Have you ever wanted to go someplace many people wouldn’t? Somewhere daring?
Well, we all vacation in different ways. Some want relaxation, some want adventure. But none of us want to be put in harms’ way. Did you know that you can have the best of both worlds? There are destinations that will take your breath away and leave you gasping – but they are safe. As long as you use common sense!
Here are 21 destinations that will leave you breathless, without risking your neck to do it.
21. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta, Canada.
A two-hour drive from Calgary will take you to a dizzyingly gorgeous backdrop with a grisly past. It is where Native Americans drove bison off a cliff for their skins and meat. It a beautiful place to learn about Native American history, and the interpretive center is built right into the cliffs. It makes for a rewarding day trip from Calgary.
20. Trolltunga, Norway.
An eight-hour hike will get you to one of the most stunning views in the world. Plenty of people make the trek every summer, and during the high season, you actually have to wait in line for your turn to walk up to the tip of the huge protruding rock overlooking a jaw-dropping precipice and the Norwegian fjords beyond. But if you take the proper precautions, it is quite safe.
That unknown mass of land in the North Atlantic is a mysterious fly-over zone, and not many people would think of visiting. But that’s all the more reason to go. The landscapes are strange and alien-like to even the most adventurous traveler, simply for the uniqueness. And there is virtually no crime here. The town of Ilulissat is an experience like no other.
18. Death Valley, Nevada and California, USA.
The name alone inspires a dark foreboding. And its rather insidious reputation for creating a missing-persons’ list doesn’t help. This 3,000 square-mile area holds the record for the highest temperature ever recorded on our planet: 134 degrees F (or 56.7 degrees C.) Indeed, there have been a good many deaths from exposure and dehydration. But use a little caution and you can explore some of the most incredible scenery ever. Stay hydrated!
17. Skellig Michael, Ireland.
Recently made famous as the forever-home of Luke Skywalker in the recent Start Wars chapter, it’s no wonder this remote island has seen a tremendous rise in interest. Six hundred uneven ancient steps up the side of the mountain will test even the most fit of visitors. The island remains undeveloped, as it should. There are no toilets, food, water, shelter or safety precautions in place. You are literally on your own after an hour-long boat ride from the mainland.
16. The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland.
Come here for the beautiful cliffs, stay because it’s safe on a calm day. However, when the weather turns bad (as it often does), high winds have a decent chance of sweeping you off the cliffs if you are right on the edge. Or a torrential rain will muddy the steep paths leading up to the cliffs and loosen the gravel, making for a treacherous hike. Best to stay away on a stormy day.
15. Volcano Tours in Hawaii.
The Big Island is continuously growing – due to the almost constant lava flow on the southern tip of the island. You can safely hike among these volcanoes, but if you don’t heed the warnings, mother nature will get the best of you. It is possible to slip to the point of no return in a bed of lava, or be overcome by noxious fumes, called ‘lava haze.’
14. Snake Island, Brazil.
Called Iha da Queimada Grande, this island is located off the coast of southeastern Brazil, and is truly one of the most dangerous places on Earth. However, it is also safe, because you have to be a scientist to be allowed onto the island! Venomous snakes live here (one for every five meters of land. Snake Island has the highest concentration of deadly snakes on Earth. One bite and you’re a goner.
13. Praia De Boa Viagem, Brazil.
This is a beautiful beach with sunny temperatures and warm ocean breezes all year round. Just don’t go in the water. The beach was built on a breeding ground for sharks. Between 1992 and 2012, 56 documented shark attacks happened, with roughly a third of those ending in death. But you may sunbathe in safety since sharks can’t leave the water.
12. Half Dome at Yosemite National Park, USA.
This is one of the most exciting hikes on the planet. Especially the last bit, Half Dome itself. This is also the most dangerous bit. You must carve out an entire day to do this hike, and if conditions are wet, turn around just before you reach the end, as you will need metal cables to ascend the nearly vertical 400 feet to the summit. Many deaths have occurred by people not paying attention here.
11. Alnwick Gardens, Northumberland, U.K.
Back in the day, the Duchess of Northumberland was charged with overseeing the gardens. Luckily (or maybe not so much) she thought it fitting to include a section of poisonous plants. To this day, there is a cordoned-off section called The Poison Garden, with a series of deadly plants. There are plenty of warnings to stay away, however there have been incidents of people coming too close and fainting over the toxic fumes the plants release into the air.
10. The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah USA.
Hiking the Narrows at Zion can be challenging, but the rewards are oh-so incredible. Hike for hours through water, sometimes waist-deep, until you hit ‘Wall Street’, a stunning narrow canyon with cliffs mere inches on either side of you, in the water. So why is it dangerous? Flash flooding. If there is any chance of rain threatening, you are in danger of being swept away.
9. The Colorado River.
White water rafting can be exhilarating and quite safe if you know what you are doing. Again, this is where common sense reigns supreme. Great fun for the whole family, just be mindful of the conditions. The Colorado River has seen a slight rise of injuries and fatalities of late, as the melting snowpack running down from the mountains has caused its share of high water-related havoc.
8. El Caminito Del Rey, Spain.
This narrow, man-made pathway runs along a sheer cliff about 330 feet (100 meters) tall. In fact, since the year 2000 the pathway was no longer deemed safe. Five deaths in the span of a year took place as people fell to their deaths. However, that has not stopped the hearty and adventurous from still doing the hike. But there is hope. Repairs are currently being made with the intention of opening the hike back up to those of us that are sane.
7. Yukon Territory, Canada.
Come explore what few have not, in the upper reaches of Canada near the Arctic Circle. Where the wildlife population far outnumbers the human one. Where the extreme beauty and grandeur of the landscape is just a normal day. The aboriginal people here hunt and trap animals for their food just as they have for millennia.
6. Outer Mongolia.
This huge country is seeing a recent rise in tourism. But much of it is still savage and untamed, with nomadic peoples dotting the vast countryside with their pop-up yurts and donkeys. You can travel for days without seeing a soul. Be sure to bring provisions.
5. Botswana, Africa.
On just about everyone’s bucket list is an African safari. But which ones are safe? Nowadays, conservation is on the forefront of everyone’s minds, for the safety of the animals as much as for humans. Chobe National Park is dense with a variety of wild animals. It has one of Africa’s highest concentrations of elephants, viewed from the safety of your safari car.
4. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.
The politeness of the people and the Great wildebeest Migration is why so many visitors flock to Tanzania. Go to the Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for spectacular wildlife and even better views of the landscape.
3. Volcanos National Park, Rwanda.
An exciting trekking destination, the government has worked overtime to make Rwanda a good tourist destination after the horrible genocide in 1994. The park is teeming with wildlife, and is an established place to witness the critically endangered mountain gorilla.
2. Morocco, Northern Africa.
Once a place of high crime, where women were but objects and traveling solo was out of the question. Today it is a fast-rising destination, luring foodies, female solo travelers and culture addicts. Other than petty crime (common in most big cities), this is a relatively safe destination.
It ain’t just for scientists any longer! Sure, it’s expensive to book a trip here, and the boat ride to the ends of the Earth can be daunting. But rest assured you are in good hands, and once you reach the ice shelf, nothing prepares you for the beauty you will witness.
These savage yet relatively safe destinations should be on any adventure traveler’s to-do list. All except for Snake Island, that is!