Image: Scott Brady
"But why would you want to drive through Afghanistan? There's nothing there."
"Yes, there is."
Unfortunately there's a common misconception that just because a place, for the time being, might not be the safest, there's nothing to see there. Natural beauty and world history seem to get pushed to the sidelines, if not completely off the map when there's a war between two countries. With conflict rapidly dying down in several places around the world, countries you would have truly been nuts to drive through five years ago are actually becoming realistic option for those of us without access to an MRAP.
These days we're consistently bombarded with so much negative news that it's only natural for us to be dubious when someone mentions they'd like to visit a "dangerous" country—an unfortunate hangover of war, but a reality none-the-less. It's unreasonable to expect that once a war is over a light switch is miraculously flipped and everything returns to the way things were prior; for example in countries like Afghanistan that would mean turning back the clock nearly three decades. Though it's incredibly unreasonable to think that a once war-torn area has no future potential for tourism, Vietnam is a great example. The once war-torn country is now safe according to the British Foreign Office and a popular destination for backpackers and travelers from all over the world, yet in the United States, understandably it still resonates negatively.
I'm not here to tell you that there's zero chance of being kidnapped or that your 4WD won't get broken into or your motorcycle stolen, but there's no doubt that it will be a true adventure.
Afghanistan isn't a barren desert wasteland, a quick look at the image above taken in the Wakhan Corridor confirms this.
Libya isn't just a place filled with sand that NATO occasionally bombs in North Africa, it actually has some of the most unspoiled Roman ruins in existence.
At one time we knew Iraq not as a place with IED's and war, but as the Cradle of Civilization and the location of ancient Mesopotamia and Babylon. Iraq may be dangerous—but consider this, 54 U.S. Soldiers tragically died in Iraq in 2011, while 433 people were murdered in Chicago alone during the same year.
Besides the omnipresent nuclear weapons that Western media encourages you to believe are in Iran there's also 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that they fail to talk about.
The team from It's on the Meter seemed to have few-to-no issues in their recent travels through Pakistan, despite arriving only a week or so after the United States killed Osama Bin Laden in the country. Pakistan is home to some of the best climbing and mountaineering the world has to offer.
Let's hope things continue to improve, because these countries are prime for exploring. So cure yourself of Mean world syndrome and get out and see the world. Terrorists aren't lurking around every corner and no one is likely conspiring to kill you. Just remember they're still dangerous countries for a reason, be careful out there, some people are just nuts.
I'm still more worried about soccer moms in minivans broadsiding me in Kansas while updating their facebook status.
What dangerous country do you want to explore? Tell us below.