Famous Places to Visit Before They Disappear Gallery
Famous Places to Visit Before They Disappear
Among the top travel trends for 2018 is what travel experts are calling “last-chance tourism,” in which many travelers are rushing to visit places that may soon be gone for good. Thanks to climate change, many attractions around the world are fading and in danger of disappearing forever. As luck would have it, not only do these spots tend to be some of the most breathtaking in the world, they’re also some of the most recognizable.
It’s not just melting ice caps and rising sea levels that are endangering beloved tourist spots, however. Deforestation, illegal wildlife trade, urban development, and erosion due to pollution, and tourist traffic are all factors putting some great destinations at risk. Even air travel itself is a factor — according to Myclimate.org, a round-trip economy class flight from New York City to the Maldives for just one person releases nearly 6 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
If that doesn’t dissuade you from flying and you’re not sure where to travel this year, we suggest you consider prioritizing the places where you may one day no longer be able to visit. The Grand Canyon isn’t going anywhere, but some of the famous snowy mountains you’ve been dreaming of trekking might not be such a white wonderland once you get there if you wait too long. To make sure you don’t miss out, check out these famous places you need to visit before they disappear.
The Alps themselves may not be going anywhere, but the Alps as we know them may soon disappear forever. The glaciers of this European mountain range — which is at a lower altitude than most others — have been melting for over 150 years now, with an accelerated glacier retreat rate starting in the 1980s. By 2050, there may no longer be any glaciers at all, as the Alps lose approximately 3 percent of their glacial ice every year. More important and worrisome than losing out on some great ski slopes, however, is the risk this poses to locals living in the area. As the glaciers melt and become lakes, there is a risk of avalanches falling into the lakes and creating potentially catastrophic tidal waves.
Comprising over half of the rainforests left on Earth as well as over a third of the world’s species of animals and plants, the Amazon is the largest and most biodiverse tropical rainforest in the world. Sadly, approximately 40 percent of the South American forest has disappeared over the last 40 years thanks to deforestation, mining, and industrial agriculture, and the rest of it is at risk of being wiped out in the next 50 years.
The Congo Basin, a sedimentary basin of the Congo River located in Central Africa, produces almost half the oxygen on the planet and is home to the world’s second largest rainforest. Despite its extreme importance and incredible biodiversity, however, the basin has suffered due to deforestation, illegal poaching, and mining. Experts say that by 2040, much of the Congo Basin is likely to be gone.
Great Barrier Reef
Located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world. Made up of over 2,900 reefs and 900 islands, the reef lost half of its coral over the past three decades due to coral bleaching, ocean acidification, and tropical storms. If the reef continues to experience hotter sea temperatures and more carbon pollution, scientists believe that by 2030, the damage will be done with no hope for improvement.
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is over 2,300 years old — and said to be haunted — but its time on Earth may be coming to an end. Over-farming has damaged or outright destroyed almost two-thirds of the wall in recent years, and there’s a risk of the wall being wiped out completely in as few as 20 years thanks to erosion.
In addition to erosion and landslides, Machu Picchu is at risk due to an even more immediate man-made threat: tourists. The Peruvian government and UNESCO had set a limit of 2,500 visitors per day in order to protect this beloved landmark, but with over a million visitors every year, that limit is far overrun, which creates more of a risk of collapse. It hasn’t been determined just how long the Incan ruins have, but we suggest you take a trip this year if you can, since Peru is a must-see destination in 2018.
Deforestation and forest fires have endangered the beautiful and impressively bio-diverse forests of Madagascar so immensely that they’re estimated to have only about 35 years left on this planet. Full of untold amounts of undiscovered species, as well as 50 species of lemurs and two-thirds of the world’s chameleons among its known inhabitants, almost 90 percent of the island’s original forests have already disappeared.
The Maldives, an island nation made up of 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean, is a gorgeous destination with an average natural ground level of about 4 feet 11 inches above sea level, making it the country with the lowest elevation in the world. The country is at extreme risk of submersion thanks to climate change, as over 80 percent is made up of coral islands measuring less than a meter above sea level. According to the United Nations’ environmental panel, the Maldives could be completely uninhabitable by 2100 if sea levels continue to rise at the same rate.
Pyramids of Giza
Egypt is one of our top destinations for 2018, and the Pyramids of Giza are definitely a reason you should make the trip sooner than later. Having stood the test of time for over 4,500 years now, the famous Egyptian pyramids may be finally facing their demise due to erosion as a result of modern-day pollution from nearby Cairo. Sewage has also weakened the plates on which the monuments stand, and heavy tourism has also put their structural integrity at risk, as tourists are able to walk all over the complex and the pyramids themselves. Theft, rising groundwater levels, and urban development all also threaten this world wonder.
Taken to the spotlight as Prince William and Kate Middleton’s honeymoon destination in 2011, the luxurious resorts, beautiful beaches, and over 90,000 inhabitants of the Seychelles are in danger due to climate change and the accompanying beach erosion and coral bleaching that is taking away much of the island nation’s beauty and livelihood. Located in the Indian Ocean, scientists estimate that all 115 of the Seychelles’ islands may have sunk completely into the ocean within the next 50 to 100 years.
Built in the seventeenth century by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for the tomb of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal is a world-famous 42-acre landmark that consists of not only the tomb, but a mosque, guest house, and gardens as well. In addition to environmental pollution, particularly acid rain, turning it yellow, the Taj Mahal has also been faced with structural risks due to the decline of groundwater levels in the Yamuna River basin, along which the structure lies. The tomb started to crack and its minarets began to tilt over in 2010, which was speculated to be the result of its wooden foundation rotting from lack of water. Experts fear the Indian monument may collapse sooner rather than later, some saying in as little as four to five years.
The center of one of 2017’s biggest travel controversies when the city banned cruise ships, Venice is made up of 118 islands and 400 bridges, which has made it especially susceptible to both time and climate change. As the city’s wooden foundations cause it to sink over time, rising sea levels seem to be hastening the pending danger. There have been initiatives to stave off what some scientists feel is inevitable, such as a planned installation of mobile flood gates, but if severe flooding continues to increase as it has been, this romantic destination may no longer be inhabitable by the end of the twenty-first century. If you’re itching to hop on a plane and get to these famous destinations before time runs out, check out these 10 ways savvy travelers save on airfare.