Cappadocia, Turkey

Some of the Best Views that Nature Has to Offer

Travelling the world is an incredible experience, even though at times it can seem hard and physically draining. We treasure the highlights and beautiful views which keep our travel plans exciting. Although our reaction to a beautiful sight might depend heavily on a combination of our mood, previous experiences, the nature of our backpacking journey, and the people we're with, here's a few recommendations from nature's best.

Monument Valley, Arizona/Utah, USA

Monument Valley

Set among the border area of Arizona's northeast and Utah's southeast terrain, the geological image of Monument Valley will already be familiar to most people for its appearance in the westerns and can be said to be the most famous landscape of the American Southwest.

Huge sandstone formations jut out from the sandy plains, as big skies loom down on the whole scene with a kind of hefty optimism. It has been a popular film set location for many western titles as well as commercials and more up-to-date movies.

The formations, called buttes, came about as a result of land faults and subsequent weathering; and the landscape is constantly changing as a result of that slow, grinding weathering process. The Navajo Indians have been occupying this valley for the last 150 years as it lies within the gigantic 16 million acre Navajo Indian Nation territory, and as a result your tour – if you decide to take one – will likely be organised by an actual Native American.

Waking before sunrise is the order of the day because being inside Monument Valley during sunrise is stupendously magical. I've rarely, if ever, seen atmospheric tones quite like it.

A 4x4 tour will take you down from the outer rim into the vast open plain to find the best angle for photography before the sun peeks over the seemingly endless horizon. Standing still inside this great landscape you first get the feeling that there is something very sacred about the ground on which you stand and the air you're breathing. Then as the sun rises, admire the mesas (rock formations) as they glow in the morning heat, every ray of light catching and painting a visual canvas before your now-widened eyes. It just has to be seen to be believed.

Cappadocia, Turkey

Baloons Over Cappadocia

Cappadocia in central Turkey will astound those who enjoy something unique. This Martian landscape of sandstone swirls, 'fairy chimneys,' sandy hills, gulleys and otherworldly structures comes as somewhat unexpected, and begs to be explored – preferably by dirt bike.

The town of Göreme stands as a great base from which to explore the region and offers novelty hostels which have been carved out of these sandstone rock masses and adapted into cave-rooms, complete with furniture and electricity.

Threading the trail bike through narrow gauntlets and up along lofty tracks, it is possible to emerge on top of the world, looking out over Rose Valley where a series of sandy orange, red and brown lines and delicate forms like whipped cream meringues lead off into the distance like a woven fairytale. This is off-roading at its most rewarding.

Annapurna Mountains, Nepal

Annapurna Mountain Range Nepal - Sunrise

The Annapurna mountain range of Nepal exists as the most dangerous to climb group of mountains in the world. At 8091m Annapurna I is ranked tenth among the world's highest peaks.

So, why should you go there?

Quite simply, waking up at sunrise in a mountain hostel, sitting in the early morning sun with a freshly-brewed cup of local coffee, every deep breath of crisp mountain air brings with it a humbling shake of the head at how lucky you feel to be looking upon the world's tallest peaks, which seem to inch up towards the heavens in grand defiance. Appearing like a poster backdrop they interact with the sun as if bigger than the star itself. And the best thing of all is that to enjoy this, you needn't climb any higher than 2000m on a 3-day hike. Just make sure you bring supportive and comfy shoes, and you won't regret it.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay Vietnam Kayaking Sea Boats

In northern Vietnam, Halong Bay is an area of marine magnificence off the northeast coast of this beautiful South-East Asian country. Across this part of Asia there exists an extensive strip of limestone peaks – called 'karsts' – that rise from the ground in China and Laos, or in the instance of Halong Bay – out of the seabed.

In what was once a plateau, the karsts never actually rose up from the ground, as such, but instead were part of a large piece of solid land that consequently broke up, eventually allowing the sea and waves in to gradually wear it away from the bottom upwards.

From sea-level the sight is one of surreal beauty. Get out onto one of the great value overnight boat cruises to appreciate it in full midst. While the boat sits anchored in the deep bay, you will likely have the opportunity to hire a kayak and get out onto the open water, just you and a paddle. Now, I've never been kayaking before, and have a fear of the unknown depths of the sea, but streaming along the still waters in a kind of silent admiration of nature began to hypnotise me. If you do give this a go, it might just stand as one of the key moments in your life, memorably free amongst nature.

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