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Mount Doom, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Mordor (Sindarin: Black Land, Quenya: Land of Shadow, Chinese: 魔多) is the land covering the volcanic plateau of South East Middle Earth, to the east of the River Anduin, and is the original 'Quest' destination, particularly popular with ringbearers.



Thoroughly unpleasant. The region of Mordor has rarely been dealt a kind hand. Successive colonial powers have done little to clean the place up, and there is still no functioning train service. The recent large scale eruption of Mount Doom and the associated collateral damage, just might (only might) encourage a more enlightened approach to development in the region.

At one stage, a distant ancestor of Viggo Mortensen had the chance to improve the standard of local infrastructure, but decided to be a king instead. Hugo Weaving was quite young at the time, but still showed his displeasure.

President Sauron, despite a few setbacks, has been in power since 1,000 years after the end of the First Age. A very unusual Three Age president.

Pre-colonial era

It's very complicated, poorly recorded and really not worth bothering about. Lots of wars, fallen Vala and some fairly angry types smiting the earth.


Mordor is surrounded on three sides by large mountain ranges: Ered Lithui (Ash Mountains) in the the north, Ephel Duath (Mountains of Shadow) to the west bordering the region of Gondor, and extending round to the south. Generally they are not very nice, even worse than the Brecon Beacons.

Don't read

Anything by JRR Tolkien or his youngest son. This family has done much dis-service to the region, and has a poor understanding of the place from a traveller's perspective.


Orcish is the native tounge, specifically the Black Speech dialect, though speakers of Westron should have no problems.

If you are having some difficulty, head to the Mouth of Sauron who can provide translations from Elvish, Entish, and the Tongues of Men.

Get in

Travel Warning WARNING: Traveling in Mordor is potentially very dangerous. Large parts of the country — in particular, most of the North and West — are effectively a war zone. Threats are unpredictable and the situation can change very quickly.

Trips should be meticulously planned and travellers should keep abreast of the latest security situation throughout their stay. If, despite the risks, you still find yourself heading there, see War zone safety and the "Stay safe" section below.

One does not simply walk in to Mordor. You gotta rock in to Mordor. Or take the shortbus.

After the recent twinning with the city of Brussels, all citizens of countries who are signatories to the Schengen treaty, are granted an unlimited stay visa on arrival. Australians however, remain unwelcome.

By air

The quickest way in is to fly with a Nazgul, though many travellers complain that the distance from the airport into the city actually makes Ryanair look convenient by comparison. Holders of the 666 student pass have not been eligible for Nazgul discounts since the end of the Second Age.

Get around

While numerous UK-based car-rental agencies will claim to offer vehicles in this region, the sad truth is that walking remains the most common mode of transport. Distances are long, conditions are brutal, and chance of death is high, so comfortable shoes are an absolute must.

If you do find a car, driving is in the middle of the road, and parking always hard to find. Orcish traffic wardens are renowned for their lack of a sense of humour.


Real Mordorian handicraft inside the ball room of Barad-dûr

Mordor is quite unique amongst A-list destinations in that it tends to see you rather better than you see it.

  • Barad-dûr (Lugbúrz in Black Speech), (visible from all of Mordor, just follow the eye), + 0 00 000 000 (), [1]. The royal palace is the main attraction in Mordor and very popular among travelers. free admission.
  • The Black Gate (Morännon). Probably the largest, blackest gate you will ever see, spanning as it does all of Cirith Gorgor. In times of especially serious war, you might even witness an opening of the gate.
  • Mount Doom (Orodruin in Sindarin). Another popular sight, best known from the video game series DOOM, and as the home of the Crack of Doom, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can take a refreshing trek to the top of the mountain (see also the Do section).
  • The Plateau of Gorgoroth. Normally thought of as the gateway to Mount Doom, this area is also an attraction in its own right. On a clear day (admittedly rare) the views across to Barad-dûr are second to none. As there is no water or plant growth of any type, the area is uninhabited and a bit dusty.
  • The Sea of Núrnen. The largest body of water in the region is located in the relatively fertile southern Nurn area. Desertification is a large problem here though, as is the water boiling off when near-molten boulders land in the lake. Bears an uncanny resemblance to Lake Chad.
  • Shelob's Lair, (if you cannot find it, she will find you). 2AM-11PM daily. A grand country home still occupied by it original owner, Shelob. She is happy to receive visitors without appointment, and apologises in advance for the spider webs. This is a very old house don't you know - won't you step into her parlor? Free.


The peaks of Mordor are not to be taken lightly

If you a meet a beardy bloke in a pointy hat, ignore everything he says. He will try to make you do something dangerous. He is quite persistent, so if he gets too annoying, feed him to a Balrog. He may reappear a few weeks later looking all white and shiny, but don't be deceived as he will try to make you kill yourself again.

That warning aside, Mordor is an increasingly popular destination for active travellers who enjoy getting right off the beaten track.

  • Trekking through any of the Mordor ranges should not be taken lightly. An authorised, experienced guide is recommended. One agency in particular seems to have some success: Preciousses [2], but they do demand payment in gold rings and the lead guide can be a touch moody.
  • Volcano trips are popular; top sight is the Crack of Doom on Mount Doom, where you're guaranteed the sight of flowing lava, just as at Stromboli in Italy. Buy ring (see "Buy" section) from vendors outside before entering, so you can enjoy most of the place.


Example of local handicrafts

Gold rings are the local speciality handicraft, but the real deal is increasingly difficult to come by. The lead guide of Preciousses [3]] has a good nose for sniffing them out.


Meat is consumed in one of two ways - raw or incinerated. Charred muppet hobbit offal is especially popular amongst authentic, local orcish peoples.

Not much for vegetarians here, who should really stay at home or go to Byron Bay.


  • Naturally. blood is quite popular, and drinking a pint is something of a rite of passage for all travellers to the region. Enquire with the nearest orc regiment, and they should be able to sort you out.
  • Do not drink the local water, all of which has been contaminated by run off from the Dead Marshes to the northwest.



  • Shelob's at Cirith Ungol is the cheapest formal sleep, though the housekeeping can be a little wayward. If you don't mind cobwebs you'll be fine.
  • The campsite on the Plateau of Gorgoroth is a little run down, and suffers from periodic pyroclastic flow damage. It does though have bags of charm and you get large credibility points for pitching a tent here. You need to bring your own water but eggs fry nicely on the naturally heated bedrock.


  • The Eye of Sauron Suite at the Burj Al-Barad-dûr [4] is the ultimate in Mordorian luxury. Brad and Angelina stayed here. Panoramic 360 degree views, and the management even let you have a go with The Eye. Fully completed just before Emaar went bust. Recommended by Lonely Planet.

Stay safe

Not unlike Detroit, visitors to Mordor must face the very real possibility that they will be imprisoned, killed, or even eaten during their visit. While this may dissuade some from making the journey, simple precautions can help to alleviate these concerns. Most importantly, never visit Mordor without an accompanying army (much the same precautions as for Glasgow match days, really). While rumors persist of individuals who have traveled to the heart of the country alone or in groups as small as three, this is a decidedly dangerous proposition.

Remember that Mordor is a volatile region, and downright dangerous in the western areas. Abduction by orcs, while something that might someday make for a best-selling novel, is not generally an adventure that ends well. Similarly, Mordor has an ongoing border conflict with Gondor, and in border areas you're likely to be foisted off in the middle of the night by scouts from either side. Ephel Dúath is barren desert, and survival in the wilderness without proper equipment impossible. While the south-eastern part of the country is generally considered to be a lot safer than the north and west, occasional incidents can still occur anywhere and a seemingly safe place can become the opposite in an instant. Several media reporters were killed in the northern parts of Mordor, most likely by criminals or a bored Nazgul.

Spiders and snakes are also something to be careful of, and the mountainous country has many vicious creatures such as scorpions, trolls, feral Orcs, etc. In some areas, altitude sickness is a significant risk. Mount Doom is an active and unpredictable volcano. It should not be approached without appropriate equipment.

If, after considering the risks, you still choose to travel in Mordor, hiring an armed escort or travelling with an experienced guide are ways to decrease the risks. You should also check with your embassy, and be clear on what they can and cannot do for you in an emergency. Emergency evacuations by eagle are always in demand and you may have a long wait.

Possession of class A drugs is not illegal, rather it is encouraged. This has undoubtedly contributed to an upsurge in backpacker traffic to the region. Try to find the nearest orc-rave and ask for Gobrag, who will certainly be able to sort you out. You ain't seen nothing until you have seen a loved-up orc.


In some areas, especially near the Black Gate, photographing military installations, government buildings, or even transport infrastructure can get you in trouble. If in doubt, cautiously and politely ask an orc captain, while trying not to smell too tasty.

The invasion by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men is still a sensitive and painful matter for most Mordorians, and should not be talked about in a jesting manner. Similarly, save your orc jokes for when you get home. They have heard the jokes before, and don't find them particularly humorous or endearing.

Use of vulgarities, such as soap, plants, kittens, etc., is a complex matter informed by the gender, age, and status of the monster you are talking to. Best to avoid swearing altogether to avoid offending the locals, especially those carrying axes.

Public nudity is generally only acceptable in designated locations.

Using basic commonsense instead of relying on vacuous patronizing advice from the respect section of your travel guide is strictly discouraged.


  • Considering bringing your own toilet paper and a gulf war grade gas mask.
  • Smoking is permitted, indeed encouraged, everywhere. There are probably better options for sensitive Californian souls.
Anduin River bridge, leading out from Mordor

Stay healthy

It is highly recommended to buy a travel insurance before the trip, just in case.

Standards of hygiene in the region are generally extremely low and have been compared to those at Vang Vieng. The normal, stinking, crusty Caucasian traveller will feel well at home here, and it is unlikely you will be carrying too many diseases that the citizens of Mordor have not previously experienced.


If you find yourself in danger, locate the nearest Palantir to call Gondor for aid. Be aware though that the men of Gondor got old, fat, and more than a little unreliable.

Get out

  • In the talons of an eagle, back to the rather dull German settlement at Minas Tirith.
  • Hardier, adventurous types might try a cruise in the Bay of Belfalas.
  • Do get out sooner rather than later.
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