10 Amazing Places to Visit Before it's too Late
Some of the most spectacular destinations of the world may soon vanish from the face of the Earth. Rising sea levels, increasing pollution, unexpected climate changes, and general neglect are slowly taking a toll on these iconic locations and they are on the brink of oblivion. If you plan to visit any of the threatened places mentioned below, you have to move fast. Book your tickets, pack your bags, and head to these legendary destinations before it is too late.
1. VENICE, ITALY
If you have always dreamed about taking a romantic gondola ride in Venice, don’t wait for too long. Venice, the floating city, is slowly sinking due to rising sea levels and severe flooding. The foundations of the city have always been fragile, and Venice was always in danger of getting engulfed by the rising levels of the Adriatic Sea. But the cruise ship traffic and recurring severe floods have recently caused too much destruction to the city’s low-lying brick structures. The incredibly beautiful Venice with its quaint cobbled alleys, picturesque under bridges, intricate network of watery canals, and glorious Venetian architecture may completely be submerged by the end of the century. So, if you plan to visit this legendary city, you better hurry.
2. THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA
The Great Wall of China looks really majestic as it snakes through mountains, hills, and rugged countryside. The world’s largest man-made structure, the 2000-year-old Great Wall of China, has managed to survive centuries of attacks and weathering but its legacy is coming to an end. It was conceived by Emperor Qin Shi Huang in the 3rd century B.C. to protect China’s northern border. The original 21,000 km wall is now in ruins and only 9% is considered well-preserved. Erosion from over-farming, theft of bricks, tourism, and old age has taken an adverse effect and the Great Wall is collapsing rapidly. If you want to see one of the greatest engineering marvels of the world, start planning before the wall crumbles completely
3. THE DEAD SEA, ISRAEL
If floating on the healing waters of the Dead Sea is on your wish list, it is time to start moving. Rapidly reducing inflow from the Jordan river, mineral mining, and the emergence of countless sinkholes have caused irreversible damage to this hypersaline lake. The coastline is receding at an alarming rate of around 3.3 feet per year and the Dead Sea has lost one-third of its surface area since 1960. The lake, located at 1,300 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in the world. Interestingly, the lake’s water is 10 times saltier than the ocean. The Dead Sea draws a lot of tourists who want to ‘float’ on the high saline water and reap the therapeutic benefits of swimming in the mineral-rich lake. If you want to visit the saltiest spot on Earth and experience the surreal ‘buoyancy’ of the Dead Sea, make a move before the sea ‘dies’ literally.
4. THE GREAT BARRIER REEF, AUSTRALIA
The largest coral roof, stretching some 2,300 km along the coast of Queensland in Australia, is in danger of extinction. The Great Barrier Reef, comprising over 2900 individual reefs and 900 islands, is the only living thing that can be seen from space. Unfortunately, rising water temperatures, industrial dumping, and outdated fishing practices have resulted in acidification and bleaching episodes. Global warming and malpractices have caused massive damage to the reef, marine life, and seafloor. Since the 1980s, more than half of the slow-growing, vulnerable corals have disappeared and the rest is also not going to last long. If this vibrant and colorful bio-diverse natural wonder excites you, book a trip at the earliest opportunity.
5. THE AMAZON RAINFOREST, SOUTH AMERICA
Stretching over 5.5 million square km, Amazon Rainforest is home to 10% of the Earth’s known species. The tropical expanse is the habitat of many unusual animals, birds, plants, and insects. Nearly 30 million people belonging to 350 ethnic groups live in the Amazon jungle. The lush tropical forest is incredibly beautiful and is rightly called the ‘lungs of the world’. The biodiversity of the Amazon Rainforest is unparalleled, but the future of the rainforest is uncertain. Rampant deforestation, changing climate, and increasing human activity have resulted in irreversible damage to the rainforest. The devastating forest fires due to rising temperatures are a major threat to this tropical jungle. Amazon Rainforest, which has been in existence for more than 55 million years, is slowly disappearing and could be soon wiped out. Those looking for an intriguing adventure in a sprawling forest should start looking for good offers.
6. MALDIVES, INDIAN OCEAN
Pristine white beaches, turquoise waters, vast coral reefs, and the world’s most luxurious hotels – Maldives makes it to the bucket list of every traveler. However, the 1,192 islands of Maldives are in grave danger of being flooded by rising tides. The stunning paradise is officially the lowest-lying country in the world with an average elevation of just 1.8 meters above sea level. If the ocean continues to rise at the same levels, Maldives is at a huge risk of getting submerged completely within the next 100 years. The Maldives government is buying land in other countries with the intention of relocating its residents that gets displaced by rising tides. The idyllic beaches of Maldives are under threat of being completely enveloped by the ocean, so do not wait long before planning a visit to this spectacular country.
7. TAJ MAHAL, INDIA
India’s most prized possession and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Taj Mahal is also under threat of destruction. The iconic white marble structure is an amalgamation of Hindu, Arabic, Persian, and Islamic architectural styles and displays perfect symmetry. It was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in loving memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal.
The fascinating back story and the beauty of the magnificent marble structure draw 4 million visitors to the Taj Mahal every year. But the air pollution, rush of tourists, vehicular fumes, and poor restoration are eroding the legendary monument and turning the ivory-white mausoleum into a hazy shade of yellow. To add to the woes, the foundation of the Taj Mahal is also reportedly sinking towards the Yamuna River. To prevent the 17th-century architectural marvel from being lost forever, the government of India is considering closing it to travelers in near future. Soon you might be able to admire the iconic Taj Mahal only from afar, so better plan your visit to this monument of eternal love at the earliest.
8. THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, ECUADOR
The Galapagos Islands have drawn tourists in hordes due to their raw barren beauty, gigantic sea tortoises, and playful sea lions. The archipelago of 19 islands, located in the Pacific Ocean, is dotted with volcanoes and lava piles. Each island provides a unique landscape with its beautiful beaches, rugged mountains, black volcanic rocks, and blue sea. The islands inspired Charles Darwin to come with his famous theory of evolution in 1859.
The heavy inflow of tourists, increasing population, and illegal fishing are having a very negative impact on the environment and fragile ecosystems. Islands that were supposed to be isolated from the world are now part of a network and the impact can be clearly seen. The incoming boats and planes are introducing new invasive species to the islands that are disrupting the harmony of the native species. If you want to do your bit in preserving these magical islands, you shouldn’t visit them. But if it’s your dream to explore the arid landscapes and unusual animal life of the Galapagos Islands, you should visit the islands before they lose their striking beauty.
9. MACHU PICCHU, PERU
One of the most popular destinations in the world, Machu Picchu is also under severe threat. More than half a million tourists reach the famous Inca citadel every year to admire the gorgeous ruins. Located 2430 meters above sea level, Machu Picchu is perched on a high plateau in the middle of a tropical mountain forest. The mortar-free limestone architecture with its delightful terraces, walls, and ramps will leave you awe-struck. Machu Picchu is a splendid fusion of nature’s beauty and Peruvian architecture and everyone should visit it at least once in their lifetime.
The impact of tourism, pollution, deforestation, landslides, and natural erosion can be seen on Machu Picchu as it was never intended to accommodate such huge crowds. Recently, Machu Picchu was added to the list of endangered sites by UNESCO. The authorities have limited the number of tourists to 2500 per day to save the crowning jewel of the Incan Empire, but we have no idea what the future holds. New restrictions may come up and the dream of visiting the famous ruins may never be fulfilled.
10. GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, MONTANA
The breathtaking Glacier National Park located in Montana, which began forming 150 years ago, is spread across more than one million acres of luxuriant land. The national park is home to more than 130 lakes and countless species of plants and animals. The rugged mountains, green meadows, endless forests, and sparkling lakes of the Glacier National Park are a paradise for hikers and adventure-lovers.
The main attraction of the park, as the name suggests, is the stunning glaciers. Sadly, global warming and climate changes have resulted in the melting of glaciers. In the middle of the 19th century, scientists had recorded 150 glaciers in the park, but by 2019 only 25 were left. If steps are not taken to control the climate changes, it is predicted that all the glaciers will be gone by 2030. The disappearance of glaciers will not only diminish the beauty of the place but also play havoc with the diverse ecosystem. 2030 is not far, so you don’t have much time left to explore the glaciers of the picturesque National Park.
If any of these amazing places are on your bucket list, you should book a trip there before it is too late. Some of them may disappear completely while others may lose their beauty or become inaccessible, so no point in delaying your visit. The list should also make you aware of the danger that the world is facing from pollution, commercialization, global warming, and negligence. It is time for all of us to tread lightly, become environmentally responsible, and leave no carbon imprint on the places we visit