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30 of the world's best national parks

By Jareen Imam, CNN
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
Although the United States established the first national park in 1872, countries throughout the world have designated areas to protect and preserve. iReporters shared photos of the best national parks they've visited across the globe. The <a href='http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1127448'>Iguazu Falls </a>of Argentina's <a href='http://www.iguazuturismo.gov.ar/index_i.php' target='_blank'>Iguazu National Park </a>are surrounded by subtropical jungle. Across the Iguazu River, you'll find the Brazilian counterpart of this national park. Although the United States established the first national park in 1872, countries throughout the world have designated areas to protect and preserve. iReporters shared photos of the best national parks they've visited across the globe. The Iguazu Falls of Argentina's Iguazu National Park are surrounded by subtropical jungle. Across the Iguazu River, you'll find the Brazilian counterpart of this national park.
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Iguazu Falls National Park, Argentina
Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina
Nahuel Huapi National Park, Argentina
Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge, Costa Rica
Tikal National Park, Guatemala
Rapa Nui National Park, Chile
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Canaima National Park, Venezuela
Galapagos National Park, Ecuador
Cairngorms National Park, Scotland
Goreme National Park, Turkey
Tatra National Park, Poland
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Victoria Falls National Park, Zambia
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia
Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda
Halgurd Sakran National Park, Iraq
Ein Avdat National Park, Israel
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China
Naejangsan National Park, South Korea
Pagsanjan Gorge National Park, Philippines
Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka
Sundarbans National Park, India
Bannerghatta National Park, India
Bandhavgarh National Park, India
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia
Blue Mountains National Park, Australia
Paparoa National Park, New Zealand
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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

(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.

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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.

Do you have beautiful photos of national parks from around the world? Share them with CNN iReport and your photo may be added to the gallery above.

CNN's Daphne Sashin contributed to this story.

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