11 Endangered Places to Visit for a Virtual Earth Day

By April 22, 2020 Travel Tips
endangered places

From exotic species to natural wonders, travel allows us to admire the planet up close. And while our world looks a little different this Earth Day, you can still experience faraway places—without leaving home. Here’s how you can visit (and support!) 11 endangered places from the comfort of your couch.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA

Named one of the most endangered historical sites in the U.S. by the National Trust of Historic Preservation, Grand Canyon National Park faces the dual threat of mining and overtourism. As its more than six million annual visitors can attest, the Grand Canyon is a sight to behold. But we suggest—certainly now, but maybe also in the future—indulging in some armchair travel with this video to help preserve the park’s beauty for generations to come.

Interested in making a donation to help preserve the Grand Canyon? You can do so via the Grand Canyon Conservancy, an official nonprofit partner of Grand Canyon National Park. 

Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Montana’s Glacier National Park was once home to about 150 glaciers. Sadly, the effects of climate change have caused that number to dwindle to just 25. Of course, this might make a visit to this endangered place all the more urgent, but we have another idea. You can enjoy the majestic beauty of Glacier National Park via this virtual tour—no airfare or accommodations needed.

Glacier National Park Conservancy offers those looking for ways to give an opportunity to do so. Visit their website to learn more about their park conservation efforts. 

Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica

Shifts in extreme weather events and other effects associated with climate change are expected to negatively impact the high biodiversity currently found in the ecologically-sensitive habitat of Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud Forest. You can travel vicariously to this unique habitat in this narrated video tour. You can also make a positive impact by donating to the Rainforest Trust’s Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve project. 100% of all donations go towards the trust’s conservation actions. You can also support the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve in its local efforts to share “the connection between nature and sustainable tourism in a unique forest that we have dedicated to conservation, investigation and environmental education.”

Amazon Rainforest, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana

The Amazon Rainforest is not only the world’s largest rainforest, but also one of the most well-known endangered places. Covering two million miles and eight countries (plus one overseas territory), the Amazon Rainforest faces grave threats in the form of deforestation, poorly planned infrastructure, illegal and unsustainable mining, and climate change. 

That said, some of the best ways to support the Amazon—and the millions of plant and animal species that call the rainforest home—are to not only visit virtually and thereby limiting your carbon footprint, but also consciously buying products that have the FSC® label or donating to the World Wildlife Fund.

Ice Fields of Patagonia, Chile and Argentina

Spanning the border between Chile and Argentina, the Patagonian Ice Fields are the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Due to climate change, however, the ice fields are rapidly retreating at some of the highest rates on the planet and contributing to sea level rise.

You can explore the disappearing glaciers—broken into three major sheets: North, South, and Cordillera Darwin—at a distance in this awe-inspiring video. You can also help support UNESCO’s conservation efforts of Los Glaciares National Park by making a donation.  

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Abundant wildlife. Beautiful beaches. These are just a few of the reasons to visit the Galápagos Islands—and you can do so virtually via this video from NatGeo. Overfishing, non-native species, and climate change are threatening the islands’ native animal habitats. You can help preserve and protect the islands by supporting the Galápagos Conservancy. Learn more about their conservation efforts here

Great Barrier Reef, Australia 

Explore Australia’s Great Barrier Reef—the place where over 1,500 species of fish, 600 coral species, and 30 different whale and dolphin species call home—in this interactive journey brought to you by David Attenborough. One of the most biodiverse and complex ecosystems on the planet, the Great Barrier Reef faces various threats to its existence, including ocean acidification and warming waters that lead to coral bleaching. As temperatures rise—and remain that way for too long—coral death is imminent.

Looking to offer your support in protecting the Great Barrier Reef? You can read about what the Great Barrier Reef Foundation is doing to help save the reef—and what you can do to help, including donating, fundraising, and more—on their website.

Rainforests of Borneo

Borneo—the world’s third largest island, covering an area slightly larger than Texas—is home to some of the world’s most diverse rainforests. You can experience the unique biodiversity found in the rainforests of Borneo in this YouTube video. If you’re looking for a way to support the island’s animal life, you can adopt an orangutan and help support the World Wildlife Fund’s global conservation efforts. You can also support the Rainforest Trust’s efforts to combat habitat loss.

Dead Sea, Jordan, Palestine, and Israel

Ten times saltier than the ocean, the Dead Sea is best known for its buoyancy—and its location at the lowest point on Earth. A popular destination for travelers and staycationers alike, the Dead Sea is also at high risk for disappearing. Climate change and the slowing of its main water source, the Jordan River, are contributing to it receding at a rate of three feet per year. 

While you might not be able to float in its salty waters right now, you can explore the banks of the Dead Sea in this National Geographic documentary. To learn more about efforts to save the Dead Sea, including the proposed project to replenish it with water from the Red Sea, visit EcoPeace Middle East’s website.

Congo Basin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon

Like the Amazon Rainforest, the Congo Basin is known for its incredible biodiversity. Despite its plentiful plant and animal life, poaching and deforestation threaten the area. In this BBC documentary, you can explore the basin’s natural beauty—and meet the people who rely on its resources for their livelihood. 

Learn how you can support this endangered place’s ongoing conservation efforts through organizations like Cool Earth and WWF, or donate to the Rainforest Trust’s specific fundraiser to create a bonobo reserve

 Antarctica 

With global temperatures rising due to climate change, ice-dependent species could lose their habitat and food sources. Experts also warn that overfishing, specifically of krill—the basis of the Antarctic food chain—could threaten the entire ecosystem.

See Antarctica for yourself—no snowsuit needed—in this stunning video from National Geographic. You can also help support organizations like The Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund, Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, or Antarctic Science Foundation in their efforts to protect this endangered place.

When travel starts back up, remember to keep taking care of our endangered places, too. TripIt’s Carbon Footprint feature shows the carbon emissions for your air travel and provides practical ideas on how to reduce or offset its environmental impact. Our goal is to help you better understand the environmental impact of all of your flights. That’s why we made it easy for you to see, track, and offset your carbon footprint—right in the app.