar to “The Wall” in Game of Thrones. Along the base of the mountain there are numerous hiking trails and giant meadows full of wildflowers. Not to be outdone, Olympic National Park features one of North America’s only rainforests. The lushness of the forest extends right to the coastline. Along the shore massive sea stacks add to the views. Both parks capture the multifariousness and the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
8. Taroko National Park (Episode 5 – Taipei, Taiwan) Our guide Kevin Lin declared Taroko Gorge the Grand Canyon of Taiwan. A bold claim but not entirely unfounded. This ravine stretches from deep into the island and follows the Liwu River all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The park also pays homage to the indigenous Taroko people that find spiritual significance in the canyon. There are many cultural sites along the gorge, so it is best to leave plenty of time to explore this winding national park.
9. Nam Xay Viewpoint, Laos (Episode 9 – A Guide to Incredible Adventures as a Solo Female Traveler) Hikes in Laos can be a little intimidating due the heartbreaking number of unexploded bombs littering the countryside, but if you stay on the dedicated path you will find majesty in abundance. The rugged climb to reach the Nam Xay viewpoint is about 20-30 minutes. Atop the mountain there are a variety of bamboo platforms to allow explorers to sit in comfort and enjoy the stunning vista.
10. Iguazu Falls, Argentina/Brazil (Episode 8 – How our Grandma Traveled to the USSR and China in the 70s and 80s) Iguazu Falls sits on the border of Argentina and Brazil, and it is an awe-inspiring display of nature’s sheer power. Iguazu is much larger than Niagara Falls, and almost double the width of Victoria Falls. No other falls come close to the volume of water that cascade over Iguazu every day. Many would put it among the most impressive natural wonders of the world. Visitors can see Iguazu Falls from either the Brazilian side or the Argentinian side. They both have unique attributes worth experiencing.
As we heard in our episode with Grandma Letty, the most important things to see, as a contemporary adventurer, is the natural beauty on this earth. That advice works twofold, on the pessimistic side, go see these wonders before humans destroy or interrupt them. On the optimistic side, when we spend time at national parks we urge governments to protect these spaces and devote resources to their preservation. There is so much to witness across the globe, and everyone has their favorite natural wonder that takes their breath away. We encourage our listeners to tell us about their favorite natural wonders by contacting us on social media or right here on our website! Enjoy!