Travel should be a pleasure, a journey to discover unknown cultures, landscapes and people. It should be a time when you can relax and enjoy everything around you, and spend your time doing exactly what you feel. But there are some travellers who throw this out of the window, and deliberately head to the world’s most dangerous corners, searching for the ultimate travel experience.
Whether you’re looking to visit these places or not, it’s probably a good idea to know which parts of the world are considered the most dangerous – parts of the world that the average backpacker will steer well clear of. So, below you’ll find five places that most people wouldn’t even consider travelling to…
You’ll almost certainly know that this is a country wracked with trouble and strife, torn apart by war. As one of the hotbeds of al-Qaeda, it’s a country that sees terrorist attacks on an incredibly regular basis, and many of these are against foreign targets. While the war is now officially over, that doesn’t mean that the troops have left behind a paradise. Instead, they’ve left behind a country teetering on the verge of disaster.
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office “advises against all or all but essential travel” to Afghanistan, while the US Department of State “continues to warn US citizens against travel to Afghanistan.” Most countries have certain areas that are safer, but this isn’t the case in this country – every single part of Afghanistan poses a risk to backpackers.
So, instead of a gap year in Afghanistan, why not visit some of the other countries in the region instead? The “Stans” are much underappreciated, and backpackers will find places such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to be full of great surprises. Iran is also becoming a better place to travel in, so why not consider there? Hopefully Afghanistan will one day once again be open to tourists though, ready to showcase its amazing culture, landscapes and people…
Following hot on the heels of Afghanistan is Iraq, another country that has been torn apart by war, as well as by the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussain. This is a real shame, as Iraq is a country steeped in history, with huge amounts of offer backpackers looking to visit somewhere completely different. Sites such as the Arch of Ctesiphon and areas such as the Southern Marshland should be seen by everyone.
As with Afghanistan, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against travelling anywhere in the country, and this is a sentiment also echoed by other world governments, including the US government. The border with Syria is undoubtedly the most dangerous part of the country though. Most visitors to the country go for business reasons, and the majority employ the services of private security companies.
Until Iraq becomes safe, there are other options open to those looking to visit the region. As already mentioned, much of Iran is now considered safe to travel in, and is certainly worth visiting. Saudi Arabia and Jordan are also good choices, offering safety to backpackers there. Who knows when Iraq will become safe though? But when it does, it should be the first place on your travel wish list!
Somalia, located on the Horn of Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world, as well as one without an effective government. You’ll probably already know about the problems with piracy around the country – shown most recently in the film Captain Phillips – and this makes travelling in the waters around the country particularly hazardous. It’s also a country that has become one of the hotbeds for terrorism. As is often the case, most of these problems have emerged due to the huge poverty in the country, with desperate people understandably becoming angry with their conditions.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office goes as far as saying that “any British nationals…should leave” – a pretty strong statement to make. Aside from two cities, they advise against any travel at all to the country, such is their concern for travellers there. All other major world governments also advise against travel in Somalia. This also includes Somaliland, an autonomous region in the north of the country.
Most people considering a gap year in Somalia will probably be attracted for humanitarian reasons. If this is the case, there are other countries in the region needing help, but that offer slightly more safety. Ethiopia is one of these, as is the lesser known Djibouti. Most areas of Kenya are also safer for travellers as well, and this is a popular place for tourists to visit.
Central African Republic
The Central African Republic (CAR), is unsurprisingly found in the centre of Africa. It’s currently undergoing a period of serious political strife, which has spilled over into widespread violence throughout the country. What was once a stunningly beautiful part of the continent has been turned into a war-zone, with daily reports of horrendous acts. While peace talks are apparently ongoing, this hasn’t led to a downturn in violence.
The British government currently recommends that all British nationals in the country should leave, warning that any increases in problems will make doing so very difficult. Other governments give the same warnings, concerned that their citizens will be caught up in the violence. Because of the problems in the country, many embassies in the Bangui, the capital, are unable to offer assistance to travellers – meaning that you are essentially on your own.
If travellers were safely able to visit this country, they’d find a country replete with natural wonder. Unfortunately, many of the surrounding countries are not much better when it comes to safety, however a couple of options are Cameroon and Congo. Do some research before travelling to these countries as well though, as there are a few areas not recommended for tourists.
Unfortunately, all of the entries on this list come from the Middle East or Africa, and we finish off with Syria. This is a place in the grips of a terrible war that’s affected the entire country, leading to millions of desperate refugees fleeing across the borders. The famous capital, Damascus, hasn’t escaped the violence, and there unfortunately doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Syria used to be a great place to travel to, full of amazing sights and experience, but it’s unknown when tourists will safely be able to visit again.
All world governments are advising against any travel to Syria, and are advising their citizens to leave as soon as possible. ISIL is in control of much of the country, and this is an organisation that’s incredibly hostile towards westerners. Even if you wanted to visit, you’d find it tough, as most – if not all – commercial flights into the country have been suspended. Many land borders into the country are also closed.
If you are looking to help Syrian refugees and others affected by the violence, travelling to Syria is not the answer. Instead, there are many other things you can do instead, such as fundraising and charity expeditions. Why not try contacting one of the many charities working in Syria to see how you can help?