Megan Bryant is a passionate writer and traveler who has combined her two loves to help others fulfill their traveling dreams. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually curled up with her 3 Dachshunds and a good book or planning her next adventure—wherever that may be.
There are so many unique and interesting destinations all over the world. And although some of these destinations are a true paradise on Earth, there are others that are extremely dangerous with natural hazards, crime, and venomous animals that will make you think twice about visiting.
Some of these destinations may not be the worst places to visit—and some people definitely do visit them—but there are certain precautions you should take to ensure your health and safety. Here’s a look at 12 of the world’s most dangerous places.
The Danakil Desert, Ethiopia
The Danakil Desert in Ethiopia reaches temperatures of 122°F, making it one of the hottest places on Earth. But aside from the heat, what makes the Danakil Desert so dangerous is the desert’s volcanoes and geothermal activity that creates poisonous gases which pollute the region’s lakes.
You can visit the desert, but it’s recommended that you stick with a guide who knows the area and how to navigate the desert safely.
Death Valley, California
Death Valley in California is the hottest place on Earth—hence the name—as it has the world’s highest recorded temperature of 134°F. As I’m sure you can imagine, the extreme temperatures in Death Valley have taken the lives of many visitors who hadn’t come prepared. But it isn’t just the heat that’s deadly.
Being a desert, rattlesnakes are present, hazardous, and life-threatening, which is why it’s important to stick to the roads and be vigilant of your surroundings. If you do plan to visit Death Valley, take along plenty of water and avoid being out in the heat during the hottest part of the day.
Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California
The Yosemite National Park is one of California’s prettiest attractions. However, danger is always lurking, and people have died while visiting the parks—especially in Half Dome Peak.
The Half Dome Peak is Yosemite’s most dangerous area, and people have died from falling off of cable routes, lightning strikes, climbing accidents, and heart attacks while climbing the Half Dome’s cables.
If you’re not an experienced climber, it’s best to leave the Half Dome to the professionals. But with that benign said, tragedy could strike even the most experienced climber.
Acapulco was once a popular international tourist destination. However, that is no longer the case. Acapulco has seen an increase in crime over the years, which has deterred overseas visitors to other parts of the country.
You can still visit Acapulco but know that armed robbery, kidnapping, homicide, drug trafficking, assault, pickpocketing, and theft are common among foreigners. So really, why even bother? Especially as Mexico has so many other beautiful—and safe—places.
Another destination that has high crime rates is Jamaica’s capital city, Kingston. Although the reggae legendary Bob Marley once called Kingston home, today, Kingston has high poverty and crime rates which confines visitors to the safety of their resorts.
If you want to visit Jamaica with the reassurance that you’ll be safe and out of harm’s way, then visit the cities of Negril, Ocho Rios, or Port Antonio instead.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Hawaii is a dream destination for many travelers. But the island also has incredibly dangerous places that visitors should try to avoid. Hawaii’s islands sit directly over a fault line. And what does sitting over a fault line get you? Active volcanoes, of which Hawaii currently has six.
The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii is home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes—Kīlauea and Mauna Loa—which erupt every three to five years. With volcano eruptions come extremely hot lava and poisonous gases, which is why, although the park is unique and beautiful, it is incredibly dangerous for tourists who don’t take the correct precautions.
Oymyakon, Russia, is the coldest permanently inhabited settlement on Earth, with temperatures reaching as low as -60 degrees Celsius. Due to its extreme climactic condition, Oymyakon is one of the most dangerous places tourists can visit. However, 500 or so locals have managed to beat the odds and permanently reside in the freezing-cold village. I can’t say I’d enjoy minus temperatures every day of the year, but each to their own!
Mount Washington, USA
Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States, measuring 6,288.2 feet. Known for its erratic weather, Mount Washington is a popular training ground for climbers looking to climb Mount Everest. But like its much larger cousin, Mount Washington can be deadly to those who try to reach its peak.
Strong winds on the mountain have been known to blow people away to their deaths. And with temperatures reaching -50°F, strong winds aren’t the only thing to worry about. Hypothermia and frostbite take the lives of many mountaineers, so being prepared, knowledgeable, and trained for all situations is important when climbing any mountain.
Pripyat in Ukraine was made famous by the 1986 nuclear meltdown at the Chernobyl Nuclear Powerplant. And even now, nearly 40 years on, the area surrounding the plant is contaminated with high levels of radiation. Although some parts of Pripyat have been deemed safe to visit, does it mean you should?
High levels of radiation can cause acute health effects and long-term health effects like cancer and cardiovascular disease. Not long after the explosion, the city of Pripyat was evacuated, and experts believe that it will be another 20,000 years before the area is habitable again.
Snake Island, Brazil
I’m not sure why anyone would want to visit Snake Island. Even the name gives me the heebie-jeebies, but when you learn what really lies in waiting on the island, you’ll be even more inclined not to visit.
Firstly, the Brazilian government has closed off the island to visitors, so you can’t even go there if you want to. But just the knowledge that the island is home to up to 3,000 golden lancehead snakes—one of the world’s most venomous snake species—should put you off entirely.
Golden lancehead snakes are an endangered species that are only known to inhabit Snake Island (Ila Queimada Grande). And although there are now 3,000 of them slithering all over the island, in the past, it is believed that there were upwards of 400,000.
Norilsk is a closed mining city in Russia known as one of the most populated cities on Earth. Due to its Nickel smelting, Norilsk is covered with smog and acid rain which have polluted the waters and soil surrounding the Nickel deposits.
Lung cancer, deaths from cardiovascular diseases, and infectious diseases are far more common in Norilsk than in other Russian cities, which is why tourists are only allowed to visit the area on guided tours that have been granted special permission.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is a popular tourist destination thanks to its beautiful beaches and natural beauty. But crime rates in the city are high due to Brazil’s high unemployment rates. Tourists are often targets by robbers and pickpockets, so if you decide to visit, do so with caution.
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