Natural wonders of the world
While plenty of countries offer spectacular man-made sights like the Egyptian Pyramids, Machu Picchu or the Great Wall of China, it's the natural wonders that only a few people will ever get to see in their life that truly fill us with awe.
And every seasoned traveller knows the best tours and holidays are the ones that let you explore the unique natural wonders you can’t find anywhere else.
But which natural wonders are guaranteed to take your breath away, and which are severely overrated? We’ve dived into the data, looking into their popularity on Instagram and TikTok as well as Google search volumes and Tripadvisor reviews to find out.
The world's best natural wonders
1. Arches National Park, United States
Wonder score: 8.29/10
Filled with over 2,000 natural stone arches, the aptly named Arches National Park in Utah, United States can be crowned the most popular natural wonder. The national park scores highly across the board, ranking in the top 10 for every factor. It scores well when it comes to social media too, placing eighth for TikTok views with 61.7 million and seventh for Instagram posts at just over 663,000.
2. Iguazu Falls, Argentina and Brazil
Wonder score: 8.19/10
Located in the Iguazu National Park spanning the border between Argentina and Brazil, these waterfalls surrounded by tropical rainforests take second place. Placing in the top ten for Google searches, Iguazu Falls score particularly well for Tripadvisor reviews, having the fourth highest (90.73%) and the lowest (0.11%) proportion of “excellent” and “terrible” reviews, respectively.
3. Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Wonder score: 8.14/10
Up next is Victoria Falls, which forms an awe-inspiring natural border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. These waterfalls rank relatively well across the board, placing in the top ten for three factors and scoring highest for its number of Google searches, with more than 2.5 million over the last 12 months.
The world’s most overrated natural wonders
1. Lake Nakuru, Kenya
Wonder score: 1.38/10
Home to huge flocks of flamingos which nest on its shores, Kenya’s Lake Nakuru takes the unfortunate title of the most overrated natural wonder. The natural wonder fares badly when it comes to its proportion of “excellent” reviews, placing last for the factor with only 49.12%, and popularity on social media, ranking in the bottom ten for both Instagram posts (11,878) and TikTok views (1.4 million).
2. Cascate del Mulino, Italy
Wonder score: 2.38/10
Up next are the Cascate del Mulino, natural hot springs in the Tuscan region of Italy. Despite deep blue water cascading into small pools, which are the perfect temperature to relax in, and panoramic views of the picturesque views of the Tuscan countryside, the thermal springs score poorly when it comes to Tripadvisor reviews. It ranks in the bottom five for its proportion of “excellent” reviews (60.63%) and the top five for “terrible” reviews (1.83%).
3. Tsingy de Bemaraha, Madagascar
Wonder score: 2.43/10
The impressive limestone formation in Madagascar, known locally as Tsingy de Bemaraha is renowned as one of the most inaccessible UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which could explain why it fared so poorly in the index. Despite its unique landscape, Tsingy de Bemaraha is the least photographed natural wonder on Instagram, racking up only 3,684 posts and didn’t fare well on TikTok either, ranking fifth from last with 60,300 views.
The natural wonders with…
The most Instagram posts - The Grand Canyon, United States
Instagram posts: 4,249,920
Taking the top spot as the most picturesque natural wonder is the Grand Canyon, with over four million posts dedicated to the awe-inspiring gorge carved into the landscape by the Colorado River. Located in the US state of Arizona, the Grand Canyon offers plenty of opportunities to explore its unique sights. From hiking to helicopter and donkey rides, you can take in this geological marvel from a variety of perspectives.
The most TikTok views - Mount Everest, Tibet and Nepal
TikTok views: 638.2 million
When it comes to natural wonders, Mount Everest needs no introduction. Straddling the border between China and Nepal, the world’s highest peak takes the top spot for TikTok views, tacking up more than 638.2 million on the platform. While some choose the hands-on experience of summiting Everest, the easiest way to experience this natural wonder first-hand is a scenic flight around the mountain.
The most Google searches - Mount Everest, Tibet and Nepal
Searches May 2022- April 2023: 13.3 million
Forming part of the Himalayan mountain range, Everest has captivated travellers since its discovery as the world’s tallest mountain over 150 years ago, thanks to its rugged beauty and majestic landscape. Mount Everest takes the top spot when it comes to Google searches, totalling 13.3 million over the last 12 months.
The highest proportion of “excellent” Tripadvisor reviews - Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Proportion of “excellent” reviews: 92.7%
Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro takes the top spot when it comes to Tripadvisor reviews, with 92.7% rating the mountain “excellent”. The natural wonder is one of the seven summits of the world and, unlike other peaks, is easily climbable. Its unique ecosystem also adds to the mountain’s breathtaking scenery.
The highest proportion of “terrible” Tripadvisor reviews - Vesuvius, Italy
Proportion of “terrible” reviews: 5.5%
Mount Vesuvius on the Southeast coast of Italy has the highest proportion of “terrible” reviews, with 468 reviews rating it so poorly of the 8,000 plus reviews for this natural wonder. Europe’s last active volcano, famous for the eruption that buried the Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, is widely criticised on the site for its poor management, lack of communication with visitors and rude staff.
Beginning with a list of natural wonders taken from list articles, we analysed each one on the following factors. We then gave each natural wonder a normalised score out of ten for each of the factors, before taking an average across each of these scores to reach our final overall score out of ten.
Instagram posts: The total number of Instagram posts using the hashtag #[natural wonder].
TikTok views: The total number of views for TikTok posts using the hashtag #[natural wonder].
Google searches: The total global number of Google searches for each natural wonder from May 2022 to April 2023.
Proportion of “excellent” Tripadvisor reviews: The total number of reviews for each natural wonder divided by the number of reviews with an “excellent” rating.
Proportion of “terrible” Tripadvisor reviews: The total number of reviews for each natural wonder divided by the number of reviews with a “terrible” rating.
Data was collected on 19/05/2023.
Ting has a serious case of wanderlust. Having travelled to over 40 countries, it’s her mission in life to make her way through her ever-growing list. Her two young sons have also caught the travel bug, and recent trips have seen them making snow angels in Iceland while watching the Northern Lights, as well as walking alongside elephants in South Africa.
Ting | About the author
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