Disappearing Destinations

Oftentimes, the journey is the ultimate goal. But with these seven regions in transition, the story is in the hot spots themselves

Travel is about more than just a remarkable destination. It requires understanding that you’re seeing a place at a particular moment in time and that it won’t always look the same. And now more than ever, travel is about feeding your wanderlust with heightened awareness and a real sense of urgency.

Today’s world is full of stunning but transitioning places. We chose to highlight these threatened locations because they are unique or emblematic of others facing similar ecological struggles. Climate change is dissolving what’s left of Glacier National Park’s icy masses, altering the flow of rivers on remote Banks Island and disrupting a teeming Canadian wildlife corridor. Logging is not only clearing wild swaths of Scandinavia but is also an intensifying issue in the Amazon rainforest and in Africa’s Congo region. Dams are spoiling the pristine Chilean countryside and drowning villages and natural wonders in China.

Whether you see these disappearing destinations firsthand or admire them from home, their future depends on our willingness to protect them. Visiting might compel you to act, but traveling mindfully is crucial, too. However you go about it, act now. The world isn’t waiting.

Dead Sea,
Israel, Jordan, and Palestine

Why now 
The water level in the world’s saltiest sea is dropping a few feet each year, mostly because of water diversions from its main source, the Jordan River, and mineral extractions from its southern basin. Throughout most of modern history, the sea held steady at about 50 miles long. Now it barely covers 30 miles, and experts say it could lose another third—or more—before the water hits its maximum salt saturation, and evaporation stops.

How to go
The Dor Kayak Club
(dor-kayak.co.il/english.htm) guides paddlers on very buoyant Dead Sea excursions. Bring goggles to protect your eyes from the salty spray.

When to go
It’s hot enough to enjoy a saltwater swim year-round, but try to avoid Jewish holidays, when many businesses are closed and hotels are overbooked.

Armchair advocacy
Friends of the Earth Middle East (foeme.org) has launched an awareness campaign and is circulating a petition to register the Dead Sea as an UNESCO World Heritage site. This crucial designation would bring international funding and support to a body of water that millions rely upon.

History tour
The Dead Sea appears in Muslim, Christian, and Jewish texts and has turned up more than a few relics from the past—this is where Bedouin goat herders stumbled upon the Dead Sea Scrolls in a seaside cave in 1947. It’s also a stone’s throw from Jericho, which is possibly the world’s oldest continuously inhabited settlement. Also in the Dead Sea region lies Masada, the ancient fortress where Jewish refugees chose mass suicide over Roman capture nearly 2,000 years ago. It sits on a plateau at the edge of the Judean Desert overlooking the evaporating sea. And some believe the sea’s confluence with the Jordan River is the site of Jesus’ baptism.

Great Barrier Reef,

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Issue 25

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