Over the years there have been many lists that chronicle the Seven Wonders of the World from the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to the more esoteric Seven Wonders of the Industrial World list that curiously enough includes the London Sewage System.
I get why the Great Pyramid of Giza or the Taj Mahal would make a list of notable man-made achievements. Likewise the Great Barrier Reef or Victoria Falls should be on any registry of extraordinary natural wonders. Also I am willing to concede that after a late night dinner of curry and beer the London Sewage System should be singled out for some recognition. But why are these lists (and there are many compiled by many organizations and media outlets) always confined to just seven? Surely to goodness this list could grow as large as the UNESCO World Heritage’s roll that now stands at nearly 1000, or beyond.
And this got us thinking about some of the more beautiful but perhaps lesser-known wonders that we’ve had the pleasure of filming over the years. So here in absolutely no particular order is a small and not encompassing compendium of some of the more touching places we’ve been lucky enough to capture on film. We’ll pick eight, just to be different.
Luang Prabang – This historic Laotian town’s name fittingly means Royal Buddha Image. Luang Prabang is nestled at the junction of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers in Laos. It is a town of tranquil beauty with Buddhist Monasteries, bucolic waterfalls and surprisingly upscale accommodations for travelers.
Port of Valetta – This sandstone yellow port in Malta is the centerpiece of the city laid out in the 16th century by the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Today it is still a working harbor welcoming everything from small fishing boats to cruise liners and the US 5th Fleet. Grab a glass of wine in Valetta and watch the world come and go in the port below.
Khayelitsha – This township of nearly a million people outside of Cape Town, South Africa brims with life and death, love and anger. It represents both the best and worst of Africa and humanity. Visit one of the many ad hoc Church ceremonies on a Sunday morning and see why despite the hardships, Africa will always bring a smile with touching moments of joy.
The Amazon – OK this is a pretty big area, the Amazon Basin is about 1.7 billion acres, of which about 5.5 million square kilometers are covered with rainforest. Sounds impressive? It is but thanks to man and commerce this huge swath of the planet is disappearing at an alarming rate. Rent a small boat with a Captain and Cook in Manaus and spend a few days sailing the river and learn some of the secrets of this magical place.
Quebec City – This northern Quebec capital is one of the oldest settlements in North America. The French explore Jacques Cartier built a fort there in 1535 and ever since the town has been known for its’ culture and great food. Grab a hot coffee and take a winter carriage ride through the old town.
The Empty Quarter – One of the largest sand deserts in the world, The Empty Quarter takes up nearly a third of the Arabian Peninsula. It is a hostile but colorful region of flowing sand dunes, the odd but appreciated desert Oasis and ancient history. Take a 4×4 tour and experience the sand, feel the heat and love the diversity of this planet.
Drake Passage – This is the deadly body of water that stretches from the tip of Cape Horn, Chile to the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. It is stormy, rough and has claimed quite a few lives over the centuries. But it is worthwhile braving these waters for when you complete your journey you’ll have reached the Antarctic Peninsula, one of the world’s last true frontiers.
Airbus A380 – Yep we think it qualifies. This is the largest passenger aircraft in the world and it is a miracle of modern engineering. The most crowded variant seats 853 passengers although most airlines have opted to configure their planes more luxuriously with First and Business class cabins and even showers, lounges and a duty-free boutique. This plane is already an icon of transcontinental flight and may actually help you reach some of the other destinations on this list.
There are so many other places that we could/should add but we’ll leave those for a future article. In the meantime tell us your favorite places and the special locations that we all should celebrate as being uniquely wondrous.