Love parks? Try this Trio...

BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK

📍South Dakota 

BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK

With surging pinnacles, twisted valleys, and towering buttes on the edge of the Great Plains, it's easy to see how the Badlands got their name. When French fur traders came across this landscape on the outskirts of the Great Plains, they thought it was "bad land" to cross. It's now something of a geologic theme park, where erosion reveals the beauty of time. W. It's perhaps not surprising that such an otherworldly setting once housed an ancient sea and was later home to prehistoric animals like hike alligators and three-toed horses, whose remains have been discovered on a regular basis. Kylie Ferguson, then seven years old, discovered a saber-toothed cat skull in what has since become a rich fossil site. quarry. Bison, which can weigh up to 2,000 pounds (907 kg), are frequently seen grazing alongside the road today. Eagles, rattlesnakes, and Nighorn sheep can all be found in this part of South Dakota. 

You might want to use your GPS to find Roberts Prairie Dog Town, which is located off the unpaved Sage Creek Rim Road. The landscape is breathtaking everywhere, with fantastical shapes and colours ranging from yellow and grey mounds to red rocks and black shale. This is true wilderness that is easily accessible. A 40-mile (64-kilometer) loop takes you through the heart of this once-impassable outback, connecting at both ends to Interstate 90. Starting from the east, the Badlands Wall, an eroding cliff stretching for 100 miles (161 kilometres), mostly within the park, is the first sight. The formation marks a break in the prairie, exposing the stark beauty of a half-million years of erosion—a process that is still happening today, with some areas losing up to one inch (2.5 cm) per year. 

The Badlands will be gone in another half million years. Learn a lot more at the park's Ben Reifel Visitor Center, which has great exhibits outlining the relentless natural forces responsible for the strange scenery (along with welcome water and air conditioning). You might see palaeontologists carefully working with artefacts during the summer, eager to share their discoveries with the public. Despite its remote location, the park can be quite busy during the summer months. Savvy visitors know to camp out or at the very least plan to be on-site at dusk, when the harsh light of midday gives way to a more forgiving view and long shadows soften the landscape. It's still like being on another planet, but it's a pleasant one.


MANU NATIONAL PARK 

📍PERU 

MANU NATIONAL PARK

Perhaps nowhere on the planet better exemplifies the term "biodiversity" in action than Manu National Park in southeastern Peru, which stretches from the Andes to the Amazon. The park, which stretches from the chilly Andes to the sweltering Amazon lowlands, crams an incredible variety of flora and fauna into an area smaller than New Jersey. Mau was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1977 and a World Heritage Site a decade later, just over the Andes crest from Cusco. The natural variety is mind-boggling, almost incomprehensible. Manu has over a thousand bird species, which is more than all of the United States combined. Manu is also the king of herpetological biodiversity, according to Biota Neotropica, with 155 amphibian species and 132 reptile species such as snakes and lizards. Jaguars, giant otters, and spectacled bears are among the park's more than 200 mammal species. 

The Rio Manu flows through the park's heart, eventually merging with the much larger Rio Madre de Dios and making its way through Bolivia to Brazil. Manu was mostly spared from the deforestation and human colonisation that have engulfed so much of South America's wilderness due to its rugged topography and extreme isolation. That isn't to say that humans haven't attempted to colonise the area. In the 1890s, for example, Peruvian entrepreneur Carlos Fermin Fitzcarrald famously attempted to exploit the area's rubber resources (a spectacular failure portrayed in the Werner Herzog movie Fitzcarraldo). The most recent threat to Manu is the Peruvian government's decision to allow natural gas extraction in an adjacent reserve and the park's buffer zone, a move that could have a significant impact on the park's interior. Several indigenous groups continue to live within the park and are permitted to fish, hunt, and gather for their own food. 

The majority of the tourist facilities are located in a "reserved zone" near the confluence of the two rivers. Everyone except scientists and indigenous peoples is currently barred from a much larger and incredibly pristine "intangible area" on the upper reaches of the Rio Manu, which could save the abundant wildlife for future generations.

 

KOMODO NATIONAL PARK 

📍Indonesia

Komodo National Park

Indonesia is the real-life home of the dragons. Komodo National Park is distinguished from the rest of the vast Southeast Asian archipelago by the presence of the world's largest lizards, pink-sand beaches, and ancient landscapes. In addition to the three main islands (Padar, Rinca, and Komodo) and 26 smaller islands, there are also marine areas between them. The islands, which were formed by volcanic activity, are a mix of savanna grasslands, wooden ravines, and thick sduems. Aoueu The Komodo dragon, a monitor lizard that can grow up to 10 feet (3 metres) in length and weigh up to 150 pounds, is the most prominent feature of this real-life Jurassic Park (68 kg). 

The lizards hunt in packs and are armed with razor-sharp teeth and claws, making them some of the most terrifying carnivores on the planet: Komodo dragons have been known to stalk and devour humans in the past, and this has continued into the modern era. In the midst of all the excitement surrounding the lizards, it is easy to forget about the park's other natural wonders, which include crab-eating macaque monkeys, large fruit bat colonies, the Javan spitting cobra, and more than 70 bird species, including the rare orange-footed scrub fowl and the lesser Sulphur crested cockatoo. 

A mosaic of coral reefs, shallow bays, and deep channels, the warm tropical waters surrounding the islands are equally abundant with life, supporting ten dolphin species, five different types of sea turtle, the endangered Indonesian dugong, as well as migrating blue and sperm whales.

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