Life

Chris Packham picks his five top must-see wonders of the natural world

Naturalist and TV presenter Chris Packham has written the foreword to new book Natural Wonders Of The World

Wildlife presenter and environmentalist Chris Packham, who has written the foreword to a new book, Natural Wonders Of The World, reveals five of his own favourites:

1. Yosemite's El Capitan, California

"I went there in winter and it was extraordinarily beautiful... For me, the American national parks symbolise the opportunity they took at the turn of the last century, to protect large swathes of North America. I can't visit an American national park and not feel an enormous amount of envy."

2. The Himalayas

"I've been fortunate enough to visit the region on several occasions for work. It's simply awe-inspiring. I remember sitting on one peak in Nepal and a bearded vulture flew past me. It was so close. I was lying on a boulder and it flew past, about 10 metres away. It was the highlight of the trip."

3. Skogafoss Waterfall, Iceland

"Normally I'm not one for waterfalls. But the landscape at Skogafoss is so primal, so basic. It's almost undecorated and simple. There's a brutal charm to it. It's not challenging visually to be there. I like Iceland because it's probably the most accessible alien environment you can get to from the UK."

4. Lighthouse Reef, Belize

"I had only just qualified as a diver and I saw my first shark there, a bull shark, which are known to be quite bitey. We were diving at night and as we dropped out of the boat it was like being in space. We dropped into a sink hole. As we did, this large bull shark appeared out of the shadows and started circling around us. We were in the hole with nowhere to go but up. Fortunately, it had a quick look round, then disappeared."

5. Bialowieza Forest, Poland

"It's legendary, the last piece of primal forest we have left in Europe and is famous for so many reasons – the species that live there, the bison, the wolves, the lynx, the boar and an enormous range of birds, from black woodpeckers to cranes and great snipes. It's the holy grail in Europe as a repository for biodiversity."

:: Natural Wonders Of The World is published by DK, priced £30.

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