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40 unique natural wonders of the world

Moconá Falls - approximately 2 km wide waterfall
Moconá Falls – approximately 2 km wide waterfall / Leandro Kibisz, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

WorldBlue  In short

There are places on Earth which are unique – the absolute natural wonders of the world.

Wondermondo also has made a unique thing: it is this article, which lists 40 such places – unusual locations with natural phenomena that are not found anywhere else. Places come simply in alphabetic order. Enjoy!

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WorldViolet List of 40 unique natural wonders of the world

01

Abanda Caves

2.9 out of 10 stars 29.3%

Africa, Gabon

Why is it unique?
The only place in the world with a permanent population of cave crocodiles. These dwarf crocodiles Osteolaemus tetraspis are turning into a new species, are almost blind and eat bats.

Crocodile in Abanda Caves
02

Aldabra – realm of giant tortoises

5.7 out of 10 stars 56.9%

Africa, Seychelles

Why is it unique?
The only ecosystem in the world which is ruled by tortoises. Here live more than 1000 thousand giant tortoises who are at the top of the food chain. Besides, on the island live some 400 species of animals and plants, which are not found anywhere else in the world.

Giant tortoise of Aldabra
03

Black Hole of Andros

5.2 out of 10 stars 51.8%

North America, Bahamas

Why is it unique?
Round holes with unusually black water found only on South Andros and Grand Bahama islands. Their water is crystal clear but at the depth of some 17 m, there is a layer of hot, pink jelly – a colony of microorganisms. Most unique aspect – microorganisms have heated the water to temperatures up to 40° C – possibly the only place on Earth where microorganisms have heated the water. Below the layer of bacteria, water is clear and colder again.

Cross section of South Andros Black Hole in south - north direction, compared with Boeing 747-400
04

Blood Falls, Antarctica

5.1 out of 10 stars 50.6%

Antarctica, Victoria Land

Why is it unique?
This red-colored, approximately 14 m tall “icefall” is opening into an unusual ecosystem that for more than one million years has developed in the saline lake below the Taylor Glacier. Microorganisms have adapted here to live without light, feeding on sulfates and “breathing” ions of iron.

Blood Falls from above, Antarctica
05

Blue garnets of Bekily

2.8 out of 10 stars 28.3%

Africa, Madagascar

Why is it unique?
The only known place on the planet where in larger amounts are found blue garnets. In fact – until 1997 it was considered that there are no blue garnets in the world. These unique stones in artificial light change to bright purple. It is possible that the find has been exhausted.

Bekily blue garnet
06

Caño Cristales

5 out of 10 stars 50.0%

South America, Colombia

Why is it 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.

Caño Cristales with waterfall and the red Macarenia clavigera, Colombia. September 2012
07

Catatumbo Lightning

4.7 out of 10 stars 46.8%

South America, Venezuela

Why is it 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.

Catatumbo Lightning, Venezuela
08

Cave of the Crystals, Naica

5.6 out of 10 stars 56.3%

North America, Mexico

Why is it 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 similar cave in the world. The cave is flooded now.

Cave of the Crystals, Mexico
09

Chocolate Hills

5.9 out of 10 stars 58.7%

Asia, Philippines

Why is it unique?
One of the 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.

Chocolate Hills
10

Christmas Island red crabs

5.7 out of 10 stars 57.3%

Australia, Christmas Island

Why is it 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 a recent phenomenon because local species of rats – Maclear’s rat – was eliminated in the 20th century and since this time crabs have fewer natural enemies here. Here live some 20 species of land crabs as well as numerous other unique animals and plants.

Red Crabs during the migration, Christmas Island
11

Daallo Frankincense Forest

4.3 out of 10 stars 43.3%

Africa, Somalia

Why is it unique?
The only natural forest of the legendary Coptic Frankincense (Boswellia frereana). This forest is unusual – besides the frankincense here grow many unique species of fragrant plants. This could be the most fragrant forest in the world!

The unique frankincense forest at the foot of Daallo Mountains
12

Daikoku Sulfur Cauldron

4.6 out of 10 stars 46.3%

Oceania, Northern Mariana Islands

Why is it unique?
Lake of liquid sulfur… below the ocean! This is the largest known sulfur lake with unique organisms (even fishes!) which have “learned” how to thrive in an extremely acidic, sulfur-rich environment.

Daikoku Sulphur Cauldron at the moment of discovery, Northern Marianas
13

Dallol hot springs and geysers

6.2 out of 10 stars 61.8%

Africa, Ethiopia

Why is it unique?
This could be the most colorful place on Earth, but its uniqueness lies in the weird geological processes. Here is the only volcano below sea level and without water over it. Here have formed the only known geysers of acid and saltwater in the world.

Salt springs in Dallol, Ethiopia
14

Hypersaline lakes beneath the Devon Ice Cap

2.4 out of 10 stars 23.8%

North America, Canada

Why is it unique?
Completely isolated, hypersaline lakes where the temperature of water always is below -10.5 ° C. Lakes have been isolated from the outer world for at least 120 thousand years and may contain unique life forms. There are no known similar hypersaline lakes elsewhere in the world.

Subglacial lakes under the Devon Ice Cap, Canada
15

Forest of Daisy Trees in Santa Cruz

4.2 out of 10 stars 41.5%

South America, Galápagos Islands

Why is it unique?
Forest of an unusual plant – a 20 m tall relative of daisies – Scalesia pedunculata. All trees in this forest have the same age – they grow up together and then suddenly whole forest dies out and starts growing up again from new sprouts.

The unique Scalesia forest in Santa Cruz
16

Forest on Robinson Crusoe Island

5 out of 10 stars 49.8%

South America, Chile

Why is it unique?
All tree species – around 20 of them – of this forest grow ONLY in this forest and nowhere else in the world! In total in this forest are 132 endemic plant species and hundreds of species of unique insects.

Robinson Crusoe Island, San Juan Bautista village in the forefront
17

Goualougo Triangle

4.6 out of 10 stars 46.0%

Africa, Republic of the Congo

Why is it unique?
In this forest, people have never lived and animals don’t fear people here. In Goualougo Triangle is living the only population of chimpanzees which is experiencing fast evolution – nowhere else on Earth apes have evolved as much as here.

Chimpanzee using tools in Goualougo Triangle. Humans never lived in this forest
18

Ikaite tufa columns in Ikka Fjord

4.6 out of 10 stars 45.8%

North America, Greenland

Why is it unique?
“Forest” of columns on the floor of Ikka Fjord. These columns are up to 18 m tall and have been formed from ikaite – a mineral that can exist only in cold water. Columns have been formed by submarine springs. There is not known similar place in the world.

Ikaite columns in Ikka Fjord, Greenland
19

Jellyfish Lake (Ongeim’l Tketau)

6.1 out of 10 stars 61.1%

Oceania, Palau

Why is it unique?
Marine lake with millions of unique jellyfishes which live only in this lake. Only here jellyfish have developed a specific pattern of behavior with a special migration. There are some more similar lakes in Palau (with other subspecies of jellyfish), but Jellyfish Lake is by far the most impressive one.

Jellyfish Lake from air with swarms of jellyfish visible, Palau
20

Kelimutu crater lakes

6.2 out of 10 stars 61.8%

Asia, Indonesia

Why is it unique?
Three lakes – each with a different color of the water. These are crater lakes – each with its own geochemical and hydrothermal regime. There is no other place on Earth with such unusual phenomena.

Kelimutu crater lakes
21

Kitum Cave and other caves of Mt. Elgon

4.3 out of 10 stars 42.8%

Africa, Kenya

Why is it unique?
Group of five unique caves which to a large extent have been formed by elephants who over many thousands of years have mined salt here. These seem to be the only caves that have been created by the elephants – but there are caves in South America that have been created by other, now extinct animals.

Kitum Cave, Kenya
22

Lake Bonney

3.8 out of 10 stars 38.0%

Antarctica, Victoria Land

Why is it unique?
The only known lake in the world which is saturated with the “laughing gas” (nitrous oxide).

Lake Bonney from satellite, Antarctica. Inscription "Lake Bonney" is on the eastern lobe.
23

Lake Tele

5.3 out of 10 stars 52.5%

Africa, Republic of the Congo

Why is it unique?
The last place on Earth (except the oceans) with some chances to find large, hitherto unknown species of animals. This remote lake in the middle of large rainforest is a site of exotic legends about large, fierce predatory animals – mokele-mbembe and emela-ntouka.

Mysterious Lake Tele, Republic of Congo
24

Liang Bua

5 out of 10 stars 49.5%

Asia, Indonesia

Why is it unique?
The only place in the world where have been found remnants of Homo floresiensis – dwarf people who lived on Flores Island (and, possibly – other places too) some 50 thousand years ago.

Liang Bua cave, Flores, Indonesia
25

Lord Howe Island

6.8 out of 10 stars 67.8%

Australia

Why is it unique?
The current Lord Howe Island is only 0,25% of the former area of now lost enormous island. For millions of years, unique life forms evolved on this island – and now thousands of unique animal and plant species live only on this small remnant of the former island and nowhere else in the world

Lord Howe Island Phasmid
26

Merelani Hills – the only find of tanzanite

4.3 out of 10 stars 43.3%

Africa, Tanzania

Why is it unique?
The only known place in the world where is found a gorgeous gemstone – tanzanite. This find might be exhausted in the coming decades – thus tanzanite is a precious, very unusual gift by nature in a strictly limited amount.

Tanzanite
27

Moconá Falls (Yucumã Falls)

4.5 out of 10 stars 44.8%

South America, Argentina and Brazil

Why is it unique?
Unusual waterfall which is not perpendicular to the stream but PARALLEL. As a result this could be the second widest waterfall in the world – it is 1.8 – 2.7 km wide.

Moconá Falls, taken from a boat
28

Morning Glory of Carpentaria Gulf

5.3 out of 10 stars 52.5%

Australia

Why is it unique?
The only place in the world where on a regular basis can be observed very rare meteorological phenomena – fast sequence of roll clouds which are nicknamed “morning glory”.

Morning Glory clouds, Queensland
29

North-West Eifuku Champagne Vent

3.6 out of 10 stars 36.3%

Oceania, Northern Mariana Islands

Why is it unique?
The only large springs which emit liquid carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is emitted at the depth of 1,607 m in a form of milky-colored bubbles, quickly rising towards the surface of the ocean.

Eifuku Champagne Vent emitting bubbles of liquid carbon dioxide, Northern Marianas
30

Oklo Mines – the only natural nuclear reactor

3.3 out of 10 stars 33.3%

Africa, Gabon

Why is it unique?
The only known place on Earth where nature itself launched a nuclear reaction. It happened here some 1.8 – 1.7 billion years ago. Tje temperature of the ground reached some 200 – 300° C and reaction continued for hundreds of thousands of years.

Flooded mine in Mounana, Oklo in Gabon
31

Ol Doinyo Lengai

5.2 out of 10 stars 51.8%

Africa, Tanzania

Why is it unique?
The only volcano in the world which is erupting carbonatite lava. This is a very unusual place without analogs elsewhere in the world. Shortly after the eruption lava turns snow-white but in a few months’ time, it becomes soft. Lava consists of very rare, nearly unique minerals.

Ol Doinyo Lengai, Tanzania
32

Patomskiy Crater

5.5 out of 10 stars 54.7%

Asia, Russia (Irkutsk Oblast)

Why is it unique?
Mysterious crater in a remote part of Siberia. It is not clear how it formed, but it happened some 500 years ago. It is possible that there happened some kind of gaseous eruption. Site of exotic legends, purported evil place.

Patomskiy Crater, Russia
33

Rokeb di Firmihin

4.6 out of 10 stars 46.3%

Asia, Yemen (Socotra)

Why is it unique?
The last forest of Dragon’s Blood Trees (Dracaena cinnabari) – legendary trees which look as if they arrived from another planet. In this forest live several species of plants and animals which are not met anywhere else in the world.

Dragon's Blood Trees, Soqatra
34

Sima Humboldt and Sima Martel

5.6 out of 10 stars 55.5%

South America, Venezuela

Why is it unique?
The largest sinkholes in quartzite, formed over hundreds of millions of years. Sinkholes have formed on the only tepui (table-mountain) which is covered with rainforest and as a result on the bottom of these giant holes (up to 314 m deep!) grows a unique forest.

Sima Humboldt and Sima Martel, sinkholes in Venezuela
35

Sireneviy Kamen

2.7 out of 10 stars 27.3%

Asia, Russia (Sakha Republic, Irkutsk Oblast)

Why is it unique?
The only find of a mineral of unusual beauty – charoite. In this area have been found some 200 minerals, many – rare and even unique. It is allowed to mine only 100 tons of charoite per year.

Charoitite - rock which consists mainly from charoite
36

Sistema Zacaton

5.7 out of 10 stars 57.0%

North America, Mexico

Why is it unique?
A unique system of numerous sinkholes which are up to 339 m deep. These weird holes were created by thermal acidic waters from the bottom up. Some sinkholes have sealed up in a natural way and possibly contain unique organisms. Other sinkholes have floating islands which gradually increase their size, forming the “lids”.

El Zacaton and Nacimiento spring
37

Vailulu’u Eel City and Moat of Death

4.6 out of 10 stars 46.3%

Oceania, American Samoa

Why is it unique?
Submarine mountain – a volcano which is quickly rising towards the surface of the ocean. Countless eels live in an unusual, unique colony near the summit of Vailulu’u. Around the base of the mountain has formed a zone of toxic fluids – “Moat of Death”.

Dysommina rugosa eels in Nafanua Eel City, American Samoa
38

Vallée de Mai

5.2 out of 10 stars 52.3%

Africa, Seychelles

Why is it unique?
Unique forest – a relict, descendant of the primeval forests of Gondwana continent. The only natural forest of coco de mer – a palm with the world’s largest seeds.

Vallée de Mai, Seychelles
39

Wachsender Felsen of Usterling

4.6 out of 10 stars 45.8%

Europe, Germany

Why is it unique?
Natural, up to 5.4 m tall stone wall with a stream of fresh spring water flowing along its upper rim. Wall is 37 m long. Humans have helped nature to create it by cleaning the stream from fallen branches, leaves, grass.

Usterling Growing Rock, Germany
40

Yungay

5.1 out of 10 stars 50.6%

South America, Chile

Why is it unique?
Almost lifeless place due to extreme dryness. Only recently here were discovered some microorganisms. As a result here have formed rich nitrate deposits (up to 5 m thick) deposited by the atmosphere and, contrary to other places of the world, not consumed by microorganisms.

Landscape near Antofagasta, not too far from Yungay, Chile

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