You don’t need to be a vegan, yoga-practising environmentalist to appreciate the incredible life, nature and landscapes we’re blessed to have all around us on our planet. There is of course, a natural cycle. One of natural selection, evolution, climate change etc, but the world has transformed more in the last 100 years due to us, humans, than ever before. Below are 11 places to visit that are, right now, directly being threatened, reduced, and harmed by humans.

virguna places to visit

#1 Virunga Park

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga Park is under threat from mining concerns and from gorilla poaching. Leonardo DiCaprio made an award-winning documentary film about its plight a couple of years back. At 7,800 square kilometres Virunga was Africa’s very first national park, and now it is one of the most threatened. (Image (and tours) © SecretCompass / Dominic Lynn) 


#2 Kamchatka

Russia’s remote and pristine wilderness area of the Kamchatka Peninsula, where ‘miles’ literally out-number people, is threatened by the possibility of ski resorts, lifts and tourism operators coming in to turn scenery into dollars. Development plans have come following the success of the Sochi winter olympics and the increased interest in Russia and winter snowsports. (Image (and tours) © SecretCompass) 

Tropical Andes

#3 Tropical Andes

From Venezuela to Argentina the Tropical Andes is a landscape changing on an almost daily basis. Whilst a hotspot for some of the world’s most intriguing wildlife, it’s also a magnet for dollar-hungry humans, exploiting natural resources such as oil, timber, minerals, as well as deforesting mass areas for narcotic plantations. It’s estimated that only 25% of the areas natural vegetation remains. (Image by Dallas Krentzel/)

Coral Reef

#4 The Coral Triangle

Southeast Asia’s Coral triangle is one of the world’s most endangered reefs – as result of overfishing and tourism. Whilst a primary source of income for many of the local communities it’s been rinsed of its resources, and many fishing methods such as blasting and poisoning has killed off the coral on the seabed. (Image by USAID CTSP/James Morgan)


#5 Borneo Rainforest

During the 1980s and 1990s, this once pristine natural habit underwent a massive transformation. Between 1997 and 2000 the region lost 1.2million hectares of rainforest every year. Animals have become extinct and the landscape looks nothing like it once did. Fortunately, protection programmes are being funded, but forest fires and illegal deforestation are still putting this magical world at risk. (Image by Luke Price)


#6 Myanmar (Burma)

For the last few years Myanmar has been enjoying a rapidly increasing tourism sector, which is starting to threaten the authentic experience offered by this under the radar destination. In January 2015 it reached the record number of visitors and this trend is set to increase. In late March the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism predicted 6m inbound tourists for 2016, up 25% on the 4.68m arrivals last year and far above the 2010 total of 800,000. The current limits on numbers might become a thing of the past in the near future so now is the time to visit to enjoy an incredible country which is still young to tourism. (Image provided by On the Go Tours)


#7 Papua New Guinea

Papa New Guinea is still very much an emerging destination and offers a tapestry of untouched natural environments, diverse wildlife and a culture who have barely made contact with those beyond their shores. It is also home to one of the largest areas of intact rainforest outside of the Amazon. However, this magical land, and the lives the natives lead is massively under threat as travel companies to the region increase and the country continues to westernise. (Image provided by Coral Expeditions)


#8 The Himalayas and Everest

The Himalayas biggest threat is that posed by climate change, with ice caps melting and large glacial areas just disappearing. It’s expected that 70%-95% of the glaciers in the region could disappear by the end of the century due to farming, hydro-power and climate change.

Another big problem ruining the area is rubbish, left by visitors to base camp and those continuing on. In 2008 15 tonnes of rubbish and 8 bodies were brought down from the mountain. (Image by Torsten Dietrich)


#9 Micronesia and Polynesia

This cluster of around 4,500 islands sprung across the south Pacific ocean are considered to be some of the most high-risk lands in the world. Since humans settled here over 2,000 years ago, thousands of species have disappeared, and as seas rise these islands will become smaller and smaller. Just a single metre in sea rise would decimate much of these islands and sink them under sea level. (Image by Paul Williams)


#10 Dead Sea

We may have little more than 50 years before the Dead Sea entirely vanishes, as neighbouring countries draw on the natural water source for manufacturing, power, farming and humans. Over the last 40 years, it has shrunk by almost one-third and dropped by near on 80 feet. (Image by tsaiproject)

#11 Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Looking for that perfect snap? Bolivia’s salt flats are some of the largest on the planet, and the most photogenic. Ironically, they’re at risk of disappearing as the government has opened them up to lithium mining; the flats hold almost half the world’s lithium reserves – ironically, the very thing fuelling your smartphone or camera. (Image by Haceme un 14)


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