These trips are not for the faint of heart.
To reach the wreckage of the Titanic, you’d need to dive 13,000 feet into icy waters. At that depth, the weight of the ocean pressing down on you from above would be like that of a “tower of solid lead as tall as the Empire State Building,” the New York Times reports.
The reality of those circumstances really set in this week, as the submersible Titan went missing near the famous shipwreck of the Titanic. Before embarking on the journey, the passengers were required to sign a waiver that mentions death three times on the first page, one former passenger told the Times. Still, ever since 2021, tourists have been willing to pay $250,000 for the experience, including the five men that went missing in the North Atlantic this week.
Trips like that one are inherently risky, and when things go wrong, that comes at a steep cost. The most significant concern, of course, is human life — but when travelers can be saved, their rescue isn’t cheap. The executive director of the National Association for Search and Rescue estimated to the Times that recovering the Titan and the passengers inside would “probably cost millions.”
It’s also unclear who’s responsible for paying those costs. In the cast of the Titan submersible, vessels from the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard have been dispatched to aid with the search, but it remains unclear whether taxpayers are ultimately funding their efforts.
If you got lost in a National Park, for example, the Park Service considers rescue missions to be a public service that comes at no cost to the rescued. On the other hand, the state of New Hampshire does expect payment for rescues if it’s determined the person who got into trouble was reckless in their travels.
Despite the risks and the potential price tag for safety, the Titanic’s final resting place is one of many risky locales that people are paying big bucks to visit. Here’s a look at some of the most extreme (and often dangerous) tourist spots in the world.
Extreme Tourism: The Most Dangerous Places to Travel in the World
Over 2,000 meters above ground is Mount Hua’s notorious plank walk. Hikers must cross thin wooden planks bolted into the mountainside — though they have the option of renting safety harnesses to steady themselves along the path. It’s considered the world’s most dangerous hike, and although Chinese officials don’t keep a death count, Outside reports that it could be as high as 100 fatalities a year.
It’s the world’s highest peak and a bucket list item for many climbers. But the thin air, punishing cold, and infamously difficult trek make the mountain a treacherous tourist spot. More than 300 people have died attempting to reach the summit — and this year is already shaping up to be especially deadly. Already, 12 climbers have perished and five more are missing, according to Outside.
While it’s not as famous nor as tall as Mt. Everest, Mont Blanc in the Alps is the deadliest. About 100 people die each year while trying to reach the top of Europe’s tallest peak. Officials think so many people perish on the mountain because the site attracts a ton of amateur hikers who may not be physically prepared for the grueling ascent and may underestimate the extreme weather conditions.
North Yungas Road
This 43-mile path in Bolivia is better known as “Death Road.” Most of the extremely narrow road was closed to vehicle traffic in 1994, when the annual death rate was about 300 drivers a year, according to Discovery. But it still draws thousands of cyclists a year, who relish biking the scenic and treacherous route.
This region in Iran is the hottest place on Earth, with scorching temps that reach 158 degrees — but it’s also remarkably beautiful. Its alien landscape is reminiscent of famed science fiction settings like Tatooine or Arrakis, which gives plenty of tourists motivation to visit. Visitors are obviously not advised to visit during the blisteringly hot summers, or during the winter or spring when it can get to below zero.
On the other end of the thermometer sits Oymyakon, a Siberian village that’s the coldest inhabited place in the world. Its ground is permanently frozen, and in 2013, it recorded an all-time low of minus 98 degrees, CBS reports.
This Yosemite National Park hike is considered one of the most dangerous in the U.S. It takes a full day to scale the mountain, and it’s so wildly steep that to reach the summit climbers rely on metal cables installed near the peak. More than 60 people have died on the hike, some have fallen through the cables, three were struck by lightning, while others have lost their footing on the so-called “Death Slabs,” the large, slick rocks along the ascent.