Have you ever been somewhere at the recommendation of a tour company or a friend and thought “I probably shouldn’t be doing this”? You’re not alone.
The world is one big and crazy place full of wacky things to do, but that doesn’t mean we should take up every invitation. Here’s our Top4 places that should probably be banned for tourists, but aren’t. Which ones would you do in the name of adventure?
1. The Death Road, Bolivia
Bolivia’s beautiful North Yungas Road is often referred to as the “Death Road” for the fact that 200 to 300 people die along it every year. When you first see its winding, sinewy stretch from a distance, it looks like a slash through the mountains and it seems impossible that any vehicle could drive on it. But they do. So too do tourists who sign up for tours in the high-altitude city of La Paz (40 miles away).
You can choose to hurtle down the bumpy, gravelly road on a mountain biking day trip, during which time you’ll cycle down almost 3600 metres on a hair-raising 64km path. As part of your tour, you’ll be shown some of the graves erected in memorial of the people – many of them tourists on the cycling tour – who have died by falling over the edge. At least 18 cyclists have died on this ride since 1998, which seems to make it all the more appealing. Stupid? Yes. Dangerous? Yes. Would we do it? Hell yes.
2. Favela Tour, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
If you’ve seen the movie City of God, you’ll be familiar with how some of Brazil’s favelas operate. Violence makes the world go round in some places and, frighteningly, over 20 per cent of the people in Rio live in favelas. Still, several tour companies take intrigued gringos into the country’s biggest favela, Rocinha, to learn a bit more about what goes on in this microcosm of Brazil’s most thrilling city.
You’ll arrive by motorbike, just to make it even more exciting/dangerous, and proceed to visit the post office (in one woman’s house), a local school and be entertained by the children. You’re warned never to enter the favelas on your own, especially at night, as the armed guards will inevitably shoot you. Gulp. We advise you to go with a guide.
3. The Tiger Temple, Thailand
The Tiger Temple attracts thousands of tourists every year in the western province of Kanchanaburi. It’s constantly under scrutiny for the way handlers allegedly abuse and drug the tigers, but where else can you get up close and personal with one of world’s biggest and most dangerous cats?
A visit is bound to be controversial. They’ll never close their doors thanks to the money it brings to the area, and whereas the Tiger Temple started life as a sanctuary for injured and abused tigers, illegal international trafficking means it has now become a breeding centre solely to entertain tourists. You might be better off, or at least have a cleaner conscience, by spending your money on the tiger trail in Nepal, viewing these creatures in the wild.
4. Mining with dynamite, Bolivia
Bolivia has a host of experiences designed to kill tourists, clearly, but still the tourists flock, especially to Potosi where the chance to clamber down the silver mines of Cerro Rico with sticks of dynamite and bottles of alcohol for the workers is too exciting to refuse. Former miners with flashlights strapped to their heads lead curious tourists through the tunnels, which extend for miles beneath the mountain, pointing out interesting and sometimes shocking facts along the way.
There are roughly 11,000 miners working today, of which almost 1000 are children no older than 12 years old. If you’re offered the chance to ignite some dynamite, make sure you do it outdoors and not in the mine itself. And wear good running shoes. We’re thinking your travel insurance might not cover ‘being blown to pieces like a cartoon character’.