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
If 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
Moving 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
It'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.
"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.