We know you’ve heard it all before, but what if we told you that climate change is effecting the way we travel forever?
Remember that one spot you always said you’d visit again, or that one destination you’ve always wanted to visit, but haven’t gotten around to yet? They are at serious risk of reaching their sell-by-date. But, there are things you can do at home and on your travels, to help the world that you want to see, mostly at no extra cost to you.
From Iceland to South Africa, here are 10 places to visit before they disappear.
1. Diving in the Great Barrier Reef
Best time to visit: Jun – Oct
Whether you’re a snorkeler or pro-scuba diver, the sights of the Great Barrier Reef are surely not to be missed by anyone. A site of remarkable beauty and variety stretches over 2,300km over North East coast of Australia, brimming with marine life and drawing millions of tourists each year.
However over 50% of the reef has been destroyed by coral bleaching due to a consistent rise in ocean temperatures since 2016. In 3 years, climate change has managed to deplete half of a 500,000 year old reef. With the best time to visit being between June and October, get your diving gear and head over to Queensland to see and be part of the change.
- Support marine conservation initiatives, e.g. by volunteering
- Help educate others about marine life and climate change
- Follow the reef-etiquette when diving, choose tour operators who are eco-certified and encourage sustainable diving!
2. Exploring the Amazon Rainforest
Best time to visit: throughout
Another obvious destination is the largest rainforest on earth. It’s biodiversity and natural beauty call to every traveller, in any season as “The Lungs of the Planet” stretches over 9 countries!
Yet despite it’s size, climate change has enforced fragility upon the countless habitats. Droughts are leaving tropical jungles more susceptible to forest fires, and deforestation levels have reached up to 2 acres by the minute. Environmentalists fear that we will see a sufficient increase in deforestation in the coming months, affecting over 10 million species and 20% of the entire world’s oxygen.
- Support Rainforest Action Network
- Reduce your oil consumption
- Reduce your paper and wood consumption. A small thing like purchasing products with the highest percent of recycled materials can go a long way!
3. Everglades, Florida
Best time to visit: Dec – Apr (dry season)
This enormous wetland is listed as a World Heritage Site, due to it’s fragile ecosystem which plays host to manatees, alligators, panthers, dolphins (and much more!). Not only is it a top tourist destination for dangerous wildlife and humidity, but you can also ride in airboats, kayak or drive through certain areas of the park whilst taking in all of the blue scenery.
A huge restoration project has impacted the Everglades over the last 20 years, where minimal wildlife populations have bounced back and water that was once diverted from Lake Okeechobee is being funnelled back into the park, however this water that was once blue and housed many species is rapidly losing its colour. This year, the park is less than half its original size and filled with species disturbing the natural inhibitors, (e.g. Burmese pythons and unwanted, exotic plants) due to nutrient pollution caused by climate change.
- Keep electronic devices off & unplugged when exploring the park (this is a requirement for Airboats and other activities around the park)
- Avoid littering at all costs to maintain the natural habitats that are vital to restoring the park
- Carpool or avoid driving in places where you can walk, cycle or opt for public transport!
4. Hike or Ski in The Swiss Alps
Best time to visit: Jan – Mar
Ever heard of horseback riding or tennis on The Swiss Alps? Resorts are already in preparation for the effects that rising temperatures will have on Alpine nature, as scientists predict that tourists will have to hike above the 10k foot mark to even see the snow on the mountains.
It’s safe to say, if you have ever wanted to hike or ski the Alps, there’s never been a better time.
Here’s how you can do your part on your visit:
- Travel by train if possible (or take a non-stop flight)
- Buy local biological products
- Avoid bottled water, Swiss tap water tastes just the same!
5. Climb Machu Picchu, Peru
Best time to visit: Apr – Oct
The revolutionary sweet spot of Peru, the not so “Lost City” of the Inca. The sights of the citadel truly do speak for themselves, and you can choose to take it all in on the single-day Inca trail, or opt for the full 4-5 days (dependant on experience).
Machu Picchu was classified as an endangered site back in 2016 due to environmental damage and erosion, but today the extremities are much worse. The city sits 2,400 meters above sea level, between the Amazon and the Andes, giving the citadel a very particular climate throughout the year, usually consisting of one dry and one rainy season. Heavier rainfall threatens the architecture of the ruins, which was built in 1450. While there may be no rush to see the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty, Machu Picchu is a must-see whilst so much is accessible.
Ways you can help:
- Sign the petition to prevent further pollution from a new airport
- Take the train, not the plane (or rent-a-car with Hertz upon your arrival and get 10% off).
- Invest in companies that support solutions for climate change, did you know there are banks with green initiatives?
6. Roam Venice, Italy
Best time to visit: Apr – Jun, Sep – Oct
The only postcard-perfect capital with canals for roads, gondolas for transport and sights that will last forever. You can’t get much more sustainable than that, right?
The floating city has been slowly sinking for centuries, however recurring floods are only speeding up the structural damage of it’s architecture. Despite the many projects launched to prevent the Venetian floods, like the Moses Project, a further three foot rise in sea levels would render Venice the world’s first underwater city. Interestingly, Venice has always faced serious threats from floods head on, and with tourism booming, this does allow the city to muster the means to protect itself, as well as sculptures aiming to heighten the importance of the impending climate change, like The Giant Hands of Venice’s Grand Canal.
How you can help prevent rising sea levels:
- Help protect the wetlands that act as coastal buffers by getting involved in restoration activities near you
- Plant more trees
- Reduce your paper consumption.
7. Party in Rio, Brazil
Best time to visit: Dec – Mar (February for the Carnival!)
Although the words Brazil and Carnival seem to go hand in hand, the rhythms of the samba and frevo can be heard throughout the year! Brazil has been said to be the world leader of nightlife. The unifying beats of the steel bass drums will have you dancing until dawn in Sao Paulo or taking it to a white-sand beach in Florianópolis for a very, memorable evening (or morning!).
Unfortunately, these explosive scenes will be tarnished by climate change, as experts predict Rio to be the most effected South American city. If temperatures continue to increase and sea levels rise, those beaches and neighbourhoods will have flooded entirely, leading to water shortages and even landslides.
How can you help save Rio? You’d be surprised how easy it is:
- Actually eat the food that you buy (and try and lessen your meat consumption)
- Switch to LED light-bulbs, they’re actually cheaper too!
- Try not to leave fully charged devices plugged in, and unplug appliances when you are not using them.
8. Explore Glaciers in Iceland
Best time to visit: Feb – Mar, Sep – Oct
While climate change is not currently having an impact on Iceland’s booming tourism, it looms over the future of this island’s small population. The nation of glaciers is under threat from warmer temperatures, melting glaciers and rising land, however it is yet to be determined how these will shape the land of ice and fire, as they are a global leader in clean energy generation. One thing is for certain, there will never be a better time to visit Iceland than right now.
9. Whale Watching in Cape Peninsula, South Africa
Best time to visit: Jun – Nov
One of the best spots around for whale watching, is none other than the coast of Cape Town. You can track sharks, dolphins, penguins as well as whales, on a seven day adventure with Natural World Safaris, who support lots of wildlife conservation projects around the world. Despite the many initiatives in place to protect Cape Town, there has been a serious decrease in average rainfall and a surge in maximum temperatures, affecting vital water resources.
You can help fight climate change with a few small lifestyle changes…
- Plant indigenous/drought resistant trees at home
- Reduce, reuse, recycle (yes, it’s that easy)
- Use water wisely!
10. Stargazing in Chile, Atacama Desert
Best time to visit: Sep – Nov, Mar – May (shoulder seasons)
The Chilean Plateau plays host to one of the oldest deserts known to man, the Atacama Desert. It is said to be one of the world’s most glorious spots for stargazing at night, however visiting during daytime definitely has its perks too; there are lagoons, salt flats, mountains and geysers to explore! (You can also find expert tour guides who inject some of their proceeds back into Chile, towards projects funding the transition to renewable energies in developing nations here.)
You would think that desert wildlife would continue to thrive in the hottest, driest places on earth, but increasing temperatures and severe droughts are pushing them to physiological limits. Higher risk of wildfires and waterholes drying up are among the threats of global warming on deserts, so here are some final solutions on how to get involved:
- Invest in renewables where possible
- Look for the Energy Star Label when buying new appliances
- Vote! All levels of government have a large influence over our ability to lower emissions and heighten awareness and action.
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