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30 of the world's best national parks

Story highlights

  • Countries around the world have set aside land and resources for national parks
  • iReporters share photos of their favorite parks abroad
  • See the world's best national parks and find out why you need to visit them

This story was originally published in 2014, and we've brought it back in honor of Earth Day 2016

(CNN)From biking hundreds of miles in Patagonia to trekking across Myanmar, iReporter Anne Dirkse has set foot on all seven continents, and she's done it all on her own. The travel writer and photographer from Loveland, Colorado, spends months out of the year uncovering hidden gems in other countries, and says some of her favorite places to visit are national parks.

"I love nature, and the opportunity to experience its beauty, often in remote places, far from the noise and light pollution that so many of us are accustomed to in our daily lives," she said.
The United States may have been first to establish a national park -- Yellowstone, in 1872 -- but governments around the world have reserved thousands of acres supporting wildlife conservation, protecting natural beauty and promoting ecotourism.
As the summer travel season kicks off, Dirkse and others shared their photos of their favorite national parks outside the United States. Having visited more countries and parks than she can count, Dirkse had a few tips for travelers interested in touring parks abroad:
    1. Take your time: "It is very easy to make your itinerary so tight that you don't really see anything at all, especially when you've come a long way to get there," Dirkse said. "Sometimes it is best to experience one thing slowly than many things quickly, and with national parks, the more slowly you can move the better."
    2. Befriend locals: Ask local people their favorite places in the park, and listen to their stories, she suggested.
    3. Sleep outside: "Almost all national parks allow camping, though rules and facilities vary widely, and for me it is the best chance to experience nature at its most serene, and often local culture," Dirkse said.
    4. When it comes to weather, plan for the worst: Even rainy days can be pleasant if you have a hat and waterproof clothes, she said. Her best day at Rapa Nui National Park on Chile's Easter Island "was filled with intermittent downpours ... but between the rains, the light and clouds were incredible."
    5. Know your limits: "It's important to understand that you are responsible for your own safety and that the precautions to prevent you from doing something stupid, or the services to rescue you in an emergency are often very different from what you expect back home," she said.