Once, the towering Andes and Pastoruri glacier drew tourists in droves to gaze upon the eye-blinding icy landscape, go climbing, and enjoy the snow.
However, in the last 20 years, Pastoruri has shrunk in half, and now spans only a third of a square mile. A landscape once covered in snow and ice has now been replaced by black rock and mud, while officials have banned climbing due to instability caused by glacier runoff.
As temperatures rise, there is little left of the former tourist attraction. As a result, while over 100,000 tourists would visit Pastoruri annually in the 1990s, only 34,000 were recorded in 2012.
Not only do dwindling visitor rates impact local businesses, but the effects ripple out to hurt Peru's economy as a whole.
While Pastoruri is likely to vanish within the next decade, locals have rallied to capitalize as much as possible on the attraction before it's gone, and turned to its enemy as a result -- climate change.
Instead of marketing the glacier as a source of pure natural beauty, locals are now rebranding the area as a place to see the impact climate change has on our world. Officially due to launch in March next year, the niche marketing scheme is hoped to attract tourists and not only educate them in climate change, but also show another side to the concept -- everything from the reveal of fossils due to melting ice to the smell of water now full of metals due to changing temperature.
While many tourists are likely to opt for other hotspots in Peru while on their travels, for some, the campaign -- and opportunity to visit the vanishing glacier -- is enticing. On a recent hike to the area, tourist Santiago Florian commented:
"They say it's disappearing. I wanted to be able to say after it's gone that I was here."
Image credit: Flickr