Scary places can be found all around the world. In Mexico, there’s an island with old dolls hanging from trees, while Salem, Massachusetts has a history of hauntings. However, there are places in the world that are just naturally creepy. For this list, we’re categorizing “naturally creepy places” as locations that haven’t been touched much by humans. Their creepiness arises from nature or unexplained phenomena experts can’t figure out. Here are four:
In India, there’s a glacial lake called Roopkund in the Himalayas, in the Uttarakhand state. It’s a popular place to hike and surrounded by glaciers and snowy mountains. When the snow melts, however, the lake’s edge reveals a grisly sight: human bones. Though discovered in 1942 by a ranger, reports of skeletons do trace back to the 9th century. Initially, the British worried the bodies might be Japanese soldiers, but testing revealed they were much, much older. It appears the people died around the 9th century, and might have been a group of Iranians looking for new land. A local legend hypothesizes that a king and his entourage went on a pilgrimage, only to be caught in a deadly hailstone. Just this year, however, further testing revealed that some of the bones date to the 1800’s, and their genetic makeup better fits Mediterraneans, and not Iranians. The mystery of Roopkund deepens.
Madidi National Park
Many naturally creepy places don’t seem too weird on the surface, but upon a closer look, their creepiness appears. That’s the case with Bolivia’s Madidi National Park. Found in the upper Amazon River basin, it remains one of the most untouched jungles in the world. Only 50 or some indigenous community groups live there, but guided tours are available for the adventurous tourist. That being said, it’s still a dangerous place, and many of the wildly-diverse plant and animal life is poisonous. Photographer Joel Sartore journaled during his trip, and described sights like huge red ants, a rash-causing moth, a botfly maggot in his hand, and bats, which peed on him while he tried to sleep under a mosquito net. This is a place that fights back, but unfortunately, the national park is always facing issues with conservation.
Speaking of bats, the Gomantong Caves in Borneo, Malaysia, is home to over a million. Most of them are wrinkle-lipped free-tailed bats. Tourists often come at night they watch them, along with the bat hawks who stay close by, eager for a meal. While that’s interesting to a lot of people, the enormous pile of guano (bat poop) is pretty horrifying, especially since it attracts countless cockroaches. They cover the waves and floor, so if you plan on entering these caves, prepare yourself. Cover yourself with clothing and tuck your pants into your boots, or else they will fill with cockroaches. In the darkness of the cave, you’ll hear them, scuttling around.
The Darvaza gas crater
So far, most of the naturally creepy places you’ve learned about don’t involve humans, but the gas crater known as the “Door to Hell” probably wouldn’t exist without some scientists. It’s a continuously-burning pit in the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan. In the early 1970’s, the Soviet Union was drilling for oil. They hit upon a bad spot, and accidentally created a sinkhole. Methane gas started pouring from it, so the scientists set it on fire, hoping it would burn off in a few weeks. Exact dates of these events are disputed, but we do know that the crater is still burning. It measures over 200 feet x 98 feet. In an episode of a National Geographic TV show (“Die Trying”), George Kourounis actually went into the crater to collect “extremophile” microorganisms, or organisms that can survive extreme environments. Lucky for him, he did not “die trying,” but became the first person to reach the bottom of the Door to Hell.
Interested in more supernaturally-creepy places? Here’s a list of horror movie locations available to visit.