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Life on the Edge: The Most Popular Destinations for Dark Tourists

For most families, soaking up the sun on a sandy beach with a fruity drink in hand is more than enough vacation. Sometimes, however, individuals want more of a thrill from their tourism. When it comes to these travelers, white water rafting or rock climbing just isn’t enough to get their blood pumping. These are the seven most dangerous destinations in the world, made worth the risk for adventurous souls by their incredible scenery and historical sites.

Hiking through the Caucus Mountains

The Northern Caucasus
The Caucasus are a mountain range along the border of Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. They offer some of the best views and peaks for hikers, as well as several luxurious resorts when life on the trail gets too rough. The Georgian government is in the process of revitalizing the region with world-class skiing and opening up ancient cultural sites to visitors.

Why is this region working so hard to rehabilitate its reputation? The answer dates back to the Soviet era, when a protracted and bloody rebellion caused the deaths of thousands over decades. Today, rebels still lurk in the mountainous region, fighting partially for independence and partially out of retribution for past deadly crack-downs. Although they have become less dangerous over the years, the Caucasus are still an uncertain proposition for foreigners and locals alike.


The greatest feats of human engineering, as well as some of the most beautiful rivers and deserts in the world, lie in a country plagued by turmoil and uprisings. Even after the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, the atmosphere on the streets is tense and there are regular demonstrations against the current government. Because of this, Egypt’s tourism economy has shrunk, and the country faces an uncertain future.

Visitors should be mindful of violent crime rates and stay away from political clashes to remain safe during their holiday. Those who brave the unrest, however, will find a land where one of the most ancient and powerful civilizations in recorded history is still a part of daily life.

Another picture of Machu Pichu

Peru is often overlooked for the flashier attractions in Europe and Asia, but this South American nation is unrivaled in architectural and natural beauty. Skeptics need only hike up to the mountainous city of Machu Picchu to have their doubts put to rest. Visit the cities of Lima and Peru before hiking the Inca trail up to Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca, where primitive societies still follow their traditional way of life.

Tourists are relatively safe in Peru but must be wary. There are plenty of con artists, pickpockets, and muggers waiting to take advantage of foreigners. Caution should also be practiced when hiking alone, and travelers are advised to steer clear of the Colombian border.

Israel 2009

Israel is the spiritual center of the Middle East and Abrahamic religions. Jews, Christians and Muslims can all lay claim to important holy events occurring within this tiny country. Unfortunately, when two of those three religions want control of the land, things become more complicated. Today, Israel is a Jewish state surrounded on all sides by Islamic governments. Relations between the nations are relatively stable, with the exception of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, all that remains of a Palestinian territory in constant dispute over its statehood. Mutual bombing is common, making Israel a destination only for the brave and the truly devoted. Individuals with Arabic-sounding names may experience racial profiling while traveling within or trying to enter the country. Do not enter the Gaza Strip or West Bank without full knowledge of the danger involved.

Kenya 085

When outsiders imagine the ecological wealth of Africa, they are most likely picturing a scene from Kenya. The great, grassy plains are home to millions of animals, including zebras, lions,gazelles, elephants, giraffes and hippopotamuses. Tourism is a booming industry in Kenya as vacationers go on safaris and visit wide, sandy beaches along the coast. Some of the income gained from tourism goes toward wildlife preservation efforts to combat poaching.

The trouble with Kenya is rarely Kenyans. In fact, it is the actions of another nation on this list that put foreigners’ lives in peril. Somali rebels have made many terrorist threats against Kenya and even carried them out, kidnapping and killing both locals and tourists alike. Avoid the Somali border to minimize the risk of coming under attack.

Everest and Cho Oyu from Old Tingri

Mt. Everest
Mt. Everest, along with the rest of the Himalayas, does not need mere humans to provide its dangers. This mountain peak is the tallest in the world and home to the unmarked graves of almost 200 bodies. The best mountain climbers in the world may tackle it in small groups, but any thrill-seeker can attempt the ascent with a guide. The most difficult part is the “Death Zone,” where oxygen becomes so thin that the human body struggles to sustain itself. Some collapse and never recover, while others get lost in bad weather and are never seen again. For many years, certain bodies remained alongside common routes and were even treated as landmarks. It is considered the ultimate physical achievement for a traveler, but Mt. Everest does not make the journey easy.

The final country on this list should probably be avoided, no matter how alluring its landscape. Somalia is a place of sparkling oceans, regal palms and sweeping deserts, but it has also spent years in anarchy and under the sway of various terrorist organizations. A new government has established a tentative hold as of late September, but crime is still rampant. Without some sort of armed security, travel through most of Somalia is too dangerous for western tourists to consider.

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