10 Places to Visit Before They’re Gone

Santorini, Greece
Credit: ilkerender (via Flickr)


Depending upon your agility and income you may be able to see them before they’re gone.

Gone where?

Gone, as in disappeared.

Due to humanities impact upon the planet some of the coolest natural wonders may soon be history.

10 Places to Visit Before They’re Gone

1. Great Barrier Reef

Coordinates · 18°34′4″S 148°33′19″E

  • worlds largest coral reef system
  • located off the coast of Queensland Australia
  • CNN calls it one of the seven natural wonders of the world

The Great Barrier Reef is the worlds largest single structure made of and by living creatures. And since 1985 it’s lost over half of its coral cover. Experts estimate that the reef and the multi billion dollar tourism industry that it supports could be gone by 2050.

What can you do there?

  • snorkel and skin diving
  • sail – either your own vessel or charter
  • accommodations from 5 star to budget backpacker

 10 Places to Visit Before They’re Gone

2. Belize Barrier Reef

Coordinates, 17°18′56″N 87°32′4″W

  • UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • one of the  most diverse ecosystems in the world
  • 960 sq kilometers of protected barrier reef – world’s second largest

Even though it is situated in Latin America, the official language of Belize is English.

It is estimated that only 10% of the species inhabiting the barrier reef have been classified. Belize is among the top eco tourism destinations in the Americas. Their government has committed to preserving their natural resources and developing eco friendly tourism.

What can you do there?

  • sail – your own or charter
  • diving and underwater photography
  • explore ancient Mayan civilization

 10 Places to Visit Before They’re Gone

3.The Everglades

Coordinates · 25°50’49.03″ N 81°23’06.85″ W

  • last substantial tropical wetlands in the United States
  • located in southern Florida
  • home to 300 species of animals and 350 species of birds

The Florida Everglades are a vast, shallow wetland characterised by sawgrass, cypress swamps and Florida Bay. About 50% of which has been urbanized or developed for agriculture.

Everglades National Park currently preserves the southern 20% of the original ecosystem.

What can you do there?

  • hike through the Big Cypress National Preserve
  • sail Florida Bay – either chartered or your own vessel
  • snorkel or skin dive in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

 10 Places to Visit Before They’re Gone

4. Kilimanjaro Glacier

Coordinates · 03°04′33″S 37°21′12″E

  • tallest freestanding mountain in the world
  • located in Africa
  • ice cap could be gone in 20 years

One of the primary attractions of Mt Kilimanjaro is the difficulty in climbing it. About 25,000 people try it every year. Only about 16,000 are successful.

Many different kinds of ecosystems are found on the mountain including cultivated land, rain forest, alpine desert and arctic summit.

What can you do there?

  • climb it of course – costs between $1000 to $5000
  • lower altitude hiking tours
  • trek and photograph the wildlife

 10 Places to Visit Before They’re Gone

5. Glacier National Park

Coordinates, 48°41′48″N 113°43′6″W

  • 25 names glaciers – all shrinking in size
  • vast number of different species of plants, birds and animals
  • protected land encompassing 16,000 square miles (41,000 km2)

Of the nearly 150 glacier present in 1850 only 25 remain and they’re melting fast. Faster than scientist had estimated in 2003.

Glaciers of the size encountered in the park are excellent barometers of the impact that global warming is having in North America. How their disappearance will impact the ecosystem is still anyones guess.

What can you do there?

  • guided horseback trips
  • backpack deep within the wilderness interior
  • wildlife photography

10 Places to Visit Before They’re Gone

6. Indonesian Archipelago

Jakarta Coordinates: 6°12′S 106°48′E

  • 1,500 islands could be gone by 2050
  • world’s largest archipelago / largest rainforest in Asia
  • home to over 238 million people

The Indonesian Archipelago is comprised of about 18,000 islands. About 6,000 are permanently inhabited. With continued climate change the area can expect increasingly severe meteorological event, rising sea levels and loss of approximately 30% of their coral reefs.

What persons who are displaced will do can only be guessed. Increased aircraft hijacking, boat refugees and increased political instability can be expected. If you want to visit this unique natural heritage, there is no better time than now.

What can you do there?

  • skin, scuba diving and underwater photography
  • surfing
  • hiking, trekking and eco tours

 10 Places to Visit Before They’re Gone

7. The Tahuamanu Rainforest

Lima Coordinates 12°02′35″ S/77°01′41″ W

  • has the last of the old growth mahogany in South America
  • largely untouched by tourism
  • habitat of over 750 different species of birds

Located in the northern reaches of Madre de Dios, this province borders Brazil to the north and Bolivia to the east. It is characterized by virgin rainforests, thick bamboo groves, and just 7,000 inhabitants.

Tahuamanu province is the least populated territory of Peru made up of 19.7 million acres of dense forests. This rainforest has begun to draw those who would plunder her natural resources.

Intensive logging is causing environmental concerns.

What can you do there?

  • limited ecotourism available
  • explore old growth rainforest
  • wildlife (especially bird) photography

 10 Places to Visit Before They’re Gone

8. The Dead Sea

Ein Gedi Coordinates: 31°27′0″N 35°23′0″E

  • located in the Middle East between Jordan and Israel
  • water level dropping 1 meter per year
  • app 430 meters below sea level

The Dead Sea is one of the planet’s saltiest body of water. Human demand for water and minerals are consuming the water 90% faster than nature can replace it.

Historically, the water from the Dead Sea has had healing properties attributed to it. Some scientific validation exists.

What can you do there?

  • camel tours
  • explore the beginnings of Christianity
  • rock climbing

10 Places to Visit Before They’re Gone

9. The Maldives

Male coordinates 4°10′N 73°30′E

  • the smallest Asian country
  • the planets lowest country (1.4 meters above sea level)
  • pledged to become carbon neutral by 2019

The Maldives archipelago is spread out over an area of approximately 90,000 square kilometers. They have perhaps the greatest concern for the effects of climate change. The current government is allocating funds generated from tourism to purchase land in other countries as an evacuation contingency.

The waters around the Maldives host several different ecosystems. Their coral reefs are home to over a thousand different species of fish as well as other unique marine life.

The Maldive government has been criticized for its civil and human rights policies. Those thinking of traveling to the archipelago should acquaint themselves with their culture and laws.

What can you do there?

  • snorkeling, skin diving and underwater photography
  • seaplane photo flights
  • surfing and other water sports

10 Places to Visit Before They’re Gone

10. Sundarbans Mangroves

Coordinates, 21°56′59″N 89°10′59.988″E

  • world’s largest mangrove ecosystem
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • situated on the delta formed by the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers.

The Sundarbans National Park is one of Asia’s largest reserves for the Bengal tiger. A recent UNESCO study found that as much as 75% of Sundarban mangrove could be destroyed as a result of climate change by the year 2100. As of this writing 2 island have slipped below the surface of the sea and another is half way there.

The conservation status of this ecosystem was recently upgraded to ‘endangered’ due to human exploitation of the region. Additionally, exploitation and deforestation of the Himalayan Mountains is inundating the area with silt.

Foreigners need official permits to visit the park.

What can you do there?

  • complete tour packages available (hint – hassle free)
  • wildlife photography
  • bird watching

Who knows just how fast or drastic the effects of climate change will make themselves known.  Or if. We, as a species, could decide to take care of the planet. Regardless, why wait?

So, get your passport renewed and start making plans. The snow’s still melting and the water’s still rising.

Bon voyage

Written by James Bradrick

James Bradrick left the sun and surf of southern Mexico to blog and write about civil and human rights issues from San Diego CA.

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