Last Chance Travel: Visiting the World's Most Endangered Sites, Before They're Gone

The Great Barrier Reef is disappearing. But by flying to see it, are you contributing to its demise?

"Last chance travel," has been trending since 2016 when the Great Barrier Reef experienced its first profound bleaching, but it wasn't until this year that Forbes named it the spiking phenomenon of the year.

"From millennials visiting pristine countries like New Zealand to spending time in the Arctic, visiting endangered destinations will continue to thrive in 2018," the magazine declared.

It's the see-it-before-it's-gone approach to travel. Some call it the climate change effect, while others are quick to point out it's as culturally relevant as it is environmental. As globalization homogenizes culture, intrepid travelers want to experience a place before the next McDonald's arrives.

Which spots top the list? We rounded up some of the most in-demand and endangered destinations across the globe.

Great Barrier Reef

Off the eastern coast of Australia, the 1,400-mile long Great Barrier Reef is the longest and largest coral reef in the world. But it has become a lot less vivid in the last two years. Since 2016, half of the coral in the the Great Barrier Reef has died, the Atlantic reported.

The cause of the reef's devastation is clear: rising global temperatures have cranked up the temperatures on our oceans, making them inhospitable to fragile corals.

In 2016, a survey of visitors to the Great Barrier Reef found that nearly 70 percent said their desire "to see the reef before it's gone" was the primary reason for their journey.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is one of America's largest, oldest, and most-visited national parks, and yet it may soon suffer from a branding issue. The number of glaciers in the park has dwindled from 150 in 1910 to 26, reports the New York Times. And according to the U.S. Department of the Interior, rising temperatures mean the park's largest glaciers could be gone by 2030, while all are in danger of vanishing within the next few decades.

The Maldives

The Maldives, the Indian Ocean honeymoon paradise famous for white beaches and pristine waters, have seen a 68 percent spike in tourism due to the last-chance trend. While the United Nations predicted the low-lying islands could be underwater by 2100, some think the increased tourism could be what delays disaster. "Tourism and resorts may be the saviour of the Maldives," Shiham Adam, director of the government's Marine Research Centre, told the Guardian. "The Maldives needs money to survive. Resorts are very positive for the environment. They offer better protection than community islands because they must protect at least 700m all around them. They become mini marine reserves," he said.

Venice

"Venice is not sinking," writes James Taylor-Foster on ArchDaily of the Italian city erected on more than 100 islands connected by a network of bridges and canals. "It's flooding." Venice is prone to flooding—in 1966 the city was under six feet of water—but Venice has indeed sunk five inches over the last century, reports PBS NewsHour. Couple that with a rising sea level brought on by climate change, the World Unesco Heritage site is it trouble. "Scientists are hard at work trying find ways to stop Venice from going down," writes Brad Cohen at USA Today, "but if they don't figure it out soon, San Marco Square and Saint Mark's Basilica might become a modern-day Atlantis.

Myanmar & Mongolia

Mongolia is home to one of the world's last surviving nomadic cultures, and Myanmar is one of the largest, most-diverse, and least known countries in Southeast Asia, after only recently reopening to tourists. But even in these traditional cultures, signs of modernity are creeping in. Companies like Overseas Adventure Travel arrange "Day in the Life" excursions that include making yogurt tea in a yurt and collecting dung for fuel and weaving. But travelers who seek out these experiences want to do more than merely see a way of life, they want to connect with it by meeting and meaningfully interacting with local people. In Mongolia, it is possible to travel to the steppes and stay with local families in a ger, their traditional tent dwelling.

Dead Sea

Bordering Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank, the Dead Sea—in fact, a lake—has long held spiritual significance to Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The water itself seems transcendent. With a salt content nearly 10 times greater than the sea water, swimmers are held aloft on the water's surface. But the Dead Sea's shoreline is receding at a rate of about 3 feet per year. As the water recedes more than 1,000 sinkholes have appeared in the past 15 years. It's not all doom and gloom, though. An Israeli government study thinks the rate of evaporation will slow and the Dead Sea will reach equilibrium again in a couple of decades—but not before losing another third of its present volume.

White Cliffs of Dover

The stunning White Cliffs of Dover along the southern coast of Britain are in peril. The cliffs, which get their arresting color from a chalk made from the shells of a rare species of algae, have been eroding 10 times faster in the last 150 years than they did over the previous 7,000 years, researchers say. The reason? A thinning of the beachfront that separates the 90-million-year-old mineral bluffs from the sea. Powerful storms and human mismanagement of the shoreline are now coupled with climate change, which is bringing elevated sea levels and stronger waves, all of which will increase erosion.

But if you're looking to prioritize, this destination can move to the backburner and you don't need to clamor to the cliffs just yet. "We've probably got tens of thousands of years left," U.K. National Trust environmentalist Steven Judd told the The Washington Post in 2001.

Rainforests

The vast, millenias-old Amazon Rainforest in Brazil has been called "the earth's lungs." But our breathing capacity being severely hampered by destruction of the ecosystem for mining, industrial agriculture and illegal logging. Over the past four decades, 40 percent of the Amazon Rainforest has been lost.

And it's not just in Brazil. All across the tropical regions of the globe, about 45 million acres of rainforest are lost each year, razed for palm oil trees and rubber plantations, cattle, and soybean farming. At current rates rainforests are expected to vanish entirely within 100 years, reports the Guardian.

The Last Chance Paradox

Researchers point out "last chance travel" presents a disturbing paradox. Those so eager to rush to see a disappearing place are, in fact, contributing to its destruction.

"Tourists are travelling greater distances to view the destination that is in danger, contributing higher levels of emissions and thus exacerbating the impacts of climate change," write Annah Piggott-McKellar and Karen McNamara from the University of Queensland (Australia) the Journal of Sustainable Tourism.

But it becomes a vicious circle when the peril is indeed part of the appeal, writes Greg Dickinson at The Telegraph, "a kind of apocalypse...deathbed wanderlust…the irony being that the bucketloads of carbon it takes to travel to these sights is perpetuating the very climate change that is causing their demise."

For the thoughtful traveler, questions abound about the ethics of travel that may be in danger of exploiting—and ultimately eradicating—unique cultures. For the nomadic tribes of Mongolian reindeer herders, is this sustainable tourism or a sideshow alley, asks Paula McInerney at the Contented Traveler. "Will we lose this valuable tribe with inherent knowledge of the environment and the ways of the reindeers, of a self contained and functioning community if we don't assist with sustainable tourism? Is this responsible tourism?" Others question the ethics of visiting countries like Myanmar, where violence has forced 600,000 Rohingya refugees to flee the country in what the UN has called a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing."

So on the other hand, if you really care, you could just stay home.

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Joshua Tree National Park is a gigantic desert located at the crossroads between Palm Springs, the Mojave Desert, and Colorado.

Ever wanted to visit it? Here's what you need to know.

When you first visit Joshua Tree, you're going to want to make a pitstop at one of its three visitor centers—the Joshua Tree Visitors Center (in the northwest), the Cottonwood Visitor Center (in the south), the Oasis Visitor Center (in the north), or the Black Rock Campground (in the northwest, open from October through May). Be sure to call in advance before you go.

In general, it's best to visit the park in the spring or fall. A popular stop-off for hikers, rock climbers, and road-trippers, the park is a surreal and unforgettable area beloved for its unique Joshua trees and so much more.

Must-See Highlights

If you only have a short time in Joshua Tree, you'll want to see its most famous destinations. The Cholla Cactus Garden is a highlight—located 20 minutes north of the Cottonwood Visitor Center, it's a must-see, and if you can make it out for sunrise, the experience will be extra unforgettable.

Steve Sieren Steve SierenFlickr

Consider paying a visit to Parker Dam, a rare watery oasis in the middle of the desert. You might also take a trip to the Cottonwood Spring Oasis for more watery views, possibly complete with views of bighorn sheep.

History and Culture

For some history, be sure to check out the Keys Ranch, to hear the story of Bill and Frances Keys, who built a town—including a schoolhouse and ranch—in Joshua Tree for their five children. Don't miss Keys View while you're at it.

keys view Keys Viewalexvy.org

Keys View

Joshua Tree is well-known for drawing all sorts of alternative types, and it has the lore to match. Rock and roll fans often visit Cap Rock, the place where rocker Gram Parsons' body was cremated.

Cap RockJoshua Tree 3D

Natural Wonders: Trees, Stars and Rocks

Joshua Tree is one of the best places in the world to see stars. With some of the darkest skies in the world, it's a great chance for desert photography or possible UFO sightings.

Joshua Tree Night Sky Joshua Tree Night SkyShaina Blum

It's also well-known for its many rock formations. There's Split Rock, a giant boulder that appears to be literally split in two, located off Park Boulevard.

There's also Skull Rock, a rock that, naturally, resembles a fleshless human face.

Skull ROck Skull ROckProtrails

Then there's Arch Rock, which you can climb on in order to see the desert from a brand-new angle.

Arch Rock Arch Rockfollowyourdetour.com

And of course, there are the Joshua trees. In addition to the famous trees, the park has a variety of other desert plants, including the gorgeous red-plumed Ocotillo.

Ocotillo OcotilloiStock

Hiking and Adventure

Rock climbers (or anyone who wants to watch in awe) can pay a visit to the Hidden Valley Campground, a world-renowned climbing center. Hidden Valley also offers gorgeous views of Coachella Valley. Climbers also love visiting the Jumbo Rocks Campground, with its many challenging formations.

For a slightly less strenuous day, visit the beautifully descriptively named Oasis of Mara, a stretch of honey mesquite and playas that offers a short-half mile loop which will let you experience the desert's wildflowers and nature. Mara was named by the Serrano Indians, who called this location their first home in this world.

Oasis of Mara Oasis of MaraSCPR

Another popular Joshua Tree hike is the 49 Palms Oasis hike, a 3-mile trek to an oasis. The Ryan Mountain hike is also a 3-mile uphill trek that will take you around 3 hours, but it'll lead you to a dramatic 3000-foot elevation with 360 degree views.

Finally, the also-3-mile Mastodon Peak Hike will take you to views of the Salton Sea and Eagle Mountains. If driving is more your speed, the park is definitely best for four-wheel drives; if you've got one, check out the Geology Tour Road, an 18-mile stretch that offers 16 stops and plenty of access to scenery.

Camping and Lodging

Camping is a popular attraction in Joshua Tree, so be sure to reserve your campsite ahead of time.

There are 9 main campgrounds in Joshua Tree—Belle Campground, Black Rock Campground, Cottonwood Campground, Hidden Valley Campground, Indian Cove Campground, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Ryan Campground, Sheeps Pass Campground, and the White Tank Campground.

You can also try staying at a Bureau of Land Management-owned area, or backcountry camping if you're prepared to really fend for yourself—just be sure to register at one of the backcountry boards.

If you're not up for camping, check out a local motel or Airbnb—there are plenty available near the park.

Tips and Tricks

Joshua Tree National Park has no cell service, so you'll really want to plan ahead before you go. There are no restaurants or grocery stores in the park, so be sure to pack food and water.

Food & Drink

6 NYC Food Trends You Can Try at Home

From Raindrop Cakes to Ramen Burgers, these New York City food crazes are available in your kitchen.

Back when a world outside your home and the grocery store existed, New York City had a habit of getting swept up in food crazes.

Sometimes those crazes have involved a burgeoning appreciation for an established cultural tradition from around the world -- arepas, poké bowls, Korean barbecue. At other times these crazes have just involved particular purveyors taking a familiar item more seriously -- like the doughnut renaissance spurred by Doughnut Plant and Dough.

But the most alluring and often ridiculous food trends in New York City tend to involve something truly novel, eye-catching, and sometimes just weird. Fortunately, for those of us who are taking pandemic conditions seriously, there are options to bring some of the novelty of those trends home for the Instagrammable weirdness you may have been missing.

These are some of the recent New York City food trends that you can try for yourself.

Raindrop Cake

raindrop cake

Like a lot of food trends that sweep New York, the Raindrop Cake can be traced back to Japan. Created by the Kinseiken Seika company outside Tokyo, the clear, jiggly cake was originally introduced as water mochi. In 2016 a Brooklyn-based digital marketer named Darren Wong set out to introduce the strange "edible water" to New York at the Smorgasburg food festival, and the strangely beautiful dessert took off.

Now Wong sells kits with everything you need to create your own low-calorie jellyfish/breast implant confection at home. For $36 the kit includes ingredients, molds, and bamboo trays for six raindrop cakes served with brown sugar syrup and Japanese Kinako flour.

Cronuts

cronuts

Dominique Ansel Bakery

When French pastry chef Dominique Ansel introduced New York to his chimera dessert blending a croissant with a doughnut, it was an overnight sensation with lines around the block to try the flaky fried goodness. They were such a hit that a more pedestrian version of the cronut made its way to Dunkin around the country.

Since then, Ansel has unveiled a number of buzzworthy and inventive creations, like What-a-Melon ice cream, Zero-Gravity cakes, and frozen s'mores. But if you want to try the sensation that started it all, Ansel has shared his original cronut recipe.

And if it turns out that you're not quite at the level to emulate a world-renowned French pastry chef, you can always try the knock-off version with these simple biscuit dough donuts you can make in an air fryer.

Ramen Burger

ramen burger

Here's another food craze imported from Japan. The ramen burger has popular in the Fukushima region for some time, but it was first introduced to New York by chef Keizo Shimamoto's restaurant Ramen Shack in 2013.

The simple fusion of Japanese and American cuisine is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Instead of a standard white bread bun, ramen noodles are cooked to chewy perfection, pressed into a bun shape, then seared in sesame oil until the outside is crispy.

Inside that bun you can place whatever kind of burger you like, but Shimamoto's version involved a beef patty served with arugula, scallions, and a signature sauce. While your results with instant ramen are unlikely to match the quality of Shimamoto's buns, this recipe should help you get close.

Ube Ice Cream

Ube ice cream

Gemma's Bigger Bolder Baking

The purple yam known as ube is a staple of Filipino desserts. In recent years its distinctive, almost floral sweetness has grown in popularity in NYC, showing up in a variety of baked goods and in the Philippines's signature take on shaved ice -- halo-halo.

The fluffy ube mamons -- sponge cakes -- at Red Ribbon Bakeshop are a great introduction to what has made it such a popular ingredient. There is also the delicious flan-like ube halaya. But maybe the most craveable and craze-worthy uses of ube is as a flavor of ice cream.

This simple recipe calls for ube extract or powder, rather than using actual yam -- but the distinctive ube flavor still comes through in the delicious results.

Grasshoppers

Tempura grasshoppers

Food Republic

Speaking of climate change... oh, were we not talking about climate change? It's always just lingering in the background -- a portent of doom hovering over all our thoughts about the future? Cool.

Anyway, speaking of climate change, one of the most important changes our society will need to make in order to mitigate its catastrophic effects it to shift our food supply to a more sustainable model. And one of the keys to that effort will be a shift away from meat to less wasteful protein sources.

Plant-based alternatives like impossible burgers and beyond meats are a likely component of that shift, but one of the most efficient forms of protein on Earth is also one of the easiest to come by -- bugs. With that in mind, restaurants like The Black Ant have introduced insects as a fashionable part of NYC dining.

You might be thinking that's gross, but in reality...it absolutely is. Bugs are weird and gross, and the idea of eating them is not appetizing.

But chances are there's already something in your diet that would be gross if you weren't used to it -- aren't lobsters basically sea bugs anyway? So if you can find a way to get over that mental block and make those bugs appealing -- as cultures around the world have been doing throughout history -- you might be ready for the Snowpiercer dystopia that lies ahead.

With that in mind, you can buy a bucket of crunchy dried grasshoppers to start experimenting with cooking. And, while not as inventive as Black Ant's grasshopper-crusted shrimp tacos, these recipes for curried tempura grasshoppers and Oaxacan chapulines tacos sound downright edible.

Hot Cocktails

hot toddy

Okay, this is hardly a new or a specifically New York trend, but with restaurants and bars moving outdoors in the middle of winter, people have been warming themselves with hot beverages. But there's nothing to stop you from bringing that heat home to enjoy a tipsy winter night on a balcony, rooftop, or fire escape.

From hot toddies to hot buttered rum, spiked hot chocolate, and mulled wine, the possibilities are endless. A hot cocktail can be as simple as Irishing-up a cup of coffee, but we recommend getting your hands on some citrus peel and mulling spices -- cloves, cinnamon sticks, allspice, stare anise, and nutmeg -- and start experimenting with some cheap red wine or apple cider spiked with your favorite brown liquor.

Travel Tips

Best Jobs for People Who Love To Travel

If you want to travel but have a job that is currently holding you back, here are a few of our suggestions for the best jobs for people who love to travel.

For many people, traveling is an amazing experience, but traveling is not always feasible because of responsibilities to work.

One way to get around this roadblock is to get a job that will let you travel and see the world. Here are some of the best jobs for people who love to travel.

Hostelworld HostelworldHostelworld.com

Translator

A translator is a wonderful job for those who want to travel. It will bring you to many places as you work, so long as those places speak the language you can translate. The great thing about translating is the variety of work you can get by translating for specific clients or just translating for tourists in the area. You can choose what type of scene you wish to work in very easily.

Pilot

A pilot fits the definition of a job that gets to travel perfectly. Now, whether you are a private pilot or a commercial pilot, you will still get to fly all over the planet. The only major problem with this job is the requirement of flight classes. But once you get your license, you can fly freely around the world while making yourself money to fund your trips.

Travel blogger

Being a travel blogger is a temperamental job but, if done correctly, it will allow you to visit anywhere you want. Writing to fans as you travel the world can be a fun and exciting way to engage with the planet. This job can be difficult to do, though, as you must be able to write consistently and capture your audience with each post.

English teacher

This may not sound like a job that allows you to travel, but schools all around the world are always looking for more people to teach English.

In this career, you would move near the school that you would teach at and live there over the course of your time there. The interesting thing about this job is that it does not necessarily require a teaching degree, depending on the school and country in question. You also get to live in a new country for an extended period.

When it comes to the best jobs for people who love to travel, these are just a few of our suggestions. There are plenty of jobs where you can travel around the world, but these ones are far-reaching and cover a lot of different lifestyles. They might seem like pipe dreams, but hey, you never know!