Do you cycle without a helmet? Stand on the wrong side of the yellow line on the Tube platform? Still eat your 3am kebab even after you’ve dropped it on the street? If so, you’re a risk taker my friend, and you would do well to take your holiday in one of the following dangerous destinations – just don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Kenya is number one on our list, mainly because it manages to balance its safety risks with such stunning beaches, incredible wildlife and jaw-dropping scenery that we’d be happy to swim with sharks and skydive out of a plane just to get there.
Despite this country being home to animals that could tear you in two with one swipe of their claws, it’s not the safari predators you have to worry about (although don’t get too close). It’s humans that pose the dangers here.
Due to a high rate of poverty, crime rates, particularly against tourists, are also high. Carjacking is one of the most common offences, with an average of 10 per day in Nairobi alone (though only 81 tourists were involved in this type of crime last year). Around election time political riots can be rife, and terrorism threats from extreme Islamic groups hover over the country constantly. Hotel room raids and kidnappings are also prevalent, and are enough to put many off ever visiting the region.
So why should you go? Because, quite simply, it’s amazing. Kenya is rich in rewards for visitors, with big game safaris – particularly the opportunity to spot the Big Five (buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino) in famous reserve Masai Mara – just one point on a long list that includes visiting tribal villages, Indian Ocean-bordered beaches, jagged mountain ranges and sweeping deserts.
Just keep your eye on the news, stay clear of areas near the Somalia border and choose a reputable tourist company and you can minimise the risks and have the holiday of a lifetime.
The danger: It’s a war zone, with military operations in place to combat Taliban and Al-Qaeda insurgents. With the withdrawal of the armed forces in 2014, the situation could become even more volatile. Why go? There are pockets of serenity to be found in this ravaged land. The Wakhan Corridor is so remote that it is relatively secure. Here, you can expect tough trekking, rewarded with views seen by few fellow travellers.
The danger: With a reported murder rate four times that of the US, robberies and ‘quicknappings’ (where a person is abducted for a quick, small payoff) are also counted among the common crimes in Brazil.
Why go? Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio Carnival, the Amazon rainforest and Iguassu Falls are but a few reasons to visit. Just strap your valuables to you at all times – especially at Lapa’s famous street parties.
The danger: The UK recently dropped its ‘no-travel’ advice for all of Iran bar the east. Although anti-Western sentiments can infrequently result in detainment or kidnapping, it is generally aimed at governments rather than individuals.
Why go? Ancient villages, stunning mosques and beautiful countryside, and all with the buzz you get from being somewhere you perhaps shouldn’t. A lot of major operators run tours, including G Adventures.
The danger: Beware a friendly wave in Zimbabwe as this could be mistaken for an insult to President Mugabe, as an open hand is the political symbol of his opposition. With a volatile political climate, it’s better to stay out of such matters. Crime rates are also high, with tourists often targeted.Why go? Amazing wildlife, the natural wonder of Victoria Falls and Matobo Hills make a trip here seriously special. Most organised Africa overland trips include a stop in Zimbabwe.
Photos: Thinkstock; Getty