Too many tourists may make must-see sites vanish

Fri Jan 15, 2010 1:42pm EST
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By Sarah Norgrove

CANBERRA (Reuters Life!) - Travelers yearning to explore prehistoric Stonehenge or Machu Picchu's Inca ruins better start packing, as both are on a list of endangered destinations, according to a British travel magazine.

Wanderlust Magazine's ( second annual "Threatened Wonders List" has identified eight top travel picks that have been over-exploited.

Most, including the haunting Jordan desert valley of Wadi Rum, made famous in the cinema classic Lawrence of Arabia, are plagued by tourists, poor planning and shoddy security, the magazine said.

Travelers should avoid Stonehenge -- perhaps the world's most famous prehistoric site and a center for British pagan celebration -- unless they wish to see a carpark and glimpse the stone monoliths from a disappointingly remote viewing area, the magazine said.

Avid trekkers should also rethink a trip to Peru's Machu Picchu, which is plagued by trash and encroaching minibus routes. Up to 2,500 tourists a day trample the mountainside ruins, making it impossible to protect against wear and tear.

Timbuktu in northern Mali also gets a mention, with British diplomats last year issuing security warnings for the area after the execution of a British traveler by militant group al Qaeda.

The river town of Yangshuo in China, beachside Tulum in Mexico and Jaisalmer of India also made the list, along with Australia's evocatively-named Bay of Fires, in south Tasmania state.

The bay was Tasmania's "best-kept secret," but was threatened by a massive, recent influx of visitors, to the dismay of Aboriginal elders who claim the 30 km (19 mile) stretch of coast is dotted with sacred burial grounds.   Continued...