7 Natural Wonders Of The World To See Before They Disappear
Whether it’s manmade or a natural phenomenon, visiting the wonders of the world is on most people’s bucket list. However, with global warming and over-tourism on the rise, soon many of these wonders may disappear.
If you’re planning a visit to one of these breathtaking sites, be sure to do your research on these seven wonders and travel in the most eco-conscious way possible.
1/7The Great Barrier Reef
Listed as one of the original natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia has been one of the greatest gifts Mother Earth has given us. It is the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem—so large that it can be seen from space. The site attracts two million visitors a year who fly from all over the world to take in the array of colours and marine life.
Unfortunately, climate change has had a huge impact on the reef. The increasingly high water temperatures kill the algae that give the coral its vibrant colour—otherwise known as coral bleaching. Though we will soon be losing one of our greatest treasures, there is still time to explore this underwater world.
Home to pink sand beaches, breathtaking sunsets and Komodo dragons—the largest lizard on earth—it's no surprise that Komodo Island has made it on the new seven wonders of nature list. Komodo Island is the only place on earth where you can find Komodo dragons roaming free, and the reptile’s 3m, 135 kg build is impressive enough to attract visitors from all over.
Two months ago, local media announced that the government was considering closing the island for one year due to recent smuggling of Komodo dragons and over-tourism. The island has been struggling with tourists taking the iconic pink sand home and leaving rubbish behind, so if you're planning to visit before the site closes, join an eco-tour to ensure you give the environment utmost respect.
(Related: Here Be Dragons: Sailing In The Komodo Islands)
3/7The Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest in South America, one of the newest natural wonders, is the largest rainforest in the world. Not only does the Amazon forest enable you to broaden your cultural horizon, experience complete remoteness and sample a variety of unknown foods and natural remedies, it also offers the best biodiversity lesson you could get, as the rainforest is home to 10 per cent of all plant and animal species known on planet Earth.
Sadly, the rainforest is under threat due to deforestation. Year after year, trees are torn down to create space for soy plantations and cattle ranching. To date, we have already lost 20 per cent of the rainforest. If you're visiting, travel in the most eco-conscious way by finding an eco-friendly charter or by staying at an eco-lodge.
(Related: 5 Eco-Architects You Should Have On Your Radar)
Described by a local tribe as “The Smoke That Thunders”, Victoria Falls—which sits at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe—is one of the original Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The water cascades 108m into a gorge, generating mists that can be seen from kilometers away. If you're a thrill-seeker, you can make your way up to the edge of the Devil's Swimming Pool that sits right above the waterfall for the most glorious view.
In recent years, the region has experienced severe droughts. Little rain and soaring temperatures have led to all-time-low water flows, so now's the time to witness the largest curtain of water in the world while it still has its thunderous power. Plan your visit mid-afternoon, and you’ll be lucky enough to witness a spectacular rainbow from various Zimbabwe vantage points.
(Related: 5 Underrated Non-Safari Destinations In Southern And East Africa)
5/7The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea, located at the border of Jordan and Israel, may not have made it on the New7Wonders of Nature list, but it was a finalist and rightfully so. The Dead Sea, which is actually a lake, is the lowest point on Earth and has over 34 per cent salinity—meaning your body will float in it with natural buoyancy. It has long been considered a place of healing, and tourists flock to the site every year to enjoy mineral-rich mud treatments and salt baths.
Lately, water hasn’t been flowing into the turquoise lake at the same rate it is being evaporated, leaving environmentalists concerned that the Dead Sea could be drying up. Experts believe it could be completely gone in 100 years.
(Related: 5 Breathtaking Destinations To Add To Your Travel Bucket List)
6/7Ha Long Bay
With a backdrop of limestone formations and emerald waters, Ha Long Bay in Vietnam has long been a popular destination, earning it a spot on the New7Wonders of Nature list. The picturesque ocean karst topography has been a source of fascination and inspiration for everyone from artists to geologists.
With over 5,000 tourists converging in the bay every day, Ha Long Bay is suffering from mass tourism. With more and more tourist boats ejecting oil and petrol into the bay and tourists carelessly littering, water pollution has become a serious problem. Avoid using plastic while you're there and opt for environmentally-friendly tours.
(Related: The Tatler 10: Best Southeast Asian Beach Resorts)
Sitting at 8,848m, Mount Everest is the highest peak on Earth and one of man’s greatest personal challenges. Whether it be for spiritual growth or to test physical limits, this mountain draws hundreds of ambitious mountain climbers every year.
Mount Everest faces two major threats: over-tourism and climate change. Warming temperatures have caused glaciers to melt 13 per cent in the past 50 years. In addition, piles of rubbish are forming on the ascent—and with more tourists visiting every year, it's becoming hard to manage. If Mount Everest is on your bucket list, be sure to bring your rubbish down with you.
This article first appeared on hk.asiatatler.com.
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