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16 Most Dangerous Places in the World That Might Surprise You

They say that danger lurks around every corner, but for some places in the world, this is more true than others.

Unfortunately, the places referred to are often some of the most beautiful and tourist-worthy — ironic, right? Just like some of the most dangerous cities in the world are the ones that beckon travelers the most. 

But some of the most dangerous places on earth mentioned here can be potentially deadly, so these aren’t warnings you should ignore lightly.

Instead, take all precautions when visiting the most dangerous places in the world.

1. Death Valley National Park (USA)

death valley
PC: kavramm/DepositPhotos

Sitting between California and Nevada, Death Valley National Park is a land of extreme heat. With the highest recorded temperature of 56.6ºC, it’s officially the hottest place on Earth. And the valley’s name is well deserved, with some hikers losing their lives to the extreme conditions in the past.

The sun’s concentrated energy here is deadly and downright uncomfortable, even though over one million visitors head to the park every year to see the Badwater Basin. The Sailing Stones on Racetrack Playa are also a big pull, thanks to their mystery. 

But the extremes switch during winter when the temperatures plunge and occasionally reach freezing at night. The rainy seasons in the surrounding mountains also bring the dangers of flash floods to the Valley.  

2. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii)

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
PC: National Parked/DepositPhotos

Getting up close and personal with lava oozing bright orange bursts of color from the barren black rock landscape of an active volcano is a thrill, that’s for sure. And there are boat tours and guided lava hikes that specialize in just this. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is actually a World Heritage Site and home to Mount Kilauea, which hasn’t stopped erupting since 1983.

But these tours have an element of danger. The splashing sea water is often scalding from the constant outpouring of molten rock into its waves. Other hazards like flying rocks and sulphurous fumes have caused casualties and even deaths over the years. So you have to weigh up the risk versus the benefit. 

3. Skeleton Coast (Africa)

skeleton coast 2
PC: kavramm/DepositPhotos

From the south of Angola to the northern areas of Namibia, the Skeleton Coast is a barren stretch of coastline with a harsh climate. It offers almost no chance of survival should you be unlucky enough to be marooned here. 

There’s no food or fresh water to be had, and the dry desert winds would dehydrate you pretty fast, combined with the open dunes offering no shade for relief from the sun. 

The sands are also littered with the bones of whales, seals, and even elephants along the shores, either washed up already dead or driven to the sea by thirst and dying later on. 

4. Gates of Hell (Turkmenistan)

gates of hell
PC: AlexelA/DepositPhotos

The Gates of Hell sounds like a terrifying place to see, but its geological origins are innocent enough. It’s a natural gas field inside an underground cave that geologists set on fire in 1971 to prevent methane from spilling into the atmosphere. 

The result is Turkmenistan Darvaza Gas Crater, 230 feet wide with burning hotspots of orange flames and boiling mud spreading 200 feet long and 66 feet deep. It’s located in the middle of the Karakum Desert near the village of Derweze and makes for quite the sight in the desert landscape at night. 

5. Danakil Desert (Ethiopia)

Danakil Desert Ethiopia
PC: marcovarro/DepositPhotos

With temperatures that usually exceed 50ºC, the Danakil Desert in northeastern Ethiopia is as uninhabitable as it gets. Three tectonic plates are slowly diverging in this geological depression, so volcanoes abound geysers belch toxic fumes, making both the ground and the air a safety hazard. 

Even a short visit would dramatically impact your health, as you are likely to be poisoned by concentrated sulphuric vapours. The area is consistently volcanically active, so eruptions are always possible. 

The huge salt pans and hydrothermal fields in bright sulphur yellows and deep blues are mesmerizing, though it’s so remote and dangerous not many tourists venture here.  

6. Snake Island (Brazil)

snake island brazil

Sitting snuggly 25 miles off the coast of Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean, Snake Island, or Ilha da Queimada Grande, is fairly small, covering only 106 acres in total. But it has a deadly reputation, to the point that it’s illegal to visit it. 

The biggest threat the island poses is its colonies of golden lancehead snakes, which are a variety of pit viper species. One bite will kill a grown man within a few hours, the venom burning through flesh and causing the victim to bleed to death. 

Luckily, Snake Island is the only place you’ll find this particular snake, with a population of between 2,000 to 4,000 of them living on this small island.

7. Death Road (Bolivia)

bolivia death road
PC: RPB media/DepositPhotos

Its real name is North Yungas Road and it connects La Paz to Coroico in Bolivia. Driving either way on this 43-mile switchback road means taking your life in your hands, though. 

Thick fog, cliffs plummeting 2,000 feet by the road’s edge, landslides, and waterfalls make navigating downright dangerous (and frankly terrifying). Until 1995, 200 – 300 drivers died on this road every year, giving it the nickname “Death Road.”

Many of the people who died were on trucks and buses attempting to negotiate the hairpin turns that weren’t wide enough to accommodate their vehicles. 

8. Lake Natron (Tanzania)

Lake Natron Tanzania
PC: IdeaStudios/DepositPhotos

There may be a ring of pretty salt marshes around the edges of Lake Natron, but don’t let them fool you. This inhospitable lake in North Tanzania is more like a fire lake, with temperatures ranging from 120ºF to 140ºF. 

If that wasn’t enough to scare you off, the waters have high levels of Natron, i.e. the acidic sodium carbonate decahydrate, which is corrosive to human flesh and eyes. The pH level of the lake can reach over 12 depending on rainfall or lack thereof. 

Despite this, red-hued cyanobacteria call the lake their home and turn the water pretty colours of pink-red and orange. The lake is also the breeding ground of 2.5 million Lesser Flamingos, amazingly. 

9. Oymyakon (Russia)

Oymyakon Russia
PC: tagasiapril/DepositPhotos

In the heart of Siberia is the tiny Russian village of Oymyakon. Although it’s permanently inhabited, only about 500 people dare live there because it is one of the coldest places on Earth. 

The lowest temperature ever recorded was -96.2ºF. Barely any crops can grow so lack of food availability is an issue, and it’s mostly not safe to be outside for periods of time due to the high risk of hypothermia and death.

It’s even too cold for mobile phones to work here. Nonetheless, the few hundred who remain tough it out. 

10. Madidi National Park (Bolivia)

Madidi National Park
PC: toniflap/DepositPhotos

Most national parks are places of wonder, and Madidi is no different. But there’s a sharp element of danger here. Not only do a high number of dangerous predators lurk in its lush greenery, but the plants themselves can be severely poisonous. 

Severe itching, dizziness, and rashes aren’t uncommon from contact with the flora, and any tiny scratch or cut could be assailed by tropical parasites. The only way you are allowed to experience this place is with an experienced guide. 

11. Fraser Island (Australia)

Fraser island
PC: brians101/DepositPhotos

From rainforests to beaches, danger can be found just about anywhere. Fraser Island looks like a perfect piece of paradise with its inviting turquoise waters and smooth pale sands, but this remote island is home to many deadly creatures. 

Poisonous spiders and wild dingos that prove to be truly aggressive lay claim to this piece of land, and the waters belong to sharks and deadly jellyfish. So stick to climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge for your thrills, rather. 

12. Mount Washington (USA)

Image by Dan Meyers from Unsplash

You wouldn’t imagine it, but Mount Washington holds the record for the fastest winds recorded on Earth, with peak speeds of 203 mph. Not only that, but the temperatures can drop to the minus 40s, making hypothermia a risk. 

It’s known to be the most dangerous small mountain you can attempt; even seasoned hikers have found themselves blown off-course by the powerful westerly winds. And not by a few feet — they’ve been pushed a number of miles from trails and safety. Never underestimate the power of nature. 

13. K2 (Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir)

Image by Daniel Born from Unsplash

You’d think Everest would be a dangerous mountain, but it turns out that K2 (also called Mount Godwin Austen) holds that title. It’s the second-highest peak the world over, and the foul weather it experiences plus the greater height from base camp to summit makes it that much more challenging. 

Storms on K2 tend to last several days, leading to more deaths. It’s also very steep with fewer flat expanses during the climb. At the 24,000 feet mark, the path flattens out a bit — but thanks to the high likelihood of rockfalls and avalanches and unpredictable weather, you’re not out of the red yet. Especially with the lower oxygen level at those altitudes.

Comparatively, more than 5,000 people have scaled Mount Everest, but only 300 or so have conquered K2.  

14. Mount Sinabung (Indonesia)

Mount Sinabung erupting
Image by Yosh Ginsu from Unsplash

Mount Sinabung is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia, making living on the island a risky choice. It lay dormant for 400 years before suddenly springing to life in a dramatic eruption in 2010, posing a deadly threat to the communities that had been built up around its base. 

Since then, it erupted from September 2013 until August 2018, and then again for four months in 2019. It opened its maw and belched out ash and lava once more from August 2020 until September 2021. Residents continue to return to cultivate their lands despite the risk. 

15. Australian Outback (Australia)

Image by Wallula from Pixabay

Traversing the Outback, which covers more than 70% of Australia, can be quite the experience, but if you go unprepared, you may lose your life. Not only is the wildlife dangerous (poisonous spiders and snakes included), but the arid, dry conditions make it a place where heatstroke strikes fast if you get lost or stuck. 

It’s not unheard of for people to die here, especially when temperatures are at their peak in summer, so take all necessary precautions and then some before attempting a visit. 

16. Gouffre Berger Cave (France)

Image by Bruno van der Kraan from Unsplash

It’s also known as the Cave of Death. Pretty dramatic, but it’s earned its nickname by claiming the lives of some intrepid explorers. It’s over 3,000 feet deep with a steep descent, and if the weather suddenly turns to rain, there’s a large risk of flooding in the cave. 

Mostly only very skilled climbers tackle this bucket list descent as it can take 15 – 30 hours to return to the surface once you’ve reached the bottom.    

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