Danger Lands

Globe Trekker creator, executive producer and life-long traveller, Ian Cross, shares insight into destinations once sought out by intrepid adventurers but now sadly, are simply too dangerous to set foot in, for the moment.

Danger Lands
Some of the world’s most compelling travel experiences are now off limits to travellers as it becomes too dangerous  to visit conflict zones, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. As Civil War, religious conflict and terror overtake large parts of Syria, Pakistan, Libya and Nigeria, many World Heritage Sites in these countries are either under threat, damaged or destroyed.

Where currently, are the most dangerous destinations in the world for travellers?

A lot of the Middle East is now unfortunately off limits:  Syria, Libya and Yemen have descended into civil war and there are very active Islamic extremist insurgencies occurring in Iraq, Afghanistan and northern Nigeria.

Which of these have, in the past, been some of your favoured locations for travel and/or filming?

We have filmed in Syria, Libya and northern Nigeria. The ancient  archaeological treasures at many sites throughout Syria such as Apamea, Palmyra and the so called ‘dead’ Byzantium cities are tragically being destroyed  by Islamic State (IS) militants who have taken  over  northern and eastern Syria.

What’s your most memorable experience from one of these locations?

I think the ancient roman city of Apamea, which we filmed for Metropolis Syria, is little-known and extraordinary, but sadly it is being destroyed by ISIS.

Which destinations would you suggest are simply too dangerous to travel to – at all – nowadays?

Some years ago we were about to visit Yemen, but the foreign embassies there recommended against it, saying the situation was turning and they could not support our visit. We debated whether to go as the country was still relatively stable, but pulled the shoot at the last minute. Since then the country has descended into chaos and is now in the midst of civil war, with no end in sight.

If someone is to take the risk visiting such destinations, what advice would you give them?

Check advisories from US state department, UK foreign office or the relevant foreign affairs bureau in your country, but all recommend against travel to these countries. Parts of Nigeria is safer for tourists but southern regions only.

Do you foresee any of these destinations opening up to tourists in the coming ten years?

Afghanistan and Iraq have stabilised, although parts of these countries are no-go zones and northern Iraq is still occupied by IS and even the capitals, Baghdad and Kabul are plagued by terrorist attacks. We would love to film Globe Trekker in Iraq and Afghanistan, but both have been warzones for more than a decade. One hopes that within ten years the political situation may calm, but the Middle East is and has always been the most combustible and war-afflicted region in the world.

It’s very sad, and frankly baffling, particularly the fact that the people are so warm and hospitable to outsiders.


Interviewed: Ian Cross // Feature image by Jose Javier Martin Esparto