Today, we’re going to take you on a tour through the most dangerous places on Earth. As travelers, we have a natural curiosity about the world around us. We want to explore the fringes of Earth. We want to see everything we’re not supposed to see. However, these six places are so deadly that even the most experienced travelers are advised to stay away.
The Danakil Desert, Ethiopia
National Gegraphic calls northeast Ethiopia’s Danakil Desert the cruelest place on Earth. Spanning roughly 52,000 square miles of arid terrain, the desert’s daily temperatures average around 94°F but have been known to reach 122°F. Additionally, its springs are around 212°F and average at about 0.2 on the pH scale. (Compare this with the pH of sulfuric acid, which is 0.3.) As a result, death is abundant in the Danakil Desert, and one cannot explore its massive landscape without seeing more than a few corpses of animals that simply could not survive amidst the desert’s extreme conditions.
Only augmenting the danger is the fact that the desert is home to the Danakil Depression, a basin situated 100 meters below sea level; it hosts active volcanoes and is prone to frequent earthquakes. To top it off, relations between Ethiopia and its neighboring country Eritrea–in which part of the Danakil Desert is contained–are tense, at best, and the threat of being kidnapped around the border is high.
Despite having its own flag, national currency, and national bank, the 1,350 square mile strip of land known as Transnistria (aka the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic) is not recognized as a sovereign state by the United Nations. This may be partly due to its undying allegiance to the Soviet Union, which briefly ruled Transnistria. (Just take a look at the country’s flag.)
By all accounts, the citizens of Transnistria are generally friendly. So why has the territory been dubbed “Europe’s black hole?” Well, due to it being unrecognized by the United Nations, it is subject to looser restrictions. It has become a haven for Eastern European criminals, and tourists are their easiest prey. On top of that, the Transnistrian government isn’t exactly welcoming, and one wrong move could keep you in the country for much longer than you bargained for.
While visiting Transnistria can be exhilarating for those interested in Soviet history, we still advise that you skip this destination if you’re planning on traveling to Eastern Europe.
Snake Island, Brazil
Ilha da Queimada Granda, nicknamed “Snake Island,” is an island off the coast of São Paulo, Brazil. As one might guess, hordes of snakes riddle the island. However, these are not your everyday garden snakes. They are Golden Lancehead Vipers. GLVs are some of the most deadly snakes in existence, their venom containing neurotoxins that can melt their victim’s flesh whilst simultaneously shutting down their central nervous system. Currently, the island’s only residents are a group of scientists whose goal is to study the snakes. For all others, the Brazilian government has banned travel to Snake Island.
North Sentinel Island, Indian Territory
Visiting this island is not only dangerous for travelers, but it is dangerous for the island’s residents. A part of the Andamans–an Indian archipelago–North Sentinel Island hosts a tribe aptly referred to as the Sentinelese. The Sentinelese choose to avoid contact with the rest of the world. So, out of respect to their people, traveling to their home is off-limits. However, people have of course illegally crossed into their territory, and consequences have been fatal.
John Allen Chau, a 26 year-old American, died at the hands of the Sentinelese tribe when he illegally traveled to North Sentinel Island in an effort to convert its people to Christianity. While his story is tragic, it serves as a cautionary tale to respect the boundaries of others. Aside from the harm that can come to tourists, visiting the island can bring to the tribe diseases for which it has no immunity.
Yungas Road, Bolivia
Nicknamed “the Road of Death,” Yungas Road is a 43-mile, extremely narrow mountain road connecting La Paz to Coroico, Bolivia. Because of fog, landslides, and the road’s sharp turns, around 300 travelers die every year attempting to transverse Yungas Road. Scattered across the roadside are crosses that mark the places of deaths of travelers.
Lastly, we have Lake Nyos in Cameroon. The deadly lake is situated above volcanic earth. Because of this, huge amounts of carbon dioxide releases into the lake. When CO2 levels reach a certain threshold, the lake literally explodes, suffocating anyone in close proximity. The last time this occurred was in 1986. The CO2 explosion killed 1,700 people. The scariest part is that this event could easily happen again, putting nearby residents at risk of sudden death.
Are there any of the world’s most dangerous places that we forgot to mention? Let us know in the comments!
You may also enjoy The 4 Most Secret Places on Earth.