These are the weirdest tours on earth.
MEXICAN BORDER CROSSING
Have you ever wanted to simulate the finer points of an illegal border crossing – that is, being shot at, verbally abused, told to get on your hands and knees and running for your life?
No, we haven’t either. But like you, we’re curious. Caminata Nocturna (The Night Walk) is the experience that simulates the dangers of crossing that famous dotted line between Mexico and the United States.
The dangers are real for those that try to cross each year (an extraordinary 1.6 million arrests are made at the Mexico/U.S. border each year). For takers of this night tour, it is an adrenaline-inducing glimpse into another world, perhaps reminding us of the luck in our corner that this ‘simulation’ has never been our reality.
THE GATES OF HELL
In the middle of the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan is a big, fiery crater. And no-one really knows how it got there.
The Davaza Gas Crater, or the ‘Gates of Hell’ as its been called, is likely the remnants of a Soviet experiment gone wrong. It’s a collapsed natural gas field which has been burning for over 50 years.
Nowadays it’s a popular day-trip or overnight camping spot. It’s an extraordinary sight – a great ball of fire burning in the ground, with nothing but desert surrounding as far as the eye can see. We guarantee you won’t find anywhere else like this in the world, although you might want to get there soon: Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow visited the site early in 2022, and asked for scientists to seal off the area to prevent the spread of unhealthy gases (he did do the same in 2010 though, but hasn’t yet found a way to get rid of it).
DOPE TOURS IN JAMAICA
It’s 4.20 all day every day in Jamaica, freely as weed grows on the idyllic Caribbean island.
Embrace your inner Bob Marley for a day with one of a number of different experiences that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else: a ganja farm tour where you get high … up the mountainside, explore plantations and learn how to roll a Rasta-worthy joint. There’s morning goodies in the form of the ‘Wake & Bake’ tour or a sunset cruise with snorkelling, plus unlimited spliff, muffins that aren’t muffins, and more.
There are even ganja resorts for you to spend a couple of weeks, if you want. Take it easy, mon.
A KILLER TOUR
When it comes to darkness, Dark Tourism probably doesn’t get much darker than serial killer tours.
Jeffrey Dahmer murdered at least 17 people in unfathomably gruesome fashion from the early 1980s through to his capture in the early 1990s. Now, he has a tour dedicated to him: the Cream City Cannibal Tour retraces his steps around Milwaukee for seven of the murders.
Finding interest in where a serial killer conducted their worst business occupies an especially strange corner of the human brain. Whatever your opinions on it, it has morphed into a semi-popular form of tourism, explored in depth by Kiwi journalist David Farrier on Netflix’s Dark Tourist series.
FLOAT WITH THE DEAD ALONG THE GANGES
Most of this planet tries to hide from death. Not in Varanasi, India.
Two ceremonial cremation ghats are open 24/7 along the Ganges river in Varanasi, and burn hundreds of bodies every day in plain sight for everyone to see. The belief is that if a departed’s ashes are laid in the Ganges at Varanasi, holy place that it is, their soul will be transported to heaven and escape the cycle of rebirth (and thus coming back as a cricket or a fly).
While this might sound a little gruesome, it is impressive how openly the people here welcome death. A sunrise float down the Ganges in a little row boat may well be the most spiritual thing you ever do.
Estimates say 100,000 bodies – either fully or partially cremated – are tossed into the river each year. Don’t fall in.
Scientists have found a number of strange organisms, called extremophiles, flourishing in extreme conditions at the base of the gas crater.