Some countries are just hard to get into — or out of. Whether it's due to a political situation or a geographic one, you better be prepared for everything when trying to cross the border in these ten locations.
10.) The Sani Pass, South Africa and Lesotho
bobrayner says you will need a Land Rover for this one:
Lesotho is an isolated mountain kingdom. Like the Lost World, there's an abrupt change between the high mountain plateau of Lesotho, and the low-lying bits of coastal South Africa.
So, there's a curtain of mountains 2800m high; at the bottom of the curtain is a South African border post, at the top of the curtain is a Mosotho border post; and in between you have six miles of very steep unsurfaced road.
Read more from bobrayner here, and find out how you can take a rental car across this border, if you figure out how to get around some rules.
9.) Romania and Ukraine
There are many places in Europe where border crossings are adventurous. The Serbians won't be happy about an American passport. Ex-soviet states can be funny too, and Ukraine is where the EU legislation stops, as mikefentondrums found out:
I was touring a few years ago with a band on a ground tour of Eastern Europe, and one of our biggest dates was in Chernivsti in the Ukraine. Everything was sorted ahead of our arrival by the band's management, tour manager, booking agent, and the Ukrainian promoters - everyone had the required visas and we were assured all our gear was fine.
When we got to the Romanian/Ukranian border however, we were subjected to a four hour blank wall. They didn't recognize our visas, had no records of pre-clearance, insisted on checking every single item of gear for contraband (took ages to unload everything), and worst of all threatened to impound everything we had (close to half a million euro worth of gear). It didn't matter where you were from, every single car or truck going in to that country was treated the same way. The only people who were let through were those who went straight up to the border police and handed an envelope full of cash. The booking agent had to drive three hours to the border to try to help us, and after he disappeared for an hour or so into a room with the border police for "negotiations" we were finally let through. He wouldn't tell us how much he had to bribe them, but he did say that his entire profit margin was close to being wiped out. We also had to be out of the country within 48 hours.
You can read more of mike's story here, and find out that getting back out of the country is just as hard as getting in.
8.) USA and Mexico
Brian, The Life of points at how dangerous it can be to become American:
The multiple "unofficial" border crossings through the Sonora desert coming from Mexico. You pay your life savings to a Coyote to help you cross so you can realize your dreams of a better life and experience utter hell and a good chance of dying in the process.
7.) The Torugart Pass, Kyrgyzstan and China
The Silk Road is breathtakingly beautiful, but can be quite tricky too:
Normally, the Torugart is only open to Kyrgyz and Chinese nationals. You can get around that by getting special government permission and then engaging the services of a local travel guide (this system is familiar to anyone who's tried tourism in places like Russia or Gaddafi-era Libya). They might be local guides but they don't relish an epic journey on terrible roads, along with epic paperwork, so that bumps up the price further.
Apart from the paperwork and the obvious costs, a bigger problem is that there is a 100km gap between the two countries' border posts; that's 100km of unsurfaced roads in the middle of nowhere.
You can read the rest of bob's story here, and find out how even a simple lunch break can stop you for days.
6.) Israel and Syria
You just don't want to fuck with the Israel Defense Forces. They've been at war since day one.
5.) The Darién Gap, Panama and Colombia
PelicanHazard recommends you to have a very sharp machete, because there is a 99 mile long, 31 mile wide gap between these two countries. To prevent drug trafficking, there are no roads, only jungle:
There are no roads, walkways, or towns to pull into, just thick jungle referred to as the Darién Gap. It is nigh impossible to cross without a very well prepared and experienced expedition using some serious equipment.
4.) Pakistan and Afganistan
FreeWillyWonka has a list that says no:
Drug smuggling? Check.
Treacherous terrain? Check.
Active war zone? Check.
Yes, there are ways to enter the most dangerous country in the world. But OneFastPuertoRican says if you try, you better have an army with you:
Other than that, I hear the beaches are beautiful!
You heard it wrong. They are in fact radioactive.
2.) Western Sahara and Mauritania
There are a few problems. bobrayner lists them all:
Firstly, Western Sahara is controlled by the Moroccan government, but it still has a few people who want that control to cease, so there are lots of checkpoints before you even get to the border, and you have to pay very careful lip service to the official position that it's all Morocco.
Anyway. Let's optimistically assume that you make it to the border, having given the necessary paperwork and €5 to every person in uniform along the route. You then have to queue up and register before you're actually allowed to go through all the bureaucracy in the checkpoint compound.
Eventually you get into the customs compound, and then have to go through an elaborate series of passport, police, and customs checks. All seem to be understaffed and slow and error prone (even though the officials handle exactly the same task hundreds of times a day), and you're surrounded by sweaty truck drivers who know exactly how the system works and when to elbow past you. Don't forget the currency controls. Anyway, after four different officials have done their respective paperwork, you can sit and wait for a fifth official to grant you a few seconds of his previous time, to verify that the previous four did their jobs.
Next, drive across the no-mans-land, which is a mine field. Seriously; it's an open wilderness, all scrub and stone and sand, and there are landmines scattered across it. If you see something resembling an old road surface, don't try using it, because that's more likely to be mined.
If you make it to the Mauritanian side, you can now repeat the Moroccan process in reverse.
1.) North Korea and South Korea
If you make a wrong move on the Northern side, you're gone, and even Dennis Rodman won't be able to save you.
Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
Top Photo Credit: AP Photo