As a big nature-lover, a huge motivator for my travel is getting to explore beautiful parts of the world including national parks, and experiencing incredible animals in their natural environment. I love escaping the crowds and heading into beautifully untouched parts of the world to enjoy nature’s playground. From camping under the stars, to spending days hiking trails, swimming in the ocean and climbing trees – it’s a wonderful way to experience a country and see a different side to the busy cities. I’ve been lucky enough to visit some incredible national parks during my travels and wanted to share some of the more under-rated ones for those who love getting away from the crowds at larger parks.
National Parks to add to your bucket list
Khao Sok National Park, Thailand
One of my absolute favourite travelling experiences and a place I am dying to return to – Khao Sok National Park. This incredibly beautiful place was where I stayed in a floating cabin on a lake in the middle of an 80 million year old rainforest in the centre of Thailand. It was magical, especially hearing wild elephants in the jungle and watching the sunrise over the mountains. I wrote about my experiences at the national park, and the amazing two day trip you can do to visit. Read this post and this post, for the full details of my stay.
- Book accommodation in Khao Sok – find a bargain like I did!
Bohemian Switzerland/Saxon Switzerland National Park, Germany & Czech Republic
The most epic national park I have seen in Europe, this one was an unexpected gem during my summer road trip! Imagine fields of sunflowers, epic medieval structures high up in the cliffs that have stood there for hundreds of years, fortresses, incredible views and cute little villages overlooking the river. An amazing place to visit and explore, especially if you love hiking and great viewpoints. Read about Saxon Switzerland National Park in this blog post.
Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Without doubt, the national park to visit if you are going to Sri Lanka! An amazing landscape with tight, enclosed jungle, wide open plains, stunning beaches and swampland. Book yourself on to a safari, or even two, to stand the maximum chance of spotting wild leopards, wild elephants and lots of monkeys! Make sure you book a safari after doing your research to find the most eco-friendly companies that will ensure the animals remain protected to the highest standard while getting you the best possible view. Read my Yala National Park post here.
Wilson’s Promontory National Park, Australia
One of the most varied national parks I have ever visited – plus easily accessible from Melbourne if you only have time for a weekend visit! Boasting epic viewpoints and hikes, stunning beaches, forest, woodland, and even epic sand-dunes. There’s so much to do, you could easily stay a week and keep exploring, but a weekend is perfect if you choose carefully what you want to do. Don’t miss the sand-dunes and viewpoints, and read more in this blog post.
Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka
With a completely different landscape to that of Yala National Park, these wide open plains are a fantastic place to come if you dream of spotting elephants. With the opportunity to see up to 200+ elephants gather at the water’s edge – including babies – each evening at sunset. Minneriya is a dream come true for many travelers. However, as much as I loved the experience and seeing these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat, I did have some concerns over the aggressive driving of some of the safari guides’ in their cars. Research and book carefully – read more here.
- Book accommodation near Minneriya National Park
Kakadu National Park, Australia
Still one of my absolute favourite national parks of all time – Kakadu is hidden away in the Northern Territory and isn’t the easiest to access with 4-wheel drive needed for many of the tracks. However, it’s worth it. With some incredible peaks, dense jungle and amazing sweaty hikes, plus amazing watering holes, waterfalls and swimming places to dive into – you’ll see places you couldn’t even dream of. There’s amazing wild camping where you can really sleep under the stars, plus places where you can go and see real Aboriginal artwork on cliff-faces that dates back hundreds of years. Prepare for some mind-blowing sunsets. Read more about Kakadu National Park here.
Jasmund National Park, Germany
A tiny little national park on tiny little Rügen Island in Northern Germany, this one is worth a weekend. Stepping into these ancient beech forests – it feels like time stopped a long time ago. Even more so than when I visited the Black Forest, I felt like Jasmund National Park was the place that must have inspired fairy tales of years gone by. There’s some beautiful views from the very top, amazing forests and plenty of beautiful beaches to lay on when you’re tired of hiking. Read more about what to see here, and how to plan your visit here.
Freycinet National Park & Cradle Mountain National Parks, Australia
Tasmania absolutely blew my mind – my time there was one of the best road trips of my life. During the 10-day trip, we combined Freycinet and Cradle Mountain National Parks for the most epic travelling experience. We started with Freycinet – imagine camping on the beach, not seeing a soul other than the friendly kangaroos and wombats, and watching whales on the horizon. Cradle Mountain was completely different – it was wild and untamed, crazy rock climbing up mountains, hiking epic paths and crystal clear lakes. Read this Freycinet post and this Cradle Mountain post for more details.
I’ve always loved exploring places by the ocean, or in the mountains, but spending last summer road-tripping Europe really gave me a new appreciation for forests. With deforestation and climate change, our landscape is changing so quickly and it’s important that we take the time to help protect our forests and the creatures that live in them. But also to help them flourish once more, otherwise we risk losing certain areas forever. Visiting these amazing places brings such a sense of calm and reconnecting with nature, so why not try and recreate this feeling in your own backyard?
Choose one of hundreds of tree varieties on this site, and plant your own mini-forest – not only will you be helping the environment but you’re investing in the future. How you ask? One of the reasons you feel so good when you are strolling through a forest is that the air is so much cleaner. In one year, a mature tree pulls about 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air and pumps out oxygen in its place. As a result, the air in forested areas tends to have fewer contaminants and be richer in the gases the human body needs.
Have you visited any of these National Parks? Which would you love to visit?