If you’re a traveling enthusiast like we are, you’re likely to daydream about the countless places you want to visit in your lifetime. Chances are you’ve already planned out some of your next trips and even put together a bucket list.
Most of the time, there’s no rush whatsoever about visiting a place. I mean, it’s not like they’re going anywhere. However, there are a handful of exceptions that sadly may not be around for long.
Either because of pollution, deforestation or simply because of their composition, some places could be wiped from the face of the earth in the blink of an eye. That’s why today we put together the ultimate list of the 25 tourist destinations you should definitely visit before they disappear.
25. The Alps - Europe
As you may know by now, the Alps are the most extensive - and highest - mountain range system in the old continent, and one of the preferred destinations for tourists from every corner of the world.
Obviously, these beautiful mountains aren’t going anywhere, but it’s snowy cones and glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. They lose 3% of their ice per year and the snow could be all gone by 2050.
24. Outer Banks - United States of America
As most of you may know by now, the Outer Banks is a barrier of island splits near the coast of North Carolina, separating the country from the Atlantic Ocean. Thousands of Americans travel there to enjoy its beautiful beaches and coast life.
The Outer Banks are so big that you can even see them from outer space. Sadly, that may no longer be the case several years from now, as urban development and climate change are slowly making the islands vanish right before our eyes.
23. Venice - Italy
Venice is one of the most romantic places on earth. Hundreds of thousands of people have traveled there with their significant others to get engaged aboard their gondolas. Just like in the movies.
Sadly, the city is sinking at an alarming rate (1.5 millimeters per year) and experts consider it could be completely gone by 2100 due to climate change. So, pack your bags and go sail on its water canals.
22. Taj Mahal - India
Shah Jahan ordered the construction of the Taj Mahal in 1631 in honor of his beloved and late wife Mumtaz Mahal. And ever since it was finished in 1948, it’s been one of the most iconic places on earth and a huge tourist venue for people from all over the world.
In fact, UNESCO deemed the Taj Mahal a World Heritage Site in 1983 for its significance as one of the world’s architectural wonders. Sadly, erosion, pollution, and the presence of 4 million people a year may force the government to close it.
21. Antarctica - Antarctica
Well, I know what you’re thinking. Who travels to Antarctica for tourism? Believe it or not, it actually has a tourist industry for fishermen and adventurers, even though there’s no economic activity whatsoever.
Hundreds of people travel to Antarctica year after year to watch its unique auroras. According to NASA, however, the place is thawing drastically, thus the government and ecological organizations have imposed strong restrictions on boats visiting the end of the world.
20. Dead Sea - Israel / Jordan
This famous salt lake is surrounded by Israel and Jordan and has been one of the main tourist attractions from the people of the Mediterranean basin for years. It’s called ‘dead’ because of its high salinity prevents fish and plants from living in it.
However, with Jordan and Israel draining the Jordan River dry, specialists think the Dead Sea can be completely drained within 50 years. Apparently, it’s currently sinking about 3 feet per year. The Dead Sea is making honor to its name lately.
19. Alaska - United States of America
Alaska is for the adventurous only. There’s plenty of things to do for those who aren’t afraid of the cold and being out in the open. Its parks, national forests, and wildlife sanctuaries are most-visit places.
Obviously, given its geographic location, Alaska hosts way more tourists than Antarctica. Still, they face pretty much the same problems. Global warming is taking a toll on its glaciers and its tundras may be gone before the end of the century.
18. Patagonia Glaciers - Argentina / Chile
People from all over the world travel year after year to take a look at the Patagonian glaciers, especially the Perito Moreno. However, those very same tourists may be one of the reasons for its potential disappearing.
Like most arctic regions, climate change, pollution, and tourism have taken a toll on the glaciers. They’re melting and the droughts haven’t done much to help its cause, so visit it before it disappears.
17. Easter Island - Chile
Easter Island has been a fascinating mystery for decades. It holds over 1,000 extant monumental statues (Moais) that impressed early travelers. Its mysticism and mythical character, as well as historical significance, made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
But not everything is that positive, as it’s original population has dropped at a huge rate. The Rapa Nui people are now under 2,000 and the government may ask for special permits to allow travelers to visit the island to protect them.
16. Djinguereber Mosque - Mali
If you ask me, it’s surprising that this mosque hasn’t already fallen to pieces. Don’t get me wrong, that’s exactly what makes it so appealing to the thousands of tourists that visit it from all across the globe.
The Djinguereber Mosque is made mostly of organic materials like mud, limestone, fiber, straw, and wood. Thus, sand encroachment, rain, flash-floods, high temperatures, and the Jihadist threat make it a tourist destination likely to be gone any minute.
15. Tikal National Park - Guatemala
The Tikal National Park is actually Guatemala’s main tourist destination. It shows the ruins of one of the biggest archaeological sites of the Mayan civilization. In fact, it was considered the most powerful state in the whole Mayan culture back in the 4th century BC.
Tikal has plenty of examples of Pre-Columbian architecture, such as temples, squares, altars, and pyramids. Sadly, this mythical site has been raided by local criminals, and the fires in the nearby forest also continue to endanger its structure.
14. Petra - Jordan
Petra city is considered to be one of the most iconic and precious cultural and architectural places in the world. It has been inhabited since 7000 BC and its rock-cut architecture has drawn the attention of tourists from every corner on earth for years.
Petra was considered the biggest fortress of its time and was a huge trading and economical hub as well. Now, earthquakes, flash floods, improper rainwater drainage, and massive tourism represent a huge threat and it could be gone right before our eyes.
13. The Everglades - United States of America
The Everglades hold a unique ecosystem that can’t be found anywhere on earth. Thousands of species are now endangered for its quick disappearing, as the Everglades were once twice the size they’re right now.
Despite the efforts to prevent its destruction and restore the ecosystem, the combination of intensive farming, water diversion, and most importantly, urban development are literally killing this ecological sanctuary.
12. Great Barrier Reef - Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system. This is so big and beautiful that you can even see it from space. Located on the coast of Queensland, it holds over 1,400 miles with 2,900 reefs and 900 islands.
Unfortunately, climate change (coral bleaching), pollution and oil spills, and crown-of-thorns starfish are threatening its environment. Some scientists even think it could disappear within the next 10 years.
11. The Maldives - Maldives
The Maldives has long been a tourist destination for the wealthy. Its 1,190 islands and paradise-like beaches and shores host plenty of luxury complexes, but they may all be gone in no less than 100 years.
While 100 years may seem like too much, this timetable could change drastically due to climate change. Its islands are currently just shy of five feet above sea level and they continue to sink as we speak.
10. Mount Kilimanjaro - Tanzania
There are few mythical places on earth as impressive as Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania’s finest tourist attraction, and the world’s most famous dormant volcano. It’s the highest single free-standing mountain in the world at 19,341 feet.
But like most places with glaciers, climate change is taking a huge toll on Mount Kilimanjaro. Its snowy cone is melting at an alarming rate, which is a bummer for those climbers who train for years before facing this challenge.
9. Seychelles - Seychelles
For years, Seychelles has been one of the preferred destinations for the wealthiest people on earth. Their beaches look like something that came out of a movie and it holds some of the most beautiful landscapes you’ll ever see.
They’ve done an outstanding job of protecting their endangered species. However, coral bleaching continues to be a major issue, but not as big as the fact that the country is literally sinking at a high speed as temperatures rise.
8. Congo River - Congo
The Congo river is actually the second-longest river in Africa (behind the Nile) and the second largest river in the world in terms of discharge of water, trailing only the Amazon. That’s why we must protect it at all costs.
This biodiversity paradise holds over 10,000 species of plants, 1,000 species of birds, and over 400 species of mammal. Sadly, due to deforestation, illegal mining, hunting, and climate change, two-thirds of the forest surrounding it could be gone by 2040.
7. The Sundarbans - India
The Sundarbans are currently the biggest sanctuaries of the Bengal tiger and other 453 fauna wildlife. It holds 3,900 square miles of allegedly protected forest. Sadly, it’s not really protected at all.
Pollution, illegal hunting, landfalls, climate change, and the need for fossil combustibles for coal-based thermal power plants have made the sea level rise to dangerous levels, eroding the coast and endangering its wildlife.
6. Galapagos Islands - Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands hold thousands of endemic species. They have one of the biggest biodiversities on earth. Charles Darwin used his observations from this place to the inception of his theory of evolution.
This volcanic archipelago has some of the most colorful and diverse wildlife you’ll ever see. However, climate change, pollution, and even introduced species of birds, cats, and dogs could change it forever.
5. Glacier National Park - United States of America
Glacier National Park is one of America’s most beautiful places. Located in Montana right next to the Canadian border, it holds over 1 million acres, 130 lakes, two mountain ranges, and what scientists refer to as the crown of the continent ecosystem.
Unfortunately, these stunning tourist venues may not be around for that long, as climate change continues to make its glaciers recede. Apparently, it could be gone as soon as 2030, so stop fooling around and visit it already.
4. Madagascar Rainforest - Madagascar
Make no mistake, the Madagascar Rainforest is even more beautiful than they pictured it in the iconic animated film. In fact, researchers refer to it as a ‘world apart’ because of the vast variety of flora and fauna it holds.
That’s why we must not only visit it before it’s too late but also put an end to its massive deforestation. Before humans got there, it held over 300,000 square kilometers of rainforest. That number has dropped to 50,000, and the whole forest could be gone in 30 years.
3. The Great Wall Of China - China
The Great Wall of China is the biggest human-made structure in the world. It’s so freaking big that you can literally see it from outer space. That’s why it’s been one of the biggest tourist attractions on earth since the 19th century.
From one corner to the other, the Great Wall is 13,171 miles long. However, erosion, poor maintenance, vandalism, and massive tourism could soon put an end to this legendary structure that’s stood tall for over 2,000 years.
2. The Amazon Rainforest - South America
The Amazon Rainforest holds one of the biggest biodiversity on earth. In fact, it’s yet to be fully explored and it’s believed to hold species of flora and fauna that we haven’t discovered yet. Sadly, we may never get to do it.
Thing is, massive deforestation, agriculture, climate change and exploitation of its natural resources and minerals are destroying hundreds of acres of forest by the day. It’s heartbreaking.
1. Machu Picchu - Peru
For ages, Machu Picchu has been one of the most mythical and iconic places on earth. Millions of people have traveled to witness the wonders and mysteries of the Inca culture and its one-of-a-kind landscape at the top of the Cusco region.
This legendary citadel remained unknown for the rest of the civilization until 1911 and there has been plenty of restoration of the temples and structures ever since. Still, massive tourism and landslides could make this Peruvian sanctuary crumble to pieces.