The landscape shapes our sense of place on Earth, yet it’s constantly changing. The forces of wind, water, sun, and, yes, humans, combine to transform the world around us. In fact, in the last 50 years alone, hundreds of scenic natural landmarks around the world have drastically altered, never to return to their former states. They serve as reminders that our planet is a dynamic and impermanent place.
This illustrative series, called Faded Footprints by Wayfairer Travel, looks at tourist destinations that no longer exist. They serve as a simple reminder to appreciate the beautiful destinations and landmarks to explore while we still can. While this series highlights ten lost destinations, still many popular tourist attractions are at risk of soon becoming extinct.
Take a look at the Faded Footprints series below; find out more about these tourist destinations that no longer exist.
Boeung Kak Lake, Cambodia
Until ten years ago, Boeung Kak had been a prime draw for tourists. The lake as a perfect sunset spot, with backpackers particularly keen on reclining, beer-in-hand, on wooden platforms stretching out over the water. However, in 2007, the Cambodian government granted a 99 year lease on the land to Shukaku Inc. The lake was then filled with sand in order for the company to build complexes, becoming one of the Faded Footprints.
Known as the Finger of God, it was one of Namibia’s greatest tourist attractions. The Finger of God was a sandstone rock formation which developed in the Namibian desert. It collapsed in December 1988 following a heavy rainstorm. However, another study showed that the Spitak earthquake in Armenia (over 11,000 km away) registered heavily in Namibia on the night the rock collapsed.
The ancient city of Palmyra was believed to date back to 7500BC. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in 2015 it became a casualty of ISIS, who completely destroyed the area. Ancient monuments abolished by ISIS included the Temple of Baalshamin, the cella of the Temple of Bel, the Tower of Elahbel and the Arch of Triumph. However, after ISIS was expelled from the area, reconstruction began to restore the site.
Azure Window, Malta
Azure Window is the most recently destructions in the Faded Footprints series. The underwater stone arch stood proudly in Malta’s Dwerja Bay until earlier this year. According to divers, however, the collapse of the sea arch is one of the best things to have happened to the area as marine life has already beginning to take over.
Love Locks Bridge, Paris
The padlocks that weigh heavily on the sides of the Pont des Arts tell stories of lovers who affixed them to the bridge’s iron grillwork. A globally-recognized tradition, it earned the bridge the name of Love Locks Bridge and tourists from around the world would flock there to attach a padlock signifying their love. However, in 2012 it was believed that the weight of the padlocks was a strain on the bridge. And in 2015 they were removed.
Guaira Falls, Brazil
The Guaira Falls (or Seven Falls) along the border between Brazil and Paraguay was a beautiful series of 18 massive waterfalls. For several years, it was a popular tourist attraction and a favourite place among the locals. That is, until 1982 when the Brazilian military blew away the rocks over which the water fell; all to create a lake for the newly constructed Itaipu Dam.
Chacaltaya Glacier, Bolivia
The 5,421m-high Chacaltaya ski resort, once the world’s highest, offered Bolivians a taste of European-inspired apres-ski in the heart of the Andes. The glacier was thought to be 18,000 years old when the summit melted to just a few patches in 2009; rising temperatures resulting from climate change caused the glacier to melt at a much faster rate than anticipated.
Jonah’s Tomb, Iraq
Another target of ISIS, the terrorist group planted explosives in the area in July 2014. The tomb was one of Iraq’s most iconic monuments and was celebrated by Muslims, Christians and Jews alike. When the Iraqi army retook the area, archaeologists documenting the destruction of the ruins say they have made an unexpected discovery. ISIS had dug tunnels deep under the demolished shrine and into a previously undiscovered and untouched 600BC palace.
The Jeffrey Pine, Yosemite National Park, California
The Jeffrey Pine was famous to many for its role in the photography of both Ansel Adams and Carleton Watkins. The centuries-old tree, which had died during a drought in 1977, finally collapsed in 2003. Its bleached wood, though, remains a stirring sight—and an amazing meditation on faded footprints.
Old Man of the Mountain, White Mountains, New Hampshire
Nobody really knows how old the Old Man of the Mountain was when it fell in 2003. Freezing and thawing opened fissures in the Old Man’s forehead. And by the 1920s, the crack was wide enough to be mended with chains. Finally, in 2003 the demise of the formation saddened the local community so much so that flowers were left at the base of the cliff as tribute.