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It's Only Natural: Counting Down the Seven New Wonders of Nature

By Jessica Whyte

Last updated: 25th November 2011

Want to check out the world’s most outstanding natural wonders on your gap year? Have you heard of the global 7 wonders sensation currently sweeping the internet? A recent project is gathering together millions of votes from all across the globe to come up with the top seven wonders of nature on offer in our world today.

The New 7 Wonders Project was initially set up to search for the new seven wonders of the modern world. Based on the seven wonders of the ancient world, of which only the pyramids in Egypt remain today, the mission was to use the global reach of the internet to get hundreds of millions of people to vote for their favourite seven wonders of the modern world. The 7 Wonders Foundation announced the new seven wonders of the world in 2007 and immediately set about starting a new campaign, this time to find the new seven wonders of nature…

Our planet is full of breathtaking natural beauty and sensational sights which have not been created by humankind. Unspoilt beauty at its most untouched is rare in our overpopulated planet and the phenomenon of seeing a true natural wonder is the Holy Grail for any gap year traveller. You never forget the feeling you get when you’re suddenly confronted by the power and majesty of the natural world in all its glory. Do you know what it feels like when you watch the rush of water from a waterfall tumbling into a churning mist below, see the shimmering sea in all its seething strength, or let the awesome sight of the Grand Canyon dwarf you with its vast vision? It’s an amazing feeling when you feel that rush and realise what an incredible planet we are lucky enough to live on!

Most of us stay comfortably confined in our little corners of the world and don’t get the opportunity to witness these unique wonders first hand. So if you are wondering why so many people are rushing to take a gap year, it’s not hard to figure out – even the chance to create one memory like that in a lifetime is more than many of us can ever hope for. If you see the world on a gap year then you’ll soon have a whole string of unforgettable experiences locked down in your mind forever.

Many people who head off on their gap year are searching for that ultimate rush; the thrill of seeing a magnificent mountain soar above them or the charm of hearing the chattering hum of the lush jungle as it gradually reveals its secrets. When you think of a gap year in Australia what do you imagine? The underwater paradise of the Great Barrier Reef and the sweeping wilderness of the outback probably make it to the top of the list. If you dream of a gap year in South Africa you probably long to see the iconic sight of Table Mountain towering over Cape Town, and thousands of people head to Latin America on their gap year just so they can experience the amazing Amazon jungle at close hand.

The wonders that exist in nature are some of the planet’s biggest draws for travellers; many will head to Africa just to climb Mount Kilimanjaro or get up close and personal with the Big Five animals in the wild and wonderful bush. Canada has some buzzing cities but the biggest attraction is still the Rocky Mountains, with the promise of polar bears or a glimpse of a Grizzly. The Galapagos Islands near Ecuador are the ideal example of nature in action and the lure of these islands is all about the nature, the nature and nothing but the nature.

Paradise islands are also a popular passion for gappers, from the sun-swept golden sands of Fiji to tasty island treats in Thailand. Nature is what makes a destination distinctive and reflects back the country’s culture. Think how perfectly the pointed roofs of a pagoda sit against the backdrop of China’s mountains and lakes. And it’s hard to imagine the biblical monuments of Jerusalem set anywhere but the desolate desert backdrop of Israel, which sweeps away to the dramatic and eerie Dead Sea.

So the 7 Wonders Foundation are really on to something! People have been voting in their millions between 2007 and November 2011 and the provisional seven wonders of nature have now been announced. The definitive list is confirmed in 2012 and the winning locations will no doubt shoot straight to the top of any discerning gap year traveller’s must-do list. So start planning your gap year today and get ready to be wowed by the world’s wonders at first hand!

Keep an eye on the Gap 360 blog for a countdown of the seven contenders currently in the running for the title of the seven wonders of nature, starting with Cape Town’s breathtaking Table Mountain…

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