With more than 1,000 World Heritage Sites around the globe, the world really is your oyster when it comes to letting UNESCO’s areas of special cultural or natural interest inspire your next holiday. Deemed essential for preserving the future heritage of humankind, UNESCO sites provide some of the most memorable travel experiences anywhere on Earth. The following are a selection of key sites for different interests and ages.
Best for Ocean-lovers: Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Few superlatives can do justice to this aquatic paradise that can be seen from Outer Space. Most travellers experience it from the pristine shores of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, stretching from the charming town of Bundaberg to the tip of Cape York and containing some of the best diving spots for seeing a vast variety of fish, dolphins, whales, sea turtles and more.
Best for Families: Dinosaur Provincial Park, Canada
Set in Alberta’s Badlands, this one-time sub-tropical paradise brimming with palm trees and giant ferns is now one of the world’s top locations for those hoping to unearth a fossilised dinosaur – or at least a few bones or other relics. Around 300 specimens taken from the site are now housed in museums across the globe; this is your chance to uncover even more on an active dig site.
Best for Forest-lovers: Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
One of the country’s most-visited sites, this protected national park in the mountainous Lika region of northern Croatia, a two-hour drive from the capital Zagreb, offers up 16 interconnected lakes, more than 90 waterfalls of varying sizes and plenty of caves to investigate. Among activities to try out are kayaking, rafting and cycling.
Best for Bird-watchers: Surtsey, Iceland
Iceland’s youngest volcanic island emerged from a series of ocean-floor eruptions that began in 1963 and lasted several years, leaving in its place one of the most intensively researched islands in the world. The 90 or so bird species that have colonised it since, many captured on film by no less than David Attenborough, include Arctic terns and puffins. As the island is uninhabited, they’re best spotted from boat trip around the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar), of which Surtsey is a part.
Best for Hikers: Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, Seychelles
North-east of the main Seychelles island of Mahé, picture-postcard Praslin is home to this incredible forestry habitat that stands out as one of only two places where the famous coco de mer palm is grown. Follow the hiking trails beneath the dense forest canopy, spotting rare tree frogs and endangered parrots, and you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back to prehistoric times.
Best for Plant-lovers: Cape Floristic Region, South Africa
South Africa’s south-western extremity (including Cape Town) counts among the world’s greatest area of terrestrial biodiversity and also hosts an amazing number of endemic species that you won’t see anywhere else on earth, including a variety of sugarbushes (South Africa’s national flower). Embracing national parks, nature reserves, wilderness areas, State forests and mountain areas, the region includes Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens on the lower reaches of Table Mountain, with well-marked paths to follow.
Best for Geology Aficionados: Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
The 1,600 soaring limestone rocks give you a feeling of having entered another world – one of sculpted valleys and emerald-hued hidden lakes seemingly untouched for thousands of years. Junk-boat tours and sea-kayak expeditions take visitors past islands named for their shapes, including Stone Dog and Teapot islets. The region is popular for scuba-diving, rock-climbing and hiking, particularly in mountainous Cat Ba National Park.
Best for Wildlife-spotters: Central Highlands of Sri Lanka
This bio-diversity hotspot incorporates Knuckles Conservation Forest, Horton Plains National Park and the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary area. As well as awesome mountain scenery, lush vegetable gardens and terraced paddy fields, expect to see fabulous mammals including bear monkeys, sambar deer and the Horton Plains slender loris.
If you are looking for your next UNESCO inspired adventure or have any other travel aspirations why not make your next holiday arrangements with a knowledgeable, trustworthy and friendly travel expert. You can reach Allan at: firstname.lastname@example.org