Choquequirao Archaeological Park, Peru
Choquequirao is an Incan archaeological treasure that has long remained hidden from the tourist hordes. Reaching ‘Machu Picchu’s Little Sister’, it requires a challenging hike that keeps visitor numbers in check. But that is all about to change, with a cable car under construction that will alter this quiet corner forever.
Conservationists fear that making Choquequirao accessible to all could attract 3,000 visitors a day, shattering the tranquility that makes the ruined temples and terraces such a joy to explore. Intrepid hikers trek deserted paths through lush rainforests and beneath snow-capped peaks in order to get here and the journey is half the attraction. So for those keen to experience Choquequirao at its peaceful best, the time to visit this breathtaking place is now. Don’t wait for the cable car to be built and book your flight.
Located on Greece’s picturesque Peloponnese Peninsula, inspiring Olympia is a sight to behold. This is where the Olympic movement began in 776BC, with the ancient Greeks staging great sporting contests every four years. Interested in history? You’ll find this iconic spot fascinating. But with Olympia’s existence under increasing threat, you’re advised to visit sooner rather than later.
Olympia ranks amongst Greece’s top tourist attractions. But that could soon change. Rising summer temperatures mean that devastating wildfires have become commonplace in these parts. The rampant flames are getting closer and so the risks to this ancient site are rising. There are more than 70 buildings and ruins to explore here, including the remains of Zeus’ great temple; a visit is much recommended. The clock is ticking as the climate continues to change, and those keen to see Olympia at its breathtaking best are facing a race against time.
Venice has long lived a charmed life. Built on 118 low-lying Italian islands in a shimmering lagoon, the city’s questionable location has always made it precarious. Prone to flooding since its earliest days, it looks as though time is starting to run out. When high winds in the Adriatic swept six feet of water through the city’s streets in 2019, it represented Venice’s worst floods for more than half a century. Climate change was blamed initially — but poor engineering, civic mismanagement and neglected flood defences also played their part.
The floods caused untold damage to countless ancient buildings and monuments here. Swimming across St Mark’s Square might illicit a chuckle, but the reality is no laughing matter. With ocean levels continuing to rise and the city’s flood defences not fit for purpose, this might soon become a common sight. With Venice in danger of disappearing for good, this is a city whose luck has run out.
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Remote and remarkable, the gorgeous Galápagos Islands are a haven for wildlife lovers. But there is trouble brewing in paradise. More than 170,000 tourists head here on an annual basis, keen to see the famed Giant Tortoises and countless other creatures at close quarters. But increasing numbers are putting quite a strain on this minuscule dot in the ocean. One proposal being considered is a cap to limit visitors. Yet this will not solve all the island’s mounting issues.
Global warming is having a major impact here and, as the ocean temperatures continue to rise, the region’s marine life is under threat. Climate change is causing widespread coral bleaching, damaging the reefs and killing the creatures that live there. Moreover pollution, illegal fishing and the ever-present risk from the El Nino weather system put the Galápagos Islands in grave danger.
Congo Basin, Congo
The Congo Basin is home to the second largest rainforest on Earth. But that could soon be about to change. Deforestation is rampant in this impoverished land. Second in size only to the mighty Amazon, the Congo Basin is shrinking fast. The logging that is doing such damage here is illegal, but the problem is so widespread that the authorities have lost control. Countless trees continue to be felled to clear the land for farming. The damage being done in the process is huge.
The Congo Basin’s disappearing forests are rich in wildlife, home to endangered species galore, including most of the planet’s remaining gorillas. Like to see this breathtaking place for yourself? Be sure to visit before it disappears forever. The sprawling rainforest still covers an area larger than Alaska. But with 165,000 hectares having been cleared between 2000 and 2014, this lush landscape is getting smaller and smaller.
The Sundarbans, India & Bangladesh
The clock is ticking for the precious Sundarbans. This is a fragile land that is fast approaching a tipping point. Getting smaller and smaller, there’s a danger that it’ll disappear altogether before much longer. Located in the picturesque delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers, this is one of the largest mangrove forests on the planet. But as more and more trees are felled, the risk to the land increases.
Illegal logging is a major problem here and, with fewer trees to hold the thinning soil together, erosion is a constant threat. Prone to devastating cyclones and tidal waves, the people here have long relied on the forest to shield them from the worst of the weather. But as the trees disappear, the land too is starting to vanish. The Sundarbans are rich in wildlife — home to 260 bird species, Bengal tigers, endangered estuarine crocodiles and rare Indian pythons. With their homes under threat, the consequences could be dire indeed.
The Maldives have long beckoned tourists keen to kick back. Located in the sun-kissed Arabian Sea, this is an island paradise, with its white sands, amazing under-sea landscapes, tropical climate and laid-back lifestyle. But the Maldives are under threat. Thinking about paying a visit? You’ll need to get a move on, with the islands in danger of disappearing forever. Climate change is the culprit once again. With sea levels rising, those in the Maldives are preparing for the worst.
Like other low-lying atolls and islands, the Maldives are first in the firing line as the world gets ever warmer. This might be a popular tourist destination now, but scientists predict that the Maldives could be uninhabitable by the end of the century. Frequent flooding, a lack of freshwater and major damage to infrastructure are all on the cards for a beautiful land that could have fewer than 80 years left. Trouble in paradise? This is a breathtaking place that is living on borrowed time.
Patagonian Ice Fields, Argentina
The Patagonian Ice Fields are enormous. Located in the Andes, between Chile and Argentina, there is 5,500 gigatons of solid ice packed here. The problem is, it’s melting. Global warming and its impact on the environment cannot be underestimated. With the ice fields shrinking fast, those keen to catch a glimpse of this fascinating frozen land cannot afford to hang around.
Home to glacial fjords and dramatic valleys, this is a picturesque place, but the threat from climate change is real. There’s so much ice here that, were it all to melt, global sea levels would rise by as much as 15mm. This might sound far fetched, but the ice fields were once even greater, with all that remains now just a fraction of the vast ancient Patagonian Ice Sheet. That began to melt 18,000 years ago. With global temperatures continuing to rise, this is a fragile landscape that is soon to be altered forever.
The Everglades, United States
Breathtaking? For sure. Disappearing? There can be no doubt about it. Described as ‘the most threatened park in the United States’, Florida’s famed wetlands were once twice the size they are today. There is little sign that this disturbing trend is about to change.
Home to abundant wildlife, and in particular the alligators for which the popular park is most renowned, the Everglades are facing threats on several fronts. Climate change has taken a toll, but man-made dangers are doing the greatest damage here. Florida’s population pressures mean urban development is a constant challenge to those determined to keep this wild land wild, whilst the diversion of water and the introduction of new species has disturbed the natural balance. The race is now on to save what is left, but with the Everglades coming under constant pressure, those keen to visit should start planning their trip now.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Tourists have long flocked to Bolivia’s vast salt flats to witness a haunting land and its famed pink flamingos. This was once a huge prehistoric lake, but the waters dried up long ago. The barren flats cover 11,000 square kilometres here, with the bright white salt gleaming in the hot South American sun. You can still experience Salar de Uyuni and its unique attractions. But there can be no question that this fascinating corner of Bolivia is living on borrowed time.
The threat comes from lithium, used to make batteries, and electronic gadgets and devices, with one hundred million metric tons of the rare metal buried in Bolivia. This means the land might need some digging on an industrial scale and, with artificial lakes, laboratories and machines littering the landscape, Salar de Uyuni’s unique appeal is beginning to disappear. Thinking about paying a visit? You’d better make it soon.
The Madagascan Rainforest is a marvellous place. Renowned for its unique biodiversity, countless plant and animal species can be discovered here. But all is not well beneath the thick jungle canopy. Deforestation doing untold damage to the precious environment, this is a fragile habitat that is disappearing fast.
Madagascar enjoys a spectacular location in the shimmering Indian Ocean, but there is trouble in paradise. The rainforest covers around 21% of the island, and this number is falling fast. The trees here are being felled to create agricultural and pastoral land, and the impact on the island’s rich wildlife cannot be underestimated. Conservationists point to desertification, habitat loss and soil degradation as the greatest threats and it’s clear that Madagascar has reached a tipping point. The rainforest here remains a marvellous place. Keen to see it for yourself? Be sure to pay a visit soon, before it’s too late.
Komodo Island, Indonesia
Tourists have long flocked to captivating Komodo Island. The attractions here are plentiful, with volcanic hills to climb, lush forests to trek and colourful reefs for divers to explore. Then there are the famed lizards that give this place its name. There are 4,000 Komodo Dragons here and the chance to get up close and personal is a rare treat. But with the environment under threat from tourism, plans are afoot to limit access – or forbid it altogether.
Closing Komodo Island to all visitors has been debated, although that drastic proposal has been shelved for now. Instead, a hefty tourist tax is being considered, which would make this a far more exclusive destination. Whatever is decided, it seems certain that you’ll soon find the island far more difficult to visit. Is Komodo Island on your travel bucket list? You should go and spend a little time with the giant lizards before it’s too late.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is not what it once was. Stretching for more than 1,400 miles along Australia’s stunning eastern shores, it remains the largest reef system on Earth. It can still be seen from Space, but get closer and it’s clear that this natural wonder is in trouble. The problem? It’s all down to climate change. The oceans are getting ever warmer and the Great Barrier Reef just cannot cope.
You can see it in the colours or lack of. Once bright and vibrant, the reef is turning white – a phenomenon known as bleaching. As the ocean temperature rises, the reef expels the algae that gives it that characteristic colour. Bleached coral cannot reproduce, which means that the Great Barrier Reef is not growing as it once did. More than half of the reef is believed to have died and there’s an 89% decrease in new coral growth. Like to see this breathtaking place before it disappears? Don’t leave it too late.
The Door to Hell, Turkmenistan
The Door to Hell is a fascinating place. Located deep in the bleak Karakum Desert, in remote Turkmenistan, just getting here is a considerable challenge. But those who do make the difficult pilgrimage find the experience rewarding. The fire that lights the night skies here has been burning for more than four decades, but the blaze could soon be extinguished. Natural gases have long fuelled the dramatic Door to Hell, but the reserves are not limitless.
You can go right to the edge and see the crater that formed during a drilling accident in the 1970s. It is enormous, measuring 225 feet from one side to the other, and almost 100 feet deep. The fire began when the ground beneath a Soviet drilling rig gave way, starting an inferno that still rages. But the blaze cannot last forever and those keen to take a peek are advised to get on with it.
Dead Sea, Israel, Jordan & Palestine
Is the Dead Sea dying? Not quite, but there’s no question that great change is afoot in the Middle East. Beaches that once proved popular on the inland ocean’s shimmering shoreline these days lie far from the receding waters. The Dead Sea isn’t dying, but there’s no question that this landlocked salt lake is getting smaller and smaller.
The Dead Sea is popular with tourists thanks to the extreme saltiness that makes it impossible for bathers to sink. The waters here are almost 10 times saltier than those in the Earth’s oceans and there’s nothing quite like floating on the surface with a good book in hand. But as the water level drops in the heat of the Middle Eastern sun, huge sinkholes have started to open up, causing the Dead Sea to shrink at an even more rapid rate. With the shoreline receding almost three feet a year, you’re advised to visit as soon as possible.
Glaciers of the European Alps, Switzerland
There are almost 1,800 glaciers in Switzerland’s beautiful Alps. The ice here is melting fast, with those keen to visit advised not to leave it too late. This might sound a touch dramatic, but consider that some 800 million metric tons of ice was lost in just 14 days as the summer heatwave gripped Europe in 2019 and it’s clear that the threat to the region is real. Climate change has taken quite a toll here, and scientists fear there’s no going back.
Experts predict that 50% of glacier ice in the Alps will have melted by 2050, with that figure expected to rise to almost two-thirds by the end of the century. The Pennine and Bernese Alps are at particular risk, whilst those keen to see the Jungfrau-Aletsch at its breathtaking best would be wise to pay a visit soon. With the Swiss Alps in danger of being all but ice-free by 2100, there really is no time to delay.
Bordeaux Vineyards, France
Bordeaux’s famed vineyards are world-renowned, with the wines produced here amongst the finest on Earth. Yet this heritage that dates back to Roman times is under threat. Climate change is to blame, with rising temperatures prompting vintners to fear for their futures. Like most places on the planet, France’s picturesque Gironde department is getting ever warmer, with average temperatures having increased by 2C since the 1950s. The conditions here are no longer as conducive to growing grapes as in times passed. The implications for the wine trade are serious.
The region relies on its wine, producing some 700 million bottles in a good year. That number is falling fast as the vineyards start to shrink, with the excellent Merlot grapes that are synonymous with Bordeaux at particular risk from the warmer summers. The climate here has become more Mediterranean than Atlantic in recent times which might have a very important impact in the future.
The Alaskan Tundra, Alaska, USA
Covering almost half of the largest state in the US, Alaska’s treeless tundra is enormous. The trouble is, this remote and ancient land is disappearing fast. Like a take a look? Take our advice and don’t leave it too late. The conditions harsh and the temperatures cold, this is a spot far from the tourist trail, but therein lies the tundra’s obvious appeal. This is a magical place to spend a little time, but that time is starting to run out.
The issues are all man-made, with climate change and increasing human exploitation to blame for a land that is forever shrinking. The permanently-frozen ground here is starting to thaw, with obvious consequences for the native plant and animal species. Often called a ‘cold desert’, the tundra is far from barren, this a beautiful spot that demands a visit. Like to take a look? Make it sooner rather than later.
The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Towering tall over Tanzania, Kilimanjaro’s snowcapped summit has long beckoned the adventurous. Measuring 16,000 feet from top to bottom, those able to complete the breathtaking ascent are rewarded with ancient glaciers and views to die for. Like to take a peek? You’ll need to get a move on. Scientific studies have shown that the glaciers are melting, with researchers predicting that Kilimanjaro’s snows might soon have disappeared altogether.
The reasons continue to prompt debate in the scientific community, although it seems quite clear that global warming is playing a significant role. Kilimanjaro’s famous glaciers are believed to date back almost 12,000 years, but with the ice fields here having shrunk 85% in area since 1912, there can be no question that the situation is critical. Once covering 12 square kilometres, just 1.85 square kilometers remain. Like to see the snows of Kilimanjaro for yourself? Time is pressing, with some predicting the mountaintop could have thawed out entirely by 2033.
Amazon Rainforest, Brazil
The good news? The awe-inspiring Amazon remains the world’s largest tropical rainforest. The bad news is it’s shrinking fast. Deforestation has reached record levels in recent times. Those keen to visit should not dither, with this breathtaking land in danger of disappearing altogether. The rainforest still covers vast swathes of South America, but an area equal in size to two football pitches is being cleared every minute. Land-grabbing, mining and farming are all to blame. If things continue like this, there’ll soon be little left.
Experts estimate that 17% of the rainforest has been lost so far and it’s thought that the Amazon is close to reaching a tipping point. Renowned for its diverse wildlife and untamed landscape, illegal logging has altered this natural wonderland for the worst. Scientists predict that, unless something changes soon, this once-lush forest will become a barren scrubland that supports little life. The Amazon is essential to the planet ecosystem, so this is bad news for us all.