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Travel Spots to Avoid: Galapagos, Antarctica and Beyond

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It’s tempting to write about the top ten places to travel, but it’s equally important to focus on the places NOT to go, particularly because of environmental reasons. Here’s an excerpt from my latest post on EcoSalon.

With a rise in eco-tourism, it’s tempting to think that sustainable travel is easily achievable, but in some places, exploring and voyaging have a higher impact than the supposed benefits. In fact, many organizations around the world are constantly working to develop stricter regulations that will protect local environments, cultures and populations. Thinking about ourtravel impact is essential.

When it comes down to it, no matter how badly we want to visit, there are some places that we just shouldn’t go, and if we do travel to them we need to be very conscious of our impact. We’ve pulled together a list of places that we hope travelers will pass on, be it for environment, social or cultural reasons. But since we do believe in the power of seeing the world, we’ve also provided some great alternatives.

1. Galapagos Islands

Although a popular destination for seeing biodiversity at its purest, the Galapagos is under threat. In 2007 UNESCO deemed increasing human immigration and uncontrolled development of tourism as threatening the “outstanding value and physical integrity” of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Ecuadorian government sees the same problem, and last year raised the entrance fee to the park.

So where to go if you still want to see some of South America’s island biodiversity? The Islas Bellestas. Often called the Galapagos of Peru, Islas Ballestas is a natural reserve comprised of over 700,000 acres. In order to protect the wildlife, visitors are not allowed to land on the island, but you’re sure to spot sea lions, penguins, pelicans and a diverse array of bird species from the comfort of the boat. You’ll have much less of an impact but still get to see some amazing wildlife.

2. Antarctica

A pristine environment threatened by climate change, many travelers are flocking to Antarctica to see the continent up close before it’s too late. But the increase in tourists has not been beneficial for Antarctica. Over 45,000 people visited Antarctica in the s2008, up from 10,000 a decade ago.

An increased number of tourists has meant increased methods of travel, and cruise ships pose a significant concern to the continent and its surroundings. After the MS Explorer cruise ship sank in 2007, leaving a diesel stain five kilometers in diameter, the countries of the Antarctic Treaty came together and decided to limit tourism to the region by controlling the size of cruise ships and the number of tourists taken ashore in order to prevent environmental damage.

Check out the other four places on the list here.

[Photo: alh1]

Written by Anna Brones

January 18, 2010 at 12:48

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