Death Road, Blood Falls, Snake Island: The scariest natural wonders on Earth

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The Earth is full of boundless beauty and stunning places – but there are parts of our planet that are absolutely terrifying.

These locations don’t need haunted buildings or skull graveyards to make them creepy, they’re perfectly capable of creating their own menacing auras without any help from humans.

Despite – or maybe because of – their spooky atmospheres, many of the sites of these naturally-occurring phenomena have become popular tourist destinations.

Here are some travel ideas if you’re an adrenaline junkie who likes their holiday to come with plenty of frights.

‘Death Road’, Bolivia

Officially known as the North Yungas Road, this stomach-dropping route was build by Paraguayan prisoners of war during the deadly Chaco conflict of the 1930s.

The narrow, winding road connects La Paz, the administrative capital of Bolivia, with the Las Yungas forest and the Amazon.

The North Yungas Road in Bolivia features a stomach-churning drop on one side

In 1995 it earned the title of “World’s Most Dangerous Road” by the Interamerican Development Bank, and is often called “Death Road”. Before a safer route was built in 2006, about 300 people died on the road every year.

Despite the deathly drop to one side and the total lack of any safety rails, the road attracts about 25,000 visitors a year.

Travel website Culture Trip warns tourists to be wary of other vehicles as they cycle along the 60km stretch: “Never steer into a blind corner without checking for oncoming traffic first.”

Gomantong Caves, Malaysia

This intricate cave system in Sabah, Malaysia is a geographical marvel, but it’s not the place to go if you hate creepy-crawlies.

Gomantong is home to more than two million bats and the cave floor is thickly coated in their droppings, as are the handrails. The unique aroma has been called “the worst smell known to humanity”.

The Gomantong Caves are covered in cockroaches, snakes, rats and three-inch poisonous centipedes

Millions of Malaysian cockroaches crawl over the walls and the scurrying creatures are unavoidable for any visitors walking through the cave system.

But that’s not all – the caves are also home to snakes, scorpions, rats, freshwater crabs, and the notorious giant scutigera centipedes—poisonous bugs that are at least three inches long.

‘The Door to Hell’, Turkmenistan

This terrifying natural wonder is, literally, a hole into the centre of the Earth that is always on fire.

The Darvaza gas crater in Derweze, Turkmenistan was identified by the Soviets as a profitable oil field in 1971.

Engineers set up a drilling rig and began operations to assess the amount of oil available under the surface. Soon after surveyors discovered a natural gas pocket, the ground beneath them collapsed into a huge crater and the entire drilling camp was buried.

The gas crater has been burning consistently for almost 50 years

They decided the best thing to do to avoid poisonous gases leaking out into nearby towns was to set a fire and burn the gas off, which they expected to take just a few weeks.

Almost 50 years on, the crater is still burning with no end in sight.

‘Spider Fields’, Australia

If you thought the Gomantong Caves were bad, look away now.


A bizarre phenomenon strikes the New South Wales city of Wagga Wagga every year – thousands of spiders cover the field in webs.

The eight-legged creatures migrate en masse to escape torrential flooding in spring.

A particular wet season in 2012 saw greater flooding and a particularly huge number of spider migrants. Surreal photos of the scene show fields and riverbanks papered over with delicate spiderwebs, which would be beautiful if it weren’t so terrifying.


‘Blood Falls’, Antarctica

For decades, scientists were baffled as to why a cliff of ice in Antarctica was stained a deep red.

The gory-looking outflow into West Lake Bonney was at first believed to be caused by algae discolouring the water, but the hypothesis was never able to be verified.

The red falls on Antarctica’s Taylor Glacier baffled scientists for decades

It wasn’t until the release of research by the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2017 that the red colour was proved to come from oxidised iron in brine saltwater. It’s the same chemical process that turns iron red when it rusts, dying the water when the iron oxidises.

We now have a logical explanation for what looks like a river of blood, but that doesn’t make it any less creepy-looking.

‘Snake Island’, Brazil

The name really sums it up – this is an island full of snakes.

Ilha da Queimada Grande is a small landmass 25 miles off the coast of Brazil that is illegal for humans to visit.

‘Snake Island’ is a deadly 43-hectare landmass off the coast of Brazil

That’s for good reason, as between 2,000 and 4,000 snakes live on the 43-hectare island. They became trapped there when rising sea levels covered the land connecting it to the mainland.

The golden lancehead viper lives on the island, one of the deadliest snakes in the world whose bite can kill within an hour. A local legend says the last fisherman who got too close to its shores was later found dead in a pool of blood in his boat.

Unsurprisingly, the Brazilian government has banned people from setting foot there, lest that foot receive a deadly bite.





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