The initial Seven Wonders, created by the Greeks, was a celebration of innovation and the very pinnacle of engineering of the time. However, Mother Nature has created a dazzling list of natural monuments that deserve equal celebration. In 1997, CNN released their list of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
1. The Grand Canyon
277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and 1 mile deep, the Grand Canyon is incredible to behold. The sheer scale of this natural wonder is overwhelming and the result of millennia of erosion has resulted in a truly spectacular sight.
2. The Harbour at Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro’s incredible harbour is formed by a chain of mountains as they reach the sea. The huge bay stretches 20 miles inland, and was formed by erosion of a unique combination of rock types. The bay is surrounded by mountains, the highest of which reaches 2,300 feet, and throughout the bay 130 islands are scattered. The magnificent harbour was discovered by Goncalo Coelho, a Portuguese explorer who named it after the month of its discovery: the River of January – Rio de Janeiro.
3. Mount Everest
The world’s tallest peak forms part of the Himalayas, in central Asia. The peak was first conquered in 1953 by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. A trek to the foothills of Everest remains on the Bucket List of many more adventurous travellers.
4. The Paricutin Volcano
The incredible phenomena of the “appearing volcano” was the first recorded time that humans witnessed the creation and extinction of one of Nature’s most dangerous creations. In February 1943, the volcano literally appeared in a cornfield in Mexico, giving scientists their first insight into the earth’s forces.
5. Victoria Falls
For more than 100,000 years, water trickled from the Upper Zambeze River, through cracks in soft sandstone. Eventually, the soft stone wore away, and a series of gorges were formed. These gorges continued to grow. Currently, the falls are around a mile wide and 354 feet high. The first Westerner to discover the falls was Dr David Livingstone, who named them after the Queen. However, before Western “discovery”, the falls had long been revered by local inhabitants, and were aptly named Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke That Thunders).
6. The Northern Lights
Named for the Roman god of the dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for the north wind: Boreas, the aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, is a magical sight, seen by the lucky few at northern latitudes. Vikings believed the lights to be Valkyries galloping across the night sky. Although today we have scientific explanations for the Lights, experiencing them first hand is still ethereal.
7. The Great Barrier Reef
Spanning 133,000 square miles, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest known structure created by living organisms. The reef supports the life of countless creatures of the sea, which is why coral reefs are known as the rainforests of the ocean. Today, much work is being done to protect the reef from human damage. Whether you can swim, snorkel, or dive, a trip to the Great Barrier Reef is one that you will never forget.
Just like mankind, nature is constantly changing the face of the world as we know it. For thousands of years, humans have been striving to build beautiful structures, to remember a loved one, or pay homage to a god.
The Seven Wonders of the Natural World is a spectacle to behold. If, however, Nature isn’t your thing, next week we will take a look at The New Seven Wonders of the World.