There’s nothing like the thrill of a death-defying act.* But just because we can’t all be Indiana Jones in real life doesn’t mean we can’t carefully plan an adventure that makes us feel like Indiana Jones in real life. If danger is your middle name, this list is for you.
*These words were written by someone safely ensconced in an office cubicle.
LOCATION: Livingstone, ZambiaThis naturally formed splash zone in southern Africa has earned its title for good reason. Tourists and locals alike flock to the famous Victoria Falls between September and December, when river flow forms an eddy with a rock barrier where water cascades over the falls. It’s like an infinity pool, except you could slip and die.
LOCATION: Banff, CanadaIf you seek death by avalanche, start planning your visit to Banff immediately. While only the most advanced of skiers should shred Delirium Drive itself, the rest of Banff boasts resplendent lakes, stunning glacier fields and high mountain peaks. Temperatures are known to swing wildly, and warmer seasons bring the aforementioned danger of avalanches as snow pack melts.
Also: bears. Lots of bears.
Cliffs of Moher
LOCATION: County Clare, IrelandAlright, so this is only dangerous if you’re an idiot. But these extraordinary cliffs are very high: at their tallest, they soar to 702 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. Not for nothing, they served as a filming location for the “Cliffs of Insanity” in The Princess Bride.
El Caminito Del Rey
LOCATION: Malaga, SpainKnown as the “world’s most dangerous walkway” following five deaths in 1999 and 2000, this path is not for the faint at heart. The elevated trail is fastened to the steep walls of a narrow gorge in El Chorro.
LOCATION: Na Pali Coast Wilderness Park, HawaiiThis tropical 22-mile hike boasts steamy wilderness, volcanic rock, and the promise of a pristine remote beach at the finish. With those lovely attributes also comes one terrifying ledge crossing, prevalent falling rock, and the strong possibility of flash floods. If the journey didn’t seem perilous enough, you’ll be glad to know that more than 100 people have died in the rough beach waters alone.
The Deadly Bells
LOCATION: White River National Forest, ColoradoThe Forest Service has lent the pleasant moniker “Deadly Bells” to the Maroon Bells Trail just south of Aspen. This is because a lot of people have died hiking the hazardous terrain, which starts to get serious above 11,000 feet. To summit one of the stunning peaks, you must overcome unstable terrain, extreme weather, and snowfields.
LOCATION: Huayin, ShaanxiOne of China’s Five Great Mountains, Mount Huashan has both a long history of religious significance and of hikers dying whilst scaling its majestic peaks. Narrow paths and precipitous drops mean one of the scariest things you can encounter is another human: some walkways have scarcely enough room for just one person. Icy conditions are known to spice things up, too.
Mud Volcanoes of Azerbaijan
LOCATION: Republic of AzerbaijanLocated along Azerbaijan’s Caspian Sea coastline, this exotic locale has earned an array of sexy nicknames: among them “yanardagh” (burning mountain), “gaynacha” (boiling water) and “bozdag” (grey mountain). While the 400-plus mud volcanoes spend the vast majority of their existence quietly oozing methane, they have also been known to spew 50-foot high flames every once in a while.
LOCATION: Denali National Park and Preserve, AlaskaSummiting this mountain’s highest peak means ascending heights topping 20,000 feet. Along with altitude sickness, rough wind, ice and Grizzly bears, hacking through bush is something you will need to do. Nearly half of all climbers bow out before they reach the top, and more than 100 have died trying in the last century.
LOCATION: Moab, UtahAs part of Fisher Towers, a group of rock pinnacles made of sandstone and caked with red mud, Stolen Chimney is a rock-climbing destination for thrill-seekers only. Apart from the general danger that accompanies any serious rock climbing adventure, this rugged formation has the added bonus of being covered with a layer of loose mud.
LOCATION: Colombia and VenezuelaThis hiking and trekking destination has set the world record for highest number of lightning strikes per square kilometer. Due to local topography and wind patterns, that means bolts appear an average of 28 times per minute, up to 300 nights per year.
Also, Venezuela has not recently been a country renowned for its safety.
LOCATION: Rogaland, NorwaySee that rock wedged between those two giant boulders? People stand on it and take pictures while they’re suspended more than 3,000 feet in the air. It’s not super challenging to get to, but the thought of towering precariously above such a deep abyss is certainly enough to get your heart racing.
LOCATION: Coos County, New HampshireThis one’s a widow-maker: Mount Washington has claimed 138 lives since 1849. One of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, this peak is home to the strongest gust of wind ever recorded, which clocked in at a whopping 231 miles per hour. Apart from that, the average annual temperature is 27.1 degrees and has been known to plummet to depths of -50 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, apparently there is such thing as summer ice storms, and they happen here.
Trift Suspension Bridge
LOCATION: Gadmen, SwitzerlandLocated in the Swiss Alps, this extremely long suspension bridge is both impressive and hair-raising. It spans nearly 600 feet more than 300 feet above Triftsee lake.
LOCATION: Vatnajökull, IcelandA 2014 eruption here spewed a spectacular amount of lava, ash, and fumes across the surrounding Icelandic landscape–and also caused earthquake activity for months afterward. Along with the risk of literally burning in hot lava comes gorgeous geysers and hot springs.
LOCATION: Odda, NorwayAptly named for its shape, this Norwegian rock formation look’s like a troll’s tongue. (I guess?) People aren’t necessarily known to die here, but there is no safety railing, it’s slippery, and it juts out more than 2,000 feet above the lake below.
Feel like there was a missed opportunity for a pun somewhere in there.
ROAD OF FATE
LOCATION: Yungas region, BoliviaAlso known as Yungas Road or Death Road, this path is notorious for its high body count. It’s well-traveled because it is one of the only routes that connects the Amazon rainforest region of northern Bolivia to its capital city, Chulumani. Fog hampers visibility, rain causes mud, and disaster ensues. Some estimates state that hundreds of people die driving the road each year, meeting their end as far as 2,000 feet below.
Hussaini Hanging Bridge
LOCATION: Northern PakistanI mean, just look at that thing.
(If you wanted to die on this bridge, you may be out of luck: it is believed that the tattered rope washed away in a 2011 monsoon).