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6. Caño Cristales

Caño Cristales with waterfall and the red Macarenia clavigera, Colombia. September 2012
Caño Cristales with waterfall and the red Macarenia clavigera. September 2012 / Mario Carvajal, / CC BY-SA 3.0
Where? South America, Colombia
Why unique? Unique river ecosystem with seemingly unnatural, gaudy colors. These colors are created by living organisms, such as the bright red water plantMacarenia clavigera, yellow, green blue and black algae and sand. This ecosystem has developed on an isolated tableland – Serrania de la Macarena.

7. Catatumbo Lightning

Catatumbo Lightning, Venezuela
Catatumbo Lightning / Thechemicalengineer, Wikipedia, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Where? South America, Venezuela
Why unique? The only continuous thunderstorm in the world, where each night are seen up to 20,000 lighning flashes. This thunderstorm is happening in the same place.

8. Cave of the Crystals, Naica

In the Cave of the Crystals, Mexico
In the Cave of the Crystals / Paul Williams, / CC BY-NC 2.0
Where? North America, Mexico
Why unique? Cave with phantasmagoric crystals of incredible size. The largest crystals of selenite here are up to 12 m long, up to 55 tons heavy. Crystals have perfect form. There is no other cave like this in the world. Cave is flooded now.

9. Chocolate Hills

Chocolate Hills, Philippines
Chocolate Hills / Theglennpalacio, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
Where? Asia, Philippines
Why unique? One of world’s most impressive cone karst landscapes. Here it is unique because more than 1200 symmetrical hills are covered with grass, which turns brown in February – April.

10. Christmas Island red crabs

Red Crabs during the migration, Christmas Island
Red Crabs during the migration, Christmas Island / , Parks Australia
Where? Australia, Christmas Island
Why unique? The only forest in the world which is dominated by land crabs – some 50 – 100 millions of them. It is possible that this is recent phenomenon because local species of rats – Maclear’s rat was eliminated in the 20th century and since this time crabs have less natural enemies here. Here live some 20 species of land crabs as well as numerous other unique animals and plants.
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Map, 40 unique natural wonders of the world

The weird world of karst formations

Few things in the world are as weird looking as karst formations – places, where water has shaped rocks which are soluble. In a way – every rock is soluble, but some dissolve faster and some – too fast to become “stars” on the lists of Wondermondo. The best in this sense are carbonate rocks – limestone and dolostone. And, well, there are truly unusual limestone formations around the world!

Some of the best ones are the “forests” of limestone needles. One can get lost, walking among the impossibly tall and thin ledges of limestone rocks, which sometimes rise to the height of a five-floor building. Among these pinnacles often grows the tropical forest, here hide not just rare plants and animals but also nasty ones – snakes, scorpions. Beware to get lost there!

Mount Api pinnacles, Malaysia
Mount Api pinnacles / Paul White, / CC BY 2.0

Sometimes this labyrinth of karst pinnacles is located in the sea or lakes. The best known are the countless towers-islands in Hạ Long Bay, Vietnam. This is quite a touristy area but the beauty of nature is overwhelming the daily buzz.

Far fewer tourists come to see the otherworldly landscape of Madre de Dios Island in Chile. The unusual beauty of this far, remote southern island cannot be described…

On a much smaller scale, such beauty can be admired elsewhere in Chile in the Marble Caves. Here the lake water has formed gorgeous formations in pure marble!

Marble Caves - Cavernas de Mármol, Chile
Marble Caves – Cavernas de Mármol / Daniel Peppes Gauer, / CC BY 2.0



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