Special Report

Natural Wonders So Awesome It’s Hard to Believe They Exist

Source: MakingSauce / Getty Images

26. The Galapagos Islands
> Location: Pacific Ocean

This isolated chain of volcanic islands is home to several species of plants and animals that exist nowhere else in the world. Formed at the intersection of three ocean currents, the islands and surrounding waters contain one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world.

Source: SeanXu / Getty Images

27. Great Sand Dunes
> Location: Colorado

The tallest sand dunes in North America are surrounded by a surprisingly diverse array of tundra, wetlands, coniferous forests, and alpine lakes. Sledding and sandboarding (like snowboarding) are popular pastimes in the dunes, which rise as high as 755 feet.

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28. Manpupuner Rock Formations
> Location: Russia

On a flat plateau in the Ural Mountains, seven mysterious rock formations rise over 100 feet. They are likely the result of millions of years of erosion that wore down softer minerals in the mountains that once stood in the area, leaving only the hardest deposits intact. The isolated formations are sacred to the Mansi people of the area.

Source: RicardoKuhl / Getty Images

29. Iguazu Falls
> Location: Argentina and Brazil

Iguazu Falls are a semicircular waterfall amidst dense subtropical rainforest on the border of Brazil and Argentina. The protected zone in Iguazu National Park is a crucial conservation zone for what remains of the Interior Atlantic Forest and the thousands of species that inhabit it.

Source: Cylonphoto / Getty Images

30. Vesuvius
> Location: Italy

Though its last eruption was in 1944, Vesuvius is the only active volcano on mainland Europe. It formed in the caldera of an older volcano, Mount Somma, and towers over the city of Naples.

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