19 Epic, Endangered Places You Should Visit Before It's Too Late

These beautiful spots are on UNESCO's "Danger List."

This week, UNESCO released its annual state of conservation reports, which outline which of its famous designated World Heritage Sites are in danger of losing the historic, cultural or natural characteristics that made them World Heritage Sites in the first place.

Places on the “Danger List” face threats like soil erosion, lack of water and poor land management, to name a few. The World Heritage Committee prepares conservation reports for these places so it can discuss ways to better protect and conserve them if needed.

Tourism can harm the world’s wonders, but it can also help them when done responsibly. Below, find 19 places from UNESCO’s conservation reports that warrant a responsible visit. To compile this list, we pulled spots that appear on the Danger List, omitting any that come with travel warnings form the U.S. State Department. While such places are no less important, it’s not recommended that you visit them now, typically because of war, crime, or other dangers.

Peruse the options below, pack your bags, and check out UNESCO’s reports for more information on why these places are endangered and how you can help.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
ERIC LAFFORGUE via Getty Images
These wide-open plains are an important migratory hangout for animals like zebra and wildebeest. They're also home to the world's largest caldera.

Under threat due to:
crop production; governance; ground transport infrastructure; social cohesion and more
Belize Barrier Reef Reserve, Belize

A post shared by K.C. (@iamkatcat) on

The second-largest reef system in the world is home to threatened species like marine turtles and manatees. Up on land, this reserve features lush mangrove forests.

Under threat due to:
housing; invasive/alien marine species; land conversion; major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure; oil and gas
Potosí, Bolivia

A post shared by K. Chae (@piecesofearth) on

This region in Bolivia's southern highlands was once the biggest industrial complex in the world thanks to an abundance of silver ore, according to UNESCO. Today, you can visit the neighborhoods where workers lived more than 400 years ago.

Under threat due to:
management systems/management plan; mining; surface water pollution
Nan Madol, Micronesia
Remains of intricate palaces, temples, tombs and homes litter these 100-odd islets in the western Pacific. Experts estimate the sites were built between 1200 and 1500 A.D.

Under threat due to: erosion and siltation/deposition; impacts of tourism/visitor/recreation; legal framework; management systems/management plan
Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery, Georgia
saiko3p via Getty Images
These historic buildings are prime examples of medieval architecture, UNESCO says. Keep an eye out for exquisite mosaics and wall paintings in the monastery complex, some of whose structures date back to the 12th century.

Under threat due to:
interpretative and visitation facilities; management activities
Everglades National Park, U.S.
romrodinka via Getty Images
These subtropical wetlands came into being at the end of the last Ice Age. They're a wonderland of mangrove trees, and birds and reptiles hang out in the marshes and bays.

Under threat due to:
housing; invasive/alien freshwater species; storms; surface water pollution; water infrastructure
Niokolo-Koba National Park, Senegal

A post shared by @annabachan on

You might see antelopes, chimpanzees, lions, leopards and elephants during a visit to this national park on the lush banks of the Gambia River.

Under threat due to: housing; management activities; management systems/management plan; water
Medieval monuments in Kosovo
JTB Photo via Getty Images
This charming site comprises two monasteries and two churches known for their paintings and frescoes, which are excellent examples of a uniquely Balkan style of art, UNESCO says.

Under threat due to: civil unrest; legal framework; management systems/management plan
Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve, Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea

A post shared by Kammi Sheeler (@kammikim) on

UNESCO calls this striking reserve a "veritable water tower" because it's full of natural springs and rises up above the surrounding savanna. Watch for chimps using stones as tools in the dense forests.

Under threat due to: financial resources; human resources; identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community; illegal activities; land conversion; management systems/management plan; mining
Rainforests of the Atsinanana, Madagascar

A post shared by ACE COOLTURE (@acecoolture) on

Madagascar split from other land masses more than 60 million years ago, leaving rare plant and animal species to evolve here alone. These rainforests make up the eastern part of the island.

Under threat due to:
fire; governance; illegal activities; land conversion; mining; society's valuing of heritage; subsistence hunting
East Rennell, Solomon Islands
UNESCO calls the southeastern third of Rennell Island "a true natural laboratory for scientific study" due to its rare animal species, large lake, 65-foot-high forest canopy and frequent cyclones.

Under threat due to: changes to oceanic waters; commercial hunting; fishing/collecting aquatic resources; forestry/wood production and more
Comoé National Park, Côte d'Ivoire
DEA / JACCOD via Getty Images
One of the largest protected areas in West Africa, this wonderland of savannas and forests hosts a stunning array of plant life thanks to water from the Komoé River.

Under threat due to: civil unrest; fire; illegal activities; land conversion; livestock farming/grazing of domesticated animals; management systems/management plan
Historic center of Shakhrisyabz, Uzbekistan
Pavel Gospodinov via Getty Images
This stop on the ancient Silk Road was a cultural hotspot in the 14th and 15th centuries. Today, you can visit its vast burial complex and the remains of Ak-Sarai Palace.

Under threat due to: financial resources; housing; human resources; legal framework; management activities; management systems/management plan
Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi, Uganda
Ariadne Van Zandbergen via Getty Images
This royal burial ground features a main building with four tombs, which UNESCO praises for "its intangible values of belief, spirituality, continuity and identity."

Under threat due to: ground transport infrastructure; management activities; management systems/management plan; fire
Fortifications of Portobelo-San Lorenzo, Panama

A post shared by Carlos Gab (@carlosdeviaje) on

Bygone Spanish leaders designed this series of fortifications to protect their trade systems around the Bay of Portobelo. Remains include a castle, fort and batteries.

Under threat due to: erosion and siltation/deposition; housing; impacts of tourism/visitor/recreation; land conversion; legal framework; management systems/management plan
Liverpool-Maritime Mercantile City, U.K.
Olaf Protze via Getty Images
This cluster of buildings and docks in Liverpool was a massive trade center during the 18th and 19th centuries, thanks to its innovative dock technology.

Under threat due to: commercial development; governance; high impact research/monitoring activities; housing; interpretative and visitation facilities and more
Chan Chan Archaeological Zone, Peru
Wu Swee Ong via Getty Images
The massive Peruvian city of Chan Chan is divided into nine individual "citadels" whose intricate remnants still stand. You can tour former temples, homes, storehouses, reservoirs and more.

Under threat due to: identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community; illegal activities; management systems/management plan; water
Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra, Indonesia
This trio of national parks is home to some 10,000 plant species, 200 mammal species and 580 bird species. Oh, and there's also the highest volcano in Indonesia.

Under threat due to: governance; ground transport infrastructure; illegal activities; land conversion; management systems/management plan; renewable energy facilities
Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works, Chile

A post shared by Thomas Piquet (@tomiiip) on

Thousands of workers moved here, to one of the world's driest deserts, during the late 1800's for an opportunity to make fertilizer that led to a Chilean agricultural boom. The skeletons of their workplaces still stand.

Under threat due to: management systems/management plan; wind
Archaeological Site of Ani, Turkey

UNESCO's New World Heritage Sites of 2016

Popular in the Community