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8 Exceptionally Rare ‘National Geographic’ Photos That Will Stay With You

Feast your eyes on the the rarest animals, objects, locations, and events in these unusual and unforgettable images from 'National Geographic' magazine's master photographers.

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John Burcham

Blowing in the wind

A tumbleweed flies through the air at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats. Although we think of tumbleweeds as standard fixtures in any Western, the plants are not native to the United States—they originated in the Eurasian steppes. Here are more breathtaking landscapes that will fill you with wonder.

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Nanut Bovorn

Lighting up the sky

Lanterns soar up into the sky—and they’re also reflected below—as part of the Loy Krathong festival, which usually takes place at the end of the rainy season, in Thailand. The lanterns are released to protect against bad luck.

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George Steinmetz

Blowing off a bit of steam

A massive ice tower—just compare its size to the human standing to its right—releases gas and smoke from Antarctica’s Mount Erebus, which is a volcano. Check out these stunning photos of landmarks covered in snow.

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Cesare Naldi

We could all use a boost

Rajan, an Asian elephant, lifts Nazroo, his mahout or handler, in the ocean off the Andaman Islands. Rajan was once used to move logs, but like many retirees, he now enjoys frolicking in the water.

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John Burcham

A walk through the clouds

At nearly 4,000 feet high, the glass-bottomed skywalk at Grand Canyon at the canyon’s far western edge offers out-of-this-world views.

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Cyril Ruoso

What a big baby!

A pygmy hippo keeps her calf close in West Africa. An adult pygmy hippo weighs approximately between 350 and 600 pounds, not petite but still 10 times smaller than a regular-sized hippo.

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Peter Lourenco

Beautiful and only 145 years old

Purple-pink flowers flow down from Japan’s oldest wisteria tree, which dates back to 1870 and is located in Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi. At its advanced age, it needs extra assistance so beams help support its many weighty branches. Here are more amazing nature photos that look too perfect to be real.

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Joel Sartore

Ah, that hits the spot!

An employee dusts off the taxidermied figure of a bighorn sheep—one of a flock—that stands on display at Cabela’s retail store in Sidney, Nebraska. Don’t miss these 20 arrestingly beautiful photos that stand the test of time.

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More Stunning Images From the Book ‘Rarely Seen’

These images are all from the book Rarely Seen: Photographs of the Extraordinary, published by National Geographic. In it, you can see many more uncommon sights, from 30,000-year-old paintings in a cave that was sealed to the public to the engraving inside President Abraham Lincoln’s pocket watch.

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