What is a “national park”? It’s an area set apart by a nation’s government. A national park is established to conserve land, foliage, waterways—and to allow for recreation. Did you know national parks exist all over the world?
Have you heard of any of these?
around the World
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Tall, waving golden grass. More than 2,000 lions stalking prey. Giraffes, elephants, hippos, hyenas. What’s not to love? Visit this east African park during the Great Migration to watch more than one million wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles moving across the plains in search of food.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia Find this park in the middle of the Australian desert. Visit the huge red rock of Uluru, a natural sandstone structure standing 1,141 feet high. Look closer. The rock holds caves decked with paintings. In this park, you’ll also spy thorny devils, blue tongue lizards, dingos, red kangaroos, and Australian ringneck parrots.
Jasper National Park, Canada
For a chillier adventure, head to this park in Alberta, Canada, for snowshoeing and skiing. Across this mountainous, 2.7 million acre park, look for another set of animals: caribou, wolverine, and moose.
Paddle a kayak between blue and white icebergs. Gaze at soaring mountains. Spot condors overhead. Watch for foxes, huemul (Andean deer), and llama relatives called guanacos. Very patient visitors may even spy a puma. Come to Torres del Paine in summertime and enjoy 17 hours of daylight!
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Guilin Lijiang National Park, China Come to this park in Northeastern China by car, by foot, or by river cruise. You’ll spot caves, cliffs, and karst hills. (Karst is eroded limestone.) Hike to terraced rice fields built into steep hillsides.
Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
This park offers a little bit of everything: mountains, lakes, rainforests, glaciers, and fjords. A fjord (pronounced fee-yord) is a long inlet of sea between cliffs. Fjords are carved into rock by ice. Fiordland is all about water—rivers, ice, and wet forests. Bring your raincoat!
Swiss National Park, Switzerland Want to visit a national park in Switzerland? This is the only one. It’s also the oldest national park in central Europe. Visit Swiss National Park to hike. Spot red deer, bearded vultures, northern vipers, brown bears, lynxes, and wolves. Flower lovers will enjoy pygmy buttercups, fairy thimble bellflowers, and vanilla orchids.
Haleakala National Park, Hawaii Hike or ride a horse or donkey on marked trails through shrubland or cinder desert. (What made the cinder desert? You got it—a volcano!) In some spots, soft cinder trails feel like sand beneath your feet.
Be prepared for all kinds of weather: blistering sunlight, freezing cold, wind, and rain. Keep an eye out for Hawaii’s state bird, the endangered, medium-sized Nene goose.
• parrots and macaws
• black howler monkeys
Get ready for:
Pantanal Matogrossense National Park, Brazil
In Southern Brazil, you’ll find the Cuiaba River and the largest wetlands in the world. And where there are wetlands, there is wildlife.
Click to see photos of these animals.
We don’t recommend visiting during the rainy season though. The rain puts about 80% of the park’s floodplains under water.
• parrots and macaws
Killarney National Park, Ireland
This park includes the McGillycuddy’s Reeks, the highest mountain range in Ireland, as well as the Lakes of Killarney. Mountains, lakes, woodlands, and waterfalls give visitors plenty to explore. Watch for oak woods, lichens, and native red deer. And don’t forget to go see Ross Castle—built in the 15th century beside Killarney’s lower lake.