The Most Dangerous Natural Wonders In The World
When you think of ‘wonders of the world’, the Colosseum, Petra and the Great Pyramids of Giza are the images that spring to mind.
And whilst all are undoubtedly awe-inspiring, Mother Nature created many of her own ‘wonders’ that enchant, excite and entice.
From looming mountain peaks to gushing waterfalls, breathtaking cliffs and sprawling landscapes, natural wonders pull tourists from all around the world to marvel at Earth’s beauty.
But, no matter how beautiful our planet is, we should never forget how dangerous nature can be.
That’s why, at Holidu, we decided to put on our high-vis and investigate which natural wonders pose the biggest risk to tourists. This is definitely not us advising against visiting them, we’re just shining a light on those that require handling with a little more care!
- The most dangerous natural wonder in the world is Mont Blanc in the Alps (France/Italy), seeing an average of 100 deaths each year. The mountain range is a popular spot for climbers and skiers alike
- In the UK, the most dangerous natural wonder is the Nation’s highest point, Ben Nevis. Although the British mountain sees fewer annual deaths than its European counterpart, it welcomes significantly fewer tourists each year so, upon comparison, it is more dangerous when it comes to the risk of losing your life.
- The natural wonder that is the most frequently reported on in the context of accidents is Yosemite National Park in California, United States. The National Park was referred to in 41 different news reports in 2019 about tourist accidents, many being linked to climbing incidents.
- The natural wonder that claims the most lives in comparison to its annual visitors is, unsurprisingly, Mount Everest. Around 800 people attempt the challenge each year and around 8 people sadly lose their lives in the process.
Other Findings That Surprised Us
- Of waterfalls, it is not the world’s widest or the longest drop that is the most dangerous. Instead, a picturesque two-stage waterfall in the Catskill Mountains of New York. It is this beauty that makes it so dangerous though, with reports claiming that the last four people who died at Kaaterskill Falls were either taking or posing for a picture.
- Ireland’s sweeping coastline, the Cliffs of Moher, took a top spot for the most dangerous rock formation in the study. Reports show that a student sadly fell to his death here after stepping off the official trail to take a photo. Rangers patrol the walking trail to warn of the dangers, but many clearly continue to take their lives in their hands every year by leaving the path to sit or stand on cliff ledges.
- And as far as National Parks go, Yosemite is the most dangerous overall but it is North Cascades National Park that poses the biggest risk of death. The rugged landscape seems to play a big part in the danger with many accidents being a result of falls. The remoteness of the National Park is a big factor too, and many reports mention incidents involving grizzly bears.
Methodology and Sources
To find out the most dangerous natural wonders, we first created a list of over 100 natural wonders around the world.
For the average annual deaths, we consulted government and organisational reports in the appropriate country of each natural wonder in order to find this yearly figure. Where no such reports existed, we used Google search to find the average number of deaths each year, using local news reports and publications across a period of time.
Then, in order to rank these fairly, we divided the number of annual deaths by the number of annual visitors. Natural wonders with 0 annual deaths reported were ranked on their visitor totals, with larger tourist figures having a higher weighting.
For the accident frequency, we used Google News to search for each “natural wonder name” and ‘accident OR injury’ in the native language for each. Results were filtered to a one-year period (2019 to account for pre-pandemic tourism numbers) and we then countered the number of applicable articles.
*Please note that this figure does not stand for the number of accidents that have happened at each natural wonder but instead how many times the natural wonder has been reported on in the context of an injury or accident.
Rankings for both factors were then added together to form a final ranking.
Those natural wonders where a full data set was not available were omitted from the study.
A full data set and the source list are available on request.