14 Most Dangerous Tourist Destinations
Traveling is one of the greatest things you can do in life. The ability to jump on a plane and fly to a foreign country and discover new cultures is about as fulfilling as it gets. As the world is so diverse, there is so much to see, with something for everyone.
Beach lovers can find some of the most pristine coastlines throughout Asia and the Caribbean. History buffs can travel back in time through ancient European cities. Sports lovers can catch all the big games in America. Then there are thrill seekers who want to visit the most dangerous tourist destinations and push themselves to the limit.
These exotic destinations stretch across the earth from New Zealand to Iceland and everywhere in between and are dangerous for a variety of reasons. Some have treacherous landscapes while others are inhabited by wild animals that can kill you in an instant. Then there are different dangers, such as crime, weather conditions, and even car crashes.
The most dangerous tourist destinations might not always seem that deadly, but believe us when we tell you they are only for those who like to live life on the edge. If sunning yourself by the pool drinking cocktails is more your thing, stay away from these spots. For everyone else, get your will in order, grab your passport, and adventure into the unknown.
14 Most Dangerous Tourist Destinations
1. Mount Everest, Nepal
It should come as no surprise that Mount Everest makes the list. The highest mountain in the world attracts around 1,200 people yearly who want to test out their endurance by attempting to climb to the very top. According to The New York Times, only half that number succeed, while some even die on their journey. Many people suffer altitude sickness, which can be deadly if not treated, while others succumb to frostbite, hypothermia, and avalanches.
310 people have died climbing Mount Everest, with around 200 bodies left on the mountain, unable to be retrieved. The last deaths occurred in 2021, proving how dangerous the climb really is and why it is one of the most dangerous tourist destinations in the world.
2. Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California
The famed Yosemite National Park is also one of the most dangerous spots for travelers, in particular the Half Dome. This well-known rock formation attracts climbers from all around the world who want to challenge themselves by ascending to the top of this 5,000-foot mountain. The final 400 feet are the most dangerous and rock climbing equipment is needed to reach the summit.
Several people have died attempting to scale Half Dome, with the last major fatalities occurring in 1985 when five hikers were struck by lightning, killing two of them.
3. North Korea
Dangerous is probably not the right word, but if you step out of line while in North Korea you might never see the Western world again. The only way to visit is by organizing an official tour that includes a guide and armed soldiers making sure you do as you are told. You will be shown only what North Korea wants you to see, which is a thriving city where poverty is non-existent and people love their government.
You don’t really have any control over where you go or what you do and spend your downtime in your hotel. The main danger comes from doing something you shouldn’t which could result in you finding yourself behind bars for a very long time.
4. Death Valley, California
The hottest and driest National Park in America, Death Valley doesn’t quite live up to its name. While it sounds menacing, there is a lot of life in this large stretch of desert, with an abundance of wildflowers and animal life living in the area. That said, you don’t want to go trekking into Death Valley without the proper precautions, which include a shit tonne of water and proper sun protection.
While only a couple of people die in Death Valley every year due to the heat, most people that die out there do so in single-car accidents according to the National Parks Service.
5. The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
The views from the Cliffs of Moher are spectacular, but also just as deadly. One of Ireland’s most famous sights, the cliffs provide incredible views of the Aran Islands and Galway Bay. But they are also extremely dangerous. Rising some 700 feet above sea level, there is no fencing to keep you at bay from the edge, with one wrong step meaning you could find yourself falling to your death.
Despite the danger, the Cliffs of Moher were listed by Instagram as the 25th best selfie spot in 2021 and the area continues to attract thousands of people every year. 66 people died at the Cliffs of Moher from 1993 to 2017, with the latest fatality coming in 2019 when an Indian student got too close to the edge and plunged to his death.
Pro tip: wear sturdy shoes and stay at least a few feet away from the edge, especially during winter,
6. New Smyrna Beach, Florida
You’re probably wondering why a beach in Florida of all places makes the list of dangerous places. Well, the answer lies in the ocean. This surf spot is shark heaven and one of the reasons why Florida is known as the “shark bite capital of the world.”
While you are more likely to die falling out of bed or by being hit by lighting, New Smyrna Beach averages nine shark attacks a year. The last came in September 2022 when a woman was bit while swimming.
7. The Danakil Desert, Ethiopia
While it doesn’t quite reach the temperatures of Death Valley, the Danakil Desert does reach over 122 °F during its hottest days, making it almost unbearable. It’s both one of the lowest and hottest places on earth that is home to volcanos and lakes of acid and poisonous gases.
While you can visit the area, it is recommended to take a tour so you are kept safe at all times and have no fear of getting lost and stranded in the harsh desert.
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8. Death Road, Bolivia
Officially known as Yungas Road, this 37-mile stretch of road is a cycle route that connects the city of La Paz and the Yungas region. It runs along a cliff face and is barely able to fit two cars let alone one, but is still used as a major crossing. As the road is dirt, it gets even more dangerous in the winter when it turns to mud.
18 cyclists have died on the road since 1998 while it had an average of around 209 accidents and 96 deaths per year until a new section of road was built that is much safer. The old road is now solely used by bike riders and those who wish to walk along the road and check out the views.
9. Mount Washington, New Hampshire
The highest peak in the Northeastern United States is another popular tourist destination that’s also quite dangerous. It attracts a diverse crowd, with ski resorts for those who like to hit the powder and plenty of trails and climbs for those who prefer mountaineering.
One of the biggest issues people encounter is the changing weather conditions, with high winds often coming out of nowhere. More than 161 people have died while climbing Mount Washington, either from hyperthermia or bad weather.
10. Devil’s Pool, Zambia
Part of Victoria Falls in Africa, the Devil’s Pool is found on the Zambian side of the border. During the dry months when the water levels drop, the Devil’s Pool transforms into one of the most breathtaking natural infinity pools on the edge of Victoria Falls, which also happens to be the world’s highest waterfall.
It’s a great way to experience the Falls in a unique setting but be warned, don’t try going for a dip in the wet season. The river is flooded and the currents are too fast to swim against and will push you over the edge. The Zambian tourist board warns visitors to be careful when venturing into the water and often has guides available to make sure nothing goes wrong.
11. Chernobyl, Ukraine
It’s pretty obvious why this destination makes the list. Chernobyl was where the most horrific nuclear meltdown occurred on April 26, 1986. While only 31 people were officially recognized as dying, the impact the event had on the town and the surrounding area is still being felt today.
Chernobyl is now deserted and while still a radiation-hot zone, there are certain areas that can be visited with tours. These take you into parts of the city where you can see how people up and let without warning, leaving behind their possessions. While the chances of getting radiation poisoning or worse are slim, there is always a chance, which makes it such a dangerous spot to visit.
12. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
For most, Rio de Janeiro sounds like the ultimate holiday destination. Sandy beaches, Carnival, women with large assets, and plenty of Sun. What more could you want right? Well if you’re not careful you might find yourself looking at the wrong end of a gun.
Rio de Janeiro is riddled with crime due to its high unemployment rate. You don’t want to be walking through the favelas on your own as there’s a good chance you might not make it out. Don’t wander off the beaten track and make sure you keep your valuables safe. The last thing you want is to be robbed while on your dream vacation.
13. Snake Island, Brazil
Ilha da Queimada Grande is no longer open to the public and for good reason. Located off the coast of Brazil, this island is home to the venomous Bothrops insularis (golden lancehead pit viper), a critically endangered species of snake. The snakes got trapped there during the last Ice Age and over time have slowly taken over the island, making it unsafe for humans.
At one point it was believed the island was home to around 430,000 snakes, but that number is now said to be between 2,000-4,000, which is why it’s on the endangered list. Along with the snakes, there is an abundance of bird life along with a non-venomous breed of snake known as Dipsas albifrons.
14. El Caminito del Rey, Spain
If you have a fear of heights you might want to stop reading. El Caminito del Rey (The King’s Little Path) is a walkway constructed in the 20th century through a narrow gorge in the province of Málaga, Spain. The man-made path winds around steep cliff face where the wrong move equals death.
Built so workers could access the hydroelectric power plants at Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls, the walkway soon became a tourist destination, with people amazed by the tight pathways with few barriers to hold on to for support. After five people died while traversing the damaged path between 1999-2000, it was shut down for over a decade.
Four years of repairs were undertaken and El Caminito del Rey reopened in 2015. Despite the government doing its best to make the path safer, it still ranks as one of the most dangerous locations in Spain.
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