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Wednesday, September 17, 2014         

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Simply Gorges!

Ten spectacularly beautiful sites display nature's slow handiwork

By McClatchy News Services

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Some travelers want to vacation in a city -- they enjoy the skyline of tall buildings and basking in the concrete jungle, while others prefer to soak in the beauty that nature has to offer. If you're interested in viewing narrow passages with steep rocky sides that almost seem too amazing to be real, check out VirtualTourist.com (www.virtualtourist.com) members' list of the Top 10 Most Gorgeous Gorges to set your eyes on.

1. Saklikent Canyon Gorge, Mugla province, Turkey

At 70,000 feet long, Saklikent Gorge is the second-largest gorge in Europe, the longest and deepest gorge in Turkey and always a popular excursion. It's open from April 1 to Sept. 30. Many brave the icy water and wade in it while they have their picture taken. If you're not up for it, boards are strategically placed along it, but they take you only so far.

2. Hancock Gorge, Karijini National Park, Western Australia

Formerly Hamersley Range National Park, this location is arguably Australia's most stunning gorge country. Rust red will stay embedded in your mind forever. At one point, Oxer Lookout, four gorges intersect and, with some difficulty, you can actually get from one to the other. Dramatic walls of narrow canyons leave an indelible impression on all who venture here. For a photographer, it's paradise. There are a million angles, and the scenes change so dramatically in the space of a half-hour that you could go and shoot the same place again and come up with entirely different results.

3. Ausable Chasm, N.Y.

Ausable Chasm, N.Y., is yet another example of nature’s splendor. 

4. Djerdap Gorge, Djerdap National Park, Serbia

Djerdap National Park stretches more than 62 miles along the Danube River, and VirtualTourist members say the hiking here is fantastic. The park isn't that wide, but beyond the park is a protected forest area -- so when you're here, you really feel as if you are alone in the beautiful woods.

5. Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan, China

Between Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain, the Yangtze River cascades through a spectacular gorge, a contender for the world's deepest river canyon. Legend says that to escape from a hunter, a tiger jumped across the river at the narrowest point (still a lengthy 82 feet), hence the name. Today the area is a hiker's dream with various trails that run along the entire length of the gorge. VirtualTourist members warn, though, that you shouldn't stop along the path as the area is prone to rockfalls.

6. Verdon Gorge, Provence, France

In southeastern France the Verdon River has eroded the land hundreds of feet down, leaving limestone cliffs and caves in its wake and creating a massive gorge. The water is clean and a stunning turquoise blue, and in the summer months, a temperature perfect for swimming. A variety of hiking paths are available, and a VirtualTourist favorite is the one that goes through the narrow "Le Styx" section. It's not for the faint of heart as some parts involve narrow paths with sheer drop-offs whilst holding onto a bolted metal cable. Choose your path to your hiking ability.

7. Vintgar Gorge, Slo- venia

The Vintgar Gorge is one of the most popular natural features in Slovenia. It lies a couple of miles north of Bled near the village of Podhom, where the Radovna River cuts a deep gorge between the hills of Hom and Borst. The emerald-green water of the river Radovna flows through the narrow mountain gorge, with many impressive rapids and waterfalls. You can walk the 1-mile length of the gorge quite easily, thanks to wooden decks that were built for visitors.

8. Antelope Canyon, Page, Ariz.

Antelope Canyon, Ariz., is one of the most famous slot canyons in the United States. 

9. Takachiho Gorge, Miyazaki, Japan

Perhaps one of the most mystical gorges, at least according to VirtualTourist members, is the Takachiho Gorge in Japan. The awe-inspiring steep walls were formed when the Gokase-gawa River eroded lava from the Aso volcano. One of the most spectacular sites here is the 56-foot-high waterfall. There are two ways to explore the gorge: by walking the paved path that runs along the edge of the gorge or, the more popular way, by rental boat, allowing for an opportunity to get up close to the waterfall.

10. Setenil de las Bodegas, Cadiz, Spain

Setenil de las Bodegas is built into a gorge in Cadiz, Spain. 






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