We’ve all heard of it. We’ve seen countless pictures. The fame of Grand Canyon is worldwide and its excellence beyond competition. But there are definitely more river-carved miracles scattered all over the world and worth a glance. Have a look at 10 spectacular canyons ready to rival Arizona’s greatest wonder.
Antelope Canyon – Navajo Nation, AZ, USA
You’ll need to take a guided tour to see this pearl of the American Southwest, but take our word for it – it’s worth every dollar paid. Short and relatively narrow, with only soft light getting in and dancing playfully on the walls, the canyon has been shaped by occasional flash floods that leave those graceful curves in the fiery sandstone. Getting to the bottom of Antelope Canyon in truly a trip inside the Earth.
Blyde River Canyon – Mpumalanga, South Africa
It’s said to be the world’s third largest canyon, and if you gaze at the 20-mile (33 km) gorge from any of the numerous vantage points, it does look huge. And stunningly beautiful. Lush hills, sharp river bends, impressive potholes, and varied wildlife make it by far one of the most impressive experiences to be had in South Africa. Good tourist infrastructure in the region means all those 25 000 hectares of unsurpassed beauty are easily accessible and hiker friendly.
Charyn Canyon – Kazakhstan
Carved by the river Charyn and really as old as the hills, the 50-mile (80 km) canyon in Kazakhstan is a Mecca for adventure lovers. A two-hour drive from Almaty and you’re in the enormous realm of splendid hiking, canyoneering and rafting, all encompassed in some of the most intriguing scenery in the region. Its most striking feature is known as Valley of Castles, a mighty collection of odd rock formations that rise along both sides of the dirt road at the bottom of the canyon.
Colca Canyon – Arequipa, Peru
They say it’s twice as deep as the Grand Canyon but never receives equally many visitors. And that’s what makes it a unique place. Where the Colca river runs between the microscopic mountain villages of Chivay to Cabanaconde in Peru, there’s an enormous canyon full of native homesteads, pre-Colombian terraced fields and varied wildlife. Giant Andean Condors soaring gracefully above your head will definitely be the highlight of your trip. Just watch your step – the canyon is 2,5 mile (4100 m) deep.
Copper Canyon (Barranca del Cobre)- Chihuahua, Mexico
Six distinct canyons carved by six rivers – that’s Barranca del Cobre in a nutshell, so you more or less know what to expect. But it really takes a glance down the towering cliffs and a whiff of oak to fully acknowledge the grandeur. It’s huge, beautiful and brimming with opportunities for hiking, biking, four-wheel driving and horseback riding. On your way, you’ll often see Tarahumara Indians selling their crafts and food. If we were looking for the closest equivalent to the Grand Canyon (in terms of the impressions they make), Mexico‘s Barranca del Cobre would be a likely choice.
Glen Canyon- Utah/Arizona, USA
Nothing can prepare you for such a dose of staggering beauty. No matter what you’ve heard of it and how many pictures you’ve seen, Glen Canyon (and particularly the Horseshoe Bend) will leave you aga
pe at its grandeur. That’s just yet another creation of the mighty Colorado river, but there’s something about this place that makes it most memorable. Maybe it’s about the color of the water or the diversity of activities to be had. Sparkling Lake Powell and the fiercely red Vermillion Cliffs host all sorts of water-based and backcountry recreation. Or maybe it’s because you never expect anything more stunning that the Grand Canyon. Well…
Kings Canyon – Northern Territory, Australia
Ancient sandstone walls and giant rocky domes are the main features of Northern Territory’s Kings Canyon. Set within Watarrka National Park, 200 miles (323km) southwest of Alice Springs, it can be reached by 4-wheel drive vehicles and then explored on foot through scenic walkways that lead either around the rim or down to the bottom of the canyon. Solitude and wilderness is what you experience here along with some of the most awesome views of outback Australia.
Matka Canyon – Macedonia
Matka is one of the most charming nature spots in Macedonia. A close proximity to Skopje makes it a popular recreation area with several medieval monasteries to explore once you get tired of adventure and thrills. And there’s really a lot to give you a tough workout and adrenaline bust. Opportunities for swimming, kayaking, rock climbing and fantastic alpine hiking never fail to satisfy activity seekers, while numerous caves, hidden springs and the mist hovering above the emerald Lake Matka give the place an unearthly touch of mysticism.
Waimea Canyon- Kauai, Hawaii
Of all the things to see in Hawaii, none compare in awe to the multicolored wonder set in Kauai. Known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea is 10 miles (16 km) long, 1 mile (1.6 km) wide, and more than 3,500-feet (1066 m) deep. Rivers and floods carved it thousands of years ago, leaving a most fabulous testimony to the creative powers of nature. Numerous trails lead through and above the canyon letting you either take a sweeping view of the gulch or enter the bewitching jungle of red rock and lush vegetation.
Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon – Tibet, China
The extreme conditions of the Yarlung Tsangpo has earned it a moniker as the “Everest of Rivers”, and the turn it makes round the highest peak of the east Tibet proves its reputation. So mighty is its power that it managed to carve a 150-mile (240 km) long and 3-mile (5000 m) deep gorge regarded by many as the deepest canyon in the world. Tremendous in size and packed with opportunities for adventure travel, the canyon offers dramatic scenery and abundant flora to underpin your experience. Lonely, quiet and towering over the world with its snow-covered peaks- that’s Tibet at its most majestic.
Do you think any of the above can rival this?