Top 10 national parks in the world

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Whether you want to see the sun rise over Kilimanjaro or walk the Australian outback, this guide to the top 10 national parks in the world will help you book the right hotel and find the greatest of the outdoors.

Yellowstone National Park, USA

Everything is so big in the Yellowstone, America’s first national park, from the towering Grand Canyon of Yellowstone to the hissing Old Faithful geyser and the resident grizzly bears. Explore epic landscapes of snow-capped mountains, thundering falls and unique geothermal features.

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Kakadu National Park, Australia

Nothing beats Kakadu for bushwalking in Australia’s Northern Territory. Bring ample water to hike past billabongs, crocodile-infested rivers, Aboriginal rock art and eucalypt forest where the kookaburra cackles. Ubirr Rock is the place for dramatic sunsets.

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Torres del Paine, Chile

Chile’s most enduring image is that of Torres del Paine’s soaring granite towers and horns. There’s an end-of-the-world feeling in this Patagonian wilderness, where the popular W trek takes in rock spires, the shimmering Grey Glacier and Lake Pehoe. Look out for guanacos on the steppe and condors in the sky.

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Swiss National Park, Switzerland

For a taste of the Swiss Alps before the dawn of skiing, hit the trail in the remote Swiss National Park. Trek through alpine pastures and larch forests to high slopes to see ibex graze, glittering tarns and views of glaciated peaks in neighbouring Italy and Austria.

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Khao Yai National Park, Thailand

The single-drop waterfall that appeared in The Beach, wild elephants roaming grasslands and macaques swinging through rainforest are unforgettable moments of a visit to mountainous Khao Yai. Take a trip from your hotel in Pak Chong to hike the jungle trails.

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Yosemite National Park, USA

One of the top 10 national parks in the world, Yosemite in California’s Sierra Nevada is packed with spirit-soaring scenery. The sheer Half Dome, the granite monolith of El Capitan and Wawona’s giant sequoias are an enticing prelude to the 739m-high Yosemite Falls.

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Lake District National Park, United Kingdom

Whether you’re scrambling over boulders to England’s highest peak at Scafell Pike, gazing out across the mottled Coniston Fells or drifting across placid lakes, the Lake District always looks extraordinary. Get your boots muddy in landscapes that inspired Wordsworth.

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Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania

Few natural wonders match the volcanic, 5895m-high Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, which rises in solitary grandeur above this national park. Climbing the mountain from December to February is the main reason to visit. Scaling the summit, you’ll cross ecological zones from cultivated slopes to elephant-dotted montane forest, moorland and alpine desert. 

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Skaftafell National Park, Iceland

Millennia of erupting volcanoes and shifting glaciers have sculpted Iceland’s Skaftafell National Park. The park’s austere natural beauty invites summertime hikers with trails leading to dusky mountains, the crash-bang Svartifoss Black Falls and the seemingly never-ending Vatnajökull glacier. 

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Guilin National Park, China

Mysterious when cloaked in morning mist or silhouetted at dusk, Guilin National Park’s limestone peaks rise dramatically from the lush banks of the Lijiang River. Float past karst scenery on a bamboo raft, or explore remarkable formations like Elephant Trunk Hill and Seven-Star Cave on foot. 

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