Anne Majumdar

For some people, travel is all about discovering authentically unique destinations. But sadly, these days they’re becoming increasingly more difficult to find.

In this era of globalisation, the golden arches of Maccas can be found pretty much worldwide, as can Starbucks’ crappy coffee, Zara stores, generic theme parks and chintzy tourism attractions.

And that’s not even taking into account the environmental challenges that are at play – think melting glaciers that threaten the futures of a number of countries. A study by researchers at the University of California Irvine and NASA recently found that six gigantic glaciers in the Amundsen Sea sector “have passed the point of no return”.

So where’s left to explore before those places too succumb to globalisation?

Here are six hot destinations you need to get to now before they change forever.


1. Cuba

Image Source: Locally Sourced Cuba Tours

Image Source: Locally Sourced Cuba Tours

Perhaps the hottest destination of the year thanks to the historic thaw in relations with the US, Cuba is already on many a travel agenda. G Adventures has seen its sales to the destination double over the last two to three years.

But why the urgency?

“Cuba is a place where you sometimes feel like time has stood still for the last 50 years and it feels like you’re stepping back into history,”

G Adventures Managing Director Australia, Adrian Piotto told KarryOn.

“Its shifting politics and business practices has created a bit of urgency to visit Cuba now before it becomes completely modernised. It’s hard to predict how much longer the Cuba of yesterday will continue to be there to see.”


2. The Andaman Islands


More than a little off the beaten track, the Andaman Islands are clustered in the Indian Ocean between India and Thailand. Here you’ll find the tropical beaches and marine treasures for which India is not really known, but with the added benefits of its rich curries and Bollywood tunes.

Low key beach shacks are the go here, but as it becomes increasingly popular with the growing Indian middle class and word gets out further afield, this destination is rapidly changing. New developments mean it will likely be unrecognisable in just a few years’ time.


3. Antarctica


The last few decades have seen the air temperature in Antarctica rise by 3 degrees Celsius. That may not sound like much, but it’s actually five times the average rate of global warming for the rest of the world.

Tourism to this part of the world is still relatively young having only been in existence for 50 years, but visitor numbers are spiking as people rush to  catch a glimpse of this threatened wonderland. Already the reduced ice cover has seen Antarctic krill numbers decline, impacting several species of penguin.


4. Nicaragua


Ever heard of the Nicaragua Canal? Probably not, but soon this project will become a reality, dramatically transforming the Central American nation by linking the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Twice as long as the Panama Canal, the new waterway is expected to further boost the already burgeoning tourism numbers although there is some apprehension about the overall impact it will have on the landscape.

Better to get there first.


5. Kiribati


There’s been much talk of how low-lying islands, many popular tourism hotspots, will bear the brunt of rising sea levels. Luxury-loving destination the Maldives is forecast to be underwater by 2085.

But for an authentic Central Pacific experience, head to Kiribati. This is the stuff postcards are made of – azure waters, powder sugar sand, friendly locals.

Scientists have predicted that the remote island nation could disappear beneath the waves within the next 50 years.


6. Venice


Floods and rising sea levels were once considered the most pressing threat for the Italian city of Venice, but tourism has now become even more of a concern.

Immense cruise ships carry thousands of people in and out of the historic city each day, hotel prices are skyhigh and the prospect of a new theme park on the outskirts of the city has many cringing in disbelief.

Either way, if you are yearning to experience the undeniable beauty of its palazzos, waterways and bridges, you’re better off getting there as soon as possible.

Are any of these destinations on your travel agenda?