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(2009-04-13 03:24:11)


分类: 游山玩水

The New Natural Wonders of the World


More than 250 sites are in the running to be named among the New 7 Wonders of Nature, as part of a three-year contest whose winners are expected to be announced in 2011. Here are some of our favorite contenders.

Flock of Greater Flamingos in water, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador (© Steve Allen/Brand X Pictures/age fotostock)

Galápagos Islands: This archipelago of volcanic islands straddles the equator 650 miles west of Ecuador. Popular with wildlife enthusiasts, it's home to many noteworthy species of flora and fauna, including flamingos, iguanas, blue-footed boobies and giant tortoises. Charles Darwin observed many species here as he developed his theory of evolution by natural selection. The Galápagos Islands have been described as one of the most unique, scientifically important and biologically outstanding areas on earth. Many travelers describe their time in the islands as a life-changing experience.

Aerial of the Great Barrier Reef, near Queensland, Australia (© Mark Karrass/Corbis)

Great Barrier Reef: The world's largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef is home to over 1,500 species of fish, 200 species of birds and numerous species of whales, dolphins and sea turtles. It extends about 1,250 miles along the coast of Queensland, Australia, and spans a total area of about 14,300 square miles. The reef has historically been a well-protected, pristine haven for delicate coral and abundant marine life. However, this habitat is at risk due to overfishing and pollution, in addition to rising sea temperatures likely caused by global warming.


Herd of white horses running through marsh, Camargue, France (© Image Source/Corbis)

The Camargue: This river delta located in southern France is Western Europe's largest, at 360 square miles. Designated as a botanical and zoological nature reserve, it's home to wild bulls, white horses and more than 400 species of birds. Salt marshes in the southeast corner of the Camargue have produced salt since antiquity. Walking and cycling paths make this park popular with bird watchers, cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts; bring your insect repellent, however, as the mosquitoes here can be fierce.


Sand dunes, Erg Chebbi, Morocco (© François-Xavier Prévo/Iconotec/age fotostock)

Erg Chebbi: This portion of the Sahara desert is located in southeastern Morocco. Distinctive ergs — large dunes formed by wind-blown sand — reach nearly 500 feet high. The village of Merzouga, about four hours from Marrakesh, is located on the edge of these distinctive dunes. Tourists flock here for the opportunity to camp, ride camels and view the incredible sunsets and sunrises over the otherworldly landscape. Local legend says that the dunes were formed to punish locals for turning away a wayward traveler, and that they're a reminder to never again dismiss weary visitors.

Moon over Mount Everest, Nepal (© Christopher Herwig/Getty Images)

Mount Everest: The highest mountain on Earth (29,035 feet) is part of the Himalaya range, located on the border between Nepal and Tibet. Mount Everest attracts climbers of all levels, from experienced mountaineers to novice trekkers willing to pay substantial fees to professional guides to help them complete a successful climb. Expeditions sometimes end in tragedy, however, as weather conditions can deteriorate quickly on the mountain.

Foggy woods, Black Forest, Germany (© Bilderbuch/Design Pics/age fotostock)

Black Forest: Germany's Black Forest (Schwarzwald) takes its name from the dark, dense stands of spruce and fir that cover its slopes. It covers a nearly 3,000-square-mile mountainous area, bordered by the Rhine River to the west and the Swiss border to the south. Its highest peak is the mountain Feldberg, with an elevation of 4,898 feet. Since World War II, air pollution, especially from automobile emissions, has done extensive damage to the trees.

Milford Sound & Mitre Peak under glowing clouds, Fiordland National Park, South Island, New Zealand (© Goodshoot/Corbis)

Milford Sound: This South Island fjord, created by receding glaciers, is one of New Zealand's best-known scenic attractions. With an annual rainfall of 270 inches, Milford Sound is also one of the wettest places in the world. It stretches nine miles inland from the Tasman Sea, and is most easily visited by boat tours that last one to two hours. Visitors can enjoy gazing up the sheer rock walls that rise 3,900 feet or more on each side, and may catch a glimpse of the seals, penguins and dolphins that inhabit these waters.

Young lions at watering hole, Okavango Delta, Botswana (© Comstock/Corbis)

Okavango Delta: The world's largest inland delta — it empties into the Kalahari Desert — was part of an ancient lake that dried up 10,000 years ago, and is now one of Africa's top safari destinations. The waters of the Okavango Delta in Botswana are subject to seasonal flooding that increase its area from 3,500 to over 6,500 square miles. With its abundance of water, it supports a large concentration of wildlife. Visitors may glimpse crocodiles, lions, elephants and hippos in addition to over 400 species of birds.

Aerial view of rainbow over Niagara Falls, N.Y. (© Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Niagara Falls: Niagara Falls was created by the same glacial activity that formed the Great Lakes 10,000 years ago. A popular tourist destination, especially for honeymooners, the falls are on the border of the U.S. and Canada. Horseshoe Falls, on the Canadian side, is about 2,600 feet wide, while the American Falls is 1,060 feet wide. Both face the Canadian shore, so the best views are available from the Canadian side of the Niagara River. For over a century, numerous daredevils have attempted to challenge the falls. Tightrope walkers, jumpers and, in 1901, the first person in a barrel — a schoolteacher from Michigan — have all risked the plunge.

Rock formations, Cappadocia, Turkey (© Digital Vision Ltd/age fotostock)

Cappadocia: This region of Turkey features strange rock formations that some have called "fairy chimneys." Over the last 60 million years, Cappadocia has been shaped by geologic and volcanic events as well as weathering and erosion, creating these monoliths. Almost 2,000 years ago, Christians carved their first churches into these stones.


Snowy, windswept crags of Mont Blanc, France (© Imageshop/Corbis)

Mont Blanc: Western Europe's highest mountain, at 15,781 feet, lies between Italy and France in the Alps mountain range. The two countries are connected by both a 7 1/4-mile tunnel beneath the mountain, and a gondola across the nearby 12,600-foot Aiguille du Midi Mountain. Known as "the white lady" (La Dame Blanche in French; Monte Bianco in Italian), Mont Blanc is popular with climbers, skiers and snowboarders. In 2007, Europe's highest portable toilets were installed at 14,000 feet, aiming to serve 30,000 visitors annually.
Full moon over sand dunes near Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, South Africa (© Charles O'Rear/Corbis)
Kalahari Desert: Covering parts of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, the 350,000-square-mile Kalahari features a number of game preserves that are home to hyenas, lions, meerkats and antelopes, among other species of birds and reptiles that inhabit the region. Although called a desert, portions of the Kalahari receive more than 9.8 inches of precipitation per year — the normal standard for classifying a desert.
Golden sunset, Yangtze River, Hubei Province, China (© Bob Sacha/Corbis)
Yangtze River: At 3,900 miles, China's longest river is the third-longest in the world, behind only the Amazon and the Nile. It flows east from its source in Qinghai Province to the East China Sea, dividing northern and southern China. The Yangtze River has long been a major transportation artery, and today is one of the world's busiest waterways. The most impressive section of the river is the three Yangtze River gorges: Qutang Gorge, Wuxia Gorge and Xiling Gorge, collectively known as Sanxia, or the Three Gorges.
Tropical rain forest canopy in morning fog, Amazon River Basin, Ecuador (© Theo Allofs/Corbis)
Amazon River: The world's largest river system is the main artery of the Amazon rain forest. It has more than 1,000 known tributaries, and 17 of those are at least 1,000 miles long. Spanning the borders of eight countries, the Amazon rain forest is home to more than 350 indigenous and ethnic groups that have lived there for thousands of years. It contains nearly 40,000 plant species and sustains the world's richest diversity of birds, freshwater fish and butterflies. Today, the region is threatened by rapid deforestation.
Aerial view of the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland (© Digital Vision Ltd/age fotostock)
Cliffs of Moher: One of Ireland's top attractions, the Cliffs of Moher attracts more than 1 million visitors a year. The cliffs extend nearly five miles, reach a maximum height of 700 feet and are home to colonies of cliff-nesting seabirds, including Atlantic puffins. The new Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience allows tourists to get a bird's-eye view from the cliffs, as well as see the inside of underwater caves at the base of the cliffs, all from the comfortable interior of the visitor center.
Underwater diver exploring coral-covered sunken ship, Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands (© Dirscherl Reinhard/Prisma/age fotostock)
Bikini Atoll: Part of the Marshall Islands just north of the equator in the Pacific Ocean, this atoll includes Bikini Island, which is famous for two reasons: First, in the 1940s and 1950s, several nuclear bombs were tested there, and second, the two-piece swimsuit was named after it in 1946. Prior to the first nuclear tests, the U.S. designated the lagoon as a ship graveyard during World War II. Today, the naval wrecks are popular with scuba divers. Though some residual radioactivity remains, measured levels have been deemed not hazardous.
Uluru (Ayers Rock), Northern Territory, Australia (© Steve Allen/Brand X Pictures/age fotostock)
Ayers Rock: The large sandstone formation of Ayers Rock (also known as Uluru) rises 1,142 feet from the desert. Its sheer size — with a circumference of 6 miles — dwarfs everything around it. This iconic monolith of Australia is one of the largest in the world. From dawn to dusk, it takes on a stunning range of red to brown shades with the changing light. Ayers Rock is sacred to the Aborigines of the area, who are known as the Anangu. In recent years, Uluru has also become popular with New Age practitioners.
Distant view of Mount Fuji rising above mist, Honshu, Japan (© Dex Image/Corbis)
Mount Fuji: Japan's highest mountain, at 12,388 feet, can be seen from Tokyo, 62 miles away, on a clear day. Its symmetrical snowcapped cone is often the subject of Japanese art, literature and poetry. An estimated 200,000 people climb the mountain each year. The mountain, a dormant volcano that last erupted in 1707, is surrounded by the Aokigahara forest, a large national park that's popular with hikers.
Loch Ness, Highlands, Scotland (© Riccardo Spila/Grand Tour/Corbis)
Loch Ness: This deep freshwater lake is part of the Caledonian Canal system that joins the North Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. Loch Ness is about 23 miles long and reaches to the northern Scottish city of Inverness. Since the early 1930s, it's been most famous for reports of a giant lake monster, which some believe was actually just a large sturgeon. However, the legend of the Loch Ness Monster persists today.
Palm tree leaning over ocean, Bora Bora, French Polynesia (© Steve Allen/Brand X Pictures/age fotostock)
Bora Bora: This favorite island of romantics covers just 15 square miles. Located in French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean, Bora Bora is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef. Over-the-water bungalows are an iconic image of Bora Bora; many hotels have built structures on stilts in order to maximize their real estate. Motu Toopua, a fragment of the volcano that formed the island, rises nearly 3,000 feet in the center of the lagoon.
Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz. (© Digital Vision Ltd./SuperStock)
Grand Canyon: One of the top tourist attractions in the U.S., this mile-deep canyon has been carved by the Colorado River over the last 6 million years. Years of erosion have shaped the canyon's steep walls, exposing its red-hued rocks. The 277-mile-long canyon is visited by nearly 5 million people each year. Many view the awe-inspiring landscape from the canyon's rim, though hikers, mule riders and rafters can take advantage of recreational opportunities in the inner canyon.


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