The World As Seen Thru The Eye of Nature

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Link URL and Text.

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The Beauty of Nature Flows In Many Forms

When the sky and the earth meet, Link URL and Text.

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Cool, Calm and Harmony

Nature sustained by all the elements, Link URL and Text.

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View of Matsuzaki, Japan

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We’re visiting the southwest coast of Japan’s Izu Peninsula, where a warm ocean current called the Kuroshio provides an ideal climate for the flora carpeting the hills. Big hydrangea blooms make a colorful foreground for this view of Matsuzaki. In addition to its charming seaside setting, the quiet town boasts hot springs (try these in the mild winters, not the humid summers). Hundreds of the town’s buildings feature an eye-catching style of Japanese architecture: Namako-kabe combines latticework with slate tile, adding weatherproofing and fire resistance to homes and storehouses. Hungry after taking a soak and touring the neighborhood? Try the local sweet specialty—Sakuramochi.

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Doi Chiang Dao mountain in Chiang Dao District, Thailand

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What does Thailand’s far north district of Chiang Dao offer the intrepid traveler? Enormous caves. Ancient temples. Hot springs. Waterfalls in lush rainforests and suspension bridges swaying over steep gorges. There’s also excellent bird watching in the district’s wildlife preserve. And of course, this spiky, spectacular massif: Doi Chiang Dao mountain, one of the highest peaks in its range. Bordering Myanmar to the north, this Thai highlands district has a more temperate climate than lower elevations in the country, and is nicknamed ‘Little Tuscany’ for the many vineyards in the area. (Now, where did we put our passport?)

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The Copper River and the Wrangell Mountains, Alaska

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How awesome is Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve? We could give you the numbers (it’s roughly 13.2 million acres), or tell you it’s the largest national park in the United States. We’ll throw in that one of its namesakes, Mt. St. Elias, is the country’s second-highest peak, and in fact, nine of the 16 highest mountains in the US are right here. And four mountain ranges call it home.

If that’s not quite spacious enough for you, both Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks could fit inside Wrangell–St. Elias. Oh, and if you add Switzerland you’d still have some elbow room. If you don’t like sharing your hinterland with other folks, you’re in luck—this immense wilderness is visited by a scant 79,000 or so visitors annually.

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Young Galápagos sea lions in the Galápagos archipelago, Ecuador

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Any number of distinctive animals living in the Galápagos Islands could be ambassadors for the famous ecosystem. The Galápagos sea lion certainly has the cute factor going for it. This one swimming toward us looks to be a juvenile, and is relatively small and lithe. If this is a male, he may reach more than 500 pounds when fully grown. (He’ll still be a fascinating creature, but at that size, ‘cute’ may not be the first word that comes to mind.)

A native of its namesake island chain, this member of the pinniped clade enjoys the shores and surf of the Galápagos archipelago, and is rarely found more than 10 miles offshore. The Galápagos sea lion is no dummy—it knows it’s chosen an idyllic home in this collection of 18 major islands off the coast of Ecuador.

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Rice Farm, Jere, Abuja, Nigeria

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A climber walks a ridgeline on Piz Palü, a mountain in Switzerland

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The tri-peaked massif Piz Palü straddles the border between two nations that can boast some real Alpine cred: northern Italy and southeastern Switzerland. We’re looking at the latter here, where Piz Palü’s center peak rises to nearly 13,000 feet above sea level, casting a shadow over the canton of Graubünden. The massif is part of the Bernina Range, home to some of the highest peaks in the Alps, so there are plenty more spectacular ridge lines to explore if you’re like our friend here. Those of you who aren’t into scaling mountains can remain below. But you won’t be missing out—St. Moritz is less than 15 miles away.

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Surf crashes on the coast of Piriápolis, Uruguay

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Surf crashes on the coast of Piriápolis, Uruguay

Punta del Este, 25 miles east of here, may be better known, but the smaller-scale Piriápolis has been enchanting tourists for a longer stretch—since the early part of the 20th century. The visitors came to Piriápolis in such numbers that in 1930, one of the largest hotels in South America at the time opened here. It still stands, along with other historical buildings. This lends a kind of ‘Old World’ Mediterranean resort feel to the town. Add in the rugged beauty of the Uruguayan coastline and the high mountains just six or so miles from the beach, and you’ve got a splendid entry for your ‘undiscovered gems’ bucket list.

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Granite rocks on La Digue Island, Seychelles

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Most images of Anse Source d'Argent Beach take a wide-angle view of this slice of paradise, but we’re going in for a closer look at the extraordinary rock formations. Huge granite boulders rise above sand and sea, carved by the wind, rain, and the surrounding Indian Ocean into something almost supple. Swoops, curves, hollows, and folds add a beguiling surface texture to the rocks.

After a few hours of lying on the beach, contemplating these massive formations, consider exploring everything else La Digue has to offer. Until recently cars weren’t allowed on the island, and they’re still quite rare. So, hop on your bicycle and wheel past the lanky palms, pink sand, and lush green hills of this Seychelles treasure.

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Plains zebras grazing in Amboseli National Park, Kenya

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Touted by many as the best place to view the towering Mt. Kilimanjaro in all its glory, Amboseli National Park rewards visitors with plenty of other beautiful sights as well. Herds of elephants are the most famous denizens of this 151-square-mile preserve in southern Kenya, but other big mammals abound, including giraffes, lions, wildebeest, buffalo, and our friends here, the plains zebra. If you’re inspired to visit on safari, all the bigger animals will be easy to spot, as Amboseli’s topography is quite flat, with dry lake beds interspersed by low-lying swampland. Don’t forget to look up: The park plays host to some 400 species of birds. Oh, and that iconic mountain is pretty nice, too.

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Cenote on the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico

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The word ‘cenote’ comes from the Mayan word ‘ts'onot,’ meaning ‘well.’ But unlike most wells, cenotes aren’t created by people; rather, they’re sinkholes that lead to underground caves. Ancient Mayans in the Yucatán Peninsula of present-day Mexico knew that openings to these freshwater caves dotted the landscape, sometimes hidden within the forest. Today, swimmers and scuba divers can explore some of the Yucatán’s cenotes.

The entrance pools often appear as small sinkholes or ponds but open into large limestone cave systems below the surface. Though most contain fresh water, some reach deep enough to connect with the Yucatán’s vast aquifer system, where divers might encounter salt water at lower levels. This cenote is located in Dzitnup, a small town roughly 3 miles from the city of Valladolid.

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