It’s sad but true: a few of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world are under serious threat. Visit them before it’s too late.
The world is full of jaw-dropping sights but some of the most amazing natural wonders are on the verge of vanishing due to a mixture of climate change, rising sea levels, and us, humans. From the picture-perfect Venice to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, take a look through our list of places to see before they disappear.
1. The Maldives, South Asia
Truly dreamy, the utopian paradise of the Maldives lies slap bang in the middle of the Indian Ocean. With pristine sugar-white beaches, vast, colorful coral reefs, and clear, turquoise waters, it’s a sight for sore eyes. Averaging at an elevation of 3.3 feet above sea level, the Maldives is also known as the lowest-lying country on Earth which doesn’t bode well for the beautiful country’s future. It’s thought that the island nation could be completely submerged by water within the next 100 years if the sea levels continue to rise. And the local government is taking it seriously, buying land in other surrounding countries for citizens facing displacements due to rising tides.
With gorgeous resorts and off-the-beaten-track Maldives accommodation available, make sure you add it to your must-see list.
2. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Spanning 1200 miles along Australia’s Queensland coast and home to more than 2900 coral reefs, 600 islands, and an abundance of species of fish, the Great Barrier Reef is Down Under’s biggest attraction and is the only natural wonder that can be spotted from space. Losing around half of its vulnerable coral reefs over the last 30 years as a result of increased tropical storms jumps in carbon dioxide and rising ocean temperatures. If these factors increase and if significant conservation isn’t made, experts say that there could irreversibly damage that could destroy the icon within the next 100 years.
With reasonably priced flights available, head to Australia to see the wonder for yourself.
3. Venice, Italy
Picture-postcard perfect and nicknamed the ‘Floating City’, medieval Venice has long been heralded as one of the most romantic destinations in the world. With a network of charming canals under stone bridges and winding through cobbled streets, we’ve got bad news: this beautiful Italian city is facing ruin. Its sinking, unstable wooden foundations and an increasing number of floods have meant that low lying brick structures have been damaged. It’s looking like as little as a 3.3-foot rise in sea levels could put the city underwater. A project is underway to install a much-debated system of mobile flood gates but it’s still unclear whether Venice will still be inhabitable by century’s end.
Make sure you make the most of the gorgeous city by taking a tour.
4. The Dead Sea, Israel, Jordan & Palestine
This famous, super salty lake is renowned for its healing properties and natural buoyancy, allowing visitors to float effortlessly, Sadly, the dead sea is on its last legs due to a mix of human and geological factors. Mineral mining from farmers and cosmetic companies continue to drain the sea of its rich resources. So much so that the water levels have gone down by three feet a year and the lake itself has sunk 80 feet. Plus, there’s an even greater threat: the appearance of sinkholes. With 1000 emerging over the last 15 years, experts believe the lake could disappear for good within the next 50 years.
Make the most of its curative powers and epic scenery by booking a holiday to experience it for yourself asap.
5. Madasgascar Rainforest
With 50 species of adorable lemurs, the mass majority of chameleons, and weird and wonderful animals like the giraffe weevil making Madagascar home, it’s no wonder that island is the ultimate mecca for nature lovers. The Dreamworks’ hit film put the African island on the map and depicts an idyllic dense rainforest; although the reality is far from that. Mass deforestation and recurring bushfires have whittled away its forests, critically threatening the already vulnerable lemurs, while many of Madagascar’s unrecorded species will be lost before they are even discovered.
Put it on your bucket list and make sure you check out a Madagascar guide to planning a trip.
6. The Alps
As one of the most famous skiing regions in the world, the Alps started melting 150 years ago. Sitting at a lower altitude than the Rockies has left the mountain range more susceptible to climate change resulting in it losing around three percent of Alpine glacial ice a year with the prospect that all of its glaciers could disappear entirely by 2050. Locals are extremely worried snow avalanches may tumble into newly formed lakes causing tidal waves that could potentially cascade through their villages.
We recommend setting up a base camp in Morzine during the next ski season.
7. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Charles Darwin described the Galapagos Islands as “a world within itself”. With flora and fauna aplenty, ranging from giant tortoises and flightless cormorants to pygmy whales and hoary bats, it’s a wildlife lovers’ paradise. But the once secluded island is in a period of overwhelming change due to a swelling population, four busy airports, and a regular influx of visitors. Get there before the tourists and spend one week on a tour of Ecuador and Galapagos Islands with Explore.
8. Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia
The largest and most awe-inspiring salt flats in the world, Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni are a magnet for travelers. They are also sitting on half of the world’s lithium reserves which the Bolivian government is now extracting as the demand for lithium batteries goes up and the range of new smartphones. With extraction increasing, Bolivia’s untouched salt flats may be the stuff of legend too soon. Tour Bolivia and check out the wonder for yourself with a range of reputable operators.
9. The Door to Hell, Turkmenistan
The Door to Hell in the depths of Turkmenistan’s Karakum Desert, was set alight in 1971 when engineers worried it was emitting poisonous gases. Since then, the inferno has been raging on, attracting crowds of tourists. The government doesn’t seem in any hurry to extinguish the flames and it’s unclear when it will burn out naturally, so get your skates on by visiting this breathtaking place while it’s still ablaze. You can fly to Turkmenistan from a range of UK airports.
10. Komodo Island, Indonesia
Komodo Island, the Eastern Indonesian national park, was established in 1980 to protect the endangered Komodo Dragon. Besides the elusive dragons, it attracts divers and underwater photographers for its abundant coral reefs and rare marine mammals. Now the island is as endangered as the komodos with coral bleaching and ocean acidification threatening to kills its reefs, while the growing human population and backpackers have changed the island (debatably) for the worse. Plan a visit to Komodo Island from Bali and fly on to Labuanbajo, the nearest town to the park, for a day tour.