The Los Angeles Times recently compiled a list of their picks for the world’s most dangerous places, with some popular tourist destinations earning amongst their ranks. Unlike other lists of this kind however, they automatically omitted places like Baghdad or Afghanistan, which are not travel friendly to begin with. Instead, this list points out the the very real dangers that a tourist might face while visiting one of these places.
For example, Gansbaai, South Africa earns a spot amongst the world’s most dangerous destinations because of the shark infested waters that surround the city. The region has an abundance of seals and penguins, which attract hordes of great white sharks, making it a popular place for visitors who want to see those predators up close. Thrill seekers can take a dip in those dangerous waters inside a shark cage, while most will look on from the safety of their boat.
Other dangerous destinations include Mt. Everest in Nepal for the extreme conditions and high altitude. The entire country of Australia gets the nod thanks to all the dangerous snakes and spiders that live there, and Memphis, Tennessee is a surprise entry for its proclivity for earthquakes. The city sits on a major fault line that could make it a major disaster waiting to happen.
There are a number of other popular destinations on the list, each with a unique threat to those that visit there. The list is a good reminder that we don’t have to visit a war torn nation to face real dangers on our next trip.
“You’re going where?!” my father asked when I told him of my plans to go to Colombia. The Colombia he knows of, the one from the 1980’s, is filled with cocaine, street violence, and Pablo Escobar’s thugs. The country’s days as a dangerous destination are gone, but its stigma still remains.
Colombia isn’t the only now-safe country still considered by the masses to be too dangerous to visit. Forbes Traveler has put together a list of other destinations that aren’t as dangerous as you might assume.
Along with Colombia, the list includes places many experienced travelers wouldn’t think twice about visiting – Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Laos, Sri Lanka, and Ethiopia are all included – plus a few a little farther off the beaten path, like Haiti and Tajikistan. The list also includes two spots that become a lot more dangerous if you travel there illegally: Cuba and North Korea.
There’s no such thing as a completely safe destination, but still most of these spots have earned their reputations. At one point, they were lands of famine, war, and strife. Now they’ve become safer, though in some (like Haiti and certain parts of Colombia, for example) problems continue and there are still areas you should not venture.
If you plan on visiting one of these “not-so-dangerous places”, do your research and be sure you know what you are getting into. The bad reputation in some of these places can mean lower travel costs and few tourists, but there may still be an element of risk.
With the current conflict going on between Ethiopia and Somalia, my mind immediately began to wonder what the writers at Polo’s Bastards had been up to and what dangerous lands they’ve been exploring. Last time I checked in they’d just posted a piece on Rio’s favelas. Since then North Korea and Chechnya have also made their blog pages.
To round off the year though, Lee Ridley spent a little bit of his Christmas day highlighting some of the world’s worst destinations in 2006. Iraq assumes the position of No. 1, which doesn’t come as a shocker at all. The conflict created by the Hezbollah kidnappings of Israeli soldiers earned Lebanon the No. 10 spot, and in the middle you’ll find Haiti, Afghanistan, the entire Horn of Africa (poor Eritrea), Nepal, Chad, Chechnya and North Korea. If you’ve been in the dark concerning the political climate of these particular areas, you might want to mosey over and see what the deal is. Otherwise, just be sure to proceed with caution in the upcoming year. It is a far, far more dangerous world out there.