Ten Countries and the Beautiful Places that Only the Locals Know About

 

Most of us want to know about other people’s lives. Interestingly, why they have certain habits and live the way they do is often related to their environment and the nature around them. We asked people from Morocco, China, Bosnia & Herzegovina, South Australia, Serbia, Nepal, Italy, Romania, Peru, and Russia to tell us about the nature they deem the most beautiful in their country.

From their answers the following list emerged. Which of these would you add to your bucket list?

1. Morocco : the Atlas mountain range in the south and the Sahara desert

Cr pic: Frida Aguilar  Estrada

The Atlas mountains are a must-see in Morocco. They are suitable for hiking, but you can also see the traditional mud brick city, Ait Ben Haddou. This town is featured on the Unesco World Heritage list and has featured in many films, such as Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator.

The Sahara desert, being the largest hot desert in the world, is also an extraordinary place to visit. A popular way to take in its beauty is by going on a camel trek. You can take a 3-day tour from Marrakech to Merzouga, which is in itself worth a visit because Merzouga has the largest natural underground body of water in Morocco.

2. China: Jiuzhaigou - Zhangye Danxia landform - Gansu: Crescent Spring- Kanas National Nature Reserve

Our Chinese contact couldn’t pick one favourite! He was torn because, as he put it, “China is so beautiful” but, among his favourites, he recommends you visit one of these places:

Jiuzhaigou: Turquoise lakes and the giant panda

Cr. pic: Jean-Marie Hullot

The Jiuzhai Valley National Park is located in the Sichuan Province. It’s featured on the UNESCO World Heritage list and is positioned in the southwestern region of China. What makes it so magical? Its enchanting cascades (waterfalls that flow across many levels), colourful lakes and flora, and enchanting mountain tops.

There are nine Tibetan villages in the National Park. You can also find over 220 bird species and a number of endangered plant and animal species. One of the endangered animal species that takes shelter in the park is the giant panda. All in all, it is hardly surprising that it is one of China’s top national parks.

Zhangye Danxia landform, aka the rainbow mountains

Cr. pic: Snowfirmm

The mountains of Zhangye Danxia literally look like an artist’s colourful interpretation of a mountain range. The layering of the rocks, and the effects of sandstone and mineral deposits over 24 million years, formed the rainbow mountains we can visit today. National Geographic has named it one of the 'Top 10 Geographical Wonders of the World'.

Interested in visiting? We recommend going between June and September. Otherwise, be prepared for the weather to be extremely cold. And the best time of day to go and enjoy the view is in the afternoon, when the colours are at their brightest.

Gansu: Crescent Spring

Located in the Gobi desert lies the lake known as the Crescent Spring. It is also called "the First Spring in the Desert", the Yueya Spring or the Crescent Moon spring, and the body of water is situated at the foot of Mingsha Mountain. Looking at the shape of the lake, it resembles a crescent moon from afar, and the clear turquoise water renders a magical effect.

Legend has it that the Crescent Spring has magical abilities. It has been given another nickname: the Medicinal Spring. Allegedly, grass growing in or near the Crescent Spring has special properties for curing severe diseases. If you eat it, you are supposed to live forever. We haven’t tested this yet, but if you do, let us know!

Kanas National Nature Reserve

Cr. pic: Jay Cai

It’s all in a name. This is because the word Kanas, from the National Nature Reserve, means “beautiful and mysterious” in Mongolian, and this description precisely hits the nail on the head. The Reserve lies in the Burqin County, which is near the borders with Russia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan. Its ecosystem is said to be kept in a good state and almost untouched. This is the reason it is said to have the only Euro-Siberian flora and fauna to be found in China.

The reserve also houses the huge Kanas Lake, which is not only filled with fish but also with mysteries...

3. Bosnia and Herzegovina: Olympic mountains- Trebević, Bjelašnica, Igman, Jahorina

Cr. pic: Travelade.com

Our contact let us know that ‘What is the best place to enjoy nature in Bosnia?’ is a difficult question. Among Bosnia’s many beauties we went with the Olympic Mountains. Bosnia - being a former Yugoslav state - was a part of the Winter Olympics In 1984. The big event was held in the mountains surrounding Sarajevo, namely: Trebević, Bjelašnica, Igman, and Jahorina. Today, hiking, at all levels of difficulty, is very popular and skiing is done a lot in the winter.

Examining the historical aspects, the mountains also contain many medieval tombstones called stećak. These types of tombstones are found across many parts of the ex-Yugoslav nations. They are actually national monuments and show how their history has influenced many of these countries. They are also on the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

4. Italy: Abruzzo & Tuscany during fall

Tuscany, cr. pic: Rowan Heuvel

Italy has a lot of nature everywhere, especially in the center and in the southern area of the country. Our contact said: ”I really love Abruzzo for its forests and mountains and Tuscany for its romantic and iconic countryside. These places never disappoint, especially in fall. My fave season!”. Abruzzo, a region of Southern Italy, is known for its green landscape. It’s actually called “the greenest region in Europe”. Tuscany is located in Central Italy, and indeed has a lovely countryside, but also the cultural aspects we all long for when visiting Italy. After all, Tuscany is known as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance.

5. South Australia: Kangaroo Island

What animal do you think of when you hear Australia mentioned? Kangaroos! But that is not the only reason you should visit Kangaroo Island just off the coast of South Australia, it is a truly spectacular place for raw and unspoiled nature. You can visit national parks like Flinders Chase National Park or simply enjoy the wonderful landscapes.

It really is a place for spotting native Australian animals though. A few examples are fur seals, koalas, and kangaroos. Let’s go to the land down under!

6. Serbia: National Park Tara

Do you enjoy the combination of relaxation and nature? Then you should try visiting The National Park Tara, located in western Serbia. The weather is ideal and it is fairly detached from busy society. The conditions also allow different species to grow in this area such as many relict plant species like the Pancic omorika. It became a national park due to its unique flora and fauna in 1981. Other tips include visiting the beautiful mountain village of Zaovine, as well as Lake Zaovin, which is really beautiful.

7. Romania: the Danube Delta and Carpathian mountains

“Romania is definitely famous for its incredible natural beauty and diversity. We have a staggering number of drop dead gorgeous places. My top picks are The Danube Delta and all the regions within the Carpathian Mountains”. The Danube Delta is the second largest river delta in Europe. It’s also one of the best preserved deltas, hosting over 300 species of birds as well as 45 freshwater fish species.

The Carpathian Mountains might not be as famous as the Himalayas, the Atlas, or the Alps, but they allegedly have a certain wilderness to them, that makes experiencing the view and the wildlife unforgettable.

8. Nepal: Pokhara and Chisapani

It would be obvious to name Mount Everest when discussing beautiful nature in Nepal. But Nepal is far more diverse, and has a lot to offer, such as Pokhara and its Phewa Lake. It’s a place to enjoy and relax. It’s known for its spectacular scenery but also its variety of activities, from adventurous activities to nightlife with music.

Another recommendation in Nepal is the Chisapani trek. Kathmandu to Chisapani is a very interesting 5 hour trekking route. Chisapani lies in the Shivapuri National park, and offers the best view of the Annapurna, Everest, and Manaslu-Ganesh mountain ranges. It’s a way to experience the mountains of Nepal without having to be too adventurous.

9. Peru: mountains and jungle

Cr. pic: Orlando Leon, Huascaran

Peru has beautiful high mountains. Another great place to enjoy nature in Peru is in the jungle. There are so many climates that there is something for everybody. With ocean, mountain, and tropical climates, Peru has national reserves, sanctuaries, and parks that preserve the nature of each specific zone. A few examples are the Huascaran National Park, the Manu National Park (jungle), around the Amazon River, and the Huayllay National Sanctuary.

10. Russia: Baikal Lake, Ulan-Ude and Kalmykia

Cr. pic: Ekaterina Sazonova

Russia is the world’s largest country, therefore we are not surprised by the richness in its nature. The most popular places are the Baikal lake, Ulan-Ude, and Kalmykia.

Lake Baikal has the largest volume of freshwater in the world, containing about 23% of the world's fresh surface water. There are many hiking routes around the lake, brought together under the name: the Great Baikal trail. Both in summer and winter many people go there for various activities, from spotting wildlife to dogsledding.

Ulan Ude is situated very close to Mongolia. Maybe this is why many people feel like it has a distinct Asian-like vibe. The city centre is cosy, and it’s really fascinating to witness the Mongol-Buddhist culture.

Kalmykia is located in southwestern Russia. Kalmykia is the only region in Europe where Buddhism is the most practiced religion, with Buddhists constituting a plurality of the population.