Darwin Tourism

I see that some idiot was trapped on a volcano, can’t be rescued and will no doubt be dead by the time you read this:

A tourist is stuck close to the crater of the highest active volcano in Eurasia with rescuers unable to reach him by foot or helicopter.
The ailing man is stranded some 650ft below the rim of the giant 15,580 ft Klyuchevskaya Sopka in Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula.
Spewing volcanic activity and a melting high-altitude glacier is preventing rescuers getting close to the tourist, aged 35.
A helicopter bid to lower rescuers onto the rim of the volcano so they could climb down to the man had to be aborted due to extreme toxic gas and vapour emissions and atrocious weather.

I have the same reaction to this as when some mope is eaten by a shark while swimming among a bunch of them, or when some “adventurer” falls off a mountain while climbing it “because it was there”:  they were asking for trouble.

I have a simple policy when it comes to travel:  don’t do stupid shit that will endanger your life, and don’t go to dangerous places (e.g. an active volcano, a shark-infested lagoon or any Middle Eastern- or primitive Third World country, some overlap).

That’s my own personal policy;  yours may differ in that you get off on danger or want to see exotic (read: shithole) places and so on.  I am never going to be bitten by a shark, for instance, because my idea of a maritime adventure is sitting in a dockside restaurant in Cannes or Boothbay Harbor drinking a fine wine and eating the local delicacy — not swimming in a sea full of riptides and stuff with spikes or sharp teeth.  Of course, said restaurants are not without their own set of perils, e.g. prices where you need a magnifying glass to find the decimal point, scrofulous Frenchmen or New Englanders and so on, but on the whole, the mortal peril thereof is somewhat lower than coming face to face with a fucking tiger shark in its own habitat.

Call me a coward, or “unadventurous” if you will, but I will point out that I was once surrounded by Puerto Rican gangsters in Hell’s Kitchen simply because I had an urge for a pastrami sandwich from the local deli.  (That story for another time.)  So I’m not that much of a coward, and sometimes there is a decent risk/reward balance.

But the reward of a wonderful deli sandwich is far greater than a “look, I’m standing on the crater of an erupting volcano” moment, and in any event, I’d rather risk death by choking while trying to inhale the entire sandwich than knowing I’m going to be cooked alive by molten lava.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but you’re not going to change my mind.


  1. George Mallory died trying to be the first to climb Everest. Jessi Combs died trying to set a land speed record. Both knew what they were getting into. I think any one who wants to go adventuring should go right ahead and do so. With the provision that if things take a turn for the worst they are on their own. It shouldn’t be the public’s responsibility to save them.

    The wilderness is full of dangers from the terrain to wild animals that are the top of the food chain in their niche. If one wanders out beyond civilization or just into unfamiliar territory it should be with the expectation you are taking your life into your own hands.

    The thing that annoys me the most is the expectation that someone should be rescued no matter how woefully unprepared they were when they set out.

  2. I neither swim with sharks nor climb mountains. But I do ride motorcycles in Houston area traffic and frequently go fishing alone. My wife knows what my insurance policy is worth, so by time she files a missing person report all the searchers will find is a corpse (if the alligators or crabs haven’t eaten it all).

    Risk is relative, but there’s no way I’d travel to any 3rd world location these days. Detroit, Chicago, New York, Portland are all on my banned list.

  3. At one time the National Park Service used the notation of “INS” to describe operations such as described in the linked article: Interfering with Natural Selection.

    SCUBA diving while I was stationed in Hawaii was fun and not particularly dangerous in the areas we dived. It also pleased CINCHOUSE, so major win. Never saw a shark and only had to (easily) avoid Eels

    I was concerned about diving in a place called “Sharks Cove” until I found out the name came from the shape of the rocks and not from any sharks in the area. I did decline to participate in a dive in Kaneohe Bay, which turns out to be a Hammerhead breeding ground, and it was “in season”.

  4. I am reminded of Sir Lawrence Olivier’s advice to Dustin Hoffman when witnessing the latter’s prep for roles. ‘Try acting, dear boy, it’s much easier.’

    There are PLENTY of scenic places, in the U.S. and abroad, that do not require you to put yourself at such risk.

  5. I like the photo, mainly for the array of teeth.
    Why is it that sharks ignore there orthodontic needs?

  6. Ok, I MIGHT be the only one to post the contrarian view, but I have been fascinated with sharks since the days of my yoof, and once I found out that there are shark tours around Fiji where one can scuba dive to a sanctuary (and watching videos of sharks being fed by hand by experienced locals) , I would put that on my bucket list.

    Here is but one group who does this, and also have worked with the locals to help preserve the shark populations https://www.myfijishark.com/

    Other than that, does taking a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a week last week count as Darwin Tourism?

  7. Other than that, does taking a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a week last week count as Darwin Tourism?

    You betcha! Look for u-tube expo’s of cartel problems in tourist cities now.

  8. yeah, count me out. I’m not climbing Mountains or feeding sharks. That’s not my idea of fun.

    I prefer visiting historical, cultural and beautiful places or doing something else than tempting Darwin. My goal in life does include becoming shark, lion or bear scat.


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