One-way trip: Why “dark tourists” travel to dangerous countries

Group of tourists riding on a camel in the desert at sunset, adventure travel concept.

The term “dark tourism” means visiting places that are dangerous to life. Desperate travelers go on risky trips for the thrill and often get into trouble. Adventurers end up in prisons on suspicion of espionage in high-security countries or face mortal danger. Read the stories of tourists who almost lost their lives because of the desire to get a dose of adrenaline, further in our material.

Путешествие в один конец: Почему «темные туристы» едут в опасные страны

“Dark tourists” travel to dangerous places in search of thrills. Such trips are often associated with a risk to life. They don’t like outsiders in closed countries. They do not spare their citizens here, but they treat foreigners with even greater hostility. It is not uncommon for travelers to end up in prisons with terrible conditions on charges of espionage and other crimes.

Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea and other countries, known for their unfriendliness to visitors, meet them with strict bans. But curious Westerners still go into the thick of it and fall into creepy traps.

The hotspot

Путешествие в один конец: Почему «темные туристы» едут в опасные страны

Miles, a 22-year-old Briton, is stuck in war-torn Kabul, captured by the Taliban. He wrote on social media that he was hiding in a UN shelter after several unsuccessful attempts to get out of the Afghan capital. A student from Birmingham went to a hotspot to see the “most dangerous city.” He recorded his journey on video and broadcast live on Twitch.

The guy said that he understood that he might not return from the trip alive. Nevertheless, he hopes for a safe return home.

Путешествие в один конец: Почему «темные туристы» едут в опасные страны

In 2019, British woman Jolie King and her Australian boyfriend Mark Firkin were arrested in Tehran for launching a drone. They were sent to prison, where they were kept in inhumane conditions. Fortunately, the couple managed to free themselves and return to Australia.

Suspicion of espionage

Путешествие в один конец: Почему «темные туристы» едут в опасные страны

The 40-year-old “dark tourist” Andy McGinlay has visited more than a hundred countries and is addicted to extreme travel. From 2010 to 2015, he visited Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and North Korea. The Briton was repeatedly in danger of being kidnapped or killed.

Путешествие в один конец: Почему «темные туристы» едут в опасные страны

The man says that he is driven to dangerous adventures by a thirst for thrills. He runs a travel channel on YouTube and dreams of visiting all countries of the world.

In 2012, Andy went to Iran, where he was monitored. He asked a local student to become his guide, traveling through the northern part of the country. As a result, the guy was arrested for having an affair with a foreigner who was considered a spy. It seemed suspicious to the Iranian authorities that the Briton went to non-tourist places in order to see the country. Fortunately, his friend was released after he managed to prove Andy’s innocence.

In prison for sunset photos

Путешествие в один конец: Почему «темные туристы» едут в опасные страны

In 2010, another tourist from the UK, Andrew Barber, was accused of espionage in Iran and spent 58 days in Evin prison — one of the most terrible in the country. It happened after a British man photographed the sunset near one of the power plants. The police checked his personal belongings and found out that he used to work for a logistics company in Iraq. And this country, as you know, is one of Iran’s most irreconcilable rivals.

Andrew was thrown into prison without being allowed to contact the British embassy. He was held in a tiny cell without furniture and windows for 26 days. The man was only allowed out for 10 minutes to go to the toilet. Fortunately, the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence, the prisoner was released and handed over to the British Embassy.

Fatal outcome

Путешествие в один конец: Почему «темные туристы» едут в опасные страны

In 2016, the news spread around the world that a tourist from the United States, Otto Warmbier, was jailed in North Korea for stealing a propaganda poster.

The 22-year-old American was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, but was released after he fell into a coma due to a head injury inflicted in prison. The young man died on June 19, 2017 due to his injuries.

Deadly dangers await tourists not only in high-security countries, but also in our native forests. Every year, hundreds of people find themselves in difficult situations that arise during nature walks and mushroom picking.


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