National Parks protect some of the most spectacular scenery in the World. Each year National Parks are visited by millions of people exploring mountains, sand dunes, waterfalls, craggy cliffs, canyons and volcanoes. Where will you visit and what will you be doing?

Here is our top 10 list (Countdown) of National Parks around the World for 2016. If you would like to find out more about any of the destinations or activities listed don’t hesitate to get in touch.

10. Banff National Park, Canada

The elements that make the Canadian Rockies a year round dream destination are all right here in Banff National Park, a beautiful 90 minute drive west of Calgary. Established in 1883 after three railway workers stumbled onto a thermal mineral spring, it became Canada’s first national park in 1885. Today it is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nestled in the heart of the park, the town of Banff and nearby hamlet of Lake Louise have all the creature comforts and are your gateways to year round adventures.

Hike up to Moraine Lake in Banff National Park

9. Yosemite National Park, USA

Rafting under Yosemite Falls, along Merced River

California’s showstopper national park, with a bounty of awesome things you can see and do on your way. Granite monoliths, waterfalls, alpine meadows are some of the things that will leave you with some seriously big wow moments.

Each of the four major routes to Yosemite offers its own worth-a-stop finds: Gold Rush history, epic high-country landscapes, hidden wine country, and charming country towns (some with surprisingly good food and shops). In park lodging can get booked up at peak seasons, but many of the near-the-park towns are a great alternative for lodging, with choices ranging from historic country inns and B&B’s to uncrowded campgrounds.

8. Yellowstone National Park, USA

Yellowstone National Park, established in 1872 & located primarily in Wyoming, was America’s first national park. To this day, Yellowstone remains one of the country’s most popular national parks with almost four million annual visitors. Yellowstone spans almost 3,500 miles, and extends into parts of Montana and Idaho, making it the largest National Park in the US.

Yellowstone National Park sits on top of a dormant volcano and is home to more geysers and hot springs than any other place on earth. Approximately 50 percent of the world’s hydrothermal features are at Yellowstone National Park. The most famous of all the geysers is Old Faithful, one of the most popular and recognized natural wonders in the United States.

Balloon over Yellowstone’s geysers and hot springs for a bird’s eye view

7. Kruger National Park, South Africa

Meet the Big 5 up close on Safari

Where nearly 2 million hectares of unrivalled diversity of life forms fuses with historical and archaeological sights – this is real Africa.

Kruger is the flagship of the South African national parks, home to an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals.

Mountains, bush plains and tropical forests are all part of the landscape. The best and safest way to experience Kruger is from a guided Safrai where you will meet the Big 5 (lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos) and hundreds of other mammals and bird species.

6. Zhangjiajie National Park, China

Covering some 50 square miles, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is known for being the first national forest park of China as well as for being the highlight of the gorgeous Wulingyuan Scenic Area. The park was originally a state-run tree farm, which was founded in 1958, and then was officially approved to be a national forest park in 1982.

Located in a subtropical climate, the micro climate is cool in summer and warm in winter. It is home to abundant flora and fauna including civet cats, giant salamanders, satyr tragopans, dove trees, maidenhair trees, Chinese yews, and Chinese tulip trees. Such a dense forest serves as a huge natural “oxygen bar.” The park also serves as a museum for the pristine ethnic culture of the region.

Explore Tianmen Mountains by cliff edge paths, including glass bottom walkways if you are feeling brave enough!

5. Iguazu National Park, Argentina

Experience the mighty Iguassu Falls from every angle on full and half day boat trips

One of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. Across a width of almost three kilometres the Iguazú or Iguaçu River, drops vertically some 80 meters in a series of cataracts. The river, aptly named after the indigenous term for “great water” forms a large bend in the shape of a horseshoe in the heart of the two parks and constitutes the international border between Argentina and Brazil before it flows into the mighty Parana River less than 25 kilometres downriver from the park.

The surrounding subtropical rainforest has over 2,000 species of vascular plants and is home to the typical wildlife of the region: tapirs, giant anteaters, howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars and caymans.

4. Uluru National Park (Ayers Rock), Australia

Ancient rock formations soar hundreds of metres into the desert sky, surrounded by the Red Centre’s unique wildlife and spirit of the Anangu people’s Tjukurpa. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park expands across more than 327,414 acres of Australia’s desert outback and is home to two of the world’s most iconic rock formations.

Sunset and sunrise over Uluru and Kata Tjuta are spectacular, with the colours at both sites becoming more vibrant and even changing. Uluru and Kata Tjuta have significant meaning to Aboriginal people. They both form an important focus of their spiritual life. Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park is Aboriginal land. The park is jointly managed by its Anangu traditional owners and Parks Australia. The park is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Area for both its natural and cultural values.

Walk around one of the most iconic rock formations in the World

3. Swiss National Park, Switzerland

Explore Switzerland’s spectacular landscape by Gornergrat train

One of the earliest national parks in Europe it is located in the Western Rhaetian Alps, in eastern Switzerland, it is the only National Park in Switzerland. Although the rest of the county’s landscape is as spectacular the National Park is categorized by the IUCN as a strict nature reserve; the highest protection level.

There is one road that runs through the national park, called “Pass dal Fuorn” and connects Zernez with Müstair, a remote valley close to the Italian border. It is open to the public but a great way to travel through the park is by rail and then taking one of the postal service buses. There are nine parking lots and many bus stops along the road which provide access to the various trails. So if you are on holiday in Switerzland the Swiss National Park is definitely worth adding on to your itinerary.

2. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Croatia’s most popular tourist attraction, was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1979. Located roughly halfway between capital city Zagreb and Zadar on the coast, the lakes are a definite must-see in Croatia.

The beauty of the National Park lies in its sixteen lakes, inter-connected by a series of waterfalls, and set in deep woodland populated by deer, bears, wolves, boars and rare bird species. The naturally terraced landscape has made it ideal for miles of plank walkways enabling visitors to experience the Plitvice Lakes up close and personal.

Explore miles of plank walkways that interlace the 16 terraced lakes

1. Galapagos Islands National Park, Ecuador

Follow in Darwin’s footsteps and meet unique and diverse wildlife

The Galápagos Islands, made up of 13 major islands and 7 smaller islands, is a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. The Ecuador province lyis about 1,000km off its coast and is considered one of the world’s foremost destinations for wildlife-viewing.

Its isolated terrain shelters a diversity of plant and animal species, many found nowhere else. Charles Darwin visited in 1835, and his observation of Galápagos’ species later inspired his theory of evolution. Most exciting for visitors is the lack of fear and even curiosity with which the Galápagos animals typically regard humans. Incredible, up-close encounters are the norm here.