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5 Travel Destinations for Super-Adventurous Tourists

There's no shortage of destinations for adventure travelers. Intrepid souls can cliff dive, rock climb, or trek across the desert. That's not enough for some folks' wanderlust, though. They want to venture to destinations that are downright terrifying for most of us. Here are just a few of the scary locales you can pack a bag for.

1. The Other Way to Get Shipped to Iraq

Most people would do anything they could to avoid seeing war-torn Iraq, but if the travel bug bites you, England's Hinterland Travel can probably arrange a tour of the country for you. Last month the New York Times reported that the first officially sanctioned tour of Iraq by Westerners since 2003 was underway. By working with the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Hinterland was able to take an eight-person group of tourists to see places most of us will only hear about on CNN, from Basra to Baghdad.

Heading into a war-ravaged country might not sound like your idea of fun, but if you're really set on taking in sights none of your friends have seen, this might be the way to go. Hinterland Travel is offering upcoming tours that include not just Iraq, but also northwestern Iran. Since these aren't exactly vacation hotspots, the three-week itineraries are pretty reasonably priced at just 1,900 British pounds plus airfare and meals. Of course, you'll be effectively uninsurable for the duration of this little jaunt, so you might want to bring some extra cash along in case anything goes wrong.

2. See Rumi's hometown in Afghanistan

Picture 17.pngIf you want to visit a nation currently at war but don't feel like making the trip to Iraq, then Afghanistan could be your dream destination. Whether you want to see the very recent effects of the military conflict in the country or take in the truly remote parts of its geography, there are tour companies that can make it happen. Afghan Logistics & Tours offers six, 10, and 15-day tours for Westerners to see what Afghanistan's like. The tours include visits to the Masjid Now Gumad, or the Nine Domes Mosque, one of the world's oldest mosques, and Balkh, home of the 13th-century poet Rumi.

But just how dangerous is it to visit Afghanistan? According to the tour company's site, it's not too bad if you stay in the right parts of the country. Then again, the company also seems to do a booming business in armor-clad Toyotas, so you might want to be a bit more cautious than usual if you book one of these trips.

3. Colombia's Gorgeous Scenery

Picture 16.pngMoving right on down the State Department's list of Travel Warnings, we arrive at Colombia. Although the State Department concedes that kidnappings have fallen from their peak earlier this decade and narco-terrorism isn't quite as bad as it used to be in urban areas, it still strongly advises against traveling to Colombia. In fact, it won't even allow its own employees to travel by bus or leave urban areas.
That said, for just $1600 per person a tour company like De Una can give you a three-week tour of Colombia that hits all of the country's natural beauty, involves whitewater rafting, and takes you to see coffee production. The upside is that you'll get to take in some breathtaking scenery. The downside? If narco-terrorists kidnap you, they're not likely to let you go anytime soon. Last summer the Colombian government finally rescued a group of kidnapping victims, including three Americans, who had been held for over five years.

4. Visit Sudan for the Pyramids

Picture 20.pngIt's no secret than things are tragically awful in Sudan, but that doesn't mean you can't still make it your vacation destination. Bestway Tours and Safaris offers a two-week tour of the country for $3180 per person. Although the nation is in rough shape now, it's got a long history that dates back for thousands of years. Sudan is still littered with Nubian ruins and pyramids, and these tours take in a lot of this ancient history along the Nile delta-- certainly fascinating for anyone interested in antiquity.

Even though this kind of tour mostly goes through the opposite side of the country from war-ravaged Darfur, the State Department still strongly advises against all travel to Sudan. The warning reminds potential travelers that both terrorists and the Sudanese government have a tendency to target Westerners for physical threats or seizure of property and financial assets. If you've got the cash and stomach for it, though, you can probably see some really terrific ruins and monuments.

5. Transylvania

Picture 15.png"Wait, there's no such thing as vampires."Â  Yeah, you're probably right. However, if they actually do exist, Transylvania seems like it would be the place to find them. That's why the Company of Mysterious Journeys offers several "Dracula tours" throughout the region that include all of the high points of the famous vampire's legend, including visits to Castle Dracula and a tour of places involved in the life of the historical Dracula, Vlad the Impaler. The tours vary in length from a weekend to over a week, which would ensure that you get all the Dracula you can handle.

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11-Headed Buddha Statue to Be Revealed in Japan for First Time in 33 Years
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Buddha statues come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The various poses and hand gestures of the Buddha represent different virtues, and any items he happens to be holding—say, a lotus flower or a bowl—have some religious significance.

But not all Buddha relics are created equal, as evidenced by the reverence paid to one particularly holy statue in Japan. The 11-headed figure is so sacred that it has been hidden away for 33 years—until now. Lonely Planet reports that the Buddha statue will be revealed on April 23 during the Onsen Festival in Kinosaki Onsen, a coastal town along the Sea of Japan that’s famous for its hot springs. The statue is kept inside Onsen-ji Temple, a religious site which dates back to 738 CE.

Al altar inside Onsen-ji temple

Patrick Vierthaler, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The big Buddha reveal, however, will be held elsewhere. For that, festivalgoers will need to ride a cable car to the top of Mount Taishi, where they’ll catch a glimpse of Juichimen Kanzeon Bosatsu, a name which means “11-faced goddess of compassion and mercy.” It will be hard to miss—at 7 feet tall, the statue would tower over most NBA players. Considered a natural treasure, it’s displayed in three-year blocks once every 33 years. So if you miss the initial reveal, you have until 2021 to catch a glimpse.

“The people of Kinosaki are very excited about this event, especially the younger generation," Jade Nunez, an international relations coordinator for the neighboring city of Toyooka, told Lonely Planet Travel News. "Those who are under 30 years old have never seen the statue in its entirety, so the event is especially important to them."

After paying their respects to the Buddha, festival attendees can take a dip in one of three hot spring bathhouses that will be free to use during the Onsen Festival.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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All National Parks Are Offering Free Admission on April 21
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Looking for something to do this weekend that's both outdoorsy and free? To kick off National Park Week, you can visit any one of the National Park Service's more than 400 parks on April 21, 2018 for free.

While the majority of the NPS's parks are free year-round, they'll be waiving admission fees to the more than 100 parks that normally require an entrance fee. Which means that you can pay a visit to the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite, or Yellowstone National Parks without reaching for your wallet. The timing couldn't be better, as many of the country's most popular parks will be increasing their entrance fees beginning in June.

The National Park Service, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2016, maintains 417 designated NPS areas that span more than 84 million acres across every state, plus Washington, D.C., American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

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