This morning a friend sent me an email encouraging me to vote for the new 7 wonders of the natural world. I have kind of followed the campaign over the last few years, but now it is down to 28 finalists ranging from waterfalls and reefs to mountains and volcanoes. Partly as a distraction from work (it is Friday after all) and partly because of my love for natural beauty, I have spent the last 30 minutes or so browsing the 7 wonders website (www.new7wonders.com).
I have now cast my vote for the new 7 wonders!!! When looking at all 28 finalists I started thinking about what made me choose one over another – why should Table Mountain beat the Cliffs of Moher when I think both places are truly spectacular and show the sheer brilliance of geology.
The website outlines the reasons why each finalist is unique and what makes it so special, from biodiversity or endangered species to the fact that it´s the biggest, longest, smallest ´something´ in the world. My list was a mixture of places I have visited (and of which I have fond memories), places I have a certain amount of patriotism towards, places I dream of visiting and places I think are truly unique in the world. It was incredibly difficult to limit it to 7 though…I probably could have chosen double that…
After choosing my 7 based totally on my feelings, I read the details given on the website and found many interesting facts I didn´t know. So here is my list, the official blurb on each and the reasons why I chose it:
The Amazon Rainforest, also known as Amazonia, the Amazon jungle or the Amazon Basin, encompasses seven million square kilometers (1.7 billion acres), though the forest itself occupies some 5.5 million square kilometers (1.4 billion acres), located within nine nations. The Amazon represents over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests and comprises the largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforest in the world. The Amazon River is the largest river in the world by volume, with a total flow greater than the top ten rivers worldwide combined. It accounts for approximately one-fifth of the total world river flow and has the biggest drainage basin on the planet. Not a single bridge crosses the Amazon.
Why I chose it? – As a child I remember always hearing about the Amazon, this gigantic rainforest with countless animals and plants and indigenous communities. I always heard of its´ destruction and I think the Amazon epitomises the global conservation movement for me. It is a dream of mine to explore just a small part of this vast natural wonder, hopefully in just a few months time…
The Dead Sea is a salt lake between Palestine and Israel to the west and Jordan to the east. At 420 metres below sea level, its shores are the lowest point on Earth that are on dry land. With 30 percent salinity, it is 8.6 times saltier than the ocean.
Why I chose it? In 2003 I visited my aunt and uncle in Jordan and with my aunt and a bunch of her friends we went to the Dead Sea for a day. I love that you can float effortlessly in the water and I have great memories of being covered from head to foot in a dead sea mud bath!
The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator, 965 kilometres west of continental Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. The islands are all part of Ecuador’s national park system. They are famed for their vast number of endemic species.
Why I chose it? During my studies in geography and ecology, the Galapagos was a frequent feature in my courses – stories of Darwin, the volcanoes that formed the islands and animals such as the Galapagos tortoise and iguana make me want to visit this biodiversity hotspot one day…I am so close to it now, geographically speaking, but we will just have to see financially…definitely a dream I want to fulfill…
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the planet’s largest coral reef system, with some 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for 2,600 km over an area of approximately 344,400 square km. It is the biggest single structure made by living creatures and can be seen from outer space.
Why I chose it? I have wonderful memories of hours spent snorkelling in incredible places such as the Red Sea in Jordan and off the coast of Zanzibar in East Africa. So for me to be able to do the same in a place like the Great Barrier Reef would be incredible…
Iguazu Falls, in Iguazu River, are one of the world’s largest waterfalls. They extend over 2,700 m (nearly 2 miles) in a semi-circular shape. Of the 275 falls that collectively make up Iguassu Falls, “Devil’s Throat” is the tallest at 80 m in height. Iguazu Falls are on the border between the Brazilian state of Paraná and the Argentine province of Misiones, and are surrounded by two National Parks (BR/ARG). Both are subtropical rainforests that are host to hundreds of rare and endangered species of flora and fauna.
Why I chose it? I got to experience the power and intensity of these falls only a few weeks ago!!! Whilst pictures never really do amazing places justice, you need to experience waterfalls like Iguazu (or Victoria Falls) in person to truly understand how incredibly they are. They assualt all your senses – the vibrations, spray and noise show just how powerful water (and nature) can be. And it always amazes me to think that water has carved the rock into the different cascades we see today…
With its three volcanic cones, Kibo, Mawensi, and Shira, Mount Kilimanjaro is an inactive strato-volcano in north-eastern Tanzania. It is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, rising 4,600 m from its base, and includes the highest peak in Africa at 5,895 meters.
Why I chose it? I have many memories of my dad telling me all about his hike up Kilimanjaro with two friends in the 70´s and ever since hearing these stories I have dreamt of doing the same. I have said in previous posts how much I love the volcanoes of Chile and I think my love for such amazing, free-standing mountains stretches back to seeing images of Kili through my childhood. Years ago I set myself a goal that I had to summit Kili before I turned 30… two years to go…
Table Mountain is a South African icon and the only natural site on the planet to have a constellation of stars named after it – Mensa, meaning “the table.” The flat-topped mountain has withstood six million years of erosion and hosts the richest, yet smallest floral kingdom on earth with over 1,470 floral species. Table Mountain boasts numerous rare and endangered species. It is the most recognized site in Cape Town, the gateway to Africa, owing to its unique flat-topped peaks which reach 1,086 m above sea level.
Why I chose it? Partly patriotism and partly because it really is a spectacular site to see this perfectly flat mountain towering over the city of Cape Town. I also have wonderful memories of exploring the mountain with friends and family during different visits to Cape Town.
So that was my choice…I would love to hear your thoughts on what you would choose as your seven wonders of the world (whether they are finalists here or not) and why would you choose these places.
So go on, have a look at the website and cast your vote!!! Even if just to see on 11/11/2011 whether your choices won!
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” Henry Miller