Hundreds of years ago, a tribe of Berbers put down stakes at the edge of the Sahara, catering to the desert caravans. The streets in Agadez's old city center still look much like they did in the 15th century—and recently earned UNESCO's stamp of approval.
Each summer, UNESCO convenes to announce new picks for the World Heritage List, chosen for their cultural, historical, and environmental importance, from vast sand dunes and mountains towering 22,000 feet high to magnificent palaces. Agadez in present-day Niger was recognized for its earthen architecture, becoming one of the 19 new inscriptions that bring the total to 981 sites in 160 countries (Fiji and Qatar debuted this year).
While the Medici villas in Tuscany and Mount Fuji in Japan—also new members of the club—will continue to draw hordes of tourists, no doubt there are other travelers who’ll welcome the challenge of visiting the off-the-beaten-track destinations singled out by UNESCO.
Check out this year's new crop of wonders and see which ones speak to you. Tajikistan, anyone? —Deb Hopewell