Valleys have played important roles in our history especially in the development of early civilizations.
Ancient civilizations flourished on river-valleys. These valleys have been the seat of the most progressive and notable civilizations in history. The Sumerians, Babylonians, Hittites, Chaldeans and others built their civilization on the river-valley of Tigris and Euphrates Rivers; the Chinese established a unique civilization in the river-valleys of Huang He and Yangtze Rivers; in India – on the river-valleys of Indus and Ganges Rivers; and the Egyptians on the river-valley of the Nile.
However, this article is focus on valleys which are considered tourist spots or attractions. These are either of geological or geographical significance. Here’s the list of some of the most beautiful valleys in the world today.
Wadi al-Hitan or Whale Valley: Egypt
One interesting valley located in Africa is the Whale Valley. The desert floor of Wadi al-Hitan, or Whale Valley, located south of Cairo in Egypt, is littered with fossils of the last whales known to have legs. The remains reveal the transition of whales from land-based to the ocean-going mammals we know today.
Great Rift Valley: Ethiopia/Kenya/Malawi/Tanzania
Another interesting valley with splendid beauty and geological importance is Africa’s Great Rift Valley. It is a 9,656-km long fissure in the earth’s crust, stretching from Lebanon to Mozambique. One of its most dramatic sections slices through East Africa, dividing Kenya into two segments. The Rift Valley was formed by violent subterranean forces that tore apart the earth’s crust. These forces caused huge chunks of the crust to sink between parallel fault lines and force up molten rock in volcanic eruptions. Evidence that this process, called rifting, is still in progress comes from the many active and semi-active volcanoes, located along the Rift. Evidence of volcanic activity along the rift is provided by the presence of numerous boiling hot springs.
Valley of Flowers: India
The Valley of Flowers National Park is a national park in the Himalayan area of Uttarakhand, India. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is no settlement in the national park, and grazing in the area has been banned. The park is open only between June and October, since it is covered by heavy snow during the rest of the year. Over 500 species of flowers, mostly orchids, poppies, primulas, calendulas, daisies and anemones carpet the ground. It is renowned for its meadows of endemic alpine flowers and outstanding natural beauty. This richly diverse area is also home to rare and endangered animals, including the Asiatic black bear, snow leopard, brown bear and blue sheep. The park stretches over an expanse of 87.50 km². The site is considered ideal for developing eco-tourism, bringing conservation and socio-economic benefits to the area.
Vinales Valley: Cuba
Sailing across the Caribbean Sea from Guatemala, is yet another beautiful valley that waits in Cuba. Vinales Valley is a karstic depression, meaning that it is characterized by irregular limestone in which erosion has produced fissures, sinkholes, underground streams and caverns. The valley has an area of 132 sq. km and is located in the Sierra de los Organos, just north of Vinales in the Pinar del Rio Province. The conspicuous cliffs rising like islands from the bottom of the valley are called mogotes. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
La Gran Sabana: Venezuela
Traveling further south, astounding scenery waits at the Gran Sabana. Gran Sabana is one of the major natural attractions in Venezuela. The area has a tropical and humid climate. The Gran Sabana lies on a plateau with a mean altitude of 1,000 meters above sea level and is dotted with huge table-top mountains called tepuis, which rise dramatically from the surrounding plains. The tallest of them is Mount Roraima at 2,810 meters above sea level.
Tepuis are unique geological formations of huge size that can only be seen in the Venezuelan south. Scientists and explorers have been fascinated for long time with these rare structures and the endless diversity of the animal and vegetal life they harbor.
Valley of the Moon: Chile
Even the driest region on Earth can provide panoramic view. The Valley of the Moon (Valle de la Luna), located in the Atacama Desert of Chile, is an interesting place with stone and sand formations which have been created through centuries of floods and wind, which has also given it an extraordinary color and texture, resembling the surface of the moon. Valle de la Luna is a part of the Reserva Nacional los Flamencos and was declared a Nature Sanctuary in 1982 for its great natural beauty and strange lunar landscape. The valley is also considered one of the driest places on earth, as some areas have not received a single drop of rain in hundreds of years.
Semuc Champey: Guatemala
You’ll surely enjoy the splendid beauty of Semuc Champey. This paradise is a natural monument in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. It consists of a natural 300-m limestone bridge, under which passes the Cahabon River. Atop the bridge is a series of stepped turquoise pools, a popular swimming attraction. The Cahabon River plunges into the ground into a network of caves and comes out of the bottom of a mountain. What you can see here is a network of waterfalls created by this event which is truly amazing.
There are so many beautiful things in the world so let’s treasure and preserve them for our posterity.