London Times – To Boldly Go

by TOM CHESSHYRE

IRAQ is not the only country off the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s recommended list that travellers are visiting, despite the serious risks. Websites used by thrill-seekers show that there are few countries — apart from Chechnya — that they will not consider.
Afghanistan, Kurdistan, the Golan Heights, Kashmir, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Maoist-controlled parts of Nepal, and Sudan are all discussed in http://www.comebackalive.com/ and http://www.polosbastards.com/.

The latter is named after Marco Polo, the 13th and 14th-century adventurer, and is run by enthusiasts based in the UK and Japan. Lee Ridley, the editor, from Middlesex, said: “There is a small number of hardcore travellers who will visit almost any war zone. We set up our site because we lamented the lack of good information.”

Comebackalive.com includes background information and security advice on Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Bougainville, Algeria, Rwanda, Pakistan and Congo, among many other countries.

The language is straight-talking, if a little gung-ho. For example, the crime section for Congo begins: “In a country where there is little law, where underpaid police and soldiers are often criminals, you have to park your moral indignation when visiting. Morality, legality and right-or-wrong issues may have to be sidelined in the interests of survival.”

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (0870 6060290, http://www.fco.gov.uk/).

Baghdad (Bradt, £9.95) published next month.

The World’s Most Dangerous Places (HarperCollins, £12.49) by Robert Pelton Young.

Hinterland Travel (01883 743584) used to run trips to Iraq and may resume its programme if security improves and FCO advice changes to allow non-essential travel.

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