14 Breathtaking Places to Visit Before They Disappear
Some of these places might be almost or completely gone in your lifetime, so if you've always wanted to go make sure to book your flight now.
Going, going, gone
With many of the world's amazing destinations under threat due to climate change and neglect, it's not surprising that last-chance tourism is on the rise. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and head to one of these gorgeous destinations before it's too late. Just make sure to avoid traveling to the most dangerous places in the world.
The Grand Canyon
Back in 2015, the Grand Canyon was named one of the United State's "most endangered historic places" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This beautiful natural landscape is threatened by tourism and mining and is at high risk for destruction and irreparable damage.
The Galapagos Islands
If experiencing the vast wildlife and gorgeous beaches of the Galapagos Islands in on your bucket list, you're going to want to book a flight soon. Its ecosystem has been compromised due to overfishing and rising ocean temperatures. Coral reefs are beginning to die and native animals are threatened by tourists. Efforts are being taken to bring the island back to what it used to be though. Iguanas are being released on the islands after having gone extinct in that area due to invasive predators. They serve a vital role in dispersing seeds in areas that don't have vegetation. This is what the world's most polluted beaches used to look like.
In 2017, yet another study published in Nature determined that climate change has accelerated the rate at which the sea levels are rising. So it stands to reason that the destination most at risk is the lowest-lying country in the world, an island nation comprised of a series of atolls formed from coral in the Indian Ocean. Go now, while the Maldives are still a tropical paradise with year-round temperatures in the low 80s, crystalline waters, and beaches that glow in the dark.
The Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest is slowly disappearing. Five decades ago, Brazil incentivized its people to colonize the Amazon. The lush forest has been replaced with logging yards, cattle enclosures, and soy farms. The president of Brazil believes that the Amazon should be open for business and since his inauguration in January 2020, the rate of deforestation has grown by 92 percent. Increased human activity in the forest and a changing climate have caused devastating forest fires that create irreversible damage. If something isn't done, the entire forest could be gone in a few generations. Here's what iconic skylines would look like without air pollution.
Due to its high altitude, extreme topography, and harsh weather conditions, the lost city is at high risk for erosion due to natural disasters. Preventative measures are being taken to make sure to site stays intact for as long as possible though and much of the money being brought in by tourism is used to keep its integrity.
Everglades National Park
The beautiful and unique wetland wilderness at the southern tip of Florida contains the Western Hemisphere's largest mangrove ecosystem and largest continuous stand of sawgrass prairie. It is home to an exceptional variety of wading birds, reptiles, and numerous threatened species, such as the Florida panther and manatee. Urban development, industry, and agriculture pressures have destroyed more than half of the original Everglades and what remains has been on UNESCO's List of World Heritage in Danger since 2010.
If your bucket list features a romantic gondola ride on picturesque canals, there's no time like the present to book a trip to Venice. Due to rising sea levels and natural tectonic processes, the stunning "Floating City" is sinking at a rate of one to two millimeters per year, according to a study by Scripps Institution of Oceanography. That translates to more than three inches over the next two decades.
Great Barrier Reef
The world's largest and most breathtaking coral reef is dying at the hands of humans. Climate change and pollution have led to acidification, extreme weather, and starfish outbreaks. Spikes in water temperature have caused large-scale coral bleaching episodes, in which vast swaths of colorful corals turn a sickly white. More than half of the reef's coral cover has disappeared since the 1980s, according to the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and experts say the rest could be lost within two decades. Check out the beaches with the clearest water in the world.
Ready for your next big adventure? During summer in the southern hemisphere, the sea ice shrinks, allowing cruise ships access to a vast white wilderness larger than Europe and home to a wonderful assortment of species, including penguins, leopard seals, and orcas. A study published in Nature predicted that the world's permanent ice caps is on track to shrink by nearly 25 percent by the end of the century and most of this will occur in the Antarctic Peninsula. This will irreversibly change the continent's fragile ecosystem.