by Anna Fletcher
The earth holds endless beauty, wonder and adventure. In virtually every country of the world, there are amazing spots to explore. But among the beauty and the breathtaking views are places that will terrify you right out of your socks. From suicide-evoking woods to a disappearing waterfall to bat-eating cockroaches, there are some places that will leave you in wonder and some where you’d just rather not hang up your hammock and hang out in.
Here are 7 of the most naturally creepy places on earth:
Aokigahara “Suicide” Forest, Japan. Known as the Sea of Trees, Aokigahara is a 8,600-acre forest at the northwest base of Mt. Fuji. The high density of the trees block the wind and hold virtually no wildlife, making the forest eerily silent. Historically, it is home to the demons of Japanese mythology. Even more creepy, it’s the world’s second most popular location to commit suicide. Called “the perfect place to die”, Aokigahara has seen over 500 suicides since the 1950s. Bodies, nooses, bones and flowers left by loved ones can be found scattered throughout the woods, as well as various signs that Japanese officials put up to deter suicides. In Japanese and English, they urge people to change their minds, with messages like “Think of your family!” and “Life is a precious thing! Please reconsider!”
Jacob’s Well, Texas. Located in the Texas Hill Country, Jacob’s Well is headwaters to the Cypress Creek that flows through Wimberley all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. At over 100 feet deep, it is one of the longest underwater caves in Texas. But what seems to be the perfect swimming hole and underwater cave to explore is also one of the most dangerous. At least eight divers have lost their lives to the depths of Jacob’s Well, whether they ventured too deep or got trapped by the sliding gravel that lines the bottom of the well. There are four chambers that beckon exploration. The first is a straight, 30-foot drop that angles down to 55 feet. The second is a long funnel of 80 feet, complete with a false chimney that appears to be an exit but trapped and killed a Southwest Texas State University student in 1983. The third chamber is a small room with a floor of loose, unstable gravel (this is where divers are known to get trapped – they use water wings to carefully navigate through without disturbing the gravel). The fourth chamber is a a tight, limestone passage that barely allow divers through with their air tanks on and has a floor of loose silt that completely obscures vision if kicked up.
Gomantong Caves, Malaysia. This is a cave that will leave your skin crawling. The Gomantong Caves are home to a massive population of bats – millions of them. And if bats don’t creep you out, maybe the giant bat-eating cockroaches will. The cockroaches graze on giant mounds of bat poop, called guano, as well as the occasional bat or bird that falls onto the cave floor. And if you’re still unimpressed, see how you feel about Gomantong’s humungo centipedes that eat the giant cockroaches. Ah, the circle of life.
The Devil’s Kettle, Minnesota. The Brule River, located in Judge C. R. Magney State Park in Minnesota, splits in half to form two waterfalls on its way to Lake Superior. The eastern waterfall flows normally down a two-step stone embankment, falling into a pool at the bottom before continuing on down river. The western one, however, is an unsolved geological mystery. It falls into a huge, gaping pothole, known as the Devil’s Kettle, and then completely disappears – no one has any idea where the water goes! Over the years, people have unsuccessfully attempted to solve the mystery by pouring dye, logs and even ping pong balls into the falls and then watching the lake for any sign of them. There’s much speculation over the reason for this puzzling phenomena, including existence of an underground river that flows to Lake Superior and a hidden lava tube that formed when the rocks first solidified. Neither of these theories have been proven. To this day, this mysterious waterfall will leave you saying “huh??”.
Dering Woods, Pluckley, UK. There are many allegedly haunted forests in the world, but this one takes the cake. Dering Woods lies just south of Pluckley, one of the most haunted villages in Britain. There have been a great number of tragic deaths in this village, believed to be partially due to the magnetism of the ground that the town was built on. There are also many famous ghosts that inhabit Pluckley, and they lend their voices to Dering Woods’ haunted reputation – literally. The woods are called the Screaming Woods because of the blood-curling screams that people sometimes hear at night. It may be due to the wind, trees changing the sound wave direction or drafts intersecting; but whatever it is, it scares the bejeezus out of almost every visitor.
The Wall, St. Croix. The coast of St. Croix is famous for the largest living reef of all the Caribbean islands and its beautifully lush coral. Along the north shore of St. Croix is two-mile drop in the sea floor that is vertical in places. At The Wall, the water changes from shallow, warm and light blue to an endlessly deep, cold, black abyss. And it’s not just the drop-off and eerie water that makes this wall so gut-wrenching. The cold void is home to some very large and ferocious sea creatures, just waiting in the deep dark depths…
Madidi National Park. Between the Andes Mountains and the Tuichi River in Bolivia lies the Madidi National Park. It’s a spectacular wildlife reserve and one of the last remaining untouched places in the world. It’s also a place where everything is poisonous. From the wild pigs to the ticks, fleas and toxic insects to the plant life, Madidi is home to some of the most dangerous flora and fauna in the world. Joel Sartore, a photographer who traveled in Madidi, kept a diary of his time there. He wrote about how he witnessed a woman pull a live botfly maggot out of her calf – on his first night there! He also mentioned a bad rash he developed on his hands and face from touching a moth, huge red ants that hang off you with enormous pinchers and a flesh eating parasite called leishmaniasis contracted from a sand fly bite. I know where I’m not going to go on vacation!