From Grecian ruins to the snowcapped peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro, the world is full of wonders—but some of these places are vanishing. Thanks to climate change, tourism and human recklessness, some of the most stunning sites on Earth might not be around much longer. Where do you need to visit before it’s too late?
1. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Stretching 1,400 miles, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It’s the only living thing visible from outer space. There’s just one problem: it’s dying. Over the last two years, the reef has lost half of its coral covering thanks to two unprecedented bleaching events, according to coral reef ecologists.
2. Venice, Italy
Built on top of an unstable lagoon, Venice is sinking, moving five inches in the last century alone. Flooding is more of a problem than ever, particularly in St. Mark’s Square, which becomes submerged with water a dozen times a year.
3. Olympia, Greece
If you’re a history buff, you’ll want to visit Greece soon. In recent years, the ancient city of Olympia—the site of the first Olympic Games in 776 BCE—has experienced unusually hot weather, leading to wildfires. There’s no guarantee the next blaze won’t reach the ancient pillars.
4. Madagascar’s Forests
These forests are only predicted to last another 35 years, thanks to fires and mass deforestation.
5. Glacier National Park, Montana
There are only 25 glaciers left of the national park’s original 150. Experts predict that in just 15 years, there may be no glaciers left.
6. The Dead Sea, Israel
The Dead Sea is drying up. Known as the saltiest spot on earth, the sea is shrinking by as much as three feet per year. Scientists give it about 50 more years before it’s gone entirely.
7. The Congo Basin, Africa
The Congo Basin is home to the second-largest rainforest in the world. But thanks to illegal logging, ranching, mining and civil warfare, scientists estimate that two-thirds of this vast wilderness could be gone by 2040.
8. The Seychelles Islands
Made up of more than a hundred islands off the coast of Madagascar, National Geographic rates the beach at Anse Source d’Argent as the best in the world, but it could be lost in the next 50 years. The waters of the Indian Ocean are continually rising, eroding the beaches and degrading the coral reef.
9. The Galapagos Islands
These famous islands have drastically changed since the late 19thcentury, when they received few visitors. Due to too many tourists, the islands’ ecosystem hangs in a precarious position.
10. The Taj Mahal, India
Each year, more than eight million people visit the Taj Mahal by bus, train or air, according to The Guardian. The 17th-century building was not meant to handle that many visitors, and, over time, the site has started to decline. To protect the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Indian government has implemented a cap on daily tourist numbers.
11. The Patagonian Ice Fields, Argentina
These ice fields comprise the most extensive body of ice in the southern hemisphere, outside of Antarctica. Unfortunately, these glaciers are thinning at a pace of around six feet per year.
12. Snow on Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
The towering peaks of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro are a breathtaking sight; covered in snow and ice, the summit looks like something from another world. Since 1912, however, 85 percent of the ice that covered the mountaintop has disappeared. Scientists predict the legendary glaciers of Kilimanjaro could be completely depleted in just 20 years.
13. The “Door to Hell,” Turkmenistan
This active volcano, also known as the Darvaza gas crater, has spent the last 40 years as a bubbling inferno, but scientists predict it won’t stay active for much longer.
So before it’s too late, book your flights and start traveling the world! Who knows what will be left in another 50 years…