It’s one of the most popular pub quiz questions, ‘What are the 7 Wonders of the World?’ They usually mean the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, which are the Colossus of Rhodes, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Temple of Artemis, the Statue of Zeus and the Great Pyramid of Giza – but you knew that, didn’t you! Nowadays you can find the 7 Wonders of the Modern World, the 7 Wonders of Nature and many more versions. I’m sometimes asked what my 7 World Wonders are, so here you go, taken from my travels at home and abroad. They are splendidly spectacular, all but one are World Heritage Sights, but the thing that links them all together is that they all make you FEEL wonderful too.
My 7 World Wonders
1. Uluru (Ayers Rock) Australia
It’s hard to explain just why this enormous lump of rock in the middle of nowhere makes such a powerful impact but it does. Seeing Uluru (Ayers Rock) at sunrise is one of the most moving natural sights I’ve ever seen. You arrive in the dark at a lookout point a long way from the rock. After a welcome cup of tea, you wait for the sun to rise over the horizon and see this lozenge appear from the dark like some ancient animal awakening from its night’s rest. Getting up close, it’s even more impressive and easy to see why the Aboriginal peoples of this area have venerated it for thousands of years.
2. The Galapagos Islands – Ecuador
There is something elemental about The Galapagos Islands. Wander through the undergrowth beside hordes of iguanas, past rare waved albatrosses nesting on the ground, swim with sea lions and watch bright red Sally Lightfoot crabs scuttling over volcanic rocks. One of the highlights is a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Centre to see the Giant Tortoises, which are being successfully bred here. You can only stay for a short time on many of the islands, to ensure that the fragile eco-system is retained, but even a couple of hours in such a natural paradise will leave you feeling that this is how the world is meant to be …
3. Delphi – Greece
I was hard put to choose just one place in Greece for this list of my 7 World Wonders; the whole country makes me feel great. In the end, it’s Delphi that won out, simply because the memory of this ancient sanctuary and its eloquent on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, has stayed with me since first visiting in the 1980s. According to Greek Mythology, Zeus wanted to find the centre of his “Grandmother Earth” (Gaia). He sent two eagles flying from east and west; their paths crossed over at Delphi where the omphalos, or navel of Gaia was found. To get the full benefit of an uplifting mind, body, spirit feeling here, avoid the crowds and visit off-season, early in the morning or later in the day.
4. Petra – Jordan
One of the world’s most impressive ancient sites is splendid Petra in Jordan. Many people have seen pictures of the famous Treasury (especially those who’ve watched Harrison Ford galloping through the Siq in Indiana Jones: the Last Crusade) but the site is vast and takes at least a day to explore. It’s so well-preserved that you get a really strong feeling of what it must have been like in its heyday during the Nabatean era two thousand years ago. If you are lucky enough to visit Petra at sunset or dawn you can see why it was called the ‘rose-red city’ …
5. Havoysund Fjords – Norway
It was difficult to choose between all the magnificent Norwegian fjords I’ve been lucky enough to see over the years, but the views in Arctic Norway in winter are extra-special. I took an unforgettable journey aboard a Hurtigurten post ship along the coast to Kirkenes in the Arctic Circle, passing many amazing sights along the way. Yes, you’ll probably feel very cold but you will also feel humbled by this elemental scenery and, if you are lucky, you’ll get to see the Northern Lights too.
6. The Lake District
No list of mine highlighting wonderful places around the world would be complete without including the Lake District. Recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage status as a cultural landscape of international significance, this National Park in North West England has some of the most uplifting and inspirational scenery in the country. Its mountains (known locally as fells), lakes, rivers, towns, villages, farms and people combine harmoniously with superb food and drink venues, creative ventures and historic sites. Avoid high season and the very popular hot spots, get your walking boots on and go discover your own Garden of Eden.
7. The Taj Mahal – India
I’ve left the best of my 7 World Wonders to last. The Taj Mahal is so well-known, it’s almost a cliche to include it, but it is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most breath-takingly beautiful building I have ever seen. Its harmony of shape, delicacy of architecture, size (it’s enormous) and glorious setting are truly a wonder to behold. I was rather worried when I finally got to see it on a marvellous Escorted Tour to India. Would it live up to the hype? Might it disappoint, as the Pyramids in Egypt had? No, most definitely not. Words can’t do it justice and neither can a photo. You’ll just have to take my word for it, or better still, go visit it for yourself.
Win a holiday to see your very own 7 World Wonders
Fancy getting to see your own Wonders around the World? Exodus Travels is giving you the opportunity to choose your very own Seven World Wonders. You’ll even be able to create a personalised video to share with your friends. They’re offering you the chance to WIN all seven of your selections – simply click here to find out how to win seven Exodus trips to your personal 7 World Wonders!
This article is written in collaboration with Exodus Travels, specialists in global adventures since 1974. I went on a magical holiday with them in the 1990s to visit Greek Sites in Turkey.
What are your favourite wonders of the world? Do leave a COMMENT with your choices – bet it won’t be easy to choose …
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