Traveling offers lots of opportunities to learn, to enjoy, to be awed and to welcome unexpected surprises. One of the aspects of traveling that touches on almost all of the above reactions are wondrous bodies of water around the world that produce outstanding memories. Here are some of the best of these watery wonders.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Zambia
When the calm flowing water of the Zembezi River enters the Victoria Falls gorge, it abruptly plunges 328 feet to the bottom. The impact generates soaring mists and thunderous sounds that can be seen and heard for miles. During the rainy season—mid-November through late April—the falls virtually disappear behind a thick wall of mist; at other times, the water volume noticeably eases.
Canals of Venice, Italy
Best enjoyed outside the heat of summer, the Venetian canals and their gondolas provide one of the world’s most romantic experiences: gliding slowly down narrow palazzo-lined canals on a moonlit night. Venice is a city built on water. The canals—some 150 of them—link nearly 700 tiny islands to make what seems a floating city. Visitors and natives alike must travel by foot or boat. The nearly two-mile-long Grand Canal, the main water thoroughfare, is lined by luxurious, centuries-old palazzos with ornate Renaissance-style facades and is spanned by the elaborately designed Rialto Bridge. When the distance is far, the swift vaporettos (water taxis) are handy.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef stretches 1,243 miles through the Coral Sea along Australia’s northeastern coast. The reef, which in actuality is a collection of thousands of distinct coral reefs, has been designated a World Heritage site for its sheer beauty and uniquely complex and delicate ecosystem. More than 1,500 types of fish and 200 kinds of birds live on the reef’s atolls, and islands. The beauty of this waterscape annually draws hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to see the spectacle by diving, snorkeling, and glass-bottom boating. Conservationists fear that the large influx of visitors and their collateral effect on pollution are damaging this natural wonder.
Li River, China
The 52-mile stretch of the Li River west of Guilin has inspired artists for thousands of years. Here the Li River snakes through a fairy-tale landscape of conical limestone peaks, its smooth waters exquisitely mirroring the magical scenery. The vistas are particularly enchanting when flowing mists weave themselves around the peaks, hiding then exposing them in moments of surprise. The cone-shaped mountains are vestiges of ancient eroded seabeds that support graceful bamboo groves and terraced rice paddies. Each bend of the river reveals something new and interesting, from lumbering water buffalo pulling carts or cooling off in the river to fishermen gliding on narrow bamboo rafts.
Suez Canal, Egypt
An idea born of the British Empire’s colonial interests, the 100-mile-long Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. Thousands of men labored ten years to build this shortcut. Without it, a cargo ship sailing from Italy to Singapore had to go around the southern tip of Africa, doubling the time and distance. Today, an endless parade of supertankers, container ships, and other large oceangoing vessels stream along this blue ribbon that cuts through barren desert.
Lake Como, Italy
Thousands of years ago, glaciers carved the peaks and valleys of the Alps. Those same glaciers formed the pre-Alpine lakes of the Lombard region some 30 miles north of Milan. Scenic Lake Como, with its deep blue waters, has long been known as “the looking glass of Venus.” Vistas of the lake reveal a serene scene surrounded by palatial villas, tree-clad mountains, and quaint villages. Lake Como covers 56 square miles and reaches a depth of 1,358 feet.
Nile River, Egypt
The storied past of the longest river in the world entices many people to cruise its length as it winds through Egypt. “Floating hotels” glide smoothly past timeless Egyptian life unfolding along the date-palm-tree-dotted riverbanks, as well as the unbelievable historic temples.
Bora-Bora, South Pacific
The Polynesian island of Bora-Bora in the South Pacific is widely suggested as the world’s most beautiful island. A tropical blue lagoon ringed by coral reefs encircles the island, which is crowned by a rugged 2,385-feet-high volcano core draped with tropical foliage. Snorkelers and skin divers love Bora-Bora for its warm waters and plentiful sea fauna. Sunbathers delight in the white-sand beaches.
Dead Sea, Israel
The Dead Sea, shared by Israel and Jordan, is the lowest spot on Earth. Its shoreline is about 1,312 feet below sea level. As the world’s saltiest large body of water, averaging a salt content six times higher than that of the ocean, it supports no life. With no outlet, the water that flows into the Dead Sea evaporates in the hot, humid air, leaving the minerals. The Jordan River is the chief source of the incoming water, but since the 1960s much of its water has been diverted for irrigation. Its length has already shrunk by more than a third, and, while the sea will never entirely disappear, because evaporation slows down as surface area decreases and saltiness increases, the Dead Sea as we know it could become a thing of the past.
…and there’s so much more.
A spectacular waterfall in Argentina and even more so on the Brazil side. It’s wide and deep and offers many opportunities to feel immersed in its power, its spray and strength.
Inle Lake, Burma
A whole different kind of place where people live and work on the lake. There’s some large tomato farms and men who paddle boats with one foot.
Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
It’s big and cold and a beautiful setting with all the water activities available for all ages.
Inside Passage, Alaska
What a great trip with spectacular scenery, wild life on land and water, and the not-t0-be-forgotten Glacier Bay, dotted with towns of yesterday still thriving today.
Colorado River, Grand Canyon
WOW! A fabulous rafting trip of 3-7-10 days exposes all the thrills of a raging river with exciting rapids, splendid scenery, old Indian trails, and a few warm blue tributary streams.
Lake Titicaca, Peru and Bolivia
An unusual water providence of people living in villages and boats made of shaped bamboo-like palm prawns. You can’t believe all the wondrous sights.
Mekong River Delta, Southeast Asia
2,700 miles meandering from China through Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Burma and Thailand, the river is a major trade route for six countries before it reaches the South China Sea. Almost 20 million people live, work and sustain themselves on or adjacent to the river.
And last but not least
The Mighty Mississippi
It flows 2,300 miles from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico passing through 10 states. It touches on Baton Rouge and New Orleans in Lousiana; St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; St. Paul and Minneapolis, and offers a wealth of American history, culture and southern charm.
Lots to see and enjoy!