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Endangered tourist attractions across the globe

It’s true: some incredible destinations are at risk due to global warming and rising sea levels. We recommend adding these five unforgettable trips to your list while you still can. To make sure you’re helping preserve these precious places, we’ve included some top tips for the best way to experience them responsibly.

1. Glacier National Park, Montana USA – fly from £391

Glacier National Park, Montana USA
Photo credit: Getty

What you need to know:

Nestled in the north of the country, Glacier National Park is home to a mighty 762 lakes, 175 mountains and some black and grizzly bears to boot – but the namesake glaciers are where the problem lies. Since the mid-20th century, they have reduced in number from 150 to a mere 26 today. And the remaining few are still shrinking due to warmer winters.

How to experience the Glacier:

From early May the spring snow melt brings fast-flowing water to the Flathead River which makes it the ideal time to take a white water rafting trip with Glacier Raft Company. Or visit in summer (mid-June to September) when the Going-to-the-sun Road opens up – an 80km twisty drive that takes in the sights of Jackson Glacier and crosses Logan Pass. To make the most of the glaciers, invest in the 7-day pass (at a steal for $35) and explore the staggering 4,000km of national park.

Stay at: Historic Tamarack Lodge and Cabins

Just over 10km from the national park’s entrance are the quaint Historic Tamarack Lodge and Cabins. The 26 rooms are spread across 12 lodges – all with views of the surrounding mountains. Rooms start from £52 a night and include free parking.

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2. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia – fly from £396

Photo credit: Getty

What you need to know:

As one of the seven natural wonders of the world, The Great Barrier Reef is in trouble. A combination of climate change, coastal pollution, overfishing and ship traffic has all taken its toll. Following a nine-month heatwave in 2016, 30% of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef died and the problem keeps on growing. Thankfully, though, the Australian Federal and Queensland Governments have committed to a 2050 long-term sustainability plan to protect the Reef.

How to experience the Reef:

Home to 10% of the world’s fish species, a snorkel or scuba dive in this 2,300km long ecosystem is a holiday highlight. The northern and central sections of the Reef have been most strongly affected by coral bleaching – a stress response to increased sea temperature that makes the coral expel the algae that live in them. Visit the reefs south of Mackay, where the coral is less damaged and remember to pack a coral-friendly sun cream to reduce the number of harmful chemicals being released into the sea. Then be on your best ‘shopping-with-mum’ behaviour – the coral is for looking at and not for touching.

Stay at: Riviera Mackay

Situated on the banks of the Pioneer River, Riviera Mackay provides ultra modern apartments with a kitchen and lounge space in each room. With day trips to Keswick Island, the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsundays, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy. Apartments start at £76.

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3. Venice, Italy – fly from £25

Venice canal
Photo credit: Getty

What you need to know:

Italy’s famous floating city is sinking at 1-2mm a year – and while that might seem pretty minimal, it’s worth noting that Venice is already a low-lying city. The rising sea levels (anyone else spotting a theme here?) are creating a higher acqua alta in winter, flooding the city roughly 100 times a year. The increased shipping traffic is leading to the erosion of the delicate lagoon the city is built on, so skip the big cruise ship and visit like a local…

How to experience Venice:

It’s no secret that the canals are best explored by gondola, and while it’s a sight-seeing must, the punting (as opposed to a motor boat) also helps prevent erosion of the canal banks. But be warned, they can get pretty busy. Go in the morning before the rest of the crowds gather. Skip the well-known Grand Canal gondola station for Campo San Barnaba Square or Campo Santa Maria Formosa where you won’t experience a bumper-car start. If you’re visiting in the height of summer, save the main sights for a late-night wander.

Stay at: Bridge hotel

Located behind San Marco Square, this little hotel is decorated in a, let’s say, ‘unique’ manner (it’s a wallpaper-matches-the-curtains-matches-the-bedding kind of deal). Service is friendly and helpful but it’s the location that’s the real winner. Be warned there are steep stairs and some rooms are smaller than others. Prices start from £98.

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4. The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – fly from £431

Seals on a beach
Photo credit: Getty

What you need to know:

Around 1,000km off the west coast of Ecuador, the 19 Galapagos Islands may have been taken off the UN’s environmentally endangered list in 2010, but they’re still recovering. Made famous by a certain Charles Darwin, the area continues to be affected by extreme weather and warming temperatures. The introduction of rats, goats and wild dogs in the 1800s are also harming today’s tortoise population, while rising sea levels are damaging marine life.

How to experience the islands:

The saying ‘Take only photos, leave only footprints’ is a good mantra to follow here. The Charles Darwin Research Station tells the story of the islands’ discovery plus it’s home to a Galapagos Tortoise rehabilitation centre. Also on Isle Santa Cruz is Los Gemelos, a pair of sinkholes nicknamed ‘The Twins’, where the 30-minute hiking trail around the two craters gives you a good opportunity to see Darwin’s finches. As these islands are all about wildlife, visit in the dry season (June – December) when the sea mammals and birds are most active.

Stay at: Hotel Fiesta

Located on the second largest island, Hotel Fiesta has simple rooms decorated with an Ecuadorian style and cool white walls to beat the heat. On the edge of Puerto Ayora, the hotel is a few blocks away from the main square and the town’s pier. Rooms start from £99.

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5. The Dead Sea, Jordan – fly from £94

The Dead Sea
Photo credit: Getty

What you need to know:

The first thing to know about the Dead Sea is that it’s one big salty lake and not a sea. Situated at the lowest point on earth – 431m below sea level – it’s officially getting smaller as the surface level drops at an alarming one metre every year. This is in part due to higher temperatures and also the politics surrounding the Dead Sea’s water source, the River Yarmouk.  

How to experience the Dead Sea:

Enjoy a relaxing swim in the extra buoyant salty water (at 8.6 times saltier than the ocean) but leave your jewellery behind as the salt water will tarnish any gold and silver pretty quickly. Make the most of the surrounding area too and visit Masada, the ancient fortress built by King Herod in the year BCE 30. Whether you walk up the snake path or take the cable car, the panoramic desert views at the top are a well-earned reward. There’s no denying this part of the world is hot, but avoid the boiling months of July and August and travel from November to April.

Stay at: Guest House Amman

Stay in Jordan’s capital at the authentic Guest House Amman where you’ll have the advantage of visiting Amman’s attractions: The Roman Theatre, The Temple of Hercules and the King Abdullah Mosque. The rooms are spacious and offer views of the surrounding mountains. Prices start from £36 a night.

Fly to Amman from £94 Search hotels in Amman
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All flight and prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices based on Skyscanner’s flight search tools. These are subject to change and were correct at time of writing on 18 February 2019.