The places social media has ruined

By Natalie Wolfe

Youknow those places you’ve seen all over your Instagram feed and are dying to go to? That might be a bad idea.

The iconic 'isolated' Trolltunga shot people queue for 20 minutes to get. Photo / 123RF
The iconic 'isolated' Trolltunga shot people queue for 20 minutes to get. Photo / 123RF

"Instagram or it didn't happen."

It's the social media trend that is ruining many of the world's beautiful spots because of that photo you simply had to get or that place you had to visit.

Instagram has played a huge role the past few years in transforming hidden or unknown places into places of global social media stardom. It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, that many of them have cracked (some literally) under the pressure.

Some have become dangerous, others have been forced to close and some are even calling for no more tourists.

These are the spots social media has ruined.

WEDDING CAKE ROCK, ROYAL NATIONAL PARK, NSW

The pure white rocky outcrop that clings precariously to a cliff in the Royal National Park reached cult Instagram fame in the summer of 2014.

Following a massive surge in foot traffic last year, which saw the site's usual 2000 monthly visitors climb to 10,000 in the same time period, park rangers were forced to cordon off the rock in May of last year.

A geotechnical survey of the rock revealed its incredible instability and estimated that within the next 10 years it would crumble into the sea.

Signs warn hikers to "not risk your life for a photograph" and a solid metal fence sprung up in January in an attempt to deter visitors from stepping out onto the fragile rock, however many are climbing the fence and still taking the photo.

"We have seen on social media, people are posing next to the warning signs before they hop over the fence and take a photo on the edge," Gary Dunnett, regional manager of Metro Southwest National Parks and Wildlife Service, told news.com.au.

"We will issue penalty notices of $300 for people who ignore the signage. Our expectation is that by issuing an amount of penalty notices, we are hoping to send a shockwave through social media, which is the same medium that started attracting people getting these photos in the first place."

The site has already been struck by tragedy. In 2014, a French student fell 40m to his death after a nearby sandstone cliff crumbled away.

CHINA'S GLASS BRIDGES

In less than a year, two glass bridge attractions in China have been shut down.

The first incident, occurring in October last year, happened on the Yuntai Mountain walkway in the Henan province.

Walking on a transparent bridge...✅ #Zhengzhou #TigerairXZhengzhou #YunTaiMountain #yuntaishan #AbiVentures

A photo posted by Abigail Javellana (@abijavellana) on

Dare to walk ? Constructed across a deep canyon in China's Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, the Grand Canyon Glass Bridge is believed to be the world's longest and tallest glass bridge. It's already a famous tourist attraction and believe me the crowd can be maddening. There's a high probability you won't get the tickets if you decide to buy at the counter. You need to reach as early as possible to get the tickets. When we went the first day the tickets were already sold out. So we returned the second day reaching around 6:20AM and to our surprise there was a huge crowd already queuing! When the gates finally opened at 7AM everyone fought to rush in. The inside is even crazier! We had to queue for about an hour and a half! Also, remember the local crowd can be tricky. You always have to stay alert to ensure no one jumps the line. The tickets are exxxxppeeennnsiiiiivvee! It'll cost you RMB138(INR1381/$20) to access the bridge in addition to RMB119(INR1180/$17) to visit the Grand Canyon Scenic Area and RMB3(INR30) for insurance. #zhangjiajienationalpark #zhangjiajie #china #glassbridge #canyon #fromindiatochina #travelgram #traveldiaries

A photo posted by Eli & Greg (@eli.gregory) on

A tourist dropped a stainless steel mug onto the glass walkway, shattering the panel.

Although only breaking one layer of the three-layered glass walkway, panic reigned as tourists caused a mini stampede trying to get off the walkway.

KOH TACHAI, THAILAND

Once known as Thailand's most beautiful island, Koh Tachai will be closed from October 15 as authorities attempt to give time for the island to recover from the pressures brought on by tourism.

Renowned for its white sand beaches and crystal clear water, the Thai island was extremely popular on social media, causing it to become quickly overcrowded.

Visiting Koh Tachai was, hands down, the most obnoxious travel experience I've ever had. My disdain for beach culture and tourists was not only at an all-time high, but the larger environmental impact had me fuming. Set a little farther from Phuket than other day-trip islands, Koh Tachai is touted to have one of the more pristine beaches. Clear water, it definitely has, but the numbers of entitled tourists and motorboats allowed to stomp all over its beauty is heartbreaking. The sell of this remote island, horrible snorkelling, and playing on our need to escape is largely an attempt to convince tourists--largely Russians, Chinese, and Euros--we'll reach that faux zen moment of our Instagram dreams. In October, this particular island will be closing indefinitely, as tourism has wreaked enough havoc on this part of the world; authorities are finally realizing it's gone past its breaking point. And it pains me, in my long separated visits to Thailand, how I see the country deteriorating as a result of the industry that keeps them alive, not having stricter environmental regulations in place to maintain that, and the "douchebag tourism" that seems to plague a lot of these tropical destinations worldwide. Ugh. . . . . #kohtachai #islands #tourism #travelgram #beachculture #thailand #seasia #asia #world #worldcaptures #travelphotography #explore #travellife #travelwriter #torontophotographer #iphone

A photo posted by Connie Tsang (@conniemtsang) on

Its tiny beaches comfortably fit around 70 people. However, during peak times, more than 1000 tourists would often be found on them along with a number of speed boats.

Tourism brought the island to the brink of destruction with much of its popularity coming from its delicate coral reefs and the opportunity to scuba dive.

Tunya Netithammakul, the National Parks Director told the Bangkok Post: "If it's not closed now, we'll lose Koh Tachai permanently."

FIGURE 8 POOLS, ROYAL NATIONAL PARK, NSW

Also in the Royal National Park, south of Sydney, tourists have recently become obsessed with the Figure 8 Pools - naturally forming rock pools that are perfectly shaped like the number eight.

More than 100 people were injured in January after a massive swell swept visitors across the rocks and three women had to be airlifted to hospital to be treated for their injuries.

early morning treks to this little piece of paradise - well worth it #SERENITY #cannonball #figure8pools

A photo posted by Jon Debeere (@debeere) on

Following the incident, calls were made to station a lifeguard service at the rock pools from nearby Burning Palms beach, but this is unlikely.

Tourists and social media fiends are instead reminded to use their common sense. Things like only visiting the pools at low tide as well as never turning their back on the ocean are two of the most important. Even following these rules, the swell can still pose a massive risk.

With more than 2.5 million people visiting the park each year, representatives of the National Park are scrambling to update the infrastructure and information in an effort to accommodate the growing hordes of tourists.

TROLLTUNGA, NORWAY

Who doesn't get a serious case of the travel bug when they see that iconic shot of Norway's Trolltunga. Tourists hike through the picturesque Norwegian countryside to reach the scenic cliff, a piece of which juts out 700m above Lake Ringedalsvatnet.

In September last year, a 24-year-old Melbourne student fell to her death after she lost her footing on the cliff.

Thomas Ruud, the owner of Trolltunga Adventures, told The Australian it was a tragedy "waiting to happen", adding that the difficulty of the trek was not understood by many tourists and had resulted in numerous rescues.

"Everything from broken bones, people not getting down before it is too dark and also tiredness," Mr Ruud added.

Photos generally show hikers sitting on the spectacular plateau, completely isolated from the rest of the world. What many don't realise is that just to the left of the ledge a huge queue of people wait for more than 20 minutes to get the "gram-worthy" shot.

- news.com.au

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