Tag Archives: top100

The 12 most beautiful places in the world. No. 1: the king of the volcanoes.

Hi folks!

Things do seem to be getting better generally around the world on the covid front (with exceptions), but there’s still plenty of lockdown and quarantine and travel restrictions – so much so I’m still pretty much grounded: none of my usual globetrotting (be it work or non-work-related) to new, interesting, far-flung places, and my blogpost-reports thereon a short while after. But never mind: I’m sure things will be back up and running shortly. And in the meantime?…

In the meantime: archive digging – into some of the most beautiful places on the planet I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, most of which feature on my Top-100 List of Must-See Places on the Planet.

But how do I whittle that 100-strong list down to a mere dozen of the very best, most must-see, totally OMG places? Actually, it’s rather simple.

It’s all about… time: how much time you spend at a place, how much time you’d want to spend there ideally, and how many times you’d want to go back there for more.

Even among the ‘elite members’ of the best places on earth, there are some many you don’t spend a great deal of time at – nor would you want to. You arrive, you are bowled over, you stroll around the place for an hour or two, you purchase the proverbial (or real) t-shirt, you place the proverbial (or real) check on your list of ‘beens’, and that’s it: all done in no time at all, and you’ll never go back, because – why would you?

But then there are the places – in particular, the views – you just want to get back to, sometimes over and over, and once you are there you want to stay there, gawping, forever. The paysages that hypnotize, take the breath away, blow the mind; and sometimes there’s a bonus: those paysages change over time. And it is these ever-so-special places that make up this mini-series on the best of the best of the best places on the planet…

So I’ve shaved and sheared and pruned my Top-100 and been left with some 20 best-evers: the world’s most magical mountains and volcanoes, the most delightful deserts, the most wonderful waterfalls, and so on in that vein. Yes, and by ‘that vein’ I mean: natural wonders of the world – nothing man-made (maybe a Top-20 of those comes later?!).

And I won’t be ordering the 20 by snaking round the planet as I’ve done in the past. The ordering this time will be a little different. And I’ll start off with nothing less than… the most fabulous, most fantastic, most grandiose natural object on the planet!

Of course, it’s the most fabulous, most fantastic, most grandiose object on the planet – in my opinion, for there can be never be full objectivity here. All the same, it is the most beautiful natural landscape I have beheld personally in my life ever. And here it is…

Krenitsyn volcano, Onekotan, Kuril Islands, Russia.

A monumental spectacle. A ‘live’ picture constantly changed by the unbelievably unstable weather conditions of the Kurils. A colossal volcanic caldera with a lake inside it, out of which rises the cone of a new volcano:

Read on…

Top-100: North America.

Hi folks!

Next up on this world tour of the Top-100 Must-See Places in the World – North America…

1. Alaska.

Southern Alaska is a land of mountains, waterfalls, lakes and glaciers. More salmon than you can shake a fishing rod at, whopping whales in the ocean, and all sorts of other interesting beasts. Northern Alaska is all about harsh Klondike Gold Rush scenes straight out of Call of the Wild or White Fang. I was there in August and all it did was pour it down. I need to get back there in June or July, which they say are the best times. Details – here.

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  • Turkey, Istanbul
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Top-100: Central America.

Another week – another peek… – at the next regional update to my Top-100 Must-See Most Beautiful Places in the World: Central America.

13. Teotihuacan.

The ancient city and pyramids of the Aztecs. A completely separate branch of the modern history of mankind. A climb to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun to gaze at the sunset (or sunrise) – simply obligatory.

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Top-100: South America.

Hi folks!

And so we reach the next world region in my Top-100 Must-See Places in the World – South America.

And, not surprisingly, there’s plenty to must-see here too. So without more of a do, let’s get on with this!…

21. Angel Falls, Venezuela.

The highest waterfall in the world; almost a kilometer of free-falling water. Haven’t been myself, but have heard rave reports and seen prodigious pics.

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Top-100: Russia.

Hi folks!

On we go with my journey around what are to me the 100 most beautiful places in the world, all of which I reckon need visiting at least once in a lifetime without fail – so as not to live the rest of that lifetime with regret!

Next up, the world’s largest country!…

Russia.

Russia’s East European Plain doesn’t have anything outstandingly must-see when it comes to natural beauty. Of course, there are beautiful places – and many of them, but none quite make their way onto my Top-100. Then, east of the Urals there’s the West Siberian Plain – a rather plain… plain, this time all tundra/taiga/steppe (from north to south, respectively), marshes, rivers, lakes, oil extraction and mosquitoes. Things only start getting Top-100-worthy still further east. But I’ll get to that in a bit. For now though…

39. Red Square and the Kremlin.

Many foreign friends who come visit us here in Moscow tell us that Red Square – with St. Basil’s Cathedral at one end, the Kremlin to one side and GUM on the other – is the most beautiful spot in Europe, especially at night when lit up. And who am I to argue? I too am a big fan.

Note: St. Petersburg is in the Cities section of the Top-100 series.

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Top-100: China. part 2: bonus track.

Hi folks!

Last month I published an update to the Chinese portion of my Top-100 Must-See Places in the World. Today I’ve got for you another list of places also in China, but these are the ones that didn’t quite make it onto the list. Runners up, as it were; B-sides; also rans… But don’t let this put you off – they’re still well worth a visit.

Bonus tracks:

Terracotta Army.

This place is of course well known, but you only truly grasp the scale and depth of the history when you see it in the flesh. Without doubt, a truly grandiose site. I’ve been there, and was very impressed.

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Top-100: Middle East

The Middle East is another thoroughly interesting region. Without a doubt its ‘greatest hits’ are of a man-made archaeological-historical nature, comfortably prevailing over its naturally occurring ‘B-sides’. Hardly surprising given that the Middle East is an ancient cradle of civilization (please forgive the banality).

One thing I should mention at the outset here: I only have scant first-hand knowledge of the region; accordingly, there may be a few inaccuracies in this short regional section of my Top-100. If so – help me out! Any mistakes need correcting or additions need making? > the comments section please. I’d be most grateful.

All righty. Off we go…

50. Dead Sea.

An undeniably unique Middle Eastern natural phenomenon. Water so salty… yes, you know, you float in it!… So let me be a little less obvious here: water so salty… just a lick of your wet fingers and you need to down at least two cold beers in one. What better excuse for a little naughtiness? :-).

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Top-100: China; pt. 1.

Hi folks!

As promised, herewith the newly refurbished China sub-list of my Top-100 Most Beautiful – Must-See – Places on the Planet

But why does China – a single country – have its very own section of the List, like no other geographical area has? All rather straightforward really: because the number of OMG-beautiful natural and cultural and unique must-sees in China is just off the scale – even if it is only one single country (albeit not a small one:). But the funniest, curious-est, strangest bit of all is that outside the country very little at all is known about them. Just as well you’ve got me to tell you all about them, eh?)

Why exactly they’re unknown outside the country I don’t know. But I think it’s because the Chinese aren’t that bothered about attracting foreigners to their priceless natural tourist attractions. But then they don’t have to. They’ve enough on their plate catering to the hundreds of millions of their own citizens. Accordingly, some places – no matter how ‘wow’ – don’t even have a Wikipedia entry. They only become known about through tales of the odd (odd!) foreign tourist or two who accidentally happen on them during their pioneering travels around the country’s hinterland. And one such odd foreign tourist is (to a certain extent, for I still haven’t seen a great deal of the country) me!

But first, a few of the very obvious, very famous Chinese tourist attractions…

56. Great Wall of China.

I’ve been told that several generations ago folks could trek along the wall for several days on end! Alas, these days there’s no chance of that: self-preservation’s the name of the game today; only a short section is open to visitors. Nevertheless, it’s still totally worth checking out, and not only for the tick on your ‘been and seens’: there’s no other wall quite like it in the world. Uniformly unique.

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Top-100: Asia.

68. Engilchek Glacier.

One of the longest (and most picturesque) glaciers in the world. For 60+ kilometers it winds its way through the Tian Shan Mountains, reaching as far up as the 7000m+ peak of Khan Tengri mountain! Stones and rocks of different colors pour into the glacier from all sides in ice flows. In some places on the surface the stones prevail; in others there’s nothing but pure ice. The result of this natural metamorphosis is an unusual one, and a very grandiose one too when you get higher up and look around at the sometimes seemingly otherworldly vistas. I was here on an expedition in 2017.

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Top-100: Africa.

Hi folks!

Herewith, the updated Africa portion of my Top-100 Must-See Places in the World…

80. Sahara desert.

As if you need telling: the world’s largest desert. The mind is blown, gradually but intensely, especially at sunset (I slept through the sunrise). I saw it in Tunisia. Sand, dunes, salt lakes, mirages, oases. They say the Morocco section is also well worthy of a visit. I was in Morocco recently; sadly I didn’t get to see the Sahara. Next time…

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