Every year an estimated 30 to 50 people die trying to take an impressive selfie.

Every year an estimated 30 to 50 people die trying to take an impressive selfie.
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Most dangerous spots in the world for selfies

Travellers are putting their lives at risk to capture that once-in-a-lifetime picture.

The selfie has become a cultural asset of global tourism and the booming self-portrayal industry – an activity we all cheerfully take part in it. However, some people overdo it, and every year an estimated 30 to 50 people die trying to take a particularly impressive selfie in a dangerous place. And these are just the known figures with the number of unreported cases probably much higher, with falls and drowning the main causes.

Some places are particularly tempting for selfies but also extremely dangerous. When professional façade climbers and stunt performers attempt such selfies, it may be part of their profession, but when the average tourist climbs rocks, plunges into waterfalls, or leans out of moving trains for a daring picture, it's something very different.

These are the most dangerous places in the world for selfies:

Running of the bulls, Pamplona, Spain

An American tourist nearly died in 2019 when he tried to take a selfie at the bull run in Pamplona, Spain. He had already taken part in the run and wanted to take a photo of himself afterwards as proof, a bull then ramming the man’s neck with its horns, but thanks to a two-hour emergency operation, his life was saved. The city of Pamplona later prohibited taking photos, videos and selfies during the bull runs; in 2015, a man died at the bull run in the Spanish town of Villaseca de la Sagra while taking a selfie.

Selfies with animals

Taking a selfie with a bunch of tourists in the background is nowhere near as appealing as taking a selfie with a bear in the background. There have been some shocking situations in US national parks in recent years, with visitors approaching bears and other wild animals; park rangers have their hands full keeping unwary selfie hunters from approaching bears, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, or bison. And when talking about selfies with dangerous animals, we can’t ignore those people who try to take the best pictures of their lives by invading an enclosure in the zoo – meaning it might be their last shot. Several years ago, a man entered multiple enclosures in a zoo in China for selfies, and was killed by a walrus in his last attempt.

Mount Huashan, China

This mountain’s well-known wooden hiking trail is perilous, even for experienced hikers. The Chinese authorities keep quiet about how many people die here every year, with anyone who wants to take a selfie at the site literally standing in the air – with one foot in the grave.

Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu is one of the most famous sights in South America. Instead of photographing the impressive ruins and landscape, many tourists prefer to take selfies – but it is very dangerous because the steps and rocks are well-trodden and often wet. A German tourist was killed when he tried to take a selfie with a drone and slipped.

Trolltunga Rock, Norway

There are opportunities to find dangerous poses in Norway, with rocks above the beautiful fjords inviting you to capture pictures at dizzying heights. Trolltunga (meaning Troll´s tongue) is particularly dangerous, and is described as the best place in the world for selfies, its popularity soaring in recent years, mainly due to Instagram. While there used to be 500 visitors a year who took a hike to what has been tagged ‘selfie rock’, the latest count was 40,000 yearly. Not only can a fall be fatal (a tourist died in 2015), but the way up to the site is dangerous and exhausting. Apart from that, tourists might have to wait up to two hours before they get to take their selfie.

Horseshoe bend, Arizona

In the last five years, two deaths in relation to selfies have been accounted for here. This February, a man fell to his death at the overlook; other tourists later told police he had left the viewing platform and was seen behind the safety railing.

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Eagle Point at Arizona´s Grand Canyon is popular with tourists. In 2019, a tourist fell to their death when trying to take a selfie at the spot, with no barrier between visitors and the edge.

Taft Point, Yosemite National Park

In 2018, a tourist fell to her death from Taft Point in Yosemite National Park while taking a selfie. Yosemite's granite peaks and overlooks offer majestic views that make for incredible photos, but a loose rock or a single wrong step can send you plummeting hundreds of feet. When visiting the famous Half Dome in Yosemite, hikers are advised to keep their hands on the cables while climbing.

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

In the Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia, there are many opportunities to put yourself in the limelight. A Canadian tourist fell from a height of more than 70 metres a few years ago – he miraculously survived.

Paia Grande, Penha, Brazil

A tourist died at this beach last year while trying to take a stunning selfie; she was swept away by waves from a rocky outcrop. The idyllic beach in the coastal city of Penha lies between rocks, and these can be slippery. At many other beaches worldwide, tourists can be seen ignoring the forces of nature for the ultimate selfie.

Robert Prazak
Robert Prazak
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