Climate change, growing population, overtourism, erosion. Your bucket list items might just kick the bucket before you do. The threats are real, and if things continue as they are, many of the world’s most beloved destinations could disappear in the near future.
By encouraging off-season travel to combat overtourism, supporting conservation efforts through The TreadRight Foundation, and JoinTrafalgar experiences to make a difference and help people, preserve places and wildlife, and care for the planet on our trips to all seven continents, Trafalgar is doing its part to ensure these iconic landmarks and locations stick around for future generations to enjoy.
Here are 10 of our favourite destinations, that you won’t want to miss.
1. Great Barrier Reef
For over a decade, we’ve been warned that this 2,300-kilometre long ecosystem might one day disappear. We’ve worried that our grandchildren might not be able to experience the kaleidoscope of colour that makes up this diverse underwater ecosystem. Now, with half of the reef dying since 2016 due to rising water temperatures, this must-see icon might need to move up your list so you don’t miss the chance to experience this magical underwater world for yourself.
See why we love The Great Barrier Reef on: East Coast Islands and Rainforest
To see the sun glistening on the snowy white cliffs and the fur seals sunning themselves on the vast ice sheets is a pinch me moment that everyone should experience once in their lifetime. But even without a permanent population (of humans) the effects of modern life are endangering this southernmost continent. Global warming, invasive species carried by human visitors and poaching threaten its native species and the frozen landscape they call home. So, don’t miss the chance to step onto the icy shores of Antarctica, but make sure to tread lightly.
See why we love Antarctica on: Antarctica Peninsula Cruise
Who hasn’t dreamed of a romantic gondola ride down the canals of Venice? Well, this dream might not come true if you wait too much longer. Why? Because Venice is sinking, yes sinking, into the sea. Flooding is getting worse by the year, and if it continues at its current rate, in a few decades time you might be taking that gondola trip right through St. Mark’s Square. The city is taking precautions to safeguard itself against rising water levels and higher annual rainfalls, but better safe than never, right?
See why we love Venice on: Great Italian Cities
4. Alaskan Glaciers
Again, global warming is putting a damper on your travel plans, because these glaciers are shrinking even faster than Venice is sinking. The Alaskan glaciers are melting at the fastest pace in 400 years, so the clock is ticking on seeing these frosty mammoths. And, trust us, the white-tipped peaks jutting above the evergreen horizon of the Alaskan wilderness is a sight you won’t want to miss.
See why we love the Alaskan Glaciers on: Alaska and the Yukon
5. The Dead Sea
Even the least buoyant person can float peacefully on top of this super salty lake. It got its name based on the fact that its high salinity makes it hostile to marine life, but the only thing actually dying is the sea itself. A third of the Dead Sea has disappeared in the last 40 years, and the surface level is currently dropping at a rate of a metre per year. But, for now, there’s still plenty of briny water left to enjoy a relaxing float.
See why we love the Dead Sea on: Jordan Experience
6. The Cliffs of Dover
One of Britain’s most iconic sights, the chalky white cliffs of Dover are the first sights to greet you when coming to the UK across the English Channel and provide a touching farewell for those journeying to mainland Europe. However, heavy rainfall in recent years has seen several serious landslides, causing thousands of tonnes of chalk to plummet into the sea below. We don’t recommend walking to the cliffs’ edge, but the sight of this bleached coastline is best viewed by boat anyway.
See why we love the Cliffs of Dover on: European Spotlight
7. Glacier National Park
The average temperature increase at Montana’s Glacier National Park is double the worldwide average, which spells trouble for its icy peaks. Eleven glaciers have disappeared since 1966, and the future prognosis isn’t promising. The landscape is still a stunning as ever, with wind-swept mountains, crystal clear lakes and a countryside teaming with life, but what’s a trip to Glacier National Park without the glaciers?
See why we love Glacier National Park on: Secrets of the Rockies and Glacier National Park
8. The Great Wall of China
This is probably the last place you thought would be on this list, but, alas, the Great Wall of China is also under threat. Stretching over 20,000 kilometres, large sections of the wall are crumbling due to erosion and theft. The main tourist centre of the wall receives the bulk of maintenance funds, so this part remains in tip-top shape, but the rest of the wall is in trouble. It is estimated that 30% of the Great Wall has already disappeared, though we have to admit, the 70% that remains is pretty spectacular.
See why we love the Great Wall of China on: Classic China
9. The Great Sphinx and Pyramids of Giza
One of the oldest manmade wonders of the world, the Great Sphinx and Pyramids of Giza are at risk of disappearing, but it’s not for the reason you might think. While there have long been concerns about erosion due to natural factors, it’s an excessive amount of sewage that might be the literal downfall of these larger-than-life landmarks. The flow of sewage is eroding the plates underneath the mammoth structures, and there is growing concern that they might soon collapse due to this weakened foundation. These are a bucket-list favourite for good reason, so let’s make sure they stay above ground.
See why we love Great Sphinx and Pyramids of Giza on: Wonders of Ancient Egypt
10. European Alps
If you’re a skier or snowboarder, a trip to the European Alps is probably on your bucket list. If it is, though, then you better act quickly. Scientists estimate that half of the glaciers in the Swiss Alps will be gone in the next 30 years and they could melt completely by the end of the century. The threat is so real that nearby residents have been covering the glaciers with heat reflecting blankets the past few years. The Alps offer so much more than just snow-capped peaks, but they do make for a spectacular view.
See why we love the Swiss Alps on: Contrasts of Switzerland
Trafalgar is doing what we can to preserve these treasures for generations to come, to learn how you can join us and make a difference on your next holiday, visit JoinTrafalgar.