1. Serengeti, Tanzania

There wouldn’t be enough room in a shelf of books to cover all there is to explore in the Serengeti National Park, a massive 14,750km² of grassland plains and savanna in the north of Tanzania, boasting one of the oldest ecosystems on earth.

The area that now makes up the park was first stumbled upon by outsiders in 1908. Stewart Edward White, the American game hunter who found it after setting out from Nairobi, wrote: “We walked for miles over burnt out country… Then I saw the green trees of the river, walked two miles more and found myself in paradise.”

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The park is composed of three key areas (the wider Serengeti region spills over into Kenya), There’s the Serengeti plains, where zebra, gazelle, topi, buffalo, waterbuck and more hoofed animals live during the wet season. Then there’s the swampy Western corridor, where “black cotton” (black clay) soil covers the land. The Grumeti River is the part of the park which the toothy Nile crocodiles, monkeys and eagles call home. Then the Northern Serengeti is where all the open woodlands lie.

The Masai tribespeople, who now live in the Masai Mara National Reserve on the edge of the park, call it ‘Siringitu’ – which means ‘the place where the land moves on forever.’

If that poetic description isn’t already tickling your feet, then how about this: it’s one of the places where you can see the Great Migration. More than a million wildebeest and about 200,000 zebras thunder from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains every October and November. This migration pattern has held for more than a million years and draws thousands of tourists every year. Park entrance is £16.50 per day. 

serengeti.org

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2. Yellowstone, US

One of America’s most popular national parks, Yellowstone has it all – geysers, lakes and hiking trails.Over the vast parkland (it stretches across 350km²) you’ll be able to spot everything from wolves to bald eagles, ospreys and peregrine falcons. The geysers are also an amazing sight, with the famous ‘Steamboat’ erupting 300m in the air for the first time in eight years last week. Park entrance is priced from £16.50pp. 

nps.gov/yell

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3. Brecon Beacons, Wales

You’ve got to hand it to Wales, there’s nowhere quite like the Brecon Beacons National Park for outdoors adventures or just breathtaking scenery.It’s not the easiest of walks, but the Beacons Way is one heckuva 100-mile hike. Crossing the park, it covers the summits of Pen y Fan and Corn du, passes the Llanthony Abbey ruins, Iron Age hill fort at Crug Hywel and the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canals. Phew! No fees. 

breconbeacons.org

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4. Ranthambore, India

Wanna see tigers? Head to India’s Ranthambore, which is considered one of the most reliable places in the world to spot them in the wild.The park was once known as Tigers’ Paradise, as it was the private hunting ground for the kings of Jaipur. In recent years there have been problems with poachers, so numbers have dropped to around 22, which are closely monitored. Look out for Dollar (named for the $ mark on his flank) and Mala, considered the prettiest. 

ranthamborenationalpark.com

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5. Fuji-Hakone-Izu, Japan

It’s no surprise that this national park is Japan’s most popular – not only is it close to Tokyo, but it also features the beloved 12,000ft, dormant volcano Mount Fuji.Unusually, the park is made up of a handful of separate tourist hotspots, including Mt Fuji itself, Fuji Five Lakes, Hakone, the Izu Peninsula, and the Izu Islands. Between that lot there are hot springs, lakes, beaches and more than 1000 volcanic islands. Entrance fees to the different sections vary. 

welcome-to.jp

 

Photos: Getty; Thinkstock