• Happiest countries

    The Happiest Countries in the World

    A few months ago, I was lying on a beach in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/costaricafamily/" target="_blank">Costa Rica</a>, under a tropical sun, still wet from a dip in the warm Pacific, an icy cup of rum punch in hand and my wife at my side. And yet, I was not happy. You see, the trip had been on the books for months, and my goal when booking had been to spend as much time as possible on a surfboard, indulging one of my great passions in one of the world’s best surf spots. A knee injury (and subsequent surgery) just prior to the trip changed all that. Now I was just…lying on the beach. Kelli noticed my melancholy mood. “Look around,” she told me. “Everyone here is glad to be here – the tourists <i>and</i> the locals. They’re so content just to be in this beautiful setting. Pura vida, as they say.” Of course, she was right, and I quickly snapped out of my funk.<br><br>Pura vida literally means “pure life”, and it’s the national motto of Costa Rica. But it could easily apply to any of the countries listed in the annual World Happiness Report. Since 2012, the United Nations Sustainable Development Network has published the report, which lists the world’s happiest countries. In a recent interview with the New York Times, report editor John F. Helliwell explained that the report is more of a reflection of contentment than what many of us might think of as sheer giddiness. Helliwell goes on to say that the World Happiness Report measures one’s overall satisfaction with life and the level of belief that your fellow citizens are looking out for one another. Happy people, argues Helliwell, “trust…and care about each other, and that’s what fundamentally makes for a better life.” And it appears, a happier life. <br><br>It goes without saying that happy countries make for great travel destinations; as it happens, Classic Journeys runs tours in 12 of this year’s top 20 Happiest Countries. Here’s a quick look at each of those.<br><br><b>19. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/prague/" target="_blank">Czech Republic</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/prague/" target="_blank"><img alt="Czech Republic happiest country in the world" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000ns1i" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>The end of the Cold War brought sweeping changes to eastern Europe, and no country has had a more dramatic turnaround than the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank">Czech Republic</a>. The country is now considered one of the world’s great cultural destinations, thanks in large part to its friendly, welcoming people. <br><br><b>18. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/united-states/" target="_blank">The United States</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/united-states/" target="_blank"><img alt="America world&#39;s happiest country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000ns1T" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>We tend to overlook the fact that the U.S. is a pretty amazing country; there’s plenty of reasons why millions of people come here to visit every year. The highest mountain in North America is in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/alaska/" target="_blank">Alaska</a>; the world’s most famous canyon is in Arizona. Oh, and we also have Hawaii.<br><br><b>16. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/ireland/" target="_blank">Ireland</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/ireland/" target="_blank"><img alt="Ireland world&#39;s happiest country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000ns19" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>Fun Fact – corned beef and cabbage is widely shunned in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ireland/" target="_blank">Ireland</a>, and for good reason. The <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/irish-food/" target="_blank">food</a> there is much better than our go-to St. Patrick’s Day fare. <br><br><b>13. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/england/" target="_blank">The United Kingdom</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/england/" target="_blank"><img alt="UK world&#39;s happiest country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000ns0u" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>For such a small island, the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/united-kingdom/" target="_blank">UK</a> has a huge amount to offer. The (mostly) good-natured rivalry between Scotland and England is a great way to frame a visit: <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/scotland/" target="_blank">Scotland</a> is said to be the birthplace of golf, and the 600-year old St. Andrews course is the oldest and arguably the most famous in the world. England is home to two of the world’s most famous royal homes: Buckingham Palace, and Tintagel Castle – said to be the birthplace of King Arthur.<br><br><b>11. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/canada/" target="_blank">Canada</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/canada/" target="_blank"><img alt="Canada happiest country in the world" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000ns2q" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>Having travelled extensively through <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/canada/" target="_blank">Canada</a>, I can tell you that the stories are true: Canadians are incredibly nice. I can also testify to the stunning beauty of the Canadian Rockies; British Columbia’s Provincial Parks are home to some of the world’s great scenery. Something else that most people don’t know: the only fortified city in North America (picture the walled cities you might find in France) is in Quebec. And yes, Canadians love their most famous culinary export, poutine. (It’s French fries, covered in cheese and gravy – what’s NOT to love?)<br><br><b>9. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/austria/" target="_blank">Austria</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/austria/" target="_blank"><img alt="Austria world&#39;s happiest country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000ns30" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>It must be the Danube – it runs through both the Czech Republic and <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/europe/" target="_blank">Austria</a>, and both are in the list of top 20 Happiest Countries. To get a good sense of why Austria is such a draw, simply cue up the movie <i>The Sound of Music;</i> nearly all of the movie’s external scenes were filmed on location throughout the country.<br><br><b>8. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/new-zealand/" target="_blank">New Zealand</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/new-zealand/" target="_blank"><img alt="New Zealand the world&#39;s happiest country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nrz8" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>Speaking of famous film locations, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/new-zealand-north-south-island-tours/" target="_blank">New Zealand</a> served as the setting for the classic of fantasy cinema, 1988’s Willow. A few decades before that OTHER big fantasy movie series hit the screens, producer George Lucas and director Ron Howard thought that the county’s green, rugged landscapes would be the perfect location for a swords-and-sorcery epic. <br><br><b>5. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/norway/" target="_blank">Norway</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/norway/" target="_blank"><img alt="Norway happiest country in the world" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000ns06" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>It should be noted that Scandinavian countries have dominated the list of World’s Happiest Countries, routinely taking the top 5 spots year after year. This might seem unusual, since…well, the winters in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/norway/" target="_blank">Norway</a>, Sweden, Iceland and Finland are very long, and very dark. But it makes sense, and not just because Norway is the world’s second largest consumer of coffee (the average Norwegian will go through about 22 pounds of coffee a year). Adverse conditions often build strong communities, and the common thread of taking care of neighbors and fellow citizens runs through the Scandinavian democracies. Also, it helps that Norway in the summertime is beautiful and inviting; the countless fjords are a major draw, and the temperate weather makes visiting them easy and comfortable. And if the fjords aren’t enough for you, there are about 50,000 islands off the coast of Norway.<br><br><b>4. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/iceland/" target="_blank">Iceland</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/iceland/" target="_blank"><img alt="Iceland world&#39;s happiest country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nrwJ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>When I visited Iceland, the one thing I had to try was the locals’ favorite hot dog. I was not disappointed. Reykjavik’s BBP serves up the best hot dog you’ll ever eat (sorry, Chicago). Icelandic food straddles a very strange line, that of familiar comfort food and…well, whatever category fermented shark meat served in a shot of locally distilled grain alcohol falls under. Iceland’s reputation as both stunningly beautiful and thoroughly delightful is well-earned. Icelanders are fiercely proud of their heritage, incredibly protective of their country’s natural resources, and unabashedly welcoming to visitors. And they’re exceptionally literate – Iceland boasts the most bookstores per capita of any country in the world, and 10% of Iceland’s population has or will publish a book. <br><br><b>3. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/switzerland/" target="_blank">Switzerland</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/switzerland/" target="_blank"><img alt="Switzerland the world&#39;s happiest country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nrzI" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>Ski all winter, hike all summer – it’s not hard to see why the Swiss are among the world’s happiest people. Certainly living in the literal center of the European Alps helps – the opportunities for activity alone have made Switzerland the country with the lowest obesity rate in Europe. But so too does an incredibly high standard of living – the country has one of the lowest poverty levels in Europe, universities are inexpensive, and teachers’ salaries rank well above the country’s average salary mark. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/switzerland-family/" target="_blank">Switzerland</a> has also gained a reputation as a hub of innovation; the country that invented the wristwatch has claimed the number one spot on the Global Innovation Index for the past nine years. Finally, Switzerland is both the world’s largest producer and consumer of chocolate. The country makes about 118,000 tons a year; the average Swiss citizen eats about 24 pounds annually. <br><br><b>2. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/scandinavia/" target="_blank">Denmark</a></b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/scandinavia/" target="_blank"><img alt="Denmark world&#39;s happiest country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000ns0V" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>It’s ironic that the world’s most famous Dane, Hamlet, was known for being melancholy. Clearly his fellow Danes aren’t. <br><br><b>1. Finland</b><br><img alt="Finland world&#39;s happiest country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PZ4M&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nrz3" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>For the third year in a row, Finland is the World’s Happiest Country. The New York Times cites the Finns’ happiness with their government (91% say that they think their President is doing a good job) and law enforcement (86% indicate that they trust the police) as driving factors. The Finns seem to be less “happy”, as we might define it, and more content, and this doesn’t seem to be limited to native Finns, but included immigrants to Finland as well.<br><br>Traveling gives us a sense of perspective, of course, and a big piece of that is the empathy born from the connections we form with our international friends. These days, I find myself thinking about my travels both here in the U.S. and abroad – over the past few years, I’ve been lucky to have spent time in Colorado, New Orleans, France, Italy, Iceland, and of course Costa Rica. The Central American nation came in at #15 on the list of World’s Happiest Countries, and I’m honestly surprised it didn’t rank higher. It’s a truly idyllic place, where the veneer of all the stuff that we think is so important is stripped away by the sight of a beautiful sunset on an empty beach. The Ticos – that’s the name that Costa Ricans call themselves – I know are no doubt weathering the current storm anxiously, as we all are. I’m looking forward to my next trip, and reminding myself that la pura vida is still out there.<br><br><i>Jason Avant is a writer and editor; a frequent contributor to the Classic Journeys Blog, he’s also contributed to the James Beard Award-winning travel website Roads and Kingdoms, as well as numerous other print and digital publications.</i><br> 

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  • National Park

    Best National Parks Around the World

    Formed over hundreds, thousands, sometimes billions of years, Mother Nature’s greatest masterpieces have become government-protected National Parks. <br><br>There are more than 400 National Parks in the United States alone, while the worldwide count reaches over 4000. Some have held their status since the late 1800’s while new ones join the ranks every year. <br><br>From Norwegian ice fields to African plains, and Hawaiian reefs to Andes peaks, they come in all climates, shapes and sizes—starting at mere acres and stretching to thousands of square miles. <br><br>They encompass the most extreme environments on earth as well as the most biodiverse, home to thousands of species of flora and fauna. Myths and legends surround them: these are the landscapes of the Gods, rich in folklore and superstitions. <br><br>To honor April 18-26 being National Park week, we’ve collected Classic Journeys favourite National Parks from around the world. <br><br><b>Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming USA</b><br><img alt="Yellowstone National Park World Best National Parks" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PczH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nw3F" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Yellowstone became the world’s first National Park in 1872. Though a historic feat to us, that must feel like moments for this patch of the planet, which has been volcanically active for millions and millions of years. In north-western Wyoming, wild flower meadows meet majestic mountains and cauldron-like calderas come together with steam-jetting geysers. Gushing waterfalls, bubbling hot springs and mud pools mix into the scene while wildlife thrives: grizzly bears, moose and bison roam free. All the while, beneath the surface, a supervolcano sleeps. <br><br><b>Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile</b><br><img alt="Torres Del Paine World Best National Parks" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PczH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nw3K" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>In South America’s Patagonia, this National Park is named for its trio of towers—great granite structures soaring skywards within the Cordillera del Paine mountain range.  Sunrise sets them aflame in a brilliant blood red, while to the west, the Grey Glacier glows contrastingly blue. Star of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, it&#39;s striking when seen from space, but up-close completely blows your socks off. <br><br><b>South Luangwa National Park, Zambia</b><br><img alt="South Luangwa World Best National Parks" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PczH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nw3P" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>South Luangwa National Park might be less-known than Africa’s great Serengeti, but that’s half of its allure. This east-Zambian expanse is the birthplace of walking safaris, which take you deep into the African bush, giving you close, peaceful encounters with the park residents: lions, leopards, elephants, hippos, herds of zebra and hundreds of species of bird. <br><br><b>Glacier National Park, Montana USA</b><br><img alt="Glacier National Park World Best National Parks" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PczH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nw3U" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>They call this park the ‘Crown of the Continent’ and it doesn’t take long to see why: spanning over a million acres, you’ll find lakes in every shade of blue, meadows bursting in wildflowers, thick forests and, as the name suggests, glorious glaciers. <br><br><b>Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica</b><br><img alt="Manuel Antonio World Best National Parks" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PczH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nw3Z" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Manuel Antonio isn’t the world’s biggest or best-known National Park, but it’s pure tropical paradise. While other National Parks span millions of acres, this one’s a tiny three square miles. It bursts in biodiversity: monkeys swing through lush rainforest, fish flit through colorful coral reef and birdsong fills the beaches. <br><br><b>Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland</b><br><img alt="Vatnajokull National Park World Best National Parks" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PczH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nw3e" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>One of Iceland’s three National Parks. Vatnajökull is a newcomer on the National Park scene, having earned its status in 2008. Europe’s biggest National Park, it covers 14% of the country. Volcanic peaks tower over ice fields and favorite sights include the Jökulsárlón lagoon, littered in icebergs and Iceland&#39;s tallest waterfall, mythical Morsárfoss.<br><br><b>Chitwan National Park, Nepal</b><br><img alt="Nepal Chitwan National Park World Best National Park" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PczH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nw3j" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>At the foot of the Himalayas, Chitwan (Nepali for ‘heart of the jungle’) covers forests, grassland, marshes and rivers. This was Nepal’s first National Park and is one of Asia’s best preserved conservation areas. It’s one of the best places in the world to see the single horned rhino and Bengal tiger, not to mention monkeys, crocodiles and over 500 species of bird. <br><br><b>Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona USA</b><br><img alt="Grand Canyon National Park World Best National Parks" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PczH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nw3o" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and around two billion years old, the Grand Canyon—a chasm stretching over 200 miles—has to be seen to be believed. There are various trails and vantage points, each more spectacular than the next. Hike into the heart, below the canyon rim, take a helicopter for the birds-eye experience.<br><br><b>Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand</b><br><img alt="Aoraki Mount Cook National Park World Best National Parks" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PczH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nw3t" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>New Zealand’s longest glaciers, 23 peaks reaching over 3000 meters high and stunning snowfields form the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Ngāi Tahu legend tells that Aoraki and the other sons of the Sky Father were on a sea voyage when their canoe capsized. The brothers climbed on top of the boat, but the freezing wind turned them to stone. The canoe became South Island and Aoraki and his brothers the peaks of the Southern Alps. <br><br><b>Kruger National Park, South Africa</b><br><img alt="Kruger National Park World Best National Parks" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PczH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nw3y" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Kruger is a ginormous game reserve covering almost 7,580 square miles which makes it the biggest National Park in the world. The landscape is spectacular, with the Lebombo Mountains, Crocodile and Limpopo rivers. Within it lie your best chances of spotting the Big 5: lions, leopards, elephants, African Rhino, and African Buffalo. Not to mention giraffes, zebras and hundreds of archeological Stone Age sites. <br><br><b>Moyenne National Park, Seychelles </b><br><img alt="Moyenne National Park World Best National Parks" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PczH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nw43" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>When newspaper editor Brendon Grimshaw bought Moyenne Island for £8000 in 1962, it only had a handful of plant types and barely any animal inhabitants. A keen naturalist, Grimshaw worked his magic and the island now has more than 16,000 plants, 120 giant tortoises and 2000 types of birds. Granite boulders, white-sand beaches and a history of hidden pirate treasure add to the allure of this curious speck of land, which is officially the World&#39;s Smallest National Park.<br><br><b>Plitvice Lakes National Park</b><br><img alt="Piltvoce Lakes National Park World Best National Parks" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PczH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nw48" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Plitvice seems like something from a fairy-tale. Over thousands of years, mineral water has formed a string of sixteen lakes, shimmering bright greens and blues and all linked by cascades and waterfalls. In thick surrounding forests, bears and wolves roam free. Wild orchids, together with butterflies and birds add dashes of color and a network of charming wooden footbridges and walkways winds throughout. <br><br><b>Independence National Historical Park</b><br><img alt="Independence National Park World Best National Parks" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PczH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nw4D" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>This may be the smallest National Park in the United States at 0.02 acres, but this park has played a seismic role in the nation’s history. It was the birthplace of American democracy and site of several seminal events. Within it, you’ll find the Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall, Congress Hall and National Constitution Center.<br> 

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  • Rainbow Mountain

    The World's Most Awesome Natural Phenomena

    Sure, many mountains stand magnificent, but what about peaks formed of rainbow-striped rock?<br><br>Likewise, lots of lakes are beautiful, but have you ever seen one filled with frozen bubbles, or bright bubblegum pink?<br><br>And as spectacular as a starry night sky might be, how about the heavens with meteors hurtling through or dancing dashes of light?<br><br>Mother Nature never ceases to amaze us, but now and again she takes things to a whole new level of weird and wonderful.<br><br>Read on for our favorite natural phenomena worldwide, spectacles that even when seen, are hard to believe...<br><br><b>Meteor showers</b><br><img alt="Meteor shower" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PdTT&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nwsP" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>When space dust passes through the Earth’s atmosphere in the trail of a comet or asteroid, it burns in bright, sometimes colorful streaks. That space dust consists of meteors—lumps of rock or ice in all shapes and sizes—which zipping through the atmosphere, appear as not one shooting star but a shower of them. Meteor showers that can be seen from earth happen around 30 times a year around certain constellations and a spectacular place to see them includes Alaska’s Denali National Park. <br><br><b>Rainbow Mountain in Peru</b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/peru-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Rainbow mountain Peru" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PdTT&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nwuF" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>This is <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/peru-tours/" target="_blank">Peru</a>&#39;s Rainbow Mountain, also known as Vinicunca. Over millions and millions of years, mineral deposits have settled, creating colorful stripes in all directions. This spectacle has only become visible in the last decade due to global warming. Before then, the Andean peak was covered in snow and ice. <br><br><b>Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia</b><br><img alt="Mirror salt plains Bolivia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PdTT&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nwsJ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Salar de Uyuni is the world’s biggest salt flat, covering over 4000 square miles. When it floods, a magnificent mirror forms blurring the earth and sky in a world of white and blue.<br><br><b>Firefall in Yosemite</b><br><img alt="Firefall in Yosemite Lava-like waterfall illusion" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PdTT&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nwsT" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>You’ll need a coming together of perfect positioning and conditions to experience the Firefall: in the middle of February, in the Yosemite National Park, looking at the Horsetail Falls, just before sunset with just the right levels of light, rainfall and sky clarity. And if all of the above coincide, you’ll witness the Firefalls, where pouring lava appears to cascade down the cliffside. <br><br><b>Frozen bubbles in Canada</b><br><img alt="Frozen bubbles in Canada lake" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PdTT&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nwsY" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>These aren’t alien jellyfish on the surface of Mars—they’re frozen bubbles of methane trapped under the water of Lake Abraham in Alberta, Canada in the Rocky Mountains. They come about as a result of bacteria below the surface, which release gas in bubbles forming these icy white circles. When the water melts in springtime they pop and fizz like hiccups. <br><br><b>Aurora Borealis in Iceland</b><br><img alt="Aurora Borealis northern lights in iceland" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PdTT&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nwtM" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>As charged particles from the sun collide with atoms and molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere, the change in energy releases bursts of colorful light that dance through the night sky. Causing awe and mystery for millennia, they’ve been interpreted as dark omens, good charms, spirits of people and animals and appearances of the Gods. The magical and magnificent display is drawn by the Earth’s magnetic field and northern nations like Iceland are an incredible places to see them.<br><br><b>Rainbow river in Colombia </b><br><img alt="Rainbow river colombia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PdTT&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nwuj" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>The Caño Cristales river in Colombia’s Sierra de la Macarena National Park has a technicolor transformation every summer: bright blue water, yellow sand, brown rocks and green algae are joined by a rich red riverbed, when the aquatic Macarenia clavigera plant bursts into bloom. The whole thing forms a riveting liquid rainbow, which with waterfalls, rock pools and lush surrounding forest looks like a fairy-tale landscape. <br><br><b>Moonbow in Yosemite </b><br><img alt="Moonbow lunar rainbow in Yosemite" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PdTT&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nwtW" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>The moonbow or lunar rainbow occurs when moonlight, rather than sunlight is reflected, refracted and dispersed in the droplets of cascading water. On a clear starry night when there’s a full moon, this surreal sight can be seen at Yosemite’s upper and lower falls. <br><br><b>Total solar eclipse</b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/chile-solar-eclipse-2020-tour/" target="_blank"><img alt="Total solar eclipse" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PdTT&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nwjr" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>A total solar eclipse takes place on rare occasions when the moon and Earth’s orbits coincide, perfectly positioning the moon in a direct line between the Earth and the sun. The sun forms a glowing ring around the moon and a shadow is cast over the surface of the Earth. It can only be seen from the small part of our planet that falls in the center of that shadow. And it just happens that the next total solar eclipse, on December 14 2020, the path of totality passes over one of the most spectacular places on earth, Chile, with its great lakes, volcanic peaks. We&#39;ve created our<a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/chile-solar-eclipse-2020-tour/" target="_blank"> Chile Total Solar Eclipse tour </a>especially for this! Join us!<br><br><b>Glowworm Caves in New Zealand</b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/new-zealand-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="New Zealand glow worm cave" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PdTT&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nwtl" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>In <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/new-zealand-tours/" target="_blank">New Zealand</a>&#39;s Waitomo region, the Glow worm Grotto has wowed visitors since the 1800’s. Millions of miniscule worms light up the walls and ceilings like stars in the night sky, their silk trailing down in luminous strings. <br><br><b>Wisteria Tunnel in Japan</b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/japan-luxury-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Wisteria tunnel in Japan" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PdTT&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nwsO" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>Over twenty types of wisteria—in all shades of white, purple and pink—trail through this tunnel in the city of Kitakyushu, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/japan-luxury-tours/" target="_blank">Japan</a>. It forms one of the most magical walks known to man. <br><br><b>Penitentes in the Andes</b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/chile-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Penitentes Andes snow spikes" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PdTT&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nwtq" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>Up, up and away in the Andean Mountains between <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/chile-tours/" target="_blank">Chile</a> and <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/argentina-tours/" target="_blank">Argentina</a>, cold temperatures together with high winds create snow fields filled with long, thin spikes called Penitentes.<br><br><b>Luminous beaches in Thailand</b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/thailand-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Luminous beach in Thailand Asia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PdTT&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nwuo" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>Nighttime on certain <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/thailand-tours/" target="_blank">Thai</a> beaches can resemble a scene from a sci-fi film: schools of bioluminescent fish create an ethereal green-blue neon and if you put your hand into the sea, the glow gets stronger. <br><br><b>Pink Lake in Australia </b><br><img alt="Lake Hillier Pink Lake Natural Phenomena Australia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PdTT&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nwsE" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>In Western Australia, Lake Hillier glows a sensational strawberry-gelato pink. The cause is a hot topic, but most believe it to be a certain type of algae that grows in the water which creates the beta-carotene that gives the lake its bubblegum tinge. The birds-eye view, including the lush surrounding forest and the bright blue of the ocean, is a true sight to behold. 

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