Natural wonders of the world

Inspiring natural wonders of the world video goes viral

A YouTube video profiling 10 of the lesser known natural wonders of the world is going viral, with more than 150,000 views since it was uploaded on Monday.

The film showcases some of the planet's most mind-blowing natural phenomena, including Bolivia's epic salt flats, Turkmenistan's Gates of Hell and Madagascar's limestone needle forest.

Marcus Sherifi, spokesperson for gapyear.com, said: "This video is amazing, and really highlights some of the most awesome natural wonders of the world.

"We always advise backpackers see the classic sights in the world like the Amazon, Victoria Falls and Halong Bay, but this video shows that there are brilliant places out there that gap year travellers might have not even heard of."

Sherifi added: "Some of these natural wonders don't see many tourists, so if you really want to get off the typical backpacker trail these are the places to go."

The natural wonders of the world film is inspiring, with the whole thing set to cool music and location changes slickly edited using Google Maps.

The entire video is essentially a series of highlights, but even within this list there are some stand-out locations. There's Wulinguan National Park in China, is an ancient tropical sea floor with lush, mist-covered sandstone columns that don't look a million miles away from the floating islands in sci-fi blockbuster Avatar.

Then there's the Socotra Archipelago in Yemen, a beautiful and stark isolated landform. A third of its plant life is found nowhere else on Earth; definitely an untapped gap year destination.

Finally, there's the Richat Structure in Mauritania, a 50 km-wide geological feature in the Sahara desert. It's a mind-blowing phenomenon, and thought to be caused by erosion and uplift rather than a meteor or - our favourite hypothesis - aliens.

The top 10 lesser known wonders of the natural world is completed by Belize's barrier reef - the largest in the western hemisphere - Namibia's Namib Desert and America's two entries: the multi-coloured Grand Prismatic Spring and erosion-formed Southwestern Slot Canyons.

Travellers are pretty familiar with ‘wonders of the world' lists. For centuries everyone was content with the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, which featured legendary sites such as the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Colossus of Rhodes and Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Then the world realised only one of these structures was still standing - the Great Pyramid of Giza. This made the list more of a history lesson than an interesting travel compilation so the New7Wonders of the World was introduced, which included backpacker classics such as Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, the Taj Mahal in India and the Great Wall of China in, well, China.

But these are, of course, all man-made wonders. What about the natural wonders of the world? We ran a story back in November on the New 7 Wonders of Nature. It's got lots of really nice photos.

Is that list better than this latest video compilation? You decide...

Gappers Richard Puchalka and Andrzej Staszek visited the Gates of Hell in Turkmenistan

Want to see the Gates of Hell in Turkmenistan? Read this feature about gappers Richard Puchalka and Andrzej Staszek, who stopped by on the Mongol Rally.

Main image photo by James Mooney, Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia