“I haven’t been everywhere but it’s on my list” is a motto most travelers love to live by. Unfortunately, everywhere can’t be on your list. These places are actually illegal to visit and have dire consequences if you do.
Lascaux Caves (France)
Located in southwestern France are a network of caves, called the Lascaux, that are filled with Palaeolithic cave paintings. The paintings are believed to be 20,000 years old. The paintings were discovered on 12 September 1940 and were dubbed a World Heritage Site in 1979. When the caves were first opened to the public, in the 1950s, many problems ensued. The carbon dioxide from the visitors alone was ruining the paintings. Therefore, it was closed in 1963 to the public. Only those with special permission from the government may enter.
Chapel of the Tablet (Ethiopia)
The Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion is believed to have existed in some form since 4 century CE. It is said the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Ethiopia by the son of Queen Sheba and brought to the church. It has remained there ever since. Only one person is allowed inside to see the alleged ark, the Guardian of the Covenant. The guardian is never allowed to leave the church. The guard must be a virgin and is chosen by the previous guard before death.
Ilha da Queimada Grande (Brazil)
Ilha da Queimada Grande, also known as Snake Island, is located off the coast of Brazil. As the name suggests it is home to many different snakes. The island was created due to rising sea levels covering the land that connected it to Brazil, which simultaneously trapped the snakes. It is home to the critically endangered golden lacehead pitviper. The government has closed off the island, not only for visitors’ safety, but also to protect the snakes.
Surtsey is an island located off the southern coast of Iceland. The island was created after a volcanic eruption. The eruption lasted for nearly 4 years. Today, the island acts as a study for biocolonization, or the study of how a new land becomes a habitat. There is one small tent on the island that houses the scientists studying it. Only the scientist are allowed on the island.