The world is full of astounding places and landscapes – Venice, the pyramids, the Azure Window – oh, hang on a minute – cross out that last one, because one of Malta’s most famous features, is a sadly no more.
The Azure Window, a naturally arched rock formation in Gozo, has sadly succumbed to nature. Scientific studies in 2013 had stated that its demise was inevitable, and heavy storms earlier in March were too much for the arch to withstand, and it collapsed into the sea. The formation had become famous after featuring in numerous films and TV programmes – including Game of Thrones.
But while the Azure Window has gone the way of the Dodo, there are still some other well-known geographical wonders that are well worth packing your bags to see, before they too disappear into the history books.
Machu Picchu, the fifteenth century Inca built site has around 200 structures. The site is the only significant reminder of one of the greatest South-American civilisations and is a UNESCO world heritage site. Precautions are already place to try and limit the number of tourists that clamber all over it, but like in many remote places – it can be hard to monitor and only time will tell how long this ancient site will last.
It’s not just sites at ground level that are at risk of disappearing – the 5,898-metre Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, is a constant victim of global warming and climate change. Around 85% of its ice already disappeared between 1912 and 2011, so there’s not much of it left, and some scientists predict that it’ll lose its glaciers completely, by 2066. So, if you fancy exploring what’s left of Kilimanjaro’s icy peaks then you might want to get a move on. But make sure you sort yourself out with some extreme sports travel insurance, because up one of the tallest mountains in the world isn’t the place to discover you forgot to arrange it.
More mountains at risk of becoming molehills are The Alps – the rocky backbone of Europe that runs through no less than eight countries, it’s glaciers are shrinking at an unprecedented rate and some predict they may disappear altogether by 2050 – best get that ski holiday organised for next winter then.
Another European wonder that could soon be nothing more than a memory, is Venice. To be fair, for a city that essentially floats on water, it’s done pretty well for itself having been around officially since 421 AD. But the Mediterranean Sea is rising rapidly and sc8ientist are warning that it will continue to rise by up to five feet by 2100, leaving ‘the floating city’ well and truly sunk.
Then there’s the stunning Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland in North-eastern Australia. A natural spectacle that’s visible from space and famed for its colour and wildlife, it’s currently in trouble due to heat stress caused by rising sea temperatures. The rising temperatures are causing what’s called bleaching, which is killing off large sections of the coral. Some scientists have claimed if we don’t get climate change under control it could be ‘game over for the reef’. But before you start packing your bags with the scuba gear, Australia has an action strategy set in place to help called the Reef 2050 plan, which aims to protect and manage the reef until 2050 so that the reef may be preserved for generations to come.
This leads us onto another climate change risk. This time it’s for the tropical nation in the Indian Ocean. The Maldives are made up of more than 1,000 coral islands and are the world’s lowest nation. It’s believed that in just 30 years the Maldives will be completely submerged.
Booking holidays and sorting out your travel insurance to visit these unique places before they disappear, is all well and good. But let’s not forget to try and do our bit and keep them around for as long as we can – otherwise the 2000s will be known as the century that lost all the world’s greatest landmarks – and that’s really not what we want in the history books.
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