10 Destinations You Must Visit Before They Go Extinct

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Bucket List Worthy   Hot off the Press  

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The Great Barrier Reef is over 7,000 years old, and in just 40 years, it could be dead. The threats of pollution, diminishing natural resources, rising sea levels and dangerous invasive specials on some of the world’s most pristine travel destinations are very real. And some of the world’s most endangered habitats and cultures could be gone before our children or grandchildren ever get to see them. These 10 destinations are some of the most breathtaking spots in the world that may not survive another hundred (or in many cases even fewer) years.

#1. The Maldives

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The Maldives has recently become one of the world’s hottest luxury travel destinations with everything from underwater restaurants to small bungalows that appear as though they’re floating on water. But the crystal blue waters that make the Maldives such a desirable destination are what might make the nation go extinct. Right now, the Maldives — a string of 1,200 islands and atolls in the Indian Ocean — is the lowest nation in the world, and scientists suspect that if global warming continues, and sea levels begin to rise, the islands could soon be underwater.

#2. Madagascar

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Madagascar’s unique flora and fauna (80 percent of which only exist in Madagascar) are under the threat of constant logging, poaching and burning. If action isn’t taken to stop the destruction and restore the resources of the fourth largest island in the world, the country’s unique plants and animals — many of which have never even been studied — will be lost forever.

#3. Easter Island

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The landmass of Easter Island may not be vanishing, but the Polynesian island’s indigenous people (Rapa Nui) and their culture are. The entire island’s population consists of roughly 5,000 people, and less than half of them are Rapa Nui. The island has become so well known for its world-famous moai statues, incredible diving and breathtaking scenery that a large eco-resort was constructed just two years ago. The decreasing Rapa Nui population and threat of increasing tourism has locals worried about the future of their culture.

#4. The Dead Sea

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In just 40 years, the Dead Sea has diminished in size by roughly a third, and it has sunk by 80 feet. The Dead Sea gets most of its water from the Jordan River, and with the river’s surrounding countries using its resources, the Dead Sea isn’t getting all of the water it needs to sustain its size. Resorts and restaurants that once overlooked the salty waters are now miles from the shore, and if the Jordan River’s water continues to be used at such a rapid rate, the Dead Sea could be gone in just 50 years.

#5. Mt. Kilimanjaro

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With zebras, giraffes, elephants and other native African animals in the forefront, views of Mt. Kilimanjaro are some of the most stunning in the world. Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in all of Africa, but the “Snows of Kilimanjaro” referenced by Ernest Hemingway are expected to be gone within 20 years. As the mountain’s ice cap continues to disappear (85-percent of it is already gone), Kilimanjaro becomes a less desirable destination for hikers and adventure-seekers around the world.

#6. The Everglades

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As scary as it sounds, Florida’s Everglades are the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators live in the same waters. The Everglades’ 2.5 acres of fragile wetlands are being put at risk by development, farming pollution and invasive species. The wetlands are now half the size they were just over 100 years ago, and they’re diminishing rapidly, which means the habitat’s hundreds of unique species (like the Florida panther and manatees) are diminishing too.

#7. The Great Barrier Reef

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Avid divers who haven’t visited one of the best diving spots in the world — the Great Barrier Reef — should set their sights on the destination soon. The rising temperatures of the Coral Sea, fishing and pollution are deteriorating the largest and one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world. A number of scientists expect this 7,000-year-old reef to be dead within 40 years.

#8. The Galapagos Islands

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Tourism in the Galapagos Islands is increasing at a rate of 12 percent per year, and the increase in motor vehicles, foreign animals and rats from aboard cruise ships have contributed to a decline in the natural resources of this Ecuadorian wonderland. As the unique ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands and its surrounding waters deteriorates, the 9,000 species that call it home are diminishing too.

#9. The Taj Mahal

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In roughly five years, you may be able look at the Taj Mahal but not step inside. The world’s most famous mausoleum has fallen victim to its three million visitors each year, air pollution and what as been described as “shoddy restorations.” Preservation groups and UNESCO are urging the Taj Mahal to shut its doors to visitors and preserve what’s left of this majestic palace.

#10. Tibet

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Tibet’s unique culture has been threatened since the country became controlled by China in 1950. And while the fight to free Tibet by activists around the world continues, many of the ancient Tibetan traditions are disappearing. Permits for tourism to Tibet have been limited by the Chinese government, and it could soon be too late to visit the former country.

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About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a freelance writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, learning new cultures and surfing new waves.

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