I’ve had the good fortune of visiting a lot of countries thanks to my job as a travel writer. Sometimes the places are ones that everyone goes to regularly. Sometimes they are places that people think are too dangerous for a vacation. The truth is that while exercising caution is important, many times what you’ve read about a country is a very small (and often wrong) part of their story. It shouldn’t be enough to stop you from visiting.
My own travels have taken me into so-called “dangerous” countries and yet, once there, I have never felt like I was in danger. Some of the countries we’re avoiding are places that hold some amazing insights into humanity and landscapes that will stay with you long after you leave.
I was on The Social recently (watch the video!) sharing my picks for travel destinations some might consider dangerous. Along with tips for where to check for travel advisories issued by your government (visit here to view Canada’s and here for the USA), I offer some tips that you can use anywhere you visit in the world, from rural Pennsylvania to Rwanda.
Here are a few spots that I think are well worth seeing:
Colombia’s history in cocaine development and trafficking has made it an unlikely destination for many world travellers. This unfortunately misses the beauty of a country trying to disentangle itself from the culture of the past, and actively re-building to make its streets open and safe to tourists. Bogota is the capital city of Colombia, and a great homebase for experiencing the stunning beauty and friendly smiles of this latin american country. You’ll find many luxurious accommodations there, like the Hilton, and soon-to-open Four Seasons Bogoda.
Hotel Estelar Windsor House, From $117/night.
Civil unrest in the country of Egypt has made travellers wary of visiting. Tourism is down more than 95% since 2011! Travel advisories will instruct you on times when you shouldn’t venture there, but in general Egypt remains an amazing place to travel. With a well-educated on the ground guide you can experience the country’s most incredible history. This country should be on everyone’s bucket list. From the ancient pyramids, like the Giza Plateau, to the River Nile and the history of Cleopatra. They continue to deteriorate with time and a lack of financial infrastructure to protect them. See them while you can.
Egypt’s tourism board has an excellent tool to help you book your trip. It is a great resource for where to stay, what to see and where to eat.
Read about our adventures in Egypt: “Egypt in the Spring”
This beautiful country suffered greatly during the brutal genocide in 1994. Since then, it has been slowly rebuilding its economy, built primarily on being home to the once endangered gorillas that call its forests home. There is nothing quite like standing in a silverback’s living room. Trust me. Rwanda is only one of two places in the world where you can safely get up close and personal with these majestic beasts in their own habitat.
Read about my adventures in Rwanda: “Gorilla Tracking in Rwanda”
I recently visited Myanmar (also known as Burma) and was blown away by the ancient beauty of this country. Long ruled by a military regime, the country recently held historic elections. The democratic party led by Nobel laureate Ann Sun Suu Kyi won and a handover is expected in March. As a result the country is full of optimism and more and more operators are taking tourists to see this beautiful country. From the Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon to the tiny villages along the Irrawaddy River this is a country you’ll want to see before they become used to seeing tourists.
Michele Sponagle wrote a great piece showcasing 11 things about the country that will blow your mind and I completely agree. Read here.
We toured the Irrawaddy aboard the Avalon Waterways river cruise which meant days out exploring were supplemented by our Burmese chef’s delights on board. Here’s one of my favourites: “Shan Style Pork Rice Noodles: Avalon Myanmar”
My message is this: There is danger everywhere. Don’t let fear, of what has happened in the past, prevent you from experiencing the world. What is on your travel bucket list?