Discover the world’s 10 most stunning canyons

Steep, deep and usually pretty remote, pack your passport for a tour of the world’s best canyons.
By Tarquin Cooper

Whether you're paddling, climbing, hiking or just rocking up in your camper van for a cool place to pitch up, the world's canyons offer a playground for everyone.

As usual, we scoured the globe looking for the most remote, the deepest and the most spectacular.

More: 10 places flatter than a pancake

Colca Canyon, Peru

View of Colca Canyon, Peru
Colca Canyon: one of the world's deepest © Albert Engeln

With a depth of 3,270m, Peru’s Colca Canyon is one of the deepest in the world and almost twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. It's so remote, that it wasn’t until a team of adventurers made the first descent of the river Colca 30 years ago that the depths were officially recognised.

Waimea Canyon, Hawaii

Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii
Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii © Mint Images/Frans Lanting/Getty Images

It may be better known for its surf breaks, but the natural wonders inland on Hawaii are just as daunting, intimidating – and awesome. This is the Waimea, the deepest canyon in the Pacific. Aloha!

Verdon Gorge, France

View of Verdon Gorge, France
Verdon Gorge, France © Sami Sarkis/Getty Images

Situated in southern France, the Verdon Gorge is a stunning geological wonder, whose 400m vertical walls of limestone have been attracting climbers for decades. And more recently highliners. Watch Mich Kemeter highline in the Verdon Gorge right here.

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, Iceland

Elevated view of Fjaora river, Iceland
Steep and stunning, but unpronounceable © Santi Romn/Getty Images

When it comes to difficult locations to pronounce, Iceland's place names take some beating. We’re not sure where to begin with the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, so if you ever find yourself in Iceland and want to know directions, we suggest you point at a map before even trying.

Blyde River Canyon, South Africa

View of the Blyde river canyon, South Africa
View of the Blyde River Canyon, South Africa © John Lamb/Getty Images

There are many geological wonders in South Africa, from stunning coastlines, to jaw-dropping mountain ranges and awesome rivers that carve their way through the epic landscape. The Blyde River Canyon can count itself among the finest. At 25km long and 750m deep, it's one of the largest and, thanks to its lush foliage, it's also one of the greenest.

Fish River Canyon, Namibia

Aerial view of Fish River Canyon, Namibia
Fish River Canyon, Namibia © JTB/UIG via Getty Images

When adventurers are looking for dramatic locations, sooner or later they come to places like Namibia's Fish River Canyon. Spectacular, remote and wild, its daytime temperatures can reach 40º C. It's where ultra runner Ryan Sandes came to smash the 90km hiking trail in 6h 57m, which normally takes hikers five days. Ryan's pretty handy when it comes to running records. Here's another one he smashed in South Africa. But for lesser mortals, you can still turn up in a car and the most physical activity you need to do is reach for a phone to grab a shot.

Itaimbezinho Canyon, Brazil

View of the Itaimbezinho canyon, Brazil
Gorge-ous! Epic gorge in Brazil © Daniel Arantes/Getty Images

The Itaimbezinho is a canyon in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, about 1,000km south of Rio de Janeiro. Part of a national park, it's one of Brazil's lesser-known gems and simply gorge-ous!  Afterwards, head to Porto Alegre for some urban adventures.

The Grand Canyon, USA

Rafting down the Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA
The grandest canyon of them all © Forest Woodward

When it comes to canyons, there is usually only one that springs to mind – with good reason. It's the grandest of them all, the most striking and, unfortunately, the most popular: Arizona's Grand Canyon. The waiting list to raft the Colorado river can be as long as 10 years. Adventurer Brendon Leonard was one of the lucky ones. Check out the photogallery of a climbing and rafting adventure.

Kali Gandaki Gorge, Nepal 

A hiker on the Kali Gandaki River Valley
Hiking the Kali Gandaki river canyon © David Stubbs/Aurora Photos

It's home to the world's highest mountains so it's a fair bet that Nepal is also home to the world's most dramatic rivers and canyons, carved by glaciers and charging snow-melt from the mountains. Although not confirmed, the Kali Gandaki could be the world's deepest gorge, since it's towered over by the mighty 8,091m high Annapurna mountain on one side. Record breaker or not, it's still an incredible place to visit.

Indus Gorge, India

Indus and Zanskar rivers
Confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers, India © Getty Images

The confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers in Ladakh, each one fed from a different glacier and a slightly different colour, is one of those popular places on the trekking trail that has to be seen with your own eyes. Surrounded by mighty peaks, it's an awesome location.

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