Some tourist traps aren’t necessarily fun. Despite their high prevalence of traffic, many are exceptionally dangerous. Some have hidden dangers like snakes, rapid waters, and underground volcanoes that are set to explode. Read on to find out which vacations spots you might want to reconsider.
1. Death Valley
Death Valley didn’t get its name for nothing. Known in the United States for its sordidly hot summers (sometimes yielding temperatures of over 130 degrees Fahrenheit), this place can literally be a killer. The thing that makes this National-Park-turned-evil-villain, however, is mostly just the heat.
Because of this, the park is best visited during Fall or Winter when temperatures hover between the 50s and 60s. If your plan is to visit in the summer, you had best plan to bring a whole lot of water. Oh, and also some sunscreen. If not, you might be one of the few drastically unlucky to succumb to heat stroke. Don’t let that be you! Surprisingly, this isn’t even the hottest tourist destination…
2. The Danakil Desert
The Danakil Desert might be one of the lesser known tourist destinations on this list. Located in none other than Eritrea, North Africa, this place similarly experiences dangerous waves of heat. While it might not top the maximum recorded temperature at Death Valley, it comes at a close second with temperatures consistently ranking around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
But other than the heat, this place also has an abundance of volcanoes, geysers that expectorate toxic fluids, and a nickname that translates to “Hell on Earth.” Despite all of this apparent terror, the place is still a tourist hot spot—and we actually do recommend that you go. We also recommend that you exercise caution when you do. For our next dangerous tourist location, you’ll have to come well-prepared if you plan to visit…
3. Mount Washington
Mount Washington wasn’t named after its eponymous father because of his temperamental behavior. Regardless, the place is known for its powerfully fierce gale-force winds. Located in New Hampshire, this generous peak stands at a height of around 6,288 feet. While not exactly the tallest of summits, the height—in conjunction with location—makes it one of the windiest places on Earth.
In case you were unaware, precipitous heights and wind don’t always mix. This is especially true when those heights are mired with the likes of relatively tiny, little tourists. And this is wherein Mount Washington makes our list. With winds sometimes peaking over 203 miles per hour (and temperatures sometimes below -40 degrees Fahrenheit), this isn’t a place you’d want to casually explore. Next on our list, you’ll have to be a true thrill seeker to want to visit…
4. Sinabung Volcano
Volcanoes naturally make for a white-knuckled vacation spot. Many of the less temperamental are fun places to visit, but some are potentially dangerous hot spots. The Sinabung Volcano in Indonesia is a particularly strong example of this. Located in Sumatra, this volcano not only draws tourists but occasionally doesn’t let them go. One reason this blemish-of-the-Earth is so dangerous is that it is classified as “active”.
While eruptions don’t occur all that often, they’re certainly a possibility. And, in case you were unaware, the magma spewed from these things’ tops doesn’t exactly prove the most advantageous for health. Yet another risk is the volcano’s ash. Dense plumes of microscopic glass can choke, mire, and exhume suffocating substances. Next up, an unusual island destination that’s made of nightmare fuel…
5. Snake Island
Everybody loves themselves a good island. They are normally surrounded by perfectly sandy beaches, draped in lush green forests, and feature piña coladas on tap at all times. Not so much on Snake Island. This remote island of the coast of Brazil is home to several thousand snakes. Okay, big deal. Every island has snakes, right?
Wrong. So. Very. Wrong. The snakes that live on this island are so densely concentrated that you are bound to see one every couple of yards. Terrifying. What’s more, is that among these snakes is the Golden Lancehead—one of the most venomous snakes on planet Earth. While the place isn’t necessarily a tourist hot spot (you can’t visit there without permission from the Brazilian government), we wanted to warn you about it anyways.
6. Madidi National Park
National Parks are, as you well know, designated as National Parks so that people will come to visit them. They offer, in most cases, exquisite natural scenery that is set aside specifically to be preserved and admired. But some of these National Parks, as we have come to learn, have a dark side.
The Madidi National Park in Bolivia is one such park. While the place is by all means scenically beautiful, (and in fact has earned itself a title as one of the most biodiverse locations in the world) it is also discretely poisonous. Hosting everything from poisonous frogs to toe-chomping spiders, this place can turn a tropical paradise into a tourist’s nightmare.
7. Valley of Death
Seeing as how the name “Death Valley” was taken, this peninsula is Russia decided on the more verbose Valley of Death. Still, however, the place is comparable to the US’s very own Death Valley. While it’s located at a latitude far more northward than that of Death Valley, the place can be equally as deadly.
Among the many things that make this place so dangerous are its high concentrations of poisonous fumes. These fumes are pumped up from local volcanos and geysers that don’t stay settled for long. The inhalation of these fumes isn’t pleasant, often yielding dizziness, nausea, fever, and other symptoms you’d rather not experience as a tourist. Be on the lookout for that noxious Russian gas cloud.
8. Bikini Bottom’s got nothing on Bikini Atoll
Bikini Atoll is one of the most deceptive destinations on this list. And despite its name, it’s not a place you would want to take out the Speedo and go for a dip. While the island is certainly pretty (no one would disagree with you there), it is not necessarily safe.
Having been the home to ample and repetitive nuclear testing in the 1940s and 50s, the place is considered so radioactive that it is almost entirely unsuitable for life. While such a status does not exactly render it a spot on your bucket list, it does render it an interesting factoid when you’re visiting the other nearby Marshall Islands. Spongebob Squarepants fans will appreciate how the infamous atoll was the inspiration for our favorite character’s home.
9. Elephant Kingdom
Some places, despite their name, are known for something drastically different than what you might think. The Elephant Kingdom in Chonburi, Thailand is one such destination. While it is a place adequately described as a tourist’s playground, it is also a place with abundant—yet also terrifying—fauna.
The most fright-inducing of these faunae is crocodiles. There is, in fact, a crocodile farm in the so-called “kingdom” where tourists can board a small raft to feed the beasts. The only fear here is that one might fall in and be mistaken for delicious food. While the likelihood of this happening largely depends on your sense of balance, it’s certainly a factor. Keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle, folks.
10. Lake Natron
Some lakes are not the reservoirs of life, providing crucial H20 to the surrounding flora and fauna. Instead, some of these lakes are toxic death-pits that provide nothing but death to those who touch them. Lake Natron in Tanzania is one such lake. The most dangerous thing about this surreal-looking lake is its outer crust of alkali soda and salt.
The toxicity of the concoction is enough to preserve birds, bugs, and any other creature that might find itself inside the lake. And, unfortunately, such a thing is a common occurrence: because of the lake’s reflective surface, many birds and other animals find themselves careening into the lake. Let’s just try not to let one of these freshly calcified species be you.
11. New Smyrna Beach
It’s hard to look at beaches as something dastardly and cruel; you don’t want to suspect them of creating an inhospitable location for tourists. Unfortunately, as we saw with Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, this isn’t always the case. New Smyrna Beach is another example.
Located in none other than Florida, this place is home to one of the most concentrated instances of shark attacks on Earth. At one point, for instance, it was considered the shark attack capital of the world. Because of this, we felt it appropriate to warn you of its reputation as a shark buffet.
12. Half Dome
Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States. Having been carved out by glacial migration around 200 million years ago, the park is home to some of the most astounding natural wonders the planet has to see. Some of these wonders, however, can prove quite deadly. Half Dome, for instance, one of Yosemite’s premier features, is one such attraction.
Stretching a total of 15.6 grueling miles, the hike had taken the lives of around 12 people per year. This tragically high number is often due to the conditions of the final portion of the hike—the actual dome. While during the dryer season the dome is fine, during the rainy season it is slick and dangerous. You should only go, then, when the cables are up and the dome dry.
13. Alnwick Gardens
Alnwick Gardens are misleadingly dangerous. Located in Northumberland, England, these gardens have plants that can literally kill. Aptly named The Poison Garden, the most deadly feature of this part is safely tucked behind gates embossed with a dire warning that reads: “THESE PLANTS CAN KILL.”
If you’re one of the 600,000 yearly tourists that visit this deadly garden, beware. A stop to smell the roses might literally result in a full-life stop. Curiously, the suite of deadly plants enlisted by the Duchess that owns the garden were brought in as an attraction for children. Kids aren’t interested in plants that form aspirin, she says. They’re also probably not interested in dying, so we’d recommend you frolic with caution.
14. Cliffs of Moher
Promontories and bluffs that line the edge of terrestrial continents are natural spots of attraction. There’s something incalculably beautiful about looking out over the land into the sea. But, with these precipitous cliffs from which we gaze also comes a natural danger: falling.
Located in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher are a primary example of this. These cliffs don’t only offer beautiful sights—they also offer dangerous falls. Given that the climate is particularly wet, the ground above the cliffs can be especially slippery. When combined with a dare-devil desire to get the best selfie, this can be intractably deadly. If you plan on visiting these cliffs, venture to the ledge at your own risk.
15. Boa Viagem Beach
We hate it when beaches mislead us with their powdery shores and sunny weather. The enticing conditions often draw us into the water without a second thought. Well, we’re here to warn you that some of these beaches offer far more than they should. Sometimes, this occurs in the form of plentiful teeth.
Like New Smyrna Beach in Florida, Boa Viagem Beach in South America carries with it an astoundingly high risk of shark attack. Enjoying 420 million years as an apex predator will garner a certain level of respect: the rows of teeth in the carnivorous wave-dweller are specialized to bite, tear, and rip your limbs asunder. You might want to avoid this beach if you can.
Hawaii is home to some of the most frequented beautiful beaches on the planet. But, also among these beautifully scenic islands, you have something a little more dangerous. These things are volcanoes. Having actually been formed by underwater volcanoes beneath the Earth’s lithosphere (crust), these islands are the tips of volcanic mountains.
Living on the tips of volcanoes, as the Hawaiian example shows, offers both lush vegetation and abundant danger. Since the volcanoes are active, they sometimes eject their contents onto the island’s inhabitants. These expectorants can engulf houses, roads, and byways. Because of this, the place can be considered quite dangerous.
The French Alps are one of the most popular skiing and snow-sport destinations in the world. Home to astounding cirques and other glacially carved landscapes, the place is a major draw for mountaineers and the like who would like to conquer some of the world’ most formidable peaks.
Some of these peaks, however, are exceptionally dangerous. One such peak is Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. The summit is estimated to take a tragically high number (sometimes around 100) of tourists per year. The mountain, the tallest in all of Europe, is easily accessible. This makes many who might not otherwise be able to make such peaks take to the cliffs. The result, if you’re not careful, can be deadly.
18. El Caminito del Rey
El Caminito del Rey is one of the most deadly hikes in Spain. But because of its beautiful scenic views and arduous hiker challenge, the place is popular among those who enjoy the thrill of tall and precipitous mountain peaks. Parts of the hike are not as challenging are they are terrifying.
On some sections of the hike, for instance, you must balance along a metal bar that doesn’t exceed a few inches in width. Doesn’t sound like a problem? Well, consider the fact that this thin little rod is bridged above a drop of 350 feet. If you’re scared of heights, then, we would caution against this route for all but the most experienced scalers.
19. The Colorado River
The Colorado River is a popular tourist destination for a reason. Offering cool refuge from the arid and hot desert regions that characterize Nevada and Arizona, it makes sense that people would often frequent the river. What makes it slightly more dangerous is the type of activity that people will engage in once they’re in the water.
Many, for instance, will white water raft in the Grand Canyon. While such an activity can be all fun and games, it can quickly turn into something much more dangerous. When you fall into the white waters, the currents can be so strong and unrelenting that you won’t be able to find your way back onto the raft.
20. Kokoda Trail
New Guinea isn’t often on people’s list of vacation destinations to visit. However, it should be. The place is one of the lushest and biodiverse of all the jungle islands. It’s also home to several indigenous tribes that bear little contact with the outside world. Such priceless features make the place something to admire.
Also, however, the place comes equipped with its own terror. Among the most terror-inducing is the Kokoda Trail. This trail takes you through 60 miles of dense jungle, sometimes over thin bridges composed of twigs and vines. What makes the trek dangerous is the precarious nature of the bridges in conjunction with the duration of the hike.
21. Hua Shan Plank Path
Some of the most dangerous places are not necessarily tourist destinations. Risky and perilous traits, it turns out, deter the average jet setter. But adrenaline-junkies might seek out The Hua Shan Plank Path. While it was crafted by locals in order to traverse a particular section of these Chinese mountains, the path has become a must-do for thrill seekers and the like.
Because several parts of the path dangle precipitously to one side of the mountain—so much so that you must remain strapped in with a climbing harness—it is one of the most dangerous hikes that you can do. While the heights are definitely dangerous, you are protected by the climbing harness. The dizzying heights are not something to take lightly, though.
22. Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the highest peak in the world. Formed by the collision of the Indian tectonic plate with that of the Eurasian, the mount is large and imposing. Unfortunately, because of its formidable height (around 29,029 feet), the mountain comes complete with its own weather system. And this weather system isn’t exactly placid.
Everest has claimed the lives of many would-be summiteers. Because of the mountain’s domineering heights (and the consequent lack of oxygen near the summit), many people have become disoriented and confused from the extreme heights. Because of this truly tragic fact, many have lost their lives while trying to conquer it. Be cautious such that you don’t become another one.
23. Devil’s Pools
The Devil’s Pools are a bit cooler than something you’d expect of a devil. They offer temperate heat from the surround Zambian summers. They also, however, sit dangerously close to one of the largest systems of waterfalls on the planet: Victoria Falls.
Because of this, the pools are considered one of the more dangerous tourist traps in the world. Because they sit so close to a drop of around 355 feet, a minor slip could be your last. To visit the pools, then, you’ll want to ensure your sober-minded and cautious. The place is not one to gallivant cavalierly. The result could be a devastating fall.
24. Yellowstone National Park
Despite its popularity as the first national park ever formed, Yellowstone National Park holds some cryptically dark secrets. One of these is the giant supervolcano that lurks beneath its surface. This volcano, which spans the width of the park, is set to blow at any moment. And what’s more terrifying about this ready-to-erupt-volcano is that its pasted eruptions have previously caused mass extinctions around the globe.
In one of the volcano’s past eruptions, enough smoke and ash were expectorated to cover the entire globe in its haze. The result was a temporary global cooling event, which was detrimental to crops and agriculture across the globe. If this supervolcano did explode while you were visiting the park, you wouldn’t have many places to hide. You might just have to hope for luck in this instance.
25. Verzasca Dam
The Verzasca Dam is located in the beautiful mountains of Switzerland. Interestingly, the place is considered one of the best places on Earth to bungee jump. James Bond, for instance, was shown leaping from the 720-foot dam in the film Goldeneye. He (or more accurately, his stunt double) made it look less dangerous than it actually is.
While bungee jumping is often safe, the practice had led to some undesirable outcomes. Rope with too much or too little slack, for instance, can either lead to back problems from extreme tension or a plummet to the Earth. You’ll just want to be careful, then, that you do such jumping with a reputable group. A nice stroll on the ledge is more advisable then taking the Goldeneye leap at this destination.
26. Boiling Lake
When a lake is boiling, that’s probably a good sign that you shouldn’t go in. In the case of Boiling Lake in Dominica, this is especially true. Given that the lake is being heated by underwater volcanic vents, the waters within are quite hot. They’re so hot, in fact, that they would kill you almost instantly.
While the hike that leads you to the lake is beautiful, trouncing you through forest vegetation and sulfur springs, it is also extraordinarily dangerous. The moral of the story is this: if you see that a lake is boiling, you shouldn’t prepare yourself for a swim. Instead, you should keep a safe distance and air on the side of caution.
Chernobyl is not really a place that many intend to visit. Having been a town that succumbed to one of the greatest nuclear disasters to have blemished the Earth, the area has been abandoned for decades. Because of the dense radiation that now inhabits the town’s surrounding lands, very few things can grow in the area.
Even though dark tourism is on the rise, resulting in the growing popularity of Chernobyl visitors, it’s not recommended that people travel here. The lingering radiation is poisonous to humans, often inducing harmful mutations that can lead to cancer. Despite this, many people still try and add Chernobyl to their list of places to visit.
28. Death Road
Anything with “death” in its name is surely bad. And the Death Road in Bolivia is no exception. Because of the road’s narrow hairpin turns and drastically steep drops (sometimes descending a total of 2,000 feet), this road is considered one of the most dangerous on the planet.
But because of this, many people have sought it out just to see what all the hype is about. While for most people the journey is not a deadly one, for some unlucky drivers or pedestrians, it certainly can be. It is thought that something around 250 people fall from the road each year. If you do plan on traveling to the Bolivian Death Road, take it slow.
Trolltunga, also known as the “Troll’s Tung,” is a destination in Norway that many have flocked to. With this picture, you can see why. Dangling precariously over a deep fjord, a fall to either side of this stone troll’s tongue will lead to certain death. What’s more unfortunate is that the heights where you’ll find this tongue will subject you to dangerous winds.
In total, the stone tongue stands around 2,600 feet above the ground. Many people, in an attempt to get the perfect Instagram photo, will dangle out over the edge and hope for the best. And, if they’re not careful, they’ll get something far worse than a bad photo. Let’s just hope that’s not you.
30. Running of the Bulls
Running with these brawny beasts is considered a tradition among those in Spain. To participate in the event, you must run in front of six bulls charging full speed ahead. And, as you could imagine, not everyone has made it out of the event alive. Bulls have adapted their horns to literally gore their foes, and in some cases, that foe could be humans.
Annually, it is estimated that around 2,000 people total will participate in the running of the bulls. Of these 2,000, there are around 100 that will get injured. Now whether this is by an actual goring or from having being trampled, the experience is not a desirable one. If you plan to run with the bulls, then, we advise that you stretch first, and have a good escape route planned. Good luck!
31. Skellig Michael, off the coast of Ireland
This dangerous island was made famous after the location was leaked for the most recent Star Wars addition. There are 600 ancient steps up the side of the mountain that any Star Wars fan would dream of climbing, but have absolutely no safety features whatsoever. The island is completely baron, so there’s also no food or water, visitor centers, toilets, or shelter.
It’s not easy to get to the island either as it’s guarded by extremely rough waters after an hour-long boat ride, and oftentimes boats can’t dock because of high waves and choppy water. To make matters worse, the area is prone to tumbling rocks, and the stone stairs, which are more than 1,000 years old are rough, uneven, and meandering. Two deaths only months apart in 2009 sparked a review of the safety conditions on the island. Consider yourself warned!
Millions of tourists visit Mexico safely every year expecting the experience of a vibrant culture and incredible views, but violent organized crime makes the country one of the more dangerous for tourists. While resorts are generally safe from the drug-related crimes like kidnappings, robberies, and carjackings, traveling outside of those touristy areas are quite risky.
The US Department of State recently outlined which specific areas to avoid in an official warning for tourists. The Mexican government is working to reduce organized crime through additional supervision from federal police and military forces, but police corruption is another dangerous problem throughout the country. So, if you were thinking about taking a trip to Acapulco or Tijuana, you’d better be extra careful…
The world’s largest country is a tempting place to visit, with its enormous ties to many of our ancestors, vast and varying landscapes, and iconic architecture. Travel in in Russia can be dangerous due to political tension and criminal gangs.
What you may not know is that while LGBTQ culture exists in the country, and though it isn’t illegal, ‘promotion’ of LGBTQ lifestyles is. Although Moscow and St. Petersburg are becoming more established tourist destinations, they are experiencing a rise in violent hate crimes against racial and ethnic minority travelers.
Egypt has several tourist attractions: the ancient pyramids, the Nile River, the endless deserts, and the beautiful beaches along the Red Sea. Tourists face threats of kidnapping and terrorism here and are advised not to leave the Cairo metropolitan area. Political instability could lead to protests and potentially violent clashes, which visitors should avoid.
If you plan to visit, you may want to brush up on their local laws… Did you know it’s illegal to photograph police stations, military barracks, or other public buildings? Crime in Cairo is moderate, usually only manifesting in crimes of opportunity like pickpocketing.
35. North Korea
To most of the world, North Korea remains to be a complete mystery and bundle of misconceptions. While it’s not advised, traveling to this communist state isn’t easy but it is possible. There is a low threat of terrorism and crime, but travelers are at risk of arrest and long-term detention for breaking laws that would not be considered criminal outside of North Korea.
‘Unsanctioned religious or political activities, unauthorized travel, or unauthorized interaction with the local population’ are all crimes with harsh penalties, even for travelers who are part of organized tours. As there is no right to privacy in North Korea, tourists should assume all of their communications are monitored which takes the concept of “big brother” to another level. You might also not have realized that in North Korea, it’s illegal to make international phone calls, listen to any music that doesn’t “glorify the regime”, and even refer to it as “North Korea” since they see themselves as the only true Korea.
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