Melting glaciers, stranded polar bears, bleached coral reefs.
It’s hard not to be a staunch pessimist as the earth suffers under the environmental crush of humanity. Many of the world’s most beautiful destinations are disappearing or at least changing (for the worse) right before our eyes. Some may not be around for coming generations. With that in mind, here are three threatened world destinations to see now before they’re gone.
See the Polar Bears of Churchill, Manitoba
There’s no symbol more emblematic of earth’s environmental state than the polar bears of Churchill, Manitoba. This tiny “edge of the world” town is like a snowy island amid Canada’s vast northern tundra. Every year, nearly 1,000 bears make their annual migration to the area surrounding the town and Hudson Bay. Natural Habitat Adventures offers week-long, all-inclusive excursions into the tundra which outfit travelers with cold weather gear, accommodations, daily tundra buggy rides, and even professional photography tips. Their unique tundra lodge is a semi-permanent “hotel” comprised of a train of purpose-built tundra buggies converted into sleeping cabins. Visitors have the opportunity to spend several nights here on the tundra in the realm of the polar bears, arctic foxes, and arctic hare.
Kayak the Great Barrier Reef
Our oceans are the greatest barometer for the earth’s overall health. The current state of the Great Barrier Reef provides a dim outlook for where we’re headed, but — at least for now — it’s among the most beautiful underwater destinations in the world. While many travelers opt to dive the 1,400-mile reef, REI offers five-day kayaking excursions that provide a surface perspective that’s equally fascinating. Travelers spend their mornings paddling some of the reef’s most vibrant stretches of coral. Afternoons provide an opportunity for snorkeling and, by night, camping opportunities are available on stunning, uninhabited tropical islands.
Witness the Ice Melt in Antarctica
Few places on earth are changing faster under the current rate of climate change than Antarctica. The annual geological shifts (melting and refreezing) of the “Lost Continent” become more dramatic each year. But, it’s still one of the last great, truly wild places to visit in the world. Hop a long flight down to Ushuaia — a small Argentinian town that’s become the unofficial gateway to Antarctica. From there, board one of several dozen small cruise ships like those in Lindblad Expeditions‘ fleet. The company offers several unique trips, including an intense 24-day mega-journey that explores South Georgia Island, the Falklands, and, of course, the continent itself. The cruise line is the official provider of National Geographic and there are frequently professional photographers onboard to provide top-notch tips to passengers with an eye toward amateur photography.
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