There is nothing like spending time in nature to reconnect with the world, and yourself. Wild places that are untouched by human hand have a unique restorative quality. On every Viking cruise – river and ocean – you can explore some of the world’s most precious wilderness areas, parks and gardens.
So sit back and relax as the natural world unfolds before you.
Where the Norwegian and Barents Seas meet, the cliffs of Nordkapp – North Cape – rise more than 1,000 feet to a dramatic rocky plateau. From the remote port of Honningsvåg, you can take a breathtaking drive to the top of Nordkapp for the most spectacular views. Hauntingly beautiful, the sight of the mist rolling in from the sea brings home the remoteness of the region.
Although many of the terraced landscapes are planted with vineyards, the peace and quiet of the UNESCO-listed Alto Douro is wonderfully relaxing. The region is a haven for wildlife. A rich variety of birds, including golden and Bonelli’s eagles, black storks, kites, griffon and Egyptian vultures, can sometimes be seen soaring through the air or keeping watch from riverside nests high in pine or oak trees. On land, Iberian wolves roam, keeping the wild boar population in check. At night, look out for bats swooping across the sky.
Wild and rugged mountains. Dramatic gorges and deep valleys. Cascading waterfalls. Air that’s as fresh as the water that tumbles along the mountain streams. Forests of chestnut trees. Ancient houses made of stone. Spectacular panoramic views. Welcome to Ardèche in France, a region that boasts a wealth of landscapes, each as inspiring as the next.
EL YUNQUE NATIONAL RAINFOREST
According to legend, the good spirit Yuquiyú reigned on his mighty mountaintop throne protecting Puerto Rico and its people. Today, El Yunque national rainforest retains a real sense of mystery. This tropical rainforest might be one of the world’s smallest, but it is one of the most biologically diverse and is home to hundreds of animal and plant species, many of which cannot be found anywhere else, including the tiny coqui tree frog and the endangered Puerto Rican parrot.
Russia’s remote region of Karelia is best explored by river, and with Viking, you can sail through this wildly beautiful area, 70 percent of which is covered with forests. Here, bear, wolf, fox, elk and boar roam in a landscape that has remained unchanged through the centuries. Sailing toward Kizhi, across the vast Lake Onega, is like crossing a tranquil sea. Eventually a series of islands, some no more than a few yards wide, come into view. In this precious part of the world, there is no pollution. The air and water are pure. Just 300 miles from the Arctic Circle, you are transported to another world.
Nestled in the heart of one of Norway’s most spectacular regions, the Hardangerfjord is everything you would imagine a dramatic fjord to be, with its emerald forests and deep-blue waters. From the tiny village of Eidfjord, ascend Europe’s largest mountain plateau, Hardangervidda, for sweeping views of epic landscapes. Here, in Norway’s largest national park, you can discover the wildlife of this pristine region, as you take in its staggering beauty.
Painted greens, golds and every colour of nature’s palette, the Wachau Valley, though not untamed, offers timeless landscapes along an especially lovely stretch of the river Danube. Described by UNESCO as “a basically medieval landscape which has evolved organically and harmoniously over time,” both sides are dotted with castle ruins and medieval towns, and lined with terraced vineyards.
In Alaska, America’s “Last Frontier,” the call of the wild carries the promise of exciting new discoveries, each as extraordinary as the next. Here, whales traverse deep waters and eagles circle snowcapped mountains. Sail into Yakutat Bay to marvel at the colossal Hubbard Glacier, which stretches six miles across and 76 miles into the sea and is the largest tidewater glacier in North America. Nicknamed the “Galloping Glacier,” it is also the fastest moving. Its advance and retreat is not due to climate change but to its continual calving, in which chunks of ice, some the size of buildings, break off.
THE BLACK FOREST
Named for its dark, dense evergreen forest of pine trees, the Black Forest – Schwarzwald in German – stretches west of the River Rhine and south into the foothills of Switzerland’s Alpine region. This is the land of fairy tales, a vast expanse of hills, valleys, rivers and forests where, within a short walk, you can find yourself in the middle of nature.
KRKA NATIONAL PARK
A magical place of cascading waterfalls, crystalline waters and gorges, Krka National Park runs from the Adriatic Sea along the River Krka to Croatia’s picturesque interior. Journey through the dramatic karst landscape of Zadar and into the Šibenik hinterland to see the astonishing Skradinski Buk waterfalls. Breathe in the tranquility and beauty of this stunning area, whose remoteness once attracted monks who built their monasteries here. Divine.