MNN Galleries

30 of the most beautiful places in the world

July 8, 2014, 9:01 a.m.
Namibia sand dunes

Photo: Ev Thomas/Shutterstock

12 of 32

Sossusvlei

Located in the southern part of the Namib desert in the Republic of Namibia, Sossusvlei is a treasure trove of sand dunes of staggering size and cinematic splendor. The pristine mountains of sand were built by the air, having been pushed and shifted by the colliding easterly winds from the Atlantic Ocean and the westerly winds from the Naukluft Mountains. They are believed to be 60 to 80 million years old and represent the highest sand dunes in the world — and easy contenders for the most beautiful. While they are visited by tourists who leave their footprints in the sand daily, all traces of humankind are erased each night as the winds sweep up the mess and return the dunes to a state of perfection for the next day.