Holiday in a war zone: extreme enough for you?

Mark PawlakContributor IAugust 3, 2010

Danger is exciting. But how much can you flirt with it before you get hurt? There really isn’t anyway of telling, no logic or probability to consider. But putting yourself in the path of armed conflict, even onto the damaged ground of a country recently scarred by war is ill advised. Or are we missing something? Is war zone tourism extreme enough for you?

I’m sure you have some answers, but for us it’s a matter of definition: What is a war zone? What is too dangerous? And ultimately, who decides?

Let’s start with definitions: If a war zone is a place where war is happening right now, then it’s too dangerous to visit. But just because you’re told a country is a war zone, don’t be scared off visiting, just start investigating further. Perhaps find out if the whole country/region is affected, then establish which areas are safe and what is the true risk, not just the perceived risk.

There are people climbing in parts of Afghanistan right now, without body armour. And Georgia, a place of ongoing fighting between the Russian army and Chechen rebels, is not off the adventure travel map either. So would you still go?

A quick look at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s website (perhaps the best official resource) reveals that it advises against all travel to parts of Albania, Iraq and Iran. So while an overlanding expedition routed through Helmand province is about as daft as it gets, parts of ‘conflict countries’ are clearly fit for travel.

Danger and risk are part of travelling, in differing degrees. And ultimately, the decision can only be your own.

But before you go ahead and plot your route, consider this: the war in Bosnia ended in 1996, and at the last count there were more than a quarter of a million landmines in the ground, so don’t for a minute think it’s safe to pitch your tent everywhere.

The same problem blights Georgia, Turkey and even the tourist friendly Cyprus – in places.

If you want to enjoy the thrill of the unexpected, then commonsense and logic sometimes need to be moved to the back seat; but driving, skiing or biking through a war zone is a dangerous move.

Holidays are for relaxation, romance, perhaps a little adventure, perhaps even a lot of adventure; just don’t expect your reckless war zone adventure to impress anyone, least of all other travellers.

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