Some of the world’s most treasured destinations are in danger. Make sure these disappearing destinations are on your itinerary before it’s too late.
1. The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea, which is actually a lake, is one of the most saline bodies of water in the world. It’s also the lowest point on Earth at 1,400 feet below sea level. Travelers have long visited this geographical marvel because of its therapeutic properties. But the Dead Sea at risk. It’s shrinking by over 3 feet each year. In fact, over one third of its surface area has already disappeared.
Travel tip: Pack your water shoes. Salt along the bottom of the sea is rough on the feet. And don’t use the trip as an excuse to show off your newest suit because the water (or what’s left of it) will discolor whatever you wear.
When to go: April – May
How to get there: Fly to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem and catch a shuttle bus
2. Galapagos Islands
This archipelago off the coast of Ecuador is the ultimate for interacting with wildlife. Since there aren’t many natural predators, Galapagos animals, like sea lions, sea turtles, penguins, iguanas, and blue-footed boobies, don’t fear humans. Unfortunately, they have something else to be afraid of. Pollution, illegal fishing, and climate change are threatening their home.
Travel tip: Opt for the smaller boats instead of the large cruises; you’ll miss out on some of the excitement if you’re in too big a group.
When to go: February, March, or April
How to get there: Fly to Guayaquil or Quito, then take a domestic flight to either Baltra or San Cristobal islands
Between rising sea levels and subtle sinking, Venice’s canals may not be a possibility for much longer. You’ll have to plan a trip to the land of cappuccinos and water taxis in the next few decades if you want to see it.
Travel tip: Venice’s winding alleyways are meant for getting lost in. Leave the map at home and let yourself wander.
When to go: April – June or September
How to get there: Fly into Marco Polo Airport or train into Stazione Santa Lucia station
4. The Alps
Stretching through Italy, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia, the Alps are the most extensive mountain range in Europe. They’re filled with scenic glaciers, tranquil lakes, and charming alpine villages. But 95% of the world's monitored glaciers are currently retreating, and the Alps are no exception. This news could mean fewer ski trips and limited access to some of Europe’s most breathtaking vistas.
Travel tip: Try some fondue and enjoy the après-ski scene. You’ll want the whole package since it could be your last chance.
When to go: December – February to ski; April – September to hike
How to get there: Fly to Geneva, Zurich, Munich, Salzburg, or Innsbruck
Just north of the equator, in the Indian Ocean, sits more than 1,190 coral islands. Known as a honeymooning hotspot, Maldives’ beautiful beaches and high-end resorts are just five feet above sea level, leaving them vulnerable to rising tides and floods. Scientists predict the nation could disappear within 100 years.
Travel tip: Bring plenty of U.S. dollars. Even though the Maldives has its own currency (MVR), you’ll often get a better price paying with American money.
When to go: March – April
How to get there: Fly into Malé International Airport, then transfer by boat, seaplane, or domestic flight to your final stop
6. The Amazon
The South American Amazon contains the world's widest river and the world's largest watershed. But the Amazon is heating up — and not in a good way. Scientific research suggest temperatures will increase by 2–3°C by the year 2050. Coupled with deforestation, the region could be reaching a tipping point where dense rainforest turns to dry savanna.
Travel tip: Try staying at a jungle lodge, where guides that live onsite organize daily excursions, or on a riverboat, where you’re fully immersed in the Amazon’s most famous feature.
When to go: May – June
How to get there: Fly to Iquitos, Puerto Maldonado, Cusco, or Manaus
7. The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef, along the eastern coast of Australia, is the world’s largest coral reef and one of the richest ecosystems on the planet. Thousands of species inhabit its reef systems and coral quays, offering visitors a magical underwater adventure. Just make sure you book flights soon: its corals have been dying off at record rates. The worst affected area has lost 67% of its shallow-water corals due to rising ocean temperatures, overfishing, increased ocean acidity, and agricultural runoff.
Travel tip: Since bleaching’s happening in patches, visitors can still get a world-class coral reef experience by traveling to the right areas. Cairns and Townsville are good spots to start.
When to go: April – June
How to get there: Fly to Sydney, Brisbane, or Melbourne, then connect for domestic flights to Cairns, Townsville, Airlie Beach, or Hamilton Island