Unesco designated 13 geoparks that feature the great outdoors, evolution and culture

If you are an outdoors lover looking for new places to visit that are not popular tourist destinations (yet), Unesco has designated 13 new fabulous geoparks to consider for your next adventure. Unesco Global Geoparks are territories that promote geodiversity through community-led initiatives. Sustainable tourism in these regions is also an important factor.

Photo: Mudeungsan Area Geopark/Geumseongsanseong Here are 13 geoparks that Unesco has nominated in 2018. If you are planning to visit any of these, do your research well because some parks may lack services you may be used to in mass tourism destinations.

Famenne-Ardenne, Belgium

Photo: Geopark Famenne-Ardenne/Anticline, Durbuy
Strange-looking rocky hills hide even more curious caves in Famenne-Ardenne geopark in Belgium. The karst of this region is emblematic and its geological evolution, with disappearing and reappearing rivers, sinkholes and remarkable caves, has helped develop omnipresent human activity in the park. Limestone water is essential in the brewing of the famous Rochefort Trappist beer.

Beaujolais, France

Photo: Iteprat / OT Beaujolais Pierres Dorees/Charnay
The Beaujolais region is widely known for its wines, but the country also features remarkable geological and cultural treasures. The landscape that was formed over 500 million years ago underpins a diversity of natural habitats. The geological heritage and history of the Beaujolais has influenced the lives and culture of its inhabitants.

Conca de Tremp Montsec, Spain (Catalonia)

Photo: Jordi Peró/The Mont-Rebei gorge
Conca de Tremp Montsec Geopark in north-eastern Spain, close to the borders of France and Andorra is a region on the southern slope of the Central Pyrenees mountain range. During the past 550 million years, the evolution of life on Earth has left its mark on the land, including sites from the Permian to the Palaeogene: fossils of vertebrates, invertebrates and plants.

Percé Geopark, Canada

Photo: Percé Geopark / Marie-Claude Costisella
The Perce Park in Canada is at the heart of the Appalachian Mountain located in eastern North America. The mountains have formed during the Jurassic and the Cretaceous periods, about 150 million years ago. Over the last 20 000 years (the last Ice Age) glacial elements have given the landscape its current shape.

Gangwushan-Nuoshuihe, China

Photo: Administration of Guangwushan-Nuoshuihe Geopark/Shenmen Mountain
The Gangwushan-Nuoshuihe Geopark is located in Bazhong City, Sichuan Province. The park has plenty of karst and tectonic landforms, waterfalls and ponds. The 2,000-year-old Micang Ancient Road, connecting Shaanxi and Scihuan Province, travels through the landscape where cultures of many dynasties have left their mark.

Huanggang Dabieshan, China

Photo: Administration Committee of Hubei Huanggang Dabieshan National Geopark
The Huanggang Dabieshan Geopark is located in Hubei Province in eastern China. The collision of the tectonic plates of North China and the Yangtze is visible in the park. The rocks were formed under high pressure and high temperatures more than 2.8 billion years ago.

Ciletuh-Palabuhanratu, Indonesia

Photo: Ronald Agusta/Ciletuh Bay from Darma Peak.
The Ciletuh-Palabuhanratu Geopark in West Java has rocks that were formed by the subduction process between the Eurasian and the Indian Ocean tectonic plates. Three village communities maintain their ancestral traditions in agriculture and paddy farming.

Rinjani Lombok, Indonesia

Photo: Koesnadi/Mulang Pekelem
The Rinjani Lombok Geopark is located on nearly circular-shaped Lombok Island between Bali and Sumbawa. It is a volcanic island. The Sasak population of Lombok has multi-ethnic and multicultural tradition. The diversity of the Sasaks’ cultural heritage is reflected in buildings such as temples and mosques.

Izu Peninsula, Japan

Photo: Izu Peninsula Geopark Promotion Council -Mt. Omuro
Izu Peninsula Geopark is located in the southeast district of Honshu Island. The region’s uninterrupted volcanic history over the past 20 million years is unique in the world. Geothermal activity in the park has created some of Japan’s most famous hot springs. Local communities worship deities that rule over natural forces in the land, air and sea. Over 90 shrines for the deities have been built that are scattered across the park.

Mudeungsan, South Korea

Mudeungsan Area Geopark/Gwangseokdae Colonnade
Mudeungsan Area Geopark is located around Mudeung mountain that is looming above Gwangju City. Its heritage originates from volcanic activity, extensive periglacial-produced landforms, unusual microclimatic environments, dinosaur footprints and trackways. The mountain occupies an important place in the spiritual world of the people of Jeollanam-do (Honam), who regard mountaintops as altars for worship.

Satun, Thailand

Satun Geopark / Rath Jitrattana -Tham Phu Pha Phet cave
Satun Geopark is inhabited by multiple cultures and groups, including Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, the Semung, Maniq and Urak Lawoi (or Chao le in Thai language). It is known as the land of Palaeozoic fossils.

Cao Bang, Vietnam

Tran Anh Dung/Ngoc Con paronama, Trung Khanh district
The Cao Bang Geopark is located in a mountainous area in the northeast Vietnam. The eastern section of the park is composed of Palaeozoic limestones. The western part features sedimentary rocks, pillow basalts, ultra-mafic and granitic intrusions rich in minerals and hydrothermal alterations. The majority of people in the region belong to one of nine different ethnic groups each with distinct cultural identities and traditions.

Ngorongoro Lengai, Tanzania

Ngorongoro Lengai Geopark/Oldoinyo Lengai Mountain.
The Ngorongoro Lengai Geopark is renowned for its Ngorongoro Crater, home to a fabulous wildlife diversity, such as elephants, black rhinos, lion, gazelles, and other large mammals that co-exist with humans. The Oldoinyo Lengai ‘Mountain of God’ or ‘Holy Mountain’ in the Maasai language is the youngest and most active stratovolcano (2,962 m) in the park. The Olduvai Gorge is the most important paleoanthropological site in the world.

Via El Viajero, El Pais.

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