The results of a public vote earlier this month have revealed the provisional winners of the New7Wonders of Nature campaign, led by the Zurich-based New Open World Corporation.
A list of 28 finalists was whittled down to seven, although organisers were quick to admit that this was merely an initial list that will be “checked, validated and independently verified”. The website also states that “the confirmed winners will be announced starting early 2012 during the Official Inauguration ceremonies”. The seven places are all found in three continents – South America, Asia and Africa – giving holidaymakers from elsewhere a great excuse to travel a bit further than normal to visit the sites of acclaim.
Asia is represented four times with Ha Long Bay (Vietnam), Jeju Island (South Korea), Komodo (Indonesia) and Puerto Princesa Underground River (Philippines).
Ha Long Bay is 170 kilometres east of Hanoi in the north of Vietnam and is notable for its caves and rock formations. Thousands of islands are dotted around the bay with hundreds of different species of fish and molluscs found in the shallow waters.
Jeju Island lies off the southern coast of South Korea and is the country’s only Special Autonomous Province. Known as the “Island of the Gods”, this volcanic area is a popular honeymoon destination with hot summers and dry autumns.
Komodo, in the Nusa Tenggara region of Indonesia, is the home of the Komodo dragon and experiences a tropical climate all year thanks to its location near the equator.
The island province of Palawan, in the Philippines, is where the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is found. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999, it is reputed to be the longest underground river in the world.
South America’s contribution to the final seven are the Iguaçu Falls and Amazonia. The Iguaçu Falls straddles the border of Brazil and Argentina, with the south-eastern border of Paraguay nearby. The site is notable for being taller and twice as wide as Niagara Falls with plenty to see and do on each side of the border.
The Amazon is already well reputed, breaking records for representing over half of the world’s remaining rainforest, stretching across nine countries, and featuring the world’s largest river by volume. Iquitos in the Peruvian portion (Amazonas) claims to be the largest continental city unreachable by road, testament to the enormity of the region.
The final provisional winner is Table Mountain, in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Easily accessible from Cape Town, this flat-topped mountain is the centrepiece of a national park with impressive biodiversity supporting thousands of species of plants and many animals. A cable-car transports tourists from base to summit for a price with more budget conscious adventurers having the option of scaling it themselves for no fee.
Whilst these sites are all subject to changing before the official announcements next year, they remain to be popular and spectacular destinations, delivering great experiences for travellers and holidaymakers worldwide.