As another Halloween season approaches, countless kids and those young at heart are busy working on their costumes. Goblins, ghouls, and a great many superheroes will take to neighborhood streets eager for sugary treats. Halloween is a chance to pull out all the stops and decorate your home as an elaborately frightful abode.
Table of Contents
Devil’s Pool, Victoria Falls, Zambia
Plank Walk, Mount Hua, China
The Catacombs, Paris, France
Nile River Rafting, Jinja, Uganda
The Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland, UK
The Gates of Hell, Darvaza, Turkmenistan
Bran Castle, Bran, Romania
This got us thinking about those naturally scary places. Destinations where the thrill of adrenaline-packed excitement or maybe the appearance of seemingly other-worldly environments invoke a spine-tingling sensation. We searched around the world and come up with a list of places that in one way or another qualify as downright scary destinations. From death-defying hiking trails to creepy castles, these are the best scary travel adventures to have this Halloween. Although you can never go there in 2020, there's always a chance in the future.
Feast Your Eyes on These Scary Travel Adventures!
Devil’s Pool, Victoria Falls, Zambia
Its very name conjures images of scalding water. Towering infernos where steam leaps high into the air and frightful screams echo from those who dared venture too close. The Devil’s Pool, located on the precipice of the mighty Victoria Falls may not be a boiling caldron, but it’s every bit as fear-inducing. The falls, which straddle the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe in Southern Africa, are considered the world’s largest sheet of falling water. In the local Lozi language their name is Mosi-oa-Tunya or “The Smoke that Thunders.” This magnificent place is well worth the trek, even for those not brave enough to wade into the Devil’s Pool. The popular attraction, located almost in the exact middle of the falls, refers to an area where centuries of erosion have worn away the rock and created a natural pool on the precipice. The pools temper the hydrodynamic forces created by the rushing Zambezi River as it cascades over the 108 meter drop and make it possible to swim there with relative safety. Relative being the operative word, of course. When water levels are below a certain threshold, typically outside the rainy season, the currents in the pool are negligible and tourists can swim without much danger. A host of tour operators on the Zambian side offer excursions to the Devil’s Pool. This Halloween treat yourself to this devilishly scary adventure!
Roughly 120 kilometers east of Xi’an in central China’s Shaanxi Province is the majestic Mount Hua. One of China’s Five Great Mountains, Mount Hua is both historically significant and strikingly beautiful. Though it rises only to 2,154 meters at this highest point and is positively dwarfed by Himalayan peaks running through Tibet and Xinjiang, Mount Hua nevertheless occupies a central place in Chinese history and folklore. China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has designed Mount Hua as a category 5A attraction, a ranking it has given to less than 250 places across the country. Visitors to Mount Hua can easily daytrip out from Xi’an. Transportation links from the railway station to the mountain are plentiful and easy to access. Once you’re on the mountain, hike around between the five recognized peaks and jostle your way past crowds trying to snap selfies or clamoring up and down narrow pathways. Make your way to the Plank Walk, considered to be among the most dangerous hikes in all the world. A narrow walkway is suspended high up the mountain and works its way around from the main trail to an outcropping with a small shrine. Held aloft by seemingly flimsy chains and no more than half a meter wide, the path is a sheer terrifying excursion high above the valley floor below. Stunningly beautiful, this scary adventure is one of those bucket-list destinations and certainly not something for the faint of heart.
Picture for a moment a room piled high with bones. A damp air hangs heavy around your shoulders as you navigate narrow passageways. Long-departed souls, seemingly omnipresent as if desperate to once again join the world of the living, send shivers down your spine. This is no concocted Hollywood fantasy or cheap haunted house, however. The Parisian catacombs are a large network of underground ossuaries holding the remains of more than six million people. Today they are recognized as one of the city’s 14 municipal museums. Descend a series of stairs into the tunnels where you can traverse a 1.5 kilometer circuit. The main ossuary chamber contains a macabre façade comprising rows of human tibiae and skulls. It is a truly bone-chilling (no pun intended) reminder of the realities of death and the way Europe’s cities once struggled with substandard sanitary conditions. The Paris Catacombs have featured in several popular works of fiction and were utilized by French Resistance fighters during the Nazi occupation in World War II. The Catacomb entrance is found in the 14th Arrondissement near the Denfert-Rochereau Metro station. It is best to plan your visit in advance and purchase a ticket a head of time. The number of visitors allowed to enter is restricted in order to preserve the remains and maintain an atmosphere of contemplation and reflection. This Halloween, experience something truly scary lurking just below the streets of Paris.
Africa’s Great Lakes Region is filled with incredible landscapes, magnificent wildlife, and welcoming people. The Ugandan city of Jinja is fast gaining a reputation as a world-class destination for whitewater rafting. Located on the shore of Lake Victoria in Uganda’s Eastern Region, Jinja is about 80 kilometers east of the capital Kampala. Jinja sits near where the Victoria Nile River carries waters from Lake Victoria north to Lake Kyoga. Along the way, massive boulders divert the flow and create a series of powerful whitewater rapids. Board an inflatable raft and feel the adrenaline raging through your system as your guide navigates around dangerous eddies. Appreciate the terror as waves crash about, reminding you of your insignificance in the face of such awesome power. The Class V rapids found here offer large, complex, and roiling currents. These are among the strongest conditions you can face without sophisticated equipment and years of training. A large network of tour companies operate out of Jinja and specialize in ferrying passengers safely through the challenging waters. If you don’t feel up to the full experience there are more sanguine tours through calmer stretches of the river and out into Lake Victoria. Check ahead for river conditions as well as for information on tours and other packages available. If you’re the sort of person who lives for the heart-stopping thrills only found on mountains and in whitewater, then this is something for you. It’s one scary Halloween adventure alright!
The Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland, UK
Long an ethereal location, the ominous and foreboding Dark Hedges lie in the middle of the magnificent Northern Irish countryside. It is here you will find the solitary Bregagh Road, which cuts through emerald green farmland to either side. Enormous 18th century beech trees form a densely packed tangle of branches. Add a little fog and some mood lighting and you’ve got one scary location! Imagine yourself Ichabod Crane desperately fleeing the Headless Horseman while the thicket closes around you, choking off even the brightest sunlight. Often used as a film location, many will no doubt recognize the hedges from Arya Stark’s escape from King's Landing in Game of Thrones. To arrive, your best bet is to venture up from Belfast. It’s about 45 minutes from Belfast International Airport, or a tad longer if you’re coming from the city center. The countryside here is well worth a visit and filled with charming Irish villages. Spend some time on the roads getting to know the rolling hills and fertile soils. Rail links are available to Coleraine, which is about 20 minutes by car. Consider heading north on Ballinlea Road to Ballintoy Harbour, another popular film location. You can make it a Game of Thrones weekend in Northern Ireland! However you come by it, the Dark Hedges are a scary (if beautiful) adventure for your Halloween delight.
The Gates of Hell, Darvaza, Turkmenistan
The former Soviet Republic of Turkmenistan is a remote and seldom traveled destination. This is unfortunate, however, because despite its mercurial leader and the downright bizarre personality cult surrounding its former president, Turkmenistan is a beautiful country offering true travel adventure. With surprises around every corner, this is one of those places where after you’ve been, everywhere else seems tame by comparison. Fly into the capital Ashgabat and allow yourself some time to adjust. Take note of the Stalinist-era architecture set alongside glittering new marble constructions and gaudy national monuments financed by Turkmenistan’s obscene oil and natural gas fortunes. Eventually make your way north to the tiny village of Darvaza about 260 kilometers from Ashgabat. In the middle of seemingly endless desert (which has its own sort terror-inducing fear) you will find a downright spooky attraction. The Gates of Hell is a natural depression that formed when an underground cave collapsed. Located in the middle of a natural gas field, large quantities of escaping methane gas alarmed geologists who set it on fire to prevent it from spreading to the surrounding environment. The ground here has literally been burning since 1971. After dark, the ominous glow resembles a volcanic caldera. The absolutely frightful sight is the perfect location for a Halloween adventure. If you tell your friends you’ve been here they’ll never believe you!
In the early morning hours of 26 April, 1986 technicians at a nearby nuclear power plant were conducting what they assumed would be a routine safety test. The power plant’s name is Chernobyl and what occurred there that fateful day was the worst nuclear disaster the world has ever known. Nearby Prypiat housed much of the plant’s staff, their families, and thousands of support personnel. At the time of the disaster, the city had a population just shy of 50,000. Today it is a ghost town, a frightful reminder of the fragility of life. Forced to confront reality, Soviet authorities literally ordered the town’s entire population to abandon their possessions and evacuate. Unlike places that experience a long, slow decline, Prypiat went from a vibrant city to an empty shell as if someone had simply flipped a switch to turn off the lights. Today, stabilization efforts have largely succeeded in containing the remaining radioactive material. Though the region is still unsuitable for long-term habitation, it is safe to visit for short periods of time. You can see abandoned residential buildings still filled with mementos from long gone occupants. Children’s toys, a playground, an abandoned roller coaster, it is a true dystopian nightmare the likes of which grace movie screens in apocalyptic thrillers. The silence in Prypiat today is broken only by the rustle of the wind and an ever present reminder of the unspeakable terrors lurking at Chernobyl.
Transylvania…the very name is synonymous with Halloween. Spooks and goblins, vampires and witches. If you asked people to name a Halloween destination there’s a good chance they’d pick Transylvania. Historically part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, modern Transylvania is located within the borders of Romania. In the city of Bran sits a foreboding hillside castle. Its red tiled roof seems positively bloodstained while the imposing walls hide who knows what horrors. Though not the inspiration for the castle in Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic horror masterpiece, Dracula, Bran Castle has nevertheless become intimately associated with the Dracula legend. Having a loose connection to the notoriously cruel Vlad the Impaler, there is more than enough true historical legacy to justify Bran Castle’s downright terrifying reputation. Visitors can tour the idyllic village and explore the area’s beautiful natural scenery. Visit the castle, which today houses a museum with exhibits on the art and furniture collected by Romania’s late Queen Marie. To get to Bran, your best bet is to first travel from the capital Bucharest to nearby Brașov. Surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains, Brașov is a lovely town with cobblestone streets and baroque buildings. You can easily daytrip from Brașov to Bran and then return for a good meal and some more sightseeing. Despite having a reputation that strikes fear into many people’s hearts, Transylvania is an impressive and downright beautiful place. Pay a visit to Bran Castle for a frightening fun adventure this Halloween.
Titleight eerie atmospheres, these are some great ideas for a Halloween adventure. Come see what all the fuss is about and discover a world of possibilities where reality and the supernatural blend together. Be on guard against magic spells and try your best to avoid black cats, ladders, and broken mirrors. You don’t need to be superstitious to enjoy the locations here, however. All you need is a desire to experience the best scary adventures to have this Halloween!