Social and political upheaval, the environmental crisis and mass tourism are bringing big changes to some of the world’s most exceptional destinations.
Here are three places you must see before it’s too late.
Antarctica is a breathtaking destination where towering icebergs compete for attention with penguins, whales and seals in a real sensory smorgasbord.
There are several reasons for bumping Antarctica to the top of your must-see list. First, it’s surely one of the last pristine wilderness areas left on our planet – but who knows how long it will stay that way.
Climate change is adversely affecting the stability of the Antarctic ice sheet with glaciers breaking up at an increasing rate. The more compelling reason for visiting Antarctica sooner rather than later though, is a political one. No one country owns Antarctica. Currently there’s a Treaty that governs tourism activity with Australia being one of the twelve countries having signed.
Visitor numbers are snowballing (so to speak!) and it’s unclear how long the Antarctic Treaty can maintain its strict controls. It may be that visitors are greatly restricted or to the other extreme the continent is overrun by tourism.
Antarctica is one of the most magical places on the planet – see it soon!
When to go: Antarctica’s tourist season is the summertime from November to March when there are about 23 hours of daylight. The summer is quite short so we recommend booking a good year in advance.
Personal Travel Manager Tip: Summer in Antarctica can offer different experiences. Early in the season there’s a lot more snow and icebergs whereas towards the end of summer the snow melts, exposing rocky beaches and creating quite different scenery. The end of the summer is a great time to see young penguin chicks out and about.
2. BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
Forget what you have heard about Istanbul being where east meets west. Travel instead to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to truly understand the cultural fault lines that have shaped history. When you’ve finished exploring this vibrant city that’s regenerating after the tragic siege of 1992 to 1996, visit the surrounding mountains and river canyons for some of Europe’s best value rafting and skiing.
But be quick – before too long, the secret will be out as the country is on the brink of a tourism boom.
Sarajevo is an easy bus journey from Dubrovnik in Croatia, and there are now direct trains to Sarajevo from Budapest in Hungary. It’s only a matter of time before it’s the new European hot spot. Right now, though, it’s one of Europe’s best travel bargains, and the welcome from the locals is warm and unaffected.
When to go: Bosnia and Herzegovina’s climate varies. The central and northern regions of Bosnia have an alpine climate, while the southern Herzegovina area has more mild Mediterranean temperatures. Late May to October are the warmer and dryer months. With more people visiting each year, attracted by the low cost of food and drink and reasonably priced accommodation, booking early is still recommended.
Personal Travel Manager Tip: Traditional cuisine in Bosnia and Herzegovina is fantastic. For a real authentic taste from the Bascarsija district of Sarajevo, try Cevapi – grilled rolls of minced lamb and beef, served with chopped fresh onion and wrapped in pita bread – yum!
You can’t stop progress but the modernisation of Hanoi may soon see the end of the city’s old-world cultural charm.
You need to look no further than Hanoi’s streets for evidence of a city in evolution. A decade ago bicycles ruled the roads, now mopeds relentlessly zip back and forth though the Old Quarter.
Time-honored trading is evident – vendors still carry fruits, vegetables and herbs in baskets through the streets of narrow buildings, where residential dwellings are interspersed with welcoming hotels. It has been Hanoi’s captivating old-world culture and values that have led to its rise to the status of international tourism darling.
There are many ways to explore Hanoi and beyond. Three-hours away is the UNESCO World Heritage site, Halong Bay, which comprises thousands of jagged limestone islands and is an ace card for Hanoi. To calm the soul while being immersed in Hanoi’s history, visit Zen Spa, where massage techniques are said to have originated from royal dynasties.
When to go: Any time is a good time to travel to Vietnam, although the weather does vary significantly throughout the country.
Personal Travel Manager Tip: While the history and culture are amazing in Vietnam, the beaches are truly sparkling gems. From Hoi An to Nha Trang to Phan Thiet, the sand is dazzling white and soft. Sit yourself down on a recliner and let the locals tempt you with fresh fruit and cold beer for less than $5.
To visit one of these endangered destinations before it’s too late, contact your personal travel manager or find one here.