The world is filled with dangerous places. The political situation in some make them dangerous. High crimes rates are also risk factors. Extreme poverty and low opportunities often make people do bad things just to survive. There are haunted places, poisonous places, and areas of extreme weather. Collectively, the list could go on for pages. This list touches on some of those, mainly looking at the extremes. The ones that rise above all others when looking at total risk. Oddly enough, many of them appeal to tourists who just can’t stop themselves from seeing what all the danger is about. To each their own, I suppose. Common sense says that these 9 dangerous places should be considered absolutely off limits. Read about them, but don’t make the trip. It’s impossible to determine which one is the very worst, or most dangerous, so the list isn’t ranked.
The first stop in our journey of dangerous places is Lake Karachay. This small lake was found in southern Russia, high in the Ural mountains. It was considered the most polluted lake in the world, but not with trash. Lake Karachay ‘s pollution comes from radioactive waste. The area has a higher radioactive level than Chernobyl; ground zero of the worst nuclear power plant accident in world history. The lake was so polluted that coming in contact with the water or even standing on the shore would kill a person within an hour.
When nuclear power was in it’s infancy, radioactive waste was treated much differently than it is today. There were fewer regulations and safeguards in place. In the years between 1951 and 1953, the Mayak Production Association released nuclear waste into the waters of Lake Karachay. Built in 1947-48, Chelyabinsk-65 was the only facility in the former-USSR capable of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. Every other power plant and all naval ships that used reactors would send their waste here. It is believed that the lakebed has more than 10 feet of solid waste sediment. The lake itself is less than one square mile. That concentration of high-level waste is deadly.
Containment activities have been occurring since the 1960’s. The lake bed has been sealed with concrete blocks; a process which took 40 years to complete, finally being completed in 2015. Each year thousands of tons of dirt and crushed stone are added to the top layers and care is taken to make sure nothing leeches out. Even with all this work, the nuclear waste will take thousands of years to decay. Scientists claim its safe, but there is a lot of doubt still out there.
To learn more about Lake Karachay, visit this link.
Our next stop takes us to the Arusha region of northern Tanzania to Lake Natron. It is a shallow lake that often turns a strange red color and is one of the most toxic lakes in the world. But unlike Lake Karachay, Lake Natron gets its toxicity naturally. The lake has no outlets and is filled from springs that leach through volcanic material of Mount Ol Doinyo Lehgai. It is the world’s only carbonatite volcano and it is still active. Because of this unique geological feature, the lake contains very high levels of salt, soda and magnesite (magnesium carbonate). During the summer months, when evaporation is at its highest level, two salts, natron (sodium carbonate decahydrate) and trona (sodium sesquicarbonate dihydrate) become the dominant ingredients. They contribute to an unheard of pH-level, above 12.
The lake itself covers an area 35 miles long by 13 miles wide with the deepest spot being about 9 feet. It is extremely hot, with water temperatures averaging well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The salinity is so high that micro-bacteria known as halophiles thrive. This bacterium has a red pigment that it uses for photosynthesis which gives the lake it’s odd reddish-color. This red coloration has been seen from space and NASA photos verify it.
The bacteria in Lake Natron release a chemical which in does irreparable damage to the cells, nervous system and livers of any creature that drinks the water. Any animals that drink from Lake Natron wind up dead. Any creature which falls into or dives into the water will also die, but their deaths are even more creepy. Their bodies become calcified and they are permanently mummified. They literally appear to have turned to stone. When they say don’t drink the water of Lake Natron, they aren’t kidding. But seriously, this is one of the most dangerous places in the world and should be avoided at all costs.
For a detailed look at Lake Natron and the surrounding area, visit this link.
Naica Crystal Cave
Our next stop in our review of dangerous places takes us deep underground. One thousand feet under the Sierra de Naica Mountain in Chihuahua, Mexico, lies an extraordinary place. One filled with giant selenium crystals of unimaginable beauty. A place that had the perfect conditions for accelerated crystal growth was revealed without its presence ever being known until the moment of discovery. The Naica Crystal Caves are a natural wonder and one of the most dangerous places on the planet. The giant limestone cave is about 98 feet long and 33 feet wide with temperatures that range from 113 degrees Fahrenheit to 133 degrees Fahrenheit. To make matters worse, the humidity levels are between 90% and 100%. It is beautiful, filled with massive crystals that amaze and astound and it is a literal death trap.
The area around Sierra de Naica has been in the news before, Many deposits of precious metals were discovered in the early 1900’s, and it was regularly mined. This discovery wasn’t the first of it’s kind either. Another cave called the Cave of the Swords was discovered in 1910. That cave was about 400 feet down and was also filled with selenite crystals, but none were larger than 8 feet in length. Most protruded from the walls in a spiked or sword-like pattern, hence the name. But the mountain wasn’t ready to reveal it’s deepest wonder. The history books were rewritten in 2000. Brothers Pedro and Juan Sanchez, two miners working for the Peñoles Mining Company made the awesome discovery. The two entered the cavern after it had been pumped out and saw a room full of massive crystals before they were fully dry. It was a sight unlike any previous sighting. To put this into perspective, the largest have been measured at over 40 feet in length and 6 feet in width. Some are estimated to weigh over 50 tons.
The discovery garnered worldwide attention, but it soon became clear that the cave was more than just dangerous, it was deadly. With the combination of high heat and humidity, anyone who stayed in the cave for long risked having fluid condense inside their lungs. It would be comparable to getting pneumonia almost immediately. The original team the explored the cave were only able to stay inside for 5 minutes before they felt like they were going to die. Additionally, there is the added danger of movement inside a cave of razor sharp crystals when everything is wet. One false step and you could be sliced up with little chance of a rescue mission making it to you before you succumbed to the humidity. This is a seriously, do not visit location, and for that reason it makes our 9 dangerous places list.
To learn more about the Naica Caves, visit the official site at this link
This next stop isn’t a natural place. It’s actually an unnatural place and one of the most dangerous places on earth. Poveglia Island is haunted. To be more specific, the most haunted island on earth. It’s located off the Italian coast and is so damned that no one lives there and it is rarely visited. The island’s history is dark, beginning in 1348 during the Bubonic Plague. Plague victims were sent to the island to die. There was no hope for a cure as Europe struggled to contain the outbreak. After the Plague passed, the island was abandoned.
Centuries later the Black Plague returned and the island was again put into service. This time around it was also used as a massive dumping ground for dead bodies. Crews worked day and night burning bodies in large pits. Like the last time, anyone who appeared to have symptoms of the plague was imprisoned on the island. Many of the near-dead were burned alive to keep up with the constant influx of arrivals. It is estimated that 160,000 corpses were sent to the tiny island. But the horror that infested Poveglia Island doesn’t end there.
In the late 1800’s Poveglia Island became the permanent home to an asylum. But here rehabilitation wasn’t part of the services. Patients were grossly mistreated or ignored. Patients started reporting sightings of grotesque shadowy figures roaming the island. The misguided staff wrote them off as delusional. To make matters worse, a psychotic doctor began performing strange surgical experiments on patients in the 1930’s. His quest to discover the cure for insanity included lobotomies with crude instruments and no anesthesia. This doctor eventually was found dead at the base of the bell tower, some say suicide, others say he was destroyed by the ghosts of the island.
Over the years following the closure of the asylum, several developers tried to rehabilitate the property. Every one was scared away and refuse to speak of the reasons why. One wealthy family bought the island to build a holiday retreat but left after only one day. Their young daughter mysteriously had her face torn open. Psychics and other experts in the field of paranormal studies have visited and left terrified and silent. None have ever returned for a second visit. Many theorize that so much negative energy has collected on the island from the countless tortured souls, that it will remain deserted forever. It is truly one of the most dangerous places in the world.
For an expanded summary of the events on Poveglia Island, visit this link.
Island’s seem to be vacation paradises or death traps. Our next stop on the tour of dangerous places is Ramree Island. This island is located off the coast of Burma. From first glance, it appears to be a lush tropical paradise surrounded with mangrove jungles. However in this case, looks are very deceiving. Ramree Island is home to a very large population of saltwater crocodiles. The island is such a dangerous place that accurate counts of the beasts cannot be made. Saltwater crocodiles are one of the largest reptilian predators on the planet. They can grow to over 20 feet in length and over 2,000 pounds given the right conditions.
Ramree Island also hold’s the world’s record for the largest slaughter of humans by animals. The gruesome event happened during Word War II. Allied forces wanted to establish a base on the island, however at the time it was inhabited by the Japanese. The number of troops stationed there was somewhere between 500 and 1,000. British troops engaged the Japanese and pushed them back into the mangrove forests, from which most would never return. Some time later 20 of the fleeing Japanese soldiers were captured. They spoke of horrible reptilian monsters attacking and devouring their fellow soldiers. Some were purported to have escaped the island and the actual death toll isn’t known. The event was unlike anything else in history.
To this day, the island remains infested with saltwater crocodiles. The beasts are still very aggressive and still kill and eat any unsuspecting human being they encounter. The population is still unknown, but experts consider it to be a growing population. It is definitely one of the most dangerous places in the world, and not recommended for visitors.
To learn more about the Battle for Ramree Island visit this link.
Our third island in the list of dangerous places is off the coast of Brazil. Ilha Da Queimada Grande is so frightening that it’s completely uninhabited. It is more commonly known as Snake Island. It is one of the most dangerous places in the world, so dangerous that it’s illegal to even visit. There are no permanent residences on the island, not even a research facility. A single lighthouse which has been in place since the early 1900’s is the only structure. In fact, there a few living creatures there aside from the snakes and migratory birds which visit the island periodically. The deadly snakes that give the island it’s name have made sure that nothing interrupts their dominance.
The Golden Lancehead, a unique species of pit viper are the only permanent inhabitants. Estimates that between two-thousand and four-thousand of these snakes make their home on Snake Island. Golden Lanceheads are dangerous. Their venom is so lethal that it can literally melt the flesh at the bite point. Over time they have adapted their feeding patterns to hunt migratory birds which stop off on the island. The snakes will slither up into the trees to wait. Once a bird is near, they strike with such a lethality that death is instantaneous.
Golden Lancehead venom is considered toxic to humans, but doesn’t always kill. It can cause kidney failure, internal bleeding, necrosis, and brain bleeding. But permanent damage will begin to occur within an hour and the island is more than an hour away from the mainland. The numbers estimate that there is one snake per 6 square yards, it would be unlikely you could get far. It’s a risk not worth taking.
Golden Lanceheads are a critically endangered species. To read more visit this link.
Our journey heads back to the mainland as we look at the next on our list of dangerous places. The Danakil Desert, sometimes referred to as the Danakil Depression is located in the Horn of Africa, modern day Ethiopia. The depression which spans 6 miles by 24 miles in area, sits more than 300 feet below sea level and is the hottest place on earth. Temperatures in the summer have been recorded as high as 131 degrees Fahrenheit at midday. It is the natural result of three tectonic plates which have been spreading apart for millions of years. It’s now mostly sedimentary rock and limestone, a modern day volcanic wasteland that most liken to an alien landscape; very colorful but inhabitable and devoid of life.
There is a constant threat of volcanic activity from Dallol, a young active volcano. Lava lakes erupt from underground throughout the area. Super-heated hot springs, bubbling pools of oil and sulfuric acid, and hydrothermal pools are also found in the area. Large deposits of salts give the area a spooky sand painting kid of a vibe. There are so many poisonous gasses in the air, that breathing nearly impossible. Even spending a few minutes taking in the sights could cause permanent damage to your lungs. It all adds up to another no way, no chance, not ever kind of a place to visit.
To learn more about the area surrounding the Danakil Desert, visit this link.
The Door to Hell
As we near the end of our journey, our last stop is in remote Turkmenistan. The Door to Hell is a fiery pit located deep in the Karakum desert. What started out as a oil drilling project turned into one of most interesting and dangerous places in the world. While speculating for oil, a Soviet team instead tapped into a huge natural gas pocket. Subsequently, the area collapsed, taking their drilling rig and much of the surrounding land down with it. Their scientific team felt the pocket would eventually release poisonous gasses, so they took the bold step of igniting the gas. This process was expected to burn off the gas within a few weeks, which would allow them to continue oil exploration. What happened instead was that inadvertently, the scientists created the Door to Hell.
The official name of this place is the Darvaza gas crater. The orange flame and the boiling mud together give the burning crater the image of hell. Reports are that when you get close to the crater you can hear the sound of the flames. The heat is so intense that if you stand too close, you will lose your breath and feel unsteady. The smell of combustion can be sensed for about a mile around the crater. The ground around the crater is unstable and is a real threat to anyone who gets too close.
This is one of the most dangerous places in the world, best viewed from a distance. To learn more about the crater, visit this link.
Dangerous places can occur naturally or due to humankind not playing nice with Mother Nature. Regardless, the outcome is usually a dangerous place with little value, other than a tourist attraction.
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R.J. Schwartz is the owner and creative force behind The Gypsy Thread website. Use this link to go to the main page and explore articles on the unexplained, witchcraft, pagan history, and to find Full Moon and Pagan Rituals (all of which are free to use).
If you are a fans of poetry, creative writing, short stories, and more, visit the Creative Exiles website at this link. R.J. Schwartz is a writer and also owns the website. If you are a writer looking for a place to get started, contact him.
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