Some people's idea of the perfect vacation is lying in a hammock on a beach somewhere. For others, a brush with death is what's at the top of the list. Visiting places and doing activities that have the potential to be fatal isn't for everyone. Thrill-seekers aren't suicidal, but they do experience exhilaration from pushing the limits of what is considered safe. As with all potentially dangerous pastimes, a level-headed approach can help to minimize the risk.
Everyone knows about Machu Picchu, but what about its younger brother, Huayna Picchu? We jokingly say younger brother because Machu means old and Huayna means young. Equally well known is the classic rock song, “Stairway to Heaven.” Well, Huayna Picchu is Perú’s version of a stairway that leads to this archaeological site. Sometimes younger brothers are taller, and Huayna Picchu is 850 feet higher than Machu Picchu at 8,835 ft above sea level. The steep stairs do not have handrails or protection and leave some tourists turning back for safety!
This treacherous tradition allegedly started in the early 14th century when Spaniards brought their cattle through the streets of Pamplona. In an attempt to hurry the process of getting to market, someone decided it would be a good idea to frighten the cattle into a stampede. If that doesn't sound dangerous enough, imagine running in front of the raging bulls! Approximately 15 people have perished in Pamplona’s running of the bulls since 1910. This annual event is broadcasted around the world on TV, but those looking for a brush with death won’t be satisfied until they're running for their lives!
When volcanoes erupt and lava begins to flow, most people pack up their family and belongings and flee as fast as they can. Others run too, in the direction of the explosion! This is a dangerous proposition because lava can move as slowly as 6 mph to as much as 40 mph. Aside from lava, volcanic eruptions spew out fatal gases such as hydrochloric acid. Sound like a good time? Well, maybe you should consider Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii. This is the most active volcano in the world and has been frequently erupting since 1983. It’s impossible to know when it might erupt next, but this vacation paradise is deadly as they come.
The Dead Sea is considered a safe vacationing spot that often features tourists and locals floating effortlessly while reading a newspaper or a book. The salt concentration is so high that it is impossible to sink while in these salty waters. So what makes the Dead Sea so dangerous? Any cuts or freshly shaved areas will burn in this salty sea. If one decides to drink these waters, even a few swallows could kill you. When staying in the waters too long, the skin becomes soft and easy to cut on the razor-sharp salt crystals on the seabed. Swim at your own risk in the Dead Sea on a fatally fun vacation.
The Wulingyuan Scenic Area looks like something out of the Lord of the Rings films. It features dramatic towers of peculiarly shaped rocks, deep ravines, limestone caves, and rivers. The possibilities of getting into a dangerous situation are on all sides here. Located in the Hunan province of China, this vast 6400-acre playground of the giants has more than 3,000 stone pillars, many over 600 feet tall. It is also home to many endangered animal species and a few endangered humans.
Crocosaurus Cove is located in Darwin City, Australia. This attraction is something that even Crocodile Dundee might think is a bad idea. The only thing that separates the brave from the second and third largest crocodiles in Australian captivity is a plexiglass fishbowl-like container. Being a tourist attraction, it should be perfectly safe, right? Tell that to the two people who spent trapped when a cable snapped in 2011. Was this a one-time occurrence? No. Again in 2015 two Dutch tourists were also trapped for a harrowing 30 minutes. So far no one has died swimming with 5.5-meter-long crocodiles named Wendell and Chopper, but there is a first time for everything.
Yes, Chernobyl is now operating tours to visitors. If death and disaster are your things, then consider booking a flight to Ukraine. Tours are taking place in the lesser affected areas of Chernobyl, but tourists are given their own Geiger counter. Stepping off the path, eating or smoking, or even exposing your skin can cause some serious health risks. Ready to get your lifetime dose of radiation, Chernobyl is the place for you.
Bolivia is home to the famous Death Road. 80-90 kilometers of an opportunity for death draws thousands of visitors per year. Safe, right? No. A dozen or so people die on this road every year. These days it is popular for tourists to take a spin on Death Road by mountain bike. Starting in La Paz, this road travels through the high jungle area of northern Bolivia along the Andes mountains. Plunging heights and a dangerously narrow dirt road make for an experience that lives up to its name.
Death Valley spans across California and Nevada and features temperatures that reach in excess of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Incredibly, more than 300 people live in Death Valley year-round. Most people tend to pass through Death Valley as fast as they can. This is a place where even the rocks try to flee. A mysterious natural phenomenon of rocks that reach up to 700 pounds have traveled over 1,500 feet.
There are numerous places around the world to swim with sharks from the safety of an underwater cage. There are three main places in South Africa to do so, Mossel Bay, Seal Island and Gansbaai. Divers pay up to $750 for a half-day of tempting death. Shark cages should be named human cages. Great White Sharks can weigh over a thousand pounds, but that birdcage will keep you safe, right? Well, statistically, the National Aquarium in Baltimore has reported that a person has a one in 3.7 million chance of being bitten by a shark. Do you feel lucky?