We’ve narrowed down 1,052 UNESCO World Heritage Sites to 5 must-visit destinations
For some, a trip isn’t complete without a margarita and a beachside sunset. Some just come for the spa. Others like to play anthropologist on their journeys and discover common threads of world heritage and culture in their chosen destinations. This list is for the latter, those adventurers with wonder in their eyes who seek out the greatest accomplishments of both nature and man. Including sites in Argentina, Australia, Ecuador, Italy, and the United States, you’re sure to find a site that will make your jaw drop in awe.
Check out our World Heritage Site picks below:
Los Glaciares National Park
One of the last relics of the Quaternary glaciation cycles, Los Glaciares National Park is a snapshot of a long-lost ice age. These great ice behemoths once determined the very existence of species around the world. At the end of the Pleistocene Epoch (roughly 11,000 years ago), mass extinctions took place as the glaciers covering the Great Lakes moved south, driving North American camels and cheetahs to extinction. Though past their prime, these Argentinian cousins of the long receded North American glaciers are still a sight to behold, covering half of the 600,000 hectares that are designated to Los Glaciares National Park. One of the most famous of 48 glaciers that compose the Southern Patagonian Ice Field is El Perito Moreno Glacier, which has been slowly pushing into Lake Argentina since the end of the last glaciation period. Cacophonous ruptures of ice are a coveted site by the tourists that make the trek out to El Perito Moreno. Argentina’s trekking capital is a small town called El Chaltén which lies within Los Glaciares National Park. El Chaltén is also home to Aoni Yenu, one of THIRDHOME‘s eco-friendly properties with room for 8 adventure-seekers.
Great Barrier Reef
The largest living structure in the world, The Great Barrier Reef is so vast it can be seen from space. Composed of 2,900 coral fields these tiny organisms make a huge impact. Most existing coral structures are between 5 and 10 thousand years old. Reefs survive via a symbiotic relationship with algae that resides within the coral’s tissue, which provides energy for future skeletal growth of coral by photosynthesis. The coral skeleton, made of calcium carbonate, in return offers protection from larger predators. The limestone framework of The Great Barrier Reef is teeming with rich varieties of ocean life, including 1,500 species of fish. The Great Barrier Reef by itself employs 70,000 Australians who work in tourism, preservation and research related activities. Unfortunately, a slight rise in ocean temperatures has killed off large sections of the reef. North of the city of Cairns, some sections have lost 47% to 83% of their coral. Visit this natural wonder before it’s too late. THIRDHOME has two properties, a penthouse and a beach house, that lie between Carns and Mackay. This region’s coral has been in better health, and hope still remains for preserving sections of this World Heritage Site.
If you couldn’t tell from our Curated Journey blog on the Galapagos, THIRDHOME is absolutely in love with these 19 islands. The Galapagos Islands sit at the confluence of three ocean currents making for what UNESCO dubs a “melting pot of marine species.” The species that live here have been extremely isolated since the islands’ formation. This has led to evolutionary developments that have created species endemic to the Galapagos. More fascinating than the extreme uniqueness of these critters, including the land iguana and giant tortoise, is their complete lack of fear of humans. Since Darwin’s visit in 1835, there has been a limited human impact on the island. From our Galapagos Villa, you’ll be just 10 minutes by boat away from the famous Loberia Islet, the land of sea lions. A 20-minute walk inland will take you to a deep water natural swimming pool. For nature lovers and animal lovers, this World Heritage Site is a must.
Venice and its Lagoon
Founded as a Roman refuge from invading Huns and Visigoths, Venice stands as a lasting monument to human adaptability and persistence. Venice was founded in the 5th Century and grew among a collection of 118 small islands covering 50,000 square kilometers of lagoon. The city soon became an important strategic position in the northern remains of the Roman Empire and newly founded Byzantine Empire. In 810 A.D. Charlemagne, King of the Franks, sent his son to lay siege on Venice, but after 6 months of disease brought on by the swamp, the siege was deemed a failure. Charlemagne’s son died as a result of the ill-fated attack. Venice’s lagoon had once again saved its population by its own natural properties, mirroring the military impenetrability of Russian winter. By 814 A.D., Charlemagne had recognized Venice as a Byzantine territory and allowed trade along the Adriatic Coast. This seeded Venice’s place as one of Italy’s most successful trading centers, and for the rise of the Venetian Republic. Venice and its Lagoon is a feat of both human engineering and natural happenstance. It’s seething with historical significance making it a must for the knowledge seeking traveler. In the context of history, THIRDHOME‘s Palazzo Burano, is a relatively new property having been built in 1619.
Yellowstone National Park
No other World Heritage Site can lay claim to the title of world’s first national park, making it THIRDHOME‘s top pick. It was also recently visited by Sorelle Amore, winner of the Best Job on The Planet competition. Yellowstone National Park is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined and is covered in many natural wonders. The park sits atop an active supervolcano, which was hit by 450 earthquakes a few months ago, in June 2017. But no need to worry, the chances of this super volcano going off is 1 in 730,000 for 2018. More likely to go off are the park’s 500 active geysers (more than half of the world’s geyser count). At Yellowstone, you’ll find hundreds of wildlife species, thousands of plant species, and historical ties to 26 Native American Tribes. The wild and natural features of Yellowstone were so surreal that most American’s thought the land to be a myth until the Folsom Party conducted a detailed expedition in 1869. Come visit the mythic land of Yellowstone National Park while staying at Island Park Lodge, a 10 guest lakefront house minutes away from the geysers. This is one World Heritage Site that everyone should visit if given the opportunity.
To learn more about the Island Park Lodge click here.