One million people from all over the world recently voted on the most jaw-dropping natural wonders of Argentina. This was an effort spearheaded by the New7Wonders of the World Foundation, which released the first New Seven Natural Wonders of the World list back in 2011. Now, Argentina has created a list of its own, which celebrates the natural beauty of the country while also drawing attention to the importance of sustainability and conservation.
The contest began with the public—anyone, anywhere in the world—nominating destinations within Argentina, which were then narrowed down to a pool of 77 places, based on which received the most likes through Facebook. Then, a jury (specialists in science, tourism, photography, journalism and art) whittled down the options to 28. They evaluated the sites based on scenery, geological uniqueness, singularity/relevance, biodiversity/heterogeneity, sustainability, accessibility, and potential.
The contest was then opened back up to the public to be voted on, and the results are finally in. Some of these places will definitely be familiar to you, but others are more off the beaten path—how many of you have been to the country’s most beautiful wetland, or knew about the river with healing properties? Use this list for travel #inspo, or just to remind yourself of how beautiful the country of Argentina is. Here are the winners:
#1 Salinas Grandes, Jujuy
It’s no surprise that Salinas Grande, or the salt flats, came in at Argentina’s number one natural wonder. Some of the world’s largest salt flats, which form naturally over thousands of years when a body of water evaporates and leaves the salt behind, can be found in Argentina. Salinas Grandes forms some of the most striking scenery in the country, and stretch for over 3,2000 square miles. At different times of the year, the salt flats can trick the eye and appear as snow, a mirror, or as a perfectly still body of water. It’s definitely one of the most bizarrely beautiful – and surely most Instagrammed – places in Argentina.
#2 Perito Moreno Glacier, Santa Cruz
Consistently ranked as one of the top tourist attractions in Argentina, the Perito Moreno Glacier is unlike any glacier you’ve ever seen before. It’s one of the few in the world that is advancing rather than retreating, meaning that it is in a constant state of growth. These shifts cause gigantic frozen ice blocks to repeatedly break off and crash down from the glacier, in a spectacular show of force and noise.
#3 Talampaya National Park, La Rioja
The striking scenery of Parque Nacional Talampaya is the result of erosion, due to wind and water, in a desert setting. The park includes wonders such as the Talampaya Gorge, with walls that reach as high as 469 feet, and the remains of indigenous peoples’ settlements. The park offers a range of colors in vibrant shades of red and whimsical rock formations.
#4 Selva Misionera, Misiones
This one feels a little bit like cheating, but we’ll take it anyway. The Selva Misionera is the jungle that encompasses Iguazú Falls, which was not eligible to be nominated, because it was already included in the New Seven Wonders of Nature, global edition. But the Selva Misionera comes in at number four since it’s actually much bigger than the famous waterfalls. We can’t really fault anyone for including it, since it’s the most biodiverse area in the whole country and is a must-visit for anyone in Argentina.
#5 Río Mina Clavero, Córdoba
This river in the Córdoba proviince is the result of the confluence of several streams from the Pampa de Achala. It flows into remote areas of valleys and beaches, and is said to have healing properties. It’s an ideal place to enjoy waterfalls, hiking, and the unbelievably clear water.
#6 Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, Neuquén/Río Negro
This stunning National Park lies at the foothills of the Patagonian Andes. It’s typically accessed through the quaint, Swiss-influenced town of Bariloche, and is famous for its impossibly blue lakes and snow-capped mountains. Nahuel Huapi is also a destination for adrenaline-junkies, who flock to the park to raft, paraglide, and mountain bike.
#7 Bañado La Estrella, Formosa
The Bañado La Estrella is a wetland with a stunning amount of biodiversity, such as alligators, water snakes, and many different species of birds. The wetlands ecosystem varies from season-to-season, and can be enjoyed through a canoe tour. Unlike other destinations on this list, the wetlands don’t have a significant amount of tourist infrastructure; this is unspoiled nature.