From the Bermuda Triangle to Blood Falls: 10 of the most mysterious places on Earth

by | 10 May 2024

Our planet has some seriously mysterious places; locations that seem to defy science, contain unknown treasures, or have an aura of mystery. Whether it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site we still don’t understand or a place where living things go and never return, delve deep into the territory of conspiracy theorists as we attempt to explain the most mysterious places on Earth.

Easter Island, Chile

Stone monuments in easter island, with a hill in the background

1,289 miles away from the nearest inhabited land, Chile’s Easter Island (Rapa Nui) is the last word in isolation. At some point in its history (we don’t know when), it was occupied by a thriving group of intrepid Polynesians, who built the enigmatic Moai statues – over a thousand of them staring blankly over the landscape – as a way to honor their ancestors.

However, by the time Dutch colonists landed on Easter Sunday 1722, the island was all but abandoned, its population severely depleted. The island’s barren landscape and curious monuments make it one of the most mysterious places in the world to explore. Scientists are still debating exactly why the society collapsed, but rats apparently had a big part to play.

Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

A wide andlge shot of the Great Pyramids of Giza, surrounded by sand.

This massive monolith at the edge of the Egyptian desert still puzzles archaeologists thousands of years after it was built. How were those huge stone blocks hauled up so high? Was it simply the brute force of slaves? Perhaps not; their alignment is too precise for that. Could the ancient Egyptians have had some miracle contraption archaeologists haven’t unearthed? Maybe it was aliens?

There’s also some intrigue as to what’s inside the pyramid – archaeologists thought they’d explored every crevice, but in 2023 a whole new chamber was located using cosmic ray technology. However, nobody has been inside it yet…

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Bermuda Triangle, Atlantic Ocean

The ocean stretches out into the horizon in the Bermuda Triangle

Between Bermuda, Miami and Puerto Rico lies a triangle-shaped patch of Atlantic Ocean that seems to swallow people up. More than 50 ships and 20 planes are said to have been lost to the Bermuda Triangle’s murky depths – and conspiracy theorists offer a multitude of reasons why.

Could it be that the Bermuda Triangle is a wormhole or vortex to a different dimension? Are aliens using it to kidnap humans for experimentation? Is it actually the location of Atlantis?

But when you look at the stats, the region is not particularly disaster-prone: it encompasses the popular holiday islands of Turks and Caicos, and plenty of shipping and aviation traffic passes through the area on a daily basis. Some more likely explanations for this mysterious place include tropical hurricanes, rogue waves and human error.

Crooked Forest, Poland

Curved trees in Poland's crooked forest

Bending and curving at the roots in a “J” shape before scooping up towards the sky, the 400 trees in Poland’s Crooked Forest are one of the world’s weirdest unsolved botanical mysteries. They look like the sort of place a witch would hang out in, but these trees were actually planted in the 1930s.

At some point in their infancy, the trees took on this unusual shape, but thanks to the outbreak of World War Two nobody wrote down how or why. It’s commonly thought they were bent by heavy snowfall, but some believe the area has a uniquely strong gravitational pull. That, or they were deliberately bent to make unusually-shaped furniture. Who knows? The unanswered questions and the spooky aura around these gnarled trees made it one of our top mysterious places.

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Gates of Hell, Turkmenistan

The depression 'Gates of Hell' glowing red as it burns through the night. The rest of the scene is dark.

These fires have flickered out of a depression in the desert for fifty years, like a set of eternal flames. Nicknamed the ‘Gates of Hell’, the Darvaza gas crater was accidentally created in 1971 by a group of Soviet oil scientists, who drilled into a natural gas field and caused it to collapse. To stop toxic gas from leaking, the hole was set alight and it’s been burning ever since. The only real mystery about this place is when it might stop.

Nazca Lines, Peru

A birds-eye view of the Nazca lines, in particular the monkey constellation.

Etched into the dry earth of Peru’s Nazca desert are massive man-made glyphs of animals, plants and strange lines, a UNESCO World Heritage Site covering an area of roughly 170 square miles. These mysterious drawings were created between the 4th century BC and the 6th century AD and are best seen from the air, but we still don’t know why they were drawn: early studies suggested they formed part of a celestial clock, while more recent theories include ceremonial procession markers and a beg to the gods for water by the area’s ancient people.

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Lake Hillier, Australia

On a remote island off the southern coast of Australia lies a mysterious place regular travelers aren’t allowed to set foot on: Middle Island. The island’s most famous landmark is Lake Hiller, which is shaded in a Barbie pink hue. The vibrant coloring comes from red bacteria and algae that live in the lake’s salt crust. It’s safe to swim in, but forbidden by the Australian government: take a helicopter ride from Esperance, the nearest town, for a bird’s eye view.

Richat Structure, Mauritania

Satellite image of the Richat structure

Deep in the Sahara is a strange rock formation that predates life itself. The Richat Structure is a mysterious place, a concentric ring in the Earth’s crust with such an otherworldly and almost-artificially symmetrical appearance it’s known as the ‘Eye of the Sahara’.

Rippling through the desert for 25 miles, Mauritania’s Richat Structure is so huge it was only identified when astronauts spotted it from space. Some say the Eye of the Sahara is the remains of Atlantis, as its circular shape matches Plato’s description of the utopian city, but it’s actually a geological dome that eroded long before humans walked the earth.

Island of Dolls, Mexico City

As mysterious cities go, Mexico City is hard to beat. Built atop the ruins of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, the Mexican capital is full of ghosts – visit the Island of the Dolls, and you’ll experience the city’s creep factor first hand. According to local lore, a young child fell into the lake from a chinampa (an artificial island built for agriculture) in 1950. A local man called Don Julián Santana tried to save her, but she died before he could.

Before long, Santana began to hear paranormal wails and cries in the place the girl had died. To appease her spirit – or perhaps to scare it off – he hung dolls he’d begged and borrowed around the chinampa. Decaying after 70 years exposed to the elements, the dolls are a frightening sight: we wouldn’t want to be marooned on this island at night.

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Blood Falls, Antarctica

In 1911, a British geologist on the Terra Nova Antarctic Expedition made a mysterious discovery: a crimson waterfall staining red the pristine Antarctic ice. The water emerged from the end of a glacier perfectly clear, but quickly turned the shade of blood. This mysterious phenomenon baffled scientists for almost a decade, but in 2023, the mystery was solved: tiny iron-packed nanospheres inside the water were oxidising as the water poured from the glacier and hit the air. It may not be mysterious anymore, but it’ll always be magnificent.

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About Nick Dauk
Nick is an American travel writer based in Orlando. From visiting a Mayan god in Guatemala to sand boarding in Egypt to sniffing out white truffles in Italy, Nick embraces unique cultural experiences wherever and whenever he can. When he’s not lugging his backpack between Bogota and Bucharest, he’s carrying his children through the zoos and museums of Central Florida.