There are always a few places in your hometown where even the locals won’t go. Kids tell stories of how they went there and lived to tell the tale, and sometimes these stories continue for generations. These creepy urban legends will scare even the bravest travelers and hometown heroes from sightseeing.
Although there are thousands of hidden crypts and ghost-ridden trails left to be explored, here’s a sample of 35 of the creepiest places in the world, as told by the locals who live there.
35. Don’t Look At Me
I lived in the northern part of the Republic of Congo in a town called Impfondo. It was extremely remote. Only accessible by boat or plane. There were many villages surrounding our city that were even more remote and only accessible by a dugout canoe. One of these places was Lake Tele. The locals would talk about an animal or monster called mokele-mbembe. In Lingala, the tribal language, it meant, one who stops the flow of water. They basically thought it was a huge dinosaur that lived in the water there. They would describe it as we would a brontosaurus. They were terrified of where it lived because there were old legends that it would kill people with its eyes and if anyone ate its meat it would kill the whole village. It was hard to explore that part of the country because people tended to avoid it.
34. Rule Of Thumb, Steer Clear Of The Crevasses
All throughout the world, wherever there are glaciers, there are crevasses. Massive ones. Ones nobody ever even knows exists because they’re under snow, ones that look like a small hole but open up into massive chasms you could never climb out of, etc. The fear, obviously, is never coming back out.
An example of a really scary place full of them is near the base of Everest from the south side: the Khumbu Icefall.
It’s the start of a massive glacier, and it moves fast enough that it’s constantly changing. People actually do climb over the top of it as part of the primary route to climb Everest, but actually going down into the crevasses is something you absolutely avoid.
And even if you did go down and explore one day, a few hours later everything could be very, very different.
33. These Aren’t The Pearly Gates
Hades’ Gate or the Gate to Hell in Denizli, Turkey. Supposedly, there’s so much carbon dioxide coming out of the entrance of the ancient site that anything that gets close to it dies from asphyxiation. Scientists have determined because this cave sits along a fault line, that the carbon dioxide filled it from an opening in the Earth’s crust.
32. A Valley Of Headless Men… I’ll Take The Stairs
The Nahanni National Park in Northwest Canada, also known as “The Valley of Headless Men.” There are no roads leading in and it is only accessible by boat or plane. Ancient tribes of the Nahanni Valley were afraid to settle within the region as they believed it to be an evil, haunted place inhabited by various spirits, specters, and devils.
In the 18th century, Europeans began arriving at the area looking for gold. In 1908, two brothers Willie and Frank McLeod pushed farther into the valley looking for gold and disappeared only to turn up beheaded. More beheadings and mysterious deaths began occurring over the years. In 1945, a trapper appeared to have been flash frozen despite evidence of having a fire going and clutching a pack of matches.
Many others just simply vanished never to be found. Around 44 people had vanished under unknown mysterious circumstances by 1969. To this day there’s no answer to what was responsible for the beheadings or the disappearances. The area is so foreboding and remote that very few people other than adventurous rafters ever attempt to explore it. Despite being a National Park, Nahanni Valley is almost completely unexplored.
31. The Opening To Hell
Houska Castle was built to cover up “the opening to hell” a seemingly bottomless pit from which the demons of hell would crawl out at night to wreak havoc. Located in the Czech countryside. Before the castle was built to seal this entrance to hell prisoners who had been condemned to death were thrown in.
30. Never Insult Your Host
Mount Nyangani (formerly Inyangani) in Zimbabwe. The myth is that if you climb this mountain, and make nasty/derogatory comments about the vegetation or rocks or anything you see there (e.g. you pick a fruit and comment on how bitter it tastes) you’ll disappear forever. It sounds ridiculous until you learn that several people, including tourists, have disappeared in that mountain. Extensive manhunts and helicopter searches failed to find a single person, dead or alive. Locals fear the mountain, but tourists take it as a challenge, and it doesn’t end well for a lot of them.
29. Curse and Calamity
Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerela, India. There are six underground vaults labeled A to F in the temple out of which five have been opened. From these five vaults, about a ton of gold in form of jewelry, coins, and utensils has been found, apart from diamond and other precious stones necklaces stretching nine feet long.
But the real mystery lies in the vault B, which is yet to be opened. There’s a warning on the door written in Sanskrit that curse and calamity will befall on anyone who tries to open the door.
The door is said to have been sealed with Naga Bandham or the snake seal by a Siddha Purush, a very powerful sage who has realized the true potential that a human can achieve through spiritual discipline such as meditation. (A Siddha Purush is like a living God) and only a Siddha Purush can open this vault again using the garuda mantra.
Any other human being who tries to open the vault will fail and feel the wrath of the seven-headed serpent that guards the vault. This seven-headed serpent is one of the primal beings of creation and servant of the creator of the universe: the god Vishnu.
28. Whatever You Do, Don’t Fall In
The Strid is an unassuming body of water in Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire.
It looks like a quaint little stream in a quiet countryside. It’s so narrow you could pretty much hop across.
Don’t fall in though, because there’s more to it than meets the eye. Just below the surface are deep underwater caverns and churning currents. You’ll be swept below and vanish underground and underwater. Your remains will never be found.
27. Missing For Days
The catacombs under Paris. There are about 150 miles of maze-like tunnels under the city. Only a small portion gets toured by the public. People have ventured deep into them and have gone missing for days.
26. Generally, Stay Out Of Holes
Most of the world’s Blue Holes are unexplored because they are extremely dangerous. They are underwater sinkholes, hundreds of feet deep. One is over 900 feet deep. They generally have a toxic layer acid part of the way down.
25. Just Your Average Backyard Sink Hole
There’s a huge sinkhole behind my old house in Kentucky. Kentucky is absolutely full of caves. Anyways, it has a river flowing at the bottom and through a tunnel, so there are two cave entrances that nobody in my neighborhood would dare go into. My mom’s friend visited one day, and she’s a geologist so she’s huge into caves and wanted to see. I brought her there to take a look. She basically glanced at it and said, we’ll die if we go in there.
The current is very strong, and the rock surrounding it looked very eroded to her. She said it’s at a high risk of collapsing, and the current would sweep us underground.
I wish she had brought more of her tools and stuff, supposedly she could’ve put in a sonar buoy to see how far it goes.
24. Crystals As Big As Your Head
The bottom of the Cave of the Crystals in Mexico! The cave is naturally so hot and filled with water most of the time, it can’t be fully explored. But the pictures are gorgeous from when people did go in!
23. The Real Life Shangri La
Tibetan Buddhism has places called Beyul which are hidden valleys. “Shambala” is believed to be one of these hidden places.
The idea is really interesting: a place that borders physical and spiritual worlds. It is said that some of these places contain primitive cities (think Amazon tribes who have never seen modern society) that are in a near-utopia state (no wars, fighting; everyone is blissful; etc).
Shangri La is the fictional creation of Shambhala.
22. Your Bunker Is Nuclear
The former nuclear jet testing labs in the Dawsonville Forest in Georgia. They are abandoned now. Some people have explored there, but back in the 50’s, there was naked nuclear testing (no protection barrier) which means there is a concern for high levels of residual radiation. That said, the bunkers still exist, rumored to be complete with furniture and other things untouched since it was abandoned.
21. A Labyrinth In The Dessert, Pack Your Water
The Ennedi Massif in Northern Chad comes to mind. There are desert tribes that use the wadis, which are among the busiest in the Sahara, and ancient peoples lived there. But there are hundreds of thousands of miles of the labyrinth that are probably pretty unexplored, and few others but the desert people see any of it.
There are several reasons: it’s in the Sahara and difficult to get to in the best of times, requiring a well-equipped expedition to make it there purely because of geography. Politically it’s a dangerous place right now too. I have tried to convince locals to take me but all refuse.
20. Traveling Inside A Cave With No Map, Sounds Easy Enough
The inside of Australia’s Black Mountain.
This thing is pretty much just a giant pile of boulders with massive internal caves that can’t be mapped. (To my understanding they can change over time as well due to collapses.)
People go in and never return. It makes the “Death Mountain”, nickname more sensible.
19. What’s Behind That Door
The Tomb of the Chinese Emperor: Qin Shi Huang Di. Although we have seen images of his famous Terra-cotta Warriors, nobody has ever entered the tomb. Since he was the most tyrannical leader in Chinese history, and because he was so powerful, there is a lot of superstition about his evil spirit and other crazy things about it. Not to mention, there is a rumor of a lake of mercury within the tomb, so it could prove dangerous to open at all. The Chinese government is not allowing the tomb to be opened and zealously restricts people from having access to the land surrounding the tomb. Just interesting. I would really like to know what’s inside.
18. Mind The Gap
The Darien Gap. A 100-mile gap in the Pan-American highway, covering terrain that includes Panama and Columbia, but is effectively governed by neither. Most of it is marshland and, with virtually no infrastructure, it is a cesspool of tropical disease and, historically, paramilitary groups. People do live in it, in certain regions, and migrants traverse its more worn paths out of desperation, but it’s virtually guaranteed to claim the lives of the careless. There is nothing of civilization or man’s law there.
17. Fire In The Hole!
There’s a tree by a highway outside Hot Springs, Arkansas, with what looks like a large puddle at its base. It’s actually an opening to the thermal spring system that goes underneath the whole area and investigators have never found the bottom. There are a fence and signs all around that tree but sometimes deer break through and occasionally fall in.
16. I Get A Little Bit Genghis Khan
The tomb of Genghis Khan. We know it’s in Mongolia and probably near the area he was born. But other than that we don’t know a lot. For a few reasons. When he died they hid it on purpose. The people of Mongolia don’t want it found. But, oh boy I can’t even imagine what he’d have been buried with.
15. Land Mine Ahead
Kaho’olawe. It’s one of the Hawaiian islands. No one lived there due to no fresh water source. During WWII, the US Army used it as a training ground and bomb range. For a long time, people couldn’t go there cause there were still land mines around the island. They may have been cleared out now, but there still isn’t anyone who lives there.
Also, Moloka’i had a lot of beaches with strong rip tides that were very dangerous. I remember we were afraid to go to the beach when we visited. There are some other beaches like that as well on the other islands.
14. Miners, Beware
For many years, The Victoria Mining Claims, on the Rouche De Boule Mountain in British Columbia’s North Coast were voluntarily off limits due to massive amounts of radiation. The claims were mined for uranium during the second world war, some of which ended up in the Trinity Test.
It was reported that for the first decade a blue-white glow could be seen emanating from the valley where the mine was located to this day the waste piles are devoid of moisture and snow even in the dead of winter.
Almost everyone who worked at the Victoria Claims died around the age of 45, almost all due to cancer of some form or another. I visited the place back in 2004 with a radiation detector and was blown away by how hot the waste pile was.
13. Here Gator, Gator, Gator
There are some places down the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana that no human has ever set foot on because of the 17+ foot alligators there.
There was one reported that bit the front end of an airboat completely off. Someone has a picture of it carrying a whole deer in its mouth. It wasn’t photoshopped.
12. Big Foot, Ghosts, Dead Goats, Oh My
The Nahanni Valley in Western Canada, in particular, a place called the 200 Mile Gorge. The natives that lived there didn’t like outsiders, the other natives feared them and they had a penchant for decapitating victims and supposedly just vanished. The region is still largely unexplored because it is extremely remote, and if legends are to believed cursed. The place has it all, native ghost warriors, Bigfoot sightings, aliens, caves full of ancient dead goats, and prehistoric animals.
11. The Real Life Indiana Jones
“La Cueva de los Tayos”. A cave system in Ecuador that has been explored before, but not fully due to religious reasons (superstitions from the aboriginals), and because the Ecuadorian government for some reason has it practically off limits to anyone, instead giving permission to explore a smaller cave system that is connected to the former, but it is not the real one. Different artifacts have been found, but a special one stands out of a human-eagle form (most likely a god) that is for all intents and purposes exactly the same as another one that is found on ancient Mesopotamia (if I’m remembering correctly), weird considering that ancient cultures didn’t have any sort of contact with each other. That, plus gold and scripts, the normal Indiana Jones stuff. Oh, and Neil Armstrong was once there as part of one of the expeditions in the 70s.
10. Enter If You Dare
Around 1860 the people of Tetepare abandoned their island home in a mass exodus. There are three potential causes of this; disease, headhunting pressure and/or sea-devil magic that possibly lead to a great famine. Beach or sea devil magic may have contributed to the exodus of Tetepare. Originally, the spirits protected the people and were hostile only to their foes. Due to disrespect or casting of a curse by another tribe, their favors were turned and an ill will curse was cast on the inhabitants of the island. The coming of the headhunters was not forewarned and protection from disease was not granted. It is said that entry to the island is still greatly restricted not by human imposition but by supernatural works.
9. Don’t Read This One Before You Go To Sleep
The Hoia-Baciu Woods, close to the city of Cluj in Transylvania, Romania, is the site of strange paranormal phenomena which have been recorded and researched for nearly 50 years. The woods are thought to be notoriously haunted by the Romanian peasants who were murdered here. Within the dark interior, people have been known to disappear, strange lights have been seen, the wind seems to speak, and visions of these tormented spirits are observed by terrified travelers. Pairs of green eyes and a black fog have been observed here and many people report a feeling of being watched as they travel near the forest’s edge.
Locals also believe that there is a hub for this paranormal activity— a circular plateau deep in the forest which is devoid of trees and which is thought to be the home of these ghosts. Photos taken here have been developed to reveal hovering shapes and outlines of human forms. The Hoia Baciu forest says to be named after a shepherd that disappeared with 200 sheep into the forest. There is also another legend that states that a five-year-old girl disappeared into the forest and didn’t come out for five years and was wearing the same clothes she disappeared in five years ago.
8. Tomb Raiders
The Kofun (literally “old graves”) are over a thousand-years-old tomb in Sakai, Japan. They were built for the first Japanese emperors (although they did technically rule over all of Japan) and are still mostly unexplored today. This is not because locals fear them. In fact, people used to climb the tombs in autumn to view the moon. However, after the Meiji Restoration in the mid 19th Century and the subsequent deification of the emperor, access to the Kofun was heavily restricted, with excavations of any kind being strictly forbidden. With the entombed emperors being considered direct ancestors of the current emperor, they also became divine beings whose burial places were treated as holy sites. Today, the once stone-covered tombs are overgrown with thick vegetation, making them stand out quite a bit from the otherwise thoroughly urban and densely populated city surrounding them. Aerial views of the Kofun are fascinating for that reason. And what is even more fascinating to me is that even after WW2 and the end of imperial divinity no excavation has been done. The Kofun remain truly unopened and as far as I’m aware, nobody really knows what’s inside.
7. Holy Slopes
Mount Kailash in northern Tibet (now China). Situated at an altitude of 6500+ meters in the Himalayas, it is considered to be the holiest place for Hindus, and many Jains and Buddhists. It is known as the place where Lord Shiva—the founder of Yoga—resided in meditation with his wife Parvati.
The peak is considered impossible to climb, and it is considered a sin to step on its slopes. Previous attempts to scale the holy mountain have failed and subsequent attempts have been canceled due to the site’s holy significance.
Either way, Mount Kailash has remained unexplored.
6. Snakes. Enough Said.
Ilha da Queimada GrandeI has had visits from scientists and the Brazilian navy, but there’s a small Brazilian island that is definitely feared. This is because the island is inhabited by snakes, so much so that it is estimated that every square meter, there is 1 snake. There are plenty of stories from locals like fishermen who have gone there and haven’t come back.
5. No Wake Zone
North Sentinel Island has remained largely unexplored partly due to fear and partly due to practicality. This island contains an isolated group of native people that live a hunter-gather lifestyle. They are completely isolated from the modern world and live a lifestyle absent of all forms of modern technology. On the practical side, the Indian government, who has legal ownership of the island, has been wary about sending expeditions to the island, out of fear of introducing virgin-soil epidemics to the native population. However, on the fearful side, people have been scared of encountering the often-hostile natives. The natives have thrown objects and shot projectiles at anybody venturing too close, leading to a fear of hostile encounters with them. Recently, in 2006, two fishermen that shipwrecked on the island were killed by the natives, resulting in a three-mile exclusion zone being placed around the island by the Indian government. The legal barrier to exploring the island still seems to exist today.
4. A Literal Money Pit
There is an island in Canada with a sinkhole that was built by humans. They theorize the Arc of the Covenant lays at the bottom. It’s nicknamed ‘money hole island’ or something to that effect. Many billionaires bankrolled the dig site but they found wooden traps and whoever built it, erected canals to fill the sinkhole with water from the surrounding lake or ocean. So basically it’s a money pit and death trap no one has been able to get to the bottom of.
3. Just Your Run Of The Mill Wasteland
I live in Needles, California. We have so much folklore it’s not even funny. If I drive a few 100 miles west, I’ll run into the Salton Sea, East Jesus, and Slab City. These places are notorious for being uninhabitable wastelands, and people that are into Mad Max culture will go and have parties down there.
2. Feed The Monkeys As If Your Life Depends On It
There’s an island full of aggressive monkeys that attack unless you bring them fruit. The tribe nearby says the monkeys will tear your flesh off if you go near them. Luckily they are chimpanzees who have centers of mass that are higher up than humans so they just sink in water, aka the water surrounding the island.
Unless there is some super tech they flew into the place, it’s completely unexplored to let the monkeys live their lives but also because if you go there on foot you’ll die.
1. Ladies’ Night
In Ghana, there was this one town, Gambaga, in the northern region where they have a witch settlement camp outside the town. All the women, widowed, unmarried or spinsters, accused of witchcraft or some evil doing are cast out there to live.
A friend of mine went there to do a photo-story assignment and to follow them around and interview them for the project. He said the women were nice and lovely. But he did say the place was heavy with energy, not necessarily bad.