Adrenaline junkies unite. Renew your passport and get your travel insurance; extreme holidays are back in vogue. No, not an adventure holiday where you might spend an afternoon cycling or go kayaking — these are extreme holidays where the risk is high and a scar as a souvenir is pretty much a given.
Here are six beautiful, but deadly vacations.
1. The Running of the Bulls in Spain
Or, The Running Away as Fast as You Can From the Bulls in Spain. This annual event is held in Pamplona. Each year thousands of people from Spain and around the world gather to get in the way of, and then avoid, the angry horns of a herd of bulls. Casualties are plenty but the experience will never be forgotten.
2. White Water Rafting in Africa
White water rafting doesn’t really sound that dangerous on its own. Maybe a little risky. But on the beautiful Zambezi River, close to Victoria Falls, about 30 people die a year while undertaking this adventure. How? Well, they are eaten by crocodiles, mostly.
3. Cycle the El Camino de la Muerte
A Mecca for cyclists, this track winds its way through the Andes, offering spectacular views and breathtaking drops. Camino de la Muerte translates as “the road of death.” There are more fatalities per mile on this steep, muddy, and often narrow road than any other in the world.
4. Trekking The Himalayas
Whether your target is the top of Everest or a more achievable teahouse trek through lower-lying towns and villages, Nepal offers some of the most beautiful and unspoiled treks in the world. While the popular trip to the Everest Base Camp is relatively safe and well populated with travelers and villages, it is at the peaks beyond that many lives are lost each year. For every ten successful ascents, there is one death. Once at the peak, you have a one in 20 chance of making it down alive.
5. The Kokoda Trail
Many adventure travelers choose to take this pilgrimage. Every year deaths are reported on the trail. The 100-kilometer track is said to be the equivalent of walking three quarters of the way up Mount Everest. Many approach the trail without the right preparation, underestimating the conditions, or not preparing physically beforehand.
6. African Safari
Every year thousands of people travel to the African continent to see the big five: lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, and rhinos. If you are checking out the lions from the comfort of a five-star resort or an air-conditioned bus you’ll likely be safe, but there are still fatalities on safari every year. Mostly these are led by small tour groups and local guides into wild areas.
People choose adventure vacations for many reasons. The lure of the unknown, the spike of adrenaline that comes from experiencing the unexpected, can be very seductive. Sometimes when we are most at risk is when we feel most alive.
Danger takes many forms. The reasons vary, from falls to illness, natural disasters, political coups, and accidents. Every vacation involves some form of risk. Along the way there are many turns when things go wrong. When you are hundreds of miles from home, sometimes the simplest problems are much more difficult to fix. Preparation, the right amount of travel health insurance and a cautious attitude can go a long way toward making your holiday a safer and more enjoyable one, no matter how safe or dangerous the locale.