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5 DESTINATIONS TO SEE
(AND SAVE) BEFORE THEY DISAPPEAR

travel plan

@fieldnotes_

NOT ALL THE AMAZING PLACES THAT CAN BE VISITED IN THE WORLD WILL BE THERE FOREVER. GLOBAL WARMING, WEAR OF MATERIALS AND OTHER CAUSES WILL SOON MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE TO ENJOY SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CORNERS OF THE PLANET. WE HAVE LISTED SOME OF THEM, AND THEN YOU CAN DECIDE IF YOU WANT TO VISIT THEM BEFORE THEY DISAPPEAR. IT IS ULTIMATELY YOUR DECISION.

Words By José M. Sainz-Maza

Grab any magazine, blog, travel agency brochure or Sunday newspaper edition and you may come across the ultimate index of sites that you cannot miss. Either because they are in fashion lately, were part of the filming locations of the last blockbuster or there is a new air route that takes you directly there, throughout the year you will find many recommendations to visit a certain island of Thailand, a volcano in northern Europe or some pretty central European city.

Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that this is a 21st century thing: this is something inherent in us humans. We love lists and recommendations, partly because we don’t want to feel that we are missing anything important, and partly because sometimes we lack ideas – which also explains the success of TripAdvisor or any other comparison website. The ancient Greeks, whom we consider to be thinkers of lofty ideas and profound philosophical discussions, already drew up their own lists of sites worth sightseeing. That small inventory of magnificent monuments ended up being called at some point in history “The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”. We would recommend visiting them but, with the sole exception of the Great Pyramid of Giza, they have all been destroyed in past centuries.

While we may sometimes think that because the Great Wall of China or the Parthenon in Athens have been with us for hundreds of years, remarkable places always remain in a similar state, the truth is that there are a wide variety of causes that can cause their deterioration or complete disappearance. To give you an idea, the most famous temple in Greece was used as a powder keg by the Ottoman army and bombarded by Venetians in the 17th century!

At other times, the causes are natural disasters such as earthquakes, tidal waves, or major storms, or it may be the passage of time and the excessive influx of people that irreversibly damage unique natural sites or old buildings. To date, some special locations are slowly disappearing, and we want you to know about it. That is why we have created a short list of some of those places whose existence is at risk and may not survive a few more decades.

“Tourism promotes closeness between people with different backgrounds and worldviews, and may help us be more open, tolerant and respectful. Nevertheless, it can also make us lose World Heritage sites forever.”

best beach

Picture taken from ITAP World

 

Tuvalu 

A set of atolls dotted with palm trees and bordered by turquoise waters is perhaps the closest image to paradise that many of us could imagine, but this Eden is in danger. This tiny country in Polynesia has an average altitude of just over four and a half meters, so a slight rise in sea level could inundate much of its territory. Of course, this is not something exclusive to Tuvalu, but affects other countries such as Kiribati, with a maximum altitude of less than two meters, or the Maldives. While some politicians still talk about climate change as a debatable theory, it is likely that in less than 30 years some countries will be submerged under the ocean and the world will have to face more frequent displacements of environmental migrants.

Cerro Torre Sunrise in Patagonia by Colby Brown

 

The Patagonian icefield, Argentina

South America is not only home to scorching deserts and some of the world’s most lush rainforests, but also to icy mountains and crystal clear lakes surrounded by steppe plains and bunch grasses. There, in southern Argentina, you can find a stunning natural monument, the Perito Moreno glacier. This beautiful bluish wall integrates, along with the rest of the more than 40 major glaciers of Los Glaciares National Park, a 2,600 square kilometers icefield and an immense lake, a wild landscape threatened by global warming.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), this region could lose half of its ice over the course of this century, something that NASA has also alerted. Many other smaller glaciers, located in the Alps, the Pyrenees, New Zealand or the Rocky Mountains, are in a trance of disappearance and have already seen their surface drastically reduced in recent years. Many of them may not continue to exist in the future, or may be lacking in their current majesty.

best trekking hills

Machu Picchu by National Geographic

Machu Picchu, Peru

Transatlantic flights have become much cheaper in recent times. Crossing from one continent to another seems easier than ever, and the intriguing, rich and complex architectural and cultural legacy of the original civilizations of Latin America is within reach of many people. However, it is necessary to be responsible when scheduling our trips. Tourism is a beneficial economic activity for many regions of the world, promotes closeness between people with different backgrounds and worldviews, and may help us be more open, tolerant and respectful. Nevertheless, it can also make us lose World Heritage sites forever.

Machu Picchu is an ancient ruined town built around 600 years ago at more than 2,400 meters of altitude in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru. The tourism boom implies the need to adapt the accesses to this Inca citadel for the more than 2,000 daily visitors they receive. The wear and tear given by the continuous movement of people, added to the accumulation of garbage in the surroundings, are seriously compromising its future in the medium term. A few decades of mass tourism can easily cause more erosion in an archaeological site than several centuries of rain.

scuba diving

Coral Reef from GettyImages – IBORISOFF/ISTOCK

 

The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The quintessential place to admire one of nature’s most delicate, complex and beautiful living beings, the vast chain of coral reefs that runs parallel to Australia’s north-east coast is fighting for its survival today. With an extension of 348,700 square kilometers, this corner of the planet is an extraordinary source of biodiversity, where animals construct huge colonies that allow the existence of very diverse ecosystems. Fish, mollusks, worms, algae, crustaceans and other living things -up to 25% of marine biodiversity- find their perfect place to live under the protection of these biotic reefs. However, it is also a very fragile habitat, highly dependent on salinity and water temperature conditions.

Victim of global warming, the Great Barrier Reef is suffering the same fate as other coral reefs in other parts of the world. Little by little, and faster every time, the corals die and this marine life sanctuary continues to disappear from the ocean. Whitish and parched skeletons that no longer harbor that vast number of species is all that remains.

Along with the increase in water temperature, fishing, commercial navigation, pollution and other effects of human presence have been an immense source of stress for this area of ​​the ocean. If we do nothing to improve water quality around the Great Barrier Reef, in a few years it may not be possible to dive among corals in one of the most sought-after locations for underwater tourism and we will have destroyed one of the greatest biological treasures on our planet.

“If we do nothing to improve water quality around the Great Barrier Reef, in a few years it may not be possible to dive among corals in one of the most sought-after locations for underwater tourism and we will have destroyed one of the greatest biological treasures on our planet.”

venice rivers

Picture taken from the EarthTrekkers

 

Venice, Italy

We will close this list in Europe and with a well-known example that deserves to be named again. Venice, the City of Canals, the Italian jewel of the Adriatic Sea, is perhaps one of the hardest hit places by the two evils: mass tourism and global warming.

Built on a myriad of small islands in the Venetian Lagoon, the city was the capital of a maritime empire and one of the finest places in the world. However, its sophisticated buildings erected on larch piles and Istrian stone slabs are on the verge of collapse. Annual flood tides strike Venice every year, huge cruise ships sail the Grand Canal and millions of feet of tourists erode the cobblestones of its streets. The current environmental circumstances are increasing the sinking of the city into the mud of the lagoon, a process that the sea level rise could accelerate in a few years and which is the subject of intense debate on sustainable tourism inside and outside Italy.

Now, it is up to you to catch the next available flight and visit these fairytale destinations, or to find a way to collaborate so that they can continue to exist another century more. Their future is in the hands of all of us, and it is not too late. Make your choice.

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