Instead of following the crowd, plan your travel this year and in the future in order of ecological/historical importance, and visit these places.
It is an easy way to categorize, but not easy to prioritize.
Here we look at places in peril that can still be enjoyed now, while actually helping the cause through proper booking and travel practices.
By making purposeful choices these precious places on our planet may be prolonged and preserved.
The Great Wall of China
With the shifting world political scene, we cannot predict the best time to visit this world wonder in geopolitical terms. Whatever the case, the next available window of opportunity might be wise. In fact, while the Wall’s tourism value cannot be lost on the industry in China, over-tourism, farming practices and non-sanctioned re-use of its stones and bricks for new buildings all are diminishing the once-great structure. Large sections of the imposing battlement are still in tact and ready for visitors.
Cape Town, South Africa
The plight of Africa’s wildlife is as evident as ever on travel and nature documentaries, showing how enviro-degradation and poaching take a huge toll on these special species and their ecosystem. Embarking on an eco-safari allows adventurers to witness wildlife while helping conserve species. There you will be able to track the classic African Big 5; lion, elephant, Black rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, leopard on photo safari. Sunrise, when animals become active, is a great time for viewing. After nightfall, the nocturnal predators go to work. Choose a guide whose charity efforts have long support local wildlife protection and conservation programs.
It is telling that the home page of Venice’s official city tourism website is subtitled “Sustainable Venice” and packed with tips on low-impact tourism. Tourism, industrial fishing practices, and the volume of container and cruise ships has been hard on the canal city, its historic buildings and bridges. Without tourism, though the economy would be in as much peril as the environment. Striking a balance is Key, so choosing a trip with conscience allows you to enjoy the city’s gondolas and cathedrals without guilt. Get away from the crowds and go green with a bike tour of Venice. Using pedal power will not only help out, but also put you in a positive state of mind.
Yosemite National Park, United States
John Muir, the naturalist and champion of this iconic California parkland of towering granite cliffs and skyscraper sequoia trees, surely would be saddened at its current state. Time, overuse and climate have produced crumbling rock faces and thirsty redwoods, among other issues. Still, paying attention to the plight of Yosemite National Park and its surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains could help going forward. By hiking, camping and exploring here for even a few days, you can see why Muir and famed photographer Ansel Adams adopted Yosemite. Ironically, it is through their writings and photographs that we realize exactly what is at stake. While enjoying Yosemite, so you can spend more time looking at El Capitan, Half Dome and 600-foot Bridalveil Fall. Purchasing a definitive black-and-white Yosemite landscape from the Ansel Adams Gallery, of course, puts money back in the park’s conservation coffers.
Machu Picchu, Peru
High in the remote Andes Mountains, in Peru’s Cusco Region, is the rock-framed cascade of interlocking green terraces, stairways and altars seems to float in thin air when the fog is just right. The magical, mystical vision of this sacred place fits its ethereal vibe, so what is upsetting the balance at Machu Picchu? Since the former Inca settlement was revealed to American explorer Hiram Bingham in Y 1911, it has suffered more than a century of over-tourism. Today, conservation and preservation projects are helping immensely, and part of that is controlling the number of visitors. So, if you choose to travel there take and eco-conscious day tours on train and bus trips to the sacred site.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is another obvious and documented victim of warming ocean temperatures, a planetary wonder that may or may not be recoverable. Warmer water is bleaching the coral, which form the connected living structure of the largest organism on Earth. Situated off the coast of Queensland in northeastern Australia, the reef ecosystem comprising hundreds of islands and thousands of reefs is an aquatic wonderland for snorkelers and divers. Getting under the waves to see lots species of technicolor corals, sea fans and fish up close can be for a good cause. Swim with turtles, dolphins and sharks. Go with a guide that is Advanced Ecotourism Certified and approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. The theme of planetary stewardship, which will guide you to outer barrier reef and island adventures, is a Climate Action Innovator that actively works at reducing emissions and tracking its carbon footprint.
The plight of this delicate polar region is probably the most obvious in terms of urgency. Ice melts quickly in this warming world. Maybe we’ll reverse it, but for those who do not want to take their chances, the time is now. Due to its pristine natural environment teetering in the balance, outfitters are required by the Antarctic Treaty to have a permit to visit Antarctica. Such a trip is pricey, but a once-in-a-lifetime adventure takes on multiple levels of meaning as we travel our changing planet.
Enjoy your travels