The world is abundant with locales of natural and man-made beauty, ranging from the majestic Victoria Falls to the mystical temples in Bagan. If we had to name them all, we’d be here all week!
Though there are plenty of options across the globe where we can indulge our wanderlust, there are, unfortunately, also quite a few incredible places we cannot (or should not) visit. Though these following countries are known for their natural beauty and rich histories, they’re also renowned as being unsafe for travellers due to factors like war, violence, political turmoil and risks of kidnappings, terrorism, and oppression.
For the well-being of these nations’ people and the benefit of explorers worldwide, we hope the tense situations and difficult times in these magnificent parts of the world reach an eventual and lasting resolution and become easily and freely accessible for all to enjoy without encountering troubles or difficulties.
Civil war and terrorism have made a huge impact on this country rich with ancient history and architecture. Iconic ancient locales like the City of Bosra, Palmyra, the Great Mosque and the Citadel of Aleppo are among approximately 300 destroyed or damaged Syrian cultural heritage sites.
Yemen’s historic city of Sana’a is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been damaged by numerous explosions. A hotbed of civil struggles and terrorist activity, the troubled Middle Eastern country boasts the ancient tombs of Sana’a, the Al-Saleh Mosque and the lush, unique Socotra Island with its unusual bottle trees, dunes, rocky terrains and long beaches.
Located on Africa’s picturesque eastern coastline, Somalia is rich with musical heritage and mystical folklore, special cuisine and countless scenic highlights. The country’s amazing beaches, Mogadishu’s Italian-flavored Shanghai Old City, the caves of Laas Geel and numerous natural landmarks are out of reach for tourists due to the country’s endless civil wars and reputation as a haven for ruthless pirates.
A hidden gem in Central America, Honduras offers the Mayan site of Copan and the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve, barrier reef scuba diving, hiking in rainforests and rafting on Rio Cangrejal. Sadly, the country’s high crime rate, drug trade and violence deters many would-be tourists from visiting this naturally abundant Caribbean paradise.
USA’s neighbour to the south endures similar safety issues to that of Honduras and other Central American countries: high occurrences of street gang violence, muggings and deadly shootings. Several regions of Mexico are also affected by spates of drug cartel violence. However, with 27 cultural and 6 natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including highlights such as Chichen-Itza, Palenque and Campeche, Mexico is a historical and cultural gem.
Pakistan has many scenic valleys and ancient historical sites. Honourable mentions include the archaeological site at Taxila, Lahore’s stunning architecture, the scenic, winding Karakoram Highway and Lake Saiful Muluk. However, Pakistan suffers from constant political instability and numerous regions are reputed to be home to hideouts and training grounds for terror cells. When the scenic, the historical country becomes safer for visitors, the tourist crowds will return.
Sudan and South Sudan
Though both these African countries have endured violent political turmoil, they offer visitors jaw-dropping wildlife safaris and breathtaking national parks, as well as hiking, and diving in the Red Sea. The distinctive Pyramids of Meroë Pyramids are a must-see, and many cultural attractions surround the nation’s capital cities of Khartoum and Juba.
Torn apart by several invasions, enduring wars and terrorist activity, Afghanistan is favoured by a select few bold adventurers and photographers. However, the country will need many years to stabilize and rehabilitate before it becomes a major regional tourist magnet. The archaeological remains of Jam and Bamiyan Valley, as well as Babur Gardens in Kabul, are among many places worth seeing.
Known as the Cradle of Civilization, Iraq is another post-war land with amazing ancient history, home to some of the earliest human beings to ever live. If you’re a history buff, you probably know about the Sumerian city of Ur. Other iconic Iraqi treasures of the past are Babylon, the 700-year-old Mosque of Samarra, the Great Temple of Hatra and King Xerxes Castle near Baghdad.
Brazil attracts visitors not only for its famous beaches, rainforests and the famous cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, but it’s also home to 13 cultural and 7 natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Travellers are advised to be very cautious as street theft and gang violence are all too common.