Now that travel is becoming a thing again, why not go on a big, crazy adventure? While being in a remote location away from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives sounds ideal, some of these beautiful dream destinations are just plain dangerous — and these are some of the most dangerous places on earth to visit.
Not buying it? Well, think on this: if you’ve ever considered moving to another country, you might want to rethink your travel plans for that as well depending on the destination. More than exotic animals and unsafe topography, some places are war-torn countries with high crime rates and out-of-this-world radioactivity.
From the depths of the Bermuda Triangle where many have been lost at sea, to the top of Mount Vesuvius where an active volcano has become a home to more than 650,000 people, these are the most dangerous places on earth to visit.
Snake Island, Brazil
We’re kicking off this list with a banger — Snake Island, Brazil or “Ilha da Queimada Grande.” This island located off the coast of Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean is only 106 acres and home to an endangered species of golden lancehead pit vipers.
This island itself is partly covered by rainforest and bare rock with grassy areas. And as you may imagine, tons of snakes. These venomous vipers have made it illegal for the public to visit this mysterious island. Beyond the Brazilian Navy, only scientists and researchers are allowed to step foot on the terrain, but that changed when the Navy let news outlet VICE on the island in 2014 to shoot a documentary. To say the least, these explorers had no idea what they’d be facing.
No one really knows how the snakes got there. While some believe it was the rising sea levels over the years, others believe the snakes may have been introduced by pirates to protect their treasures, but no one can say for sure.
Danakil Desert, East Africa
Located in northeast Ethiopia, southern Eritrea, and northwestern Djibouti, the Danakil Desert is known as one of the most uninhabitable places on the earth. Beyond its volcanoes and geysers pitting toxic gases, the scorching daytime temperatures can reach up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
More than that, the conflicts in Eritrea make it an inhospitable place, with the possibility of getting kidnapped being the biggest risk. The natural and man-made disasters in this region put it at the top of our lists as a “No-go zone.”
Lake Nyos, Cameroon
As beautiful as this lake in the northwest region of Cameroon is, it is even more mysterious.
On August 21, 1986, a rare natural disaster took place in the surrounding villages that killed 1,746 people and 3,500 livestock, making it one of the most dangerous places on earth. In the early hours on the 21st, a large cloud of carbon dioxide burst from Lake Nyos and blanketed the nearby village with deadly fog.
Before the eruption, the lake was a quiet and an iridescent blue that would lure people in… until 1986. From that fateful night, only four survived.
Scientists later discovered that the CO2 comes from the pocket of magma that lies below the surface. Lake Nyos sits in a crater on the edge of an inactive volcano in the Oku Volcanic Field, and the Carbon dioxide from that magma will often become too concentrated, bubble, and then, burst.
Oymyakon, Russia is also called “The Pole of Cold,” and with reason. This small town is located in the Oymyakonsky District of the Sakha Republic, Russia.
This village had a record temperature drop in 1933 when the climate plummeted to an outstanding -90 degrees Fahrenheit.
And, on average during the winter months, the temperatures drop to -58 degrees Fahrenheit, but that doesn’t stop the population of 500 who brave the cold climates year-round.
Mailuu Suu, Kyrgyzstan
This small mining town of 23,000 is in Jalal-Abad Region of southern Kyrgyzstan. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, it has been economically depressed, and the USSR left 23 unstable uranium tailings pits behind on the town’s unstable hillside.
In fact, in April 1958, 600,000 cubic meters of radioactive tailings were released into the Mailuu-Suu River. A study published by the Blacksmith Institute in 2006 named the town one of the most polluted places in the world.
Monrovia has many dangers — the risk of rape, mugging, diseases like tuberculosis, corrupt police, and prisoner escapees — which makes it one of the most inhospitable places in the world.
West Point is a slum area in Monrovia. It is also one of the most dangerous places in Liberia. While most crime is centralized there, Mamba Point and Sinkor in Monrovia — where travelers stay — have high levels of crime against foreigners. The police aren’t much help either, bribing people for providing a semblance of protection.
Beyond the illegal trafficking of arms, Manaus is known for having the highest number of homicides in 2016.
Home to 2 million people and located in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, Manaus lies on the bank of the Amazon River. The Amazon River hosts a number of dangerous creatures that make swimming or underwater activities a major risk. The waters have piranhas, anacondas, electric eels, and other deadly animals.
When the Korean war ended in 1953, so did our ability to go into North Korea. The Korean Peninsula was divided by a demilitarized zone, separating the North and South. More than that, the totalitarian dictatorship led by Kim Jong-un as of 2011, has coined the country one of the worst in human rights records across the globe.
It is particularly dangerous for American tourists given the US’s strained relationship in Asian countries.
What’s crazier? The restrictions in North Korea are out-of-this-world. With only 15 approved haircuts and 3 television channels, life in North Korea makes it hard to have a unique identity.
Bermuda Triangle, North Atlantic
The mystery behind the Bermuda Triangle has been talked about for years. This region is located in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean and has swallowed ships, planes, and people. Many argue mysterious forces lurk in those waters.
The unexplained disappearances have been explained over the years — aliens taking people and planes, people sinking into the lost city of Atlantis, vortices taking things into other dimensions — but nothing is known for sure.
North Sentinel Island, India
North Sentinel Island is one of the Andaman Islands that belong to India. The island is known for its beauty and beaches, and many travelers would love to visit. The problem is, you can’t. Its hostile natives make this place one of the least hospitable places and the most dangerous. Its people are violent towards outsiders and reject contact with people.
In fact, in 2018 American missionary John Allen Chau, 26, was killed by the islanders. Apparently, he was hit by arrows after landing on North Sentinel. Chau’s diary suggests that he knew the risks of going there, but wanted to preach “the word of God.”
Lake Natron, Tanzania
North Tanzania’s Lake Natron may as well be a lake of fire. Beyond its red color, the lake’s high levels of natron (sodium carbonate decahydrate) in the water make it a danger to human skin and eyes.
Sometimes, the pH level will reach a high of over 12 with temperatures of up to 60 °C (140 °F). Needless to say, people never skinny dip in these waters.
According to LiveScience, “The water’s alkalinity comes from the sodium carbonate and other minerals that flow into the lake from the surrounding hills. And deposits of sodium carbonate — which was once used in Egyptian mummification — also acts as a fantastic type of preservative for those animals unlucky enough to die in the waters of Lake Natron.”
Burkina Faso, West Africa
The tiny country of Burkina Faso in West Africa has a reputation for terrorist attacks and kidnappings, and these often take place in local restaurants, cafes, and hotels in the area. On top of feeling unsafe in Burkina Faso, neighboring countries attack the small town as well.
According to the US Department of State’s travel advisory, Burkina Faso is considered a level 4, meaning travel to the country is not recommended.
“Kidnapping and hostage taking is a threat throughout the country. On May 10, 2019 a hostage rescue operation freed four international hostages that had been kidnapped in Burkina Faso and in neighboring Benin.”
Death Valley, California
Death Valley, California, is one of the more unknown natural beauties in the US. From mountain tops reaching 3,000 meters into the sky to the Badwater Basin dipping 86 meters below sea level, Death Valley has some dangerous extremes.
While some people think Death Valley is only hot, it can be dangerously cold in the winter months. However, more deaths have resulted from its scorching temperatures. Death Valley is known for being a violent force of nature.
In March of 2011, there was a nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant that compromised the lives of thousands forever. The accident has been dubbed on the most severe nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
The accident was jump-started by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, which forced the active reactors to shut down their fission reactions. Then, the tsunami swept over the reactor buildings and flooded their emergency generators. This resulted in three nuclear meltdowns, three hydrogen explosions, and the release of radioactive contaminants into the Pacific Ocean and atmosphere.
While this incident happened in 2011, citizens are still fighting the aftermath unaddressed by their local governments.
Fraser Island, Australia
Fraser Island is just off the coast of Queensland, Australia and is one of the most dangerous beaches in the world. Dingos, a breed of feral dog native to Australia, roam through the sandy beaches preying on unlucky humans prancing around the area.
And, the waters have been declared a “No-go zone” because of the sharks, jellyfish, and rip currents. However, heading inland doesn’t sound like a good idea either. Australia is known for having the world’s deadliest spiders, and saltwater crocodiles.
Fraser Island’s 2016 census had a population of 182 people. We wouldn’t want to live there, either.
Saltstraumen, Norway has one of the strongest tidal currents in the world, with whirlpools reaching up to 10 meters in diameter and 5 meters in depth. While you wouldn’t want to be caught in the rift, watching these maelstroms form and crash can be a beautiful sight. In fact, taking a trip to the Saltstaumen Bridge, a boat along the strait, or snorkeling in the strait with all the necessary equipment can provide an incredible view.
Cape Denison, Antarctica
Cape Denison is recognized for more than its arctic temperatures, but for its Mawson’s Huts. These huts are a collection of buildings in the region that were occupied by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911 to 1914. The expedition was led by geologist and explorer Dr. Douglas Mawson.
Now, these huts have become a national symbol of heritage, and of the many huts, only six remain. They have become markers of great human adventure and discovery.
The Darvaza Gas Crater, Turkmenistan
The Darvaza Gas Crater in Turkmenistan is also known as “Door to Hell” or “Gates of Hell,” and rightly so. This crater is the result of a natural gas field collapsing into a cavern. The cavern has since been flooded with fire, boiling mud, and orange flames.
Originally, it was seen as an oil field site but was quickly abandoned due to the poisonous gases the crater releases into nearby towns.
While no one explores the area, a National Geographic Channel series called Die Trying featured the crater in the episode “Crater of Fire.” Explorer, George Kourounis, became the first to step near the crater and collect samples of the microorganisms at the bottom.
Haiti is a country in the Caribbean with nearly 11 million inhabitants and high levels of crime. The danger is at an all-time high, with violent crime taking over the country including assault, armed robbery, murder, kidnapping, and rape.
More than that, Haiti is poverty-stricken and considered one of the poorest nations in the western hemisphere. The latter was exacerbated by the 2010 earthquake that destroyed many homes. However, relief efforts stormed into Haiti to aid in the recovery process, some argue that it made matters worse.
Instead of fixing the problem, the UN was blamed for a cholera outbreak that killed nearly half a million Haitians.
The Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, Madagascar
This nature reserve is located in the District of Antsalova in the western part of Madagascar. The terrain has an array of geomorphological structures that make the location picturesque. The limestone mimicks gothic cathedrals, making it a sublime landscape. The reserve is home to rare and endangered lemurs and birds.
As beautiful as it is, it is even more dangerous. Watch your step, stubbing your toe here could be fatal.
The Blue Hole of Dahab, Egypt
You might be surprised to find out that the Blue Hole of Dahab in Egypt is off the coast of the Red Sea. While this may look like a scene from The Little Mermaid, this still shot is from a submarine and shows a sinkhole with a depth of over 100 meters.
While some people are turned away by the depth, others brave the waters. However, sometimes they don’t make it back alive, coining it “Divers’ cemetery.” This popular diving site has tempted many and on average there have been 130 to 200 reported fatalities in recent years.
Mount Sinabung, Indonesia
This Pleistocene-to-Holocene stratovolcano of andesite and dacite is located in Indonesia. Mount Sinabung was dormant until June 9, 2019. Ash and smoke blanketed the area. While there weren’t any casualties, the area surrounding the crater has become a “No-go zone.”
Before 2019, the stratovolcano erupted on August 29, 2010, following with other smaller eruptions that led to the evacuation of more than 26,000 people.
Skeleton Coast, Namibia
The Skeleton Coast is located along the Atlantic Coast of Nambia and is one of the deadliest places on Earth. Named after the skeletal remains of whales, seals, and shipwrecked sailors, Skeleton Coast is incredibly inhospitable.
Many call this place “The Land God Made in Anger” or “The Gates of Hell.”
This deserted place has some animals that bear the brunt of the harsh local environment. Further inland, Skeleton Coast is home to baboons, giraffes, lions, black rhinoceros, and Springbok.
In fact, a CBC show Serious Desert was drawn by the black rhinos in the region and filmed in the area.
The dangers here have nothing to with natural disasters. This is all about government corruption, gangs, street violence, and more. The crime rates in Guatemala are very high, with an average of 101 murders per week reported in 2018. According to New Yorker magazine, in 2009, fewer civilians were reported killed in the war zone of Iraq than were shot, stabbed, or beaten to death in Guatemala, and 97% of homicides “remain unsolved.”
Sanaa is Yemen’s capital, and the US government doesn’t think it’s a place to visit. Why?
“Do not travel to Yemen due to terrorism, civil unrest, health risks, kidnapping, armed conflict, and landmines,” it says on the State Department website.
Most people don’t know who’s in charge, and terrorist groups continue to plot and conduct attacks in Yemen. They may attack any public place with little or no warning, there are lots of criminals, and US citizens are perfect targets for kidnapping. Enjoy.
Capetown, South Africa
Here’s a little perspective on South Africa as a whole. It was ranked the third most dangerous country in the world, according to Numbeo’s 2020 crime index – with four local cities among the 10 most dangerous globally. Needless to say, there’s a lot of violence here.
Cape Town has the highest murder rate in the country due to intense gang-related activity.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Chances of gang violence? Not much. Change of falling off the edge and into the canyon? Even that isn’t too large a number. It’s estimated to be about one in 400,000.
What is dangerous? Like with Death Valley, it’s the weather. Each year, hikers die on their Grand Canyon trip because they underestimate the dangers of the wilderness. Falls (like tripping and hurting yourself), heat stroke, dehydration are the top killers. If you plan to go out there, take a guide, or just stick to the main tourist trails.
Huntington Ravine Headwall, USA
Another location where weather can be killer. While the above photo looks majestic, the land was formed by glaciers over thousands of years. That makes for sharp cliffs that beg to be climbed. The only problem? Avalanches, icefalls, and hypothermia have killed climbers in Huntington repeatedly, and even hiking is risky. Might be better to find a local trail and keep it safe.
“Because of a marked increase in criminal activity throughout the city of Chihuahua, U.S. government personnel are restricted from traveling to the city of Chihuahua until further notice.” Those are the words from the US Embassy & Consulates in Mexico website.
That’s saying something. In 2017, Chihuahua had a population of 929,884 people and saw 460 homicides, making it one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico and worldwide. If it’s gotten worse than that, then it’s definitely a place to avoid.