The World’s Most Dangerous Tourist Destinations
Adrenaline junkies, grab your passports because there's nothing relaxing about these vacation spots.
Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California
The 5,000-foot climb to the top of Half Dome is the most strenuous of Yosemite Valley’s day hikes, and it’s the last 400 feet that are the most dangerous. It’s a near-vertical climb, and while there are ladder-like metal cables to help you reach the summit without rock climbing equipment, falling off them could be deadly. And let’s not forget that Half Dome is basically a huge lightning rod, and in 1985, lightning struck five friends on the park’s tallest granite peak, killing two and injuring three.
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
With breathtaking views of the Aran Islands and Galway Bay, the Cliffs of Moher is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions. However, it’s also one of the most dangerous, and one misstep at the edge could result in a 700-foot tumble into the Atlantic. The safest way to experience the awe-inspiring beauty of the cliffs is from the official path or one of three viewing platforms. Here are more epic vacation destinations for adrenaline junkies.
Running of the Bulls, Pamplona, Spain
Thousands of thrill-seekers make the journey to Pamplona each year to run with the bulls. Amazingly, only 16 people have been fatally gored at the Spanish festival since 1910, according to the Running of the Bulls’ site. Injuries by goring or being trampled by other runners are more likely but, luckily, still slim. To put that into perspective, FiveThirtyEight reports that you have the same chance of having an unproduced screenplay turned into a feature film as getting injured while running with the bulls.
Mount Everest, Nepal
Visiting Mount Everest might not be on your bucket list, but the tallest mountain in the world attracts around 1,200 climbers each year. However, only about half ever reach the summit, and a few will die trying, according to the New York Times. Five deaths occurred in early 2018, bringing the total number of people known to have died on Everest, as of mid-2018, to nearly 300. Causes of death on Everest include everything from subfreezing temperatures and the high altitude to falls and other health problems. You’re probably better off traveling to these other most remote places on Earth instead.
Devil’s Pool, Zambia
During the drier months of the year, the Zambezi River’s levels drop substantially to reveal the ultimate infinity pool at the edge of Victoria Falls, the world’s highest waterfall. However, you should only dare to take a dip in Devil’s Pool from mid-August to mid-January. Outside of those months, Zambia tourism warns “anyone foolish enough to enter the waters would be instantly swept to their deaths.”
Trift Bridge, Switzerland
Believe it or not, the Trift Bridge in the Swiss Alps is much safer than it looks. This modern bridge, modeled after Nepalese three-rope bridges, was built in 2009 with sturdy steel and wood. Still, acrophobes will likely want to avoid it. At 300 feet high and 560 feet long, the Trift Bridge is one of the longest and highest pedestrian suspension bridges in the Alps, requiring three cable car rides to reach it.
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County, Florida attracts hundreds of surfers every day, and the more people in the water, the greater the chance of shark attacks. That’s why Florida is known as the shark attack capital of the world, with 16 reported shark attacks in 2018, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File. Still, you’re up to 75 times more likely to die from a lightning strike than by a shark attack, at least in the coastal United States, so there’s no reason to skip out on some amazing surfing. And if you’re still nervous about those toothy sea predators, check out these fascinating and reassuring facts about sharks.
Villarrica Volcano, Chile
Visiting an active volcano always involves a little risk. Just ask the tourists who had just reached the top of Villarrica volcano in Chile when it began spewing flames and lava in 2017. Luckily, the eruption was small and nobody was hurt, so you can still visit. For those interested in getting up close and personal with Villarrica, an adventure company offers the opportunity to bungee jump from a helicopter into the crater of the volcano, which definitely qualifies as one of the most extreme travel adventures in the world.
Yellowstone National Park
The National Park Service warns that you should prepare for bear encounters whether you’re hiking, camping, or visiting other attractions in Yellowstone. (After all, you are in their habitat.) Very rarely, however, do encounters with grizzly bears involve conflict. Inside the park, the average is just one bear attack per year. Considering over 100 million people have visited Yellowstone since 1980, your chances of being injured by a grizzly are 1 in 2.7 million.
Dehydration is always a risk when exploring Death Valley, the hottest, driest, and lowest National Park. Precautions, like drinking at least one gallon of water per day, not hiking in the heat, and staying on paved roads, are recommended year round and not just in summer, when temperatures can exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite conditions primed for heat exposure, there are more deaths from single-car accidents in Death Valley than heat-related causes. According to park management, only one or two people die of heat exposure every year.
The site of a nuclear disaster seems an unlikely tourist attraction, but Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone keeps drawing visitors. From Kiev, it’s a two-hour tour bus ride to Pripyat, a city frozen in time. There you can witness what the former Soviet Union (now Ukraine) was like in 1986—and that’s about all you can do there. Because of radiation from the power plant explosion, tourists are warned against touching any objects or vegetation or even sitting on the ground. Plus, Russia as a whole is one of the dangerous countries you might want to think twice before traveling to.
Formula Rossa Roller Coaster, Abu Dhabi
Got a need for speed? Formula Rossa in Abu Dhabi’s Ferrari World clocks in at 149 mph, making it the fastest roller coaster in the world. Powered by a hydraulic launch system, the coaster rips through the 1.3 mile course in a mere 92 seconds, for an experience that makes you feel like a Formula One racer. Despite the speed, there’s not much danger to riding the roller coaster, unless you have the tendency to get carsick.
One of the highest jumping sites in the world, Verzasca Dam in Ticino, Switzerland has a second claim to fame: James Bond took the plunge in the 2002 movie “Goldeneye.” Adrenaline junkies can recreate 007’s bungee jump or take it to the next level by jumping at night. The nearly 720-foot fall may seem risky, but you’re more likely to die from bicycling than bungee jumping. Similarly, these 13 countries have a reputation for being dangerous, but are actually safer than you think.