Natural Phenomena That Should Be On Your Bucket List
This past August, I along with the rest of North America, witnessed a complete solar eclipse. This phenomenon was the most covered story on the news for some time, and it was being called, “The All-American Solar Eclipse.” It was the first time in over 100 years that a solar eclipse was visible across the continent and I’m glad that I was able to see it in person.
Since I live in Chicago, I was too far north to see totality; however, I did see a partial eclipse of nearly 90% when the clouds broke through. It was a stunning spectacle to round out an otherwise average Monday. This was definitely a must-see experience. In this article, I have rounded up some other natural phenomena to add to my ever-growing travel list, now that I can cross a solar eclipse off!
Like all natural phenomena, seeing the Northern Lights is not always guaranteed when you travel north to countries like Iceland, Canada, Finland, Norway or Sweden. You will need a clear night, with a high chance of particle activity. The farther north you are, the better chance of seeing the lights, as they are centered around the Earth’s magnetic poles. However, the further north you go, the more extreme days you will have, such as the sun not setting in summer or the sun not rising in winter.
Because of this, you must venture to see the Northern Lights in the late fall to early spring, as in the summer time the sun sometimes doesn’t set at all, so you won’t even see the Lights! The good thing is that even if you don’t have the most ideal conditions, such as low solar storm activity, you will likely still see the most dazzling display of stars. Look up and be amazed!
If you have already traveled north, or if you are looking to see the lesser-viewed lights, you can also see the Southern Lights by traveling near to the South Pole. The Southern Lights are meteorologically the same as Northern Lights, however, you will likely see different colors when visiting countries like Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Antarctica. Since these occur in the southern hemisphere, you will need to travel during the region’s autumn and winter months in March to August.
Every year, I see these horror stories regarding how soon the super volcano lurking underneath Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, US will erupt. Let me be clear – that is not something I ever want to see. I am, however, curious to see a volcano of the “controlled destruction” variety. Kilauea in Hawaii has been continuously spewing out magma since 1983, but for all intents and purposes, it is safe enough for tourists to visit it.
If the thought of chasing after an earthquake leaves you shaking in your boots (pun very much intended) you can have a related experience by traveling to Silfra in Iceland to snorkel between two continental plates. This activity is as safe as can be expected, but be prepared with a wetsuit as the water temperature is only around 35°F (2°C).
Animal migrations happen all over the world, but none are perhaps as spectacular and as nostalgic to young millennials as the mammal migration of the Serengeti in Tanzania and Kenya. When I was a kid, I watched the Lion King at least once a day until the age of seven and I had a particular fondness for the African areas in zoos. Between January and March, this small corner of the world would be paradise to me with the wildebeests, zebras, lions and giraffes stealing the show. And really, does anyone need a better excuse to go on an African Safari?
Unless you live in a desert, you’ve likely seen a rainbow in person at one point in your life. They are caused by the reflection of light through water droplets in the air and they take the form of a multicolored arc or arcs if you are super lucky. I had a friend in college who traveled to Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil that said the waterfalls were spectacular, but the rainbows and local butterflies fluttering around made it even more magical!
Another natural phenomenon that we are all aware of is germination in plants and flowers. Take this ordinary experience up a notch when visiting the tulip fields in Holland or the lavender fields in France. A sea of purple flowers would be a sweet site to see!
What have I missed? What else is on your list? Let me know in the comments below!