Some travelers want to vacation in a city. They enjoy the skyline and basking in the concrete jungle. Others prefer to soak in the beauty that nature has to offer.
If you’re interested in viewing narrow passages with steep rocky sides that almost seem too amazing to be real, check out VirtualTourist.com members’ list of the Top 10 Most Gorgeous Gorges to set your eyes on.
• Saklikent Canyon Gorge, Mugla province, Turkey. At 70,000 feet long, Saklikent Gorge is the second-largest gorge in Europe, the longest and deepest gorge in Turkey and always a popular excursion, open from April 1 to Sept. 30. Many brave the icy cold water and have their picture taken wading in it. If you’re not up for it, wood boards are strategically placed along it, but they only take you so far.
• Hancock Gorge, Karijini National Park, Western Australia. Formerly Hamersley Range National Park, this location is arguably Australia’s most stunning gorge country. The rust red will be embedded in your mind forever. At Oxer Lookout, four gorges intersect and, with some difficulty, you can actually get from one to the other. Dramatic walls of narrow canyons leave an indelible impression. It’s a photographers’ paradise. There are a million angles and the scenes change so dramatically in the space of half an hour that you could go and shoot the same place again and come up with entirely different results.
• Ausable Chasm, New York. Ausable Chasm might not be as grand as Niagara to the north, but it is another example of nature’s splendor. One of the most popular attractions in the Adirondacks, the road passes over a deep, narrow section of the Chasm. You can park on either side, and walk onto the bridge for a view. Close your eyes, relax and listen to the birds and the roar of the water. You can venture down for a closer look if you wish, but not stopping at all would be a shame.
• Djerdap Gorge, Djerdap National Park, Serbia. The Djerdap National Park stretches more than 62 miles along the Danube River, and VirtualTourist members say the hiking here is fantastic. The park isn’t that wide, but beyond the park is a protected forest area so when you’re here, you really feel as if you are alone in the beautiful woods.
• Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan, China. Between Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain the Yangtze River cascades through a spectacular gorge, a contender for the world’s deepest river canyon. Legend says that to escape from a hunter, a tiger jumped across the river at the narrowest point (still a lengthy 82 feet) — hence the name. Today, the area is a hiker’s paradise. Various trails run along the entire length of the gorge. VirtualTourist members warn, though, that you shouldn’t stop along the path as the area is prone to rock falls.
• Verdon Gorge, Provence, France. In southeastern France, the Verdon River has eroded the land hundreds of feet down leaving limestone cliffs and caves in its wake and creating a massive gorge. The water is clean and a stunning turquoise blue, and in the summer months, at a temperature perfect for swimming. A variety of hiking paths are available. A VirtualTourist favorite goes through the narrow “Le Styx” section. It’s not for the faint of heart as some parts involve narrow paths with sheer drop-offs while holding onto a bolted metal cable. Choose your path to your hiking ability.
• Vintgar Gorge, Slovenia. The Vintgar Gorge is one of the most popular natural features in Slovenia. It lies a couple of miles north of Bled near the village of Podhom, where the Radovna River cuts a deep gorge between the hills of Hom and Borst. The emerald-green water of the river Radovna flows through the narrow mountain gorge, with many impressive rapids and waterfalls. You can walk the one-mile length of the gorge quite easily, thanks to wooden decks that were built for visitors.
• Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona. When you drive a few miles on Highway 98 out of Page and make your way to the Navajo Reservation, you’ll see interesting landscape, but nothing quite as spectacular as the jewel you’ll find around the corner. Antelope Canyon is one of the most famous slot canyons in the United States and consists of two parts, Upper and Lower Canyon, the Upper being known as “Photographer’s Paradise.” Wind and water have carved this colorful maze and its astonishing shades of purple, blue, red, orange and yellow all in swirling rock. It’s truly amazing to explore this phenomenon of nature.
• Takachiho Gorge, Miyazaki, Japan. Perhaps one of the most mystical gorges, at least according to VirtualTourist members, is the Takachiho Gorge in Japan. The awe-inspiring steep walls were formed when the Gokase-gawa River eroded lava from the Aso volcano. One of the most spectacular sites here is the 56 foot- high waterfall. There are two ways to explore the gorge — by walking the paved path along the edge of the gorge or, the more popular way, by rental boat, with an opportunity to get close to the waterfall.
• Setenil de las Bodegas, Cadiz, Spain. Want to visit a town, but feel like you’re one with nature? Then check out Setenil de las Bodegas, a town with homes and shops built into the gorge itself. VirtualTourist members say that it gets very busy here on Sundays with locals lunching and central parking becoming almost impossible. But you’ll find a number of tapas bars alongside the stream that splits the town in two. The top road then takes a picturesque route to Olvera, a gleaming white hill-top town with a magnificent castle and huge church.