10 endangered sites around the world

10 endangered sites around the world

Machu Picchu, Kilimanjaro and a little street in London all face an uncertain future

If something's been around for centuries, it's probably going to be around for centuries yet, right? Well, not exactly.

Climate change, excessive tourism and general neglect mean many of the world's features we can happily travel to now may not be available to future generations. 


1. Machu Picchu, Peru

endangered sites Six hundred years is not a bad innings. Those Inca architects knew what they were doing.
Since American explorer Hiram Bingham revealed it to the world in 1911, Machu Picchu has become one of the top travel destinations, and also one of the most endangered, with tourists running rampant on and off its specially designed footpaths.

The most popular sightseeing spots include the Intihuatana, a carved rock that still baffles historians, and the control gate, from which visitors can see a near-panoramic view of the city.

A 112-kilometer railway line from San Pedro in Cusco to the highest point of the Picchu mountain, El Arco, makes for easy access, and is regarded as a major contributor to the environmental degradation.

But man-made issues aren’t the only problem Machu Picchu is facing. 

Scientists have revealed that the ruins lie directly on the Tambomachay Fault, suggesting that if the tourists don't destroy it, an earthquake might.

How to get there: Buy tickets to Machu Picchu in advance. Fly into Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport and take a train from the city of Ollantaytambo to Aguas Caliente, which offers regular buses to Machu Picchu. Another option is to take a 28-mile hike along the Inca Trail, which takes approximately four days.  


2. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

endangered sites This loss will just be the tip of the ice cap.
At 5,895 meters, the tallest mountain in Africa is most well known for the ice cap on one of its summits, Kibo, but soon the snows of Kilimanjaro will be a distant memory for travelers lucky and hardy enough to have witnessed them firsthand.

More than 80 percent of the ice cap has disappeared since the early 1900s and scientists are predicting it will disappear completely by 2033.

How to get there: Fly into either Dar es Salaam or Kilimanjaro Airport (the latter is closer) and book a shuttle bus to get to Moshi, where most people begin their treks. It’s required to book a seasoned guide in order to hike the mountain.


3. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

endangered sites Mass coral bleaching is threatening these striking colors.

As the only living structure visible from space, the 3,000-kilometer-long coral reef is the world's largest expanse of coral (more than 400 different kinds), home to dolphins, tropical fish and reptiles.

Above water, visitors can explore any one of the picturesque islands and spot as many as 200 types of birds and other wildlife.

But while scientists estimate the age of the reef to be around 7,000 years old, this beautiful ecosystem, teeming with life, may be on the verge of death by 2050

River discharge, among other factors, has led to water pollution, while climate change has caused coral bleaching that scientists predict will only get worse as global temperatures continue to rise.

How to get there: As the reef is miles long, travelers can choose which island to go to. From Cairns International Airport and the Great Barrier Reef Airport (Hamilton), visitors can travel by scheduled boat, water taxi or seaplane.



4. The Alps, Europe

endangered sites At the rate the glaciers are melting, the day this photo will seem to scale is not far off.
The Alps may have been immortalized through various works of literature, film and art, but even these mountains aren’t immune to global warming.

In fact, as the Alps are at a lower altitude than the Rocky Mountains, their glaciers are even more susceptible, and have been shrinking at an unprecedented rate -- some predict the glaciers will disappear by 2050.

Experts have also determined that 4,810-meter Mont Blanc, Western Europe’s tallest peak, has already shrunk more than 45 centimeters in the past few years.

How to get there:  Fly into either Geneva or Zurich Airport, and take the train into Täsch (3 hours). From the station, take either the cog railway train, battery-powered taxis, or horse-drawn cabs in Zermatt. 



5. Glacier National Park, Montana, United States

endangered sites Global warming and more endangered glaciers.
America’s Glacier National Park was once filled with, well, glaciers, but soon the park may have to change its name.

At the last official count, fewer than 30 of the 150 or so original glaciers remained, and scientists are estimating that more have disappeared since.

With the glaciers shrinking, water flow is also decreasing, putting many of the park's flora and fauna at risk as well.

How to get there: Fly into Glacier Park International Airport or take the Amtrak to either East or West Glacier. Glacier Park Inc. (406-892-2525 ) provides a shuttle service into the park from both locations.


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6. Venice, Italy

endangered sites May be a short time left to see these masked beauties.

While Venice brings to mind a charming gondola scene, complete with an appropriately striped-shirt gondolier, the sad truth is those famous canals may be all that’s left of the romantic Italian city.

Many have been claiming for a while that Venice is drowning, and those claims are unfortunately not far from the truth. As sea levels have been rising and rainfall has increased, floods have been occurring more frequently -- and with each flood, Venice’s fate grows more precarious.

Not only does the water rise, the stones become significantly more eroded, and the wooden support gets more decayed, making the balancing act a tricky one.

How to get there: If coming by car, drive over the Ponte della Libertà bridge and into Piazzale Roma, the only place in Venice where cars are allowed. Otherwise, fly into Marco Polo airport, or travel by train into Santa Lucia Railway Station and then either walk or take a water taxi into the main city. 



7. The Dead Sea, Jordan, Israel, West Bank

endangered sites The Dead Sea -- a self-fulfilling prophecy?

The world's saltiest sea has become increasingly endangered in recent years. As it’s in an extremely hot and dry region, the water level naturally fluctuates based on evaporation.

Add to that increased use of the Jordan River, which feeds into it, and the Dead Sea may soon be as dead as its name. The sea has shrunk by a third, and sinks approximately five centimeters each year.

How to get there: From Tel Aviv, take the Egged public bus from Tel Aviv Arlozoroff central station, at 8:40 am to Ein Bokek. From Jerusalem, there are several Egged buses from the central station to Ein Gedi, Ein Bokek and Masada. If on a tight schedule, rent a car at either airport, as bus times are fairly infrequent. 


8. Taj Mahal, Agra, India

endangered sites Unless something's done to preserve this place, the only Taj Mahals left will be casinos and curry houses.

The Taj Mahal may be India’s most famous tourist attraction forming part of the itinerary for up to 4 million travelers each year, but a look at this architectural beauty may soon be restricted to pretty postcards.

Authorities are considering closing the tomb to the public to offset years of damage caused by all those heavy feet.

The mausoleum was completed in 1638 and was intended as a monument to Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. 

Currently, tourists can tour the Taj Mahal and its accompanying gardens, but in an effort to reduce pollution, cars aren’t allowed near the area, so visitors must catch an electric bus, or walk.

Experts have noted that the decline in water level of the nearby Yamuna River is affecting the wooden foundation, while the air pollution and many tourists have been ruining the walls. 

How to get there:  After reaching Delhi, hire a private taxi/rickshaw or hop on a bus to reach Taj Mahal, or take the railway to Agra Cantt Station. From about a kilometer before the Taj Majal Main Gate, there are battery operated buses, rickshaws and horse/man-drawn rickshaws that take you to the main gate. 



9. Pyramids of Giza, Cairo, Egypt

endangered sites In Greek mythology, the Sphinx destroyed many a traveler with its lethal riddle, but now the tables may have turned.

The Pyramids of Giza have been around for more than 4,000 years, but this last remaining wonder of the Ancient World may be in its last few decades. 

Though a treasured landmark, the pyramids aren’t protected by Egyptian officials. While camel rides and horseback tours are now banned near the area, human visitors are able to crawl all over the monument area and vendors and tour guides add to the already large crowd, making it near impossible to see the pyramids from a distance.

How to get there: The Metro Line 2 runs from Cairo into Giza station, where there are minibuses (al-haram) available for the 8 kilometers or so left till the pyramids. Otherwise, take a coach bus with Cairo Transport Authority from central Cairo straight to the pyramids. 



10. Little Green Street, London, England

endangered sites Heavy lorries, please stay away.

Little Green Street isn’t as well known as some of the other tourist spots in London, but that may be why it hasn’t been ruined -- yet. The one-block street in Kentish Town is one of the only intact Georgian thoroughfares left in the vast metropolis.

The cobblestoned street is flanked by 18th-century houses, which are protected as historic properties -- but the street is another story.

Little Green Street, which has united a group of preservationists that includes artists, writers, actors and musicians, is at risk of being destroyed by developers, who want to build on the land behind.

If this does happen, protesters are worried the constant pressure of trucks and heavy machinery would eventually destroy the tiny street that survived the bombing of World War II.

How to get there: From London, take the National Rail to Kentish Town Station or the tube to Camden Town station. From both stations, it’s a 10-15 minute walk to Highgate Road, the closest major road to Little Green Street. 


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Los Angeles-born Elizabeth Eun is a journalist who currently works at CJ E&M.  She lives on the Internet and in cafés.

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