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World of War Tourism

World of War Tourism

Prefer the Congo to the Costa del Sol? Afghanistan over Alicante?

Welcome to the world of the War Tourist; a rare breed of traveller who seek out war-torn, lawless regions, more likely to feature on the 9 o’clock news than in a holiday brochure.

There is a growing trend for adventurous travellers to visit areas that were previously considered off limits. Whether out of desire to see somewhere very different, or perhaps just to enjoy some macho bravado, if there’s no chance of getting kidnapped by insurgents, caught up in a military coup, or catching Ebola – the War Tourist ain’t interested.

If it’s on the FCO’s blacklist, it’s on the War Tourist’s hit list.

Level 1

Danger rating: non-existent to minor

Your friends may give you funny looks when you announce you’re off to one of these locations, but they really pose little danger to visitors, and are simply under the stigma of previous conflicts.

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Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina

Despite the Bosnian war ending way back in 1995, Sarajevo remains a war zone in the minds of many Brits. It’s a shame, as those that do visit will find a charming hillside city, with lovely food and all at very reasonable prices. In winter, the city has two ski areas in the Dinaric Alps less than 30 minutes away, while in summer, locals sit in the streets to enjoy the café culture alongside the Miljacka River.

What the FCO says
There are no travel restrictions in place in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unexploded landmines remain a real danger, particularly in isolated areas in the mountains and countryside. You should therefore be careful not to stray from roads and paved areas without an experienced guide. See full FCO Bosnia Herzegovina travel advice

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Beirut, Lebanon

Like Sarajevo, mention that you’re going to Beirut and you’re guaranteed to get some strange looks. However, Lebanon’s number one city is the party capital of the Middle East and a place where foreign visitors tend to be welcomed warmly. Visit a trendy beach club, go for a sea side stroll along the Corniche, and head to the trendy Gemmayzeh area to visit the chic micro bars that line the street.

What the FCO says
Travel to some areas of Lebanon requires caution. We advise against all travel to Palestinian refugee camps, and all but essential travel to South of the Litani. See full FCO Lenanon travel advice

Level 2

Danger rating: be on your guard; flare ups can occur at any time

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Kashmir

Once a tourist haven, visitors flocked to Kashmir’s alpine meadows, beautiful lakes and spiky mountains. But when violence erupted in the 1980s, the tourist stream dried up. Now, however, trekkers, climbers, skiers and fishermen are returning to Kashmir’s pristine landscape as unrest in the region has calmed in recent years.

The development of winter sports in the ski area of Gulmarg, which boasts the highest gondola lift in the world, is putting Kashmir on the map as an international ski resort – at least in the more adventurous ski set.

Over the last five years, intrepid skiers and snowboarders have been coming to enjoy the virtually empty slopes and top quality Himalayan powder snow, not to mention the incredible cultural adventure that Kashmir offers.

What the FCO says
We advise against all travel to rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir other than Ladak. Terrorist incidents are frequent, especially Jammu and Kashmir (excluding Ladakh) and the north east. See full FCO Kashmir travel advice

iran.yazd.JPGIran

Few British tourists dare to visit the country labelled by Bush as an Axis of Evil, but those that do come back singing its praises. Iranians are renowned for their culture of hospitality towards foreign visitors and Iran has a huge amount to offer the traveller.

There’s the ancient, historic capital of Tehran, a busy, bustling metropolis; Isfahan, the former capital with stunning architecture, tree-lined boulevards and a great bazaar and Shiraz, home to renowned Persian poets and known for its beautiful gardens.

And unbeknown to many, Iran also has massive snow-covered mountains (in excess of 5000m high!) that offer excellent winter sports in ski resorts like Dizin and Shemshak.

What the FCO says
We advise against all travel to within 100km of the Iran/Afghanistan border; to within 10km of the Iran/Iraq border; east of the line running from Bam to Jask. British travellers to Iran face greater risks than nationals of most other countries. See full FCO Iran travel advice

Level 3

Danger rating: high level of unrest and conflict in some parts

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Afghanistan

After years of conflict, a handful of tourists are returning to Afghanistan which boasts great beauty and history. As a country still at war, Afghanistan is on the cutting edge of adventure tourism, but Hinterland Travel offer tours to various parts of the country and visitors can enjoy sights from Buddhist remains to burnt out tanks. Only for the brave, you’ll have to deal with diabolical roads and simple lodgings but you’ll be one of a very small number who can boast an Afghani entry stamp in your passport.

What the FCO says
We advise against all travel to specific regions of Afghanistan and against all but essential travel to other specific regions of Afghanistan. See full FCO Afghanistan travel advice

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Iraq

Although synonymous with war, Iraq boasts one the of the finest archaeological sites around the world, from the ruins of Babylon to the historical riches of Baghdad. Already, some speciality travel companies for example Hinterland Travel are offering tours again which include visits to Basra, Uruk and Ur, as well as glimpses of Saddam’s residences.

What the FCO says
We advise against all travel to specific parts of Iraq, including Baghdad. We advise against all but essential travel to other specific parts of Iraq. Although there has been a decrease in the level of violence throughout Iraq the situation remains highly dangerous with a continuing high threat of terrorism throughout the country (except in the Kurdistan Region). See full FCO Iraq travel advice

Kashmir and Beirut pics © SnowSphere.com

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