Five Destinations That Would Terrify Any Traveller
If you have had enough of sugar-coated beach resorts and well-trodden city streets, read on to discover five of the most terrifying destinations in the world – and the reasons why you should add them to your bucket list.
Prior to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Pripyat had a population of almost 50,000 people. In 1986, a few days after what is widely regarded as the worst nuclear disaster in history, the city was evacuated, with the residents being informed that they would be home within a few days. The decision was later made to extend the evacuation indefinitely, meaning that the majority of evacuees left all of their possessions in their homes. Perhaps the main reason that Pripyat is such an eerie place to visit (other than the tour guide holding a Geiger Counter), is that the city is frozen in a moment in time, left exactly as it was on the day that the residents abandoned it.
Reason To Visit: Where else on earth can you witness what happens when humans abandon a city and leave it to nature? Like something from a science fiction story, the wilderness has taken over, with wild animals roaming free and plants growing through buildings.
The Catacombs, Paris
Deep beneath the streets of the French capital, lies a labyrinth of tunnels housing the remains of approximately six million people. Tourists have been descending into the Catacombs since the early 19th Century, via a narrow spiral staircase that leads into the darkness. Built to deal with the previously overflowing cemeteries in the city, skulls and bones are arranged almost artistically within the wall of the tunnels themselves. The entrance to the Catacombs is marked by a message inscribed into the stone which translates as ‘Stop! This is the Empire of the Dead.’
Reason To Visit: If you love to be scared witless, there’s no better place than within claustrophobic tunnels with human skulls peeking out of the walls. It’s also an intriguing destination for history lovers. Top tip, don’t watch 2014 horror film As Above, So Below before descending.
Mount Hua Shan, China
Famed as the most dangerous hiking route in the world, the journey to the five peaks of Mount Hua Shan is filled with peril, gravity defying pathways, and views to induce vertigo. The trails up the mountain involve scaling wooden platforms bolted onto the cliff face, steep staircases and holding onto the metal chains that guide your way for dear life as your feet seek the foot holes carved into the rock. With over a hundred fatalities recorded every year, it’s not for the faint of heart.
Reason To Visit: The mountain is a place of great religious importance, and upon each of the five peaks sits a religious structure, such as the famous tea house perched upon the southern summit. The views are spectacular, and if you are a keen hiker, there is no better challenge.
Aokigahara Forest, Japan
The world’s second most popular suicide destination is reminiscent of the setting of a horror film. Aokigahara Forest lies thick and dense at the base of Mount Fuji, the abundance of trees shutting out all external noise. Not only is this a suicide hotspot, but there are several instances each years of walkers getting lost when straying from the trails. It is also a key destination in Japanese folklore, being the dwelling place of various spirits and demons that are rumoured to prevent tourists from finding their way back to the path.
Reason To Visit: If you remember to stick to the paths and don’t have a death wish, the forest is actually a beautiful place to visit. The two lava caves, Fugaku Wind Cave and Narusawa Ice Cave are not to be missed, housing large icicles and walls of ice that are preserved all year round by the naturally cold temperatures.
Hill of Crosses, Lithuania
Regularly mentioned on lists of the most haunted sites in the world, the Hill of Crosses is a place of religious pilgrimage in northern Lithuania where over 200,000 crosses reside. Crafted from a variety of materials, some small and some gigantic, the crosses are placed beside each other by people who come to pray for their loved ones. It is unclear to as when the tradition started, and who laid the first crosses, but this eerie location evokes feelings of dread and uncertainty, especially if visited in the dark.
Reason To Visit: The hill is a place of great religious importance, and is an extremely humbling place to visit. Located within the luscious Lithuanian countryside, it is a must see destination for anyone visiting the country.
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.