Plitvice Lakes National Park
There’s a reason why this UNESCO-listed site, located two hours from Zagreb, has become one of the most recognizable nature areas in all of Europe. A meandering, wooden footbridge allows travelers to pass easily over the emerald waterways without negatively impacting the unique, rocky ‘karst’ landscape. Slender waterfalls, intricate limestone cave systems, and untouched pine forests are what this Croatian treasure is known for. But as you amble, other surprises—flocks of butterflies, rare orchids in a dozen different shades, and red deer—will reveal themselves, too.
Zakouma National Park, Chad
Travelers are starting to pick up on the magic of northern Chad’s Zakouma National Park. The 1,158-square-mile expanse contains giraffes, lions, antelope, and buffalo (black rhino will be reintroduced this year, qualifying the park for “Big 5” status). Lodges like Tinga and Camp Nomade make the experience easy-breezy for safari first-timers; just be sure to plan ahead—with the dry season only falling between late December and early April, accommodations fill up fast.