Environmental and political issues impact the way we travel. Between travel bans, over-tourism and temperature changes, many travel destinations could become more restricted over the next several years, if they haven’t already.
It’s important to understand the effects of these issues before making travel plans, and equally important to witness these places before you miss the opportunity.
Whether it’s because of the environmental climate or the political climate, you’ll want to make it a priority to visit these places before it’s too late.
Here are the top 17 places to visit in 2017:
1. Yucatán, Mexico
Recent political events will likely make it more difficult to visit this vast and beautiful country. Beyond the beach parties and spring break destinations, Mexico has a plethora of historic, peaceful and awe-inspiring sights that every traveler should try to visit. The Yucatán Peninsula boasts blue waters and serene surroundings. Chichen Itza, located on the peninsula, is home to some of the oldest and well-known Mayan ruins. These are important historical monuments that you will want to see before travel privileges are revoked.
2. Lake Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
Lake Muskoka is a natural palette of the most beautiful autumn colors during the Fall season. With leaves in full expression of red, yellow and orange reflecting off the lake’s calm surface, the entire scene looks like a postcard. Climate experts predict that the effects of global warming will be felt most strongly in Canada, meaning beautiful places like this could be irreversibly changed in the near future.
3. The Sky Islands, Arizona, New Mexico
The Sky Islands are mountain peaks that elevate above the clouds, creating small areas of land that are much like islands in the sky. These “islands” are thousands of feet above ground and, because of their positioning, are a fusion between desert and forest, making them one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. The peaks present a unique microclimate allowing rare forms of life to flourish. As is the case with so many of earth’s rarities, climate change from global warming is threatening the existence of this delicately balanced system and it may not persist much longer.
4. Medellín, Colombia
Once known as the most dangerous city in Colombia, Medellín has transformed drastically over the past 2 decades. The political climate has moved in a positive direction, one that should encourage travel and tourism. This is a city of innovation and progress, leading the country in technological developments while maintaining that innate Colombian jubilance and charm. It is the best of both worlds and a place that every traveler needs to experience, especially now.
5. Hvar, Croatia
Croatia’s vast and beautiful coastline is one of the main draws to the country, but is also what puts the country at risk of endangerment from rising sea levels. Hvar is a tiny island off Split surrounded by clear, blue waters and sandy beaches. The best time to visit is May through June, when the water is warm and the crowds are smaller, and the most important time to visit is now.
Antarctica is solely made up of ice, water and rock. Still thousands of species, including penguins, seals, whales and even carnivorous sponges, inhabit this icy continent, and new wildlife is being discovered everyday. The continent is a difficult place to get to and it may even be impossible soon. The effects of overfishing and global warming are causing a domino effect that could wipe out a majority of the wildlife population, not to mention the ice that makes up much of this continent’s landscape.
7. Isfahan, Iran
Contrary to certain political propaganda, Iran is a peaceful and beautiful country that is full of culture and a rich history. Isfahan is a metropolitan area just south of Tehran that has retained much of its infrastructure and impressive architecture from when it was the Persia’s capital city. Unfortunately, travel to this well-preserved, historical area risks being revoked pending legislation. Now would be the time to see this world treasure before it’s too late.
With global travel expanding, travel to Iceland has become increasingly popular. It’s becoming much easier to witness the magic of Reykjavik, bathe in the warm baths in Blue Lagoon, stroll along the coast of Black Sand Beach, or hike through the beautiful landscape of Thingvellir National Park. All things that are a must do before over-tourism and climate change take their toll on this treasured country.
9. Mt. Kilimanjaro
The entire peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro is covered in glaciers of ice that are 10,000 years old. This phenomenon is made possible by the cold air that is present at the mountain’s peak despite Tanzania’s tropical climate. Rising temperatures over the past century, however, have taken their toll on the ice fields, significantly diminishing the glaciers. The complete disappearance of the glacier is inevitable meaning that your time to witness this fascinating display is limited.
10. Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is Turkey’s cultural, historic and economic center. The city has opened its doors to 2.7 million refugees in the past several years. As a result, the population is shifting and new cultures are emerging. Now is one of the most exciting times to visit Turkey to witness the changes that are taking place in the country. On the other hand, with the political uncertainty, there may be some restrictions arising soon on travel as well as some changes taking place that could shift the country for good.
11. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest living thing and the most diverse barrier reef system on earth. It is home to countless species of animals and plants and serves as a huge tourist destination. Rising ocean temperatures and CO2 emissions have already damaged more than 50 percent of the reef, causing harm to both coral and the wildlife that makes up one of the world’s greatest wonders. Both ecotourism and awareness are needed to preserve this natural treasure. So, make sure to travel here with those objectives in mind.
12. Venice, Italy
Venice consists of 118 small islands that all sit at sea level. Global warming is causing ocean levels to rise, which has already caused flash floods in the city. Not only that, but the salt water from the ocean is causing the historic buildings that are characteristic of Venice to deteriorate. Venice could be completely underwater within the next several years. Make sure you take some time to visit before it’s too late.
13. Napa Valley, California
Napa Valley is the main wine-growing region in Northern California due to its ideal conditions for producing grapes. The award-winning wines that are produced here are among some of the best in the nation. The valley itself is a countryside paradise with a breathtaking landscape, luxury lodging and gourmet restaurants. Unfortunately, the delicate balance of minerals that make the soil ideal for grape production is in jeopardy due to extreme temperature changes. Thus, Napa Valley risks losing the attributes that make it so special.
14. Glacier National Park, Montana
Glaciers are highly responsive to climate changes, meaning they are the most impacted from the effects of global warming. Also, the deterioration has a ripple effect that echoes in ecosystems around the world. Glacier National Park is no exception and has faced degradation to the point that experts have predicted its disappearance within the next few years. Now would be the ideal time to visit this national treasure before the very things that gave its name disappear for good.
15. Peruvian Amazon
The Amazon is home to one-tenth of the world’s known species and also 140 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, which helps to keep the global climate in check. This biodiverse region in endangered as a result of deforestation and climate change. In fact, it is estimated that 1.4 billion acres of rainforest could be gone very soon, leaving the world’s climate largely unmoderated.
16. Havana, Cuba
Travel to Cuba has recently opened up for US citizens, giving you every reason to hop on a plane as soon as humanly possible. The best thing about Cuba is that it has retained much of it pre-colonial charm, a quality that is likely to change with the influx of tourism. Not to mention Cuban tourism was a privilege granted due to positive international relations, and is one that could be revoked depending on the political climate.
17. The Tropical Andes
This densely populated mountain range that stretches through South America carries one-sixth of all the plant life on earth. The biodiversity in the Tropical Andes is a main draw to this area, as are the resources. Deforestation and oil drilling are causing damage to this region and could mean harm to the populations that call the Andes home. Travelers should work in opposition of this impact in order to preserve this tropical paradise.
AllTheRooms encourages you to travel safe and smart. Check resources to see how you can help, not hurt, these endangered regions so that we can all continue to travel and explore this world that we love.