This is the second installment in Outpost’s two-part series on the world’s spookiest travel destinations. If you missed it, check out part one of Creepiest Places in the World.
If you’re a backpacker who loves getting the heebie jeebies (and I don’t mean that stomach malady which comes from drinking the tap water), then ensure these hair-raising, spine-tingling locations top your must-see list.
Aokigahara (Suicide Forest)
Nipping at the heel of sacred Mount Fuji is Japan’s s most macabre forest. Hikers unaware of Aokigahara’s sinister notoriety are often disturbed by the lurking shadows cast by its dense canopy and the eerie stillness due to its fauna scarcity. Additionally, high deposits of magnetic iron in the volcanic soil often render compasses, phones and other devices useless. Those familiar with Aokigahara’s history, however, are likely far more distressed by the between 50 and 100 suicides that are committed amongst its trees each year.
Published in 1960, the novel Kuroi Jukai by Seicho Matsumoto tells the tale of two lovers who kill themselves in the forest. Many believe that this inspired the wave of suicides that have lead Aokigahara to become one of the most popular suicide spot in the world. But according to local legend, Aokigahara’s insidiousness began long before the mid-twentieth century; folklore states that in ancient times of famine, families would abandon loved ones they could no longer feed in the woods.
Signs written in Japanese encourage those who have come to the forest with the intention of taking their lives to reconsider their decision and contact local law enforcement, and police conduct regular searches for bodies. If you choose to visit Aokigahara, be sure not to stray from the path as it is easy to become lost—and you never know what you may unintentionally come across.
Isla de las Munecas (Island of the Dolls)
Distrito Federal Xochimilco, Mexico
Xochimilco is a demure suburb of Mexico City characterized by its ambrosially tranquil canals, cheerily colourful boats and one tiny island whose inanimate residents are fodder for nightmares. In 1950, local recluse Don Julian Santana Barrera discovered the body of a drowned girl in the Xochimilco waterways… or so the story goes. No child was ever identified and some believe that Barrera hallucinated the event. In any case, he was deeply affected by the (possibly imagined) occurrence and when he later found a broken doll in the same spot as the young girl, he brought it onshore as an offering to the dead child’s tragic spirit.
That spawned an obsession which spanned the next half-century, leading Barrera to comb canals and dumps for lost or rejected dolls. He hung the stripped, fractured and dismembered toys from branches, walls and clotheslines, soon covering his island with their filthy and often insect-infested remains. In 2001, Barrera was discovered drowned in the same place that he encountered the little girl and the first doll. Whether his death was accidental or suicide remains a mystery.
There have been countless reports from neighbours and visitors that the dolls blink and giggle on their own accord. For a more in-depth look at la Isla de las Munecas, check out the article Mexico City’s Island of the Dolls in Outpost Magazine Issue 105.
Catacombes de Paris (Catacombs of Paris)
On Friday November 13, 2015 Paris was the target of a coordinated series of terrorist attacks, since this attack much of the city has been under lockdown. Please check the Musée Carnavalet Facebook page for the latest updates on the status of Catacombes de Paris.
With its exquisite museums, inspiring galleries, posh cafes and stylish boutiques, the City of Lights is often cited as the most romantic metropolis in the world. But if you’ve grown weary of sipping wine while overlooking the Seine, then consider descending into Paris’s underbelly for an afternoon with some of its oldest residents.
In the seventeenth century, Paris faced a problem that now plagues mega-cities like Tokyo: as it established its position as a major European hub, it began running out of room to bury its dead. The famed Les Innocents cemetery (Paris’s oldest and largest) was so full that its neighbours were complaining about the smell. When in 1780 a wall surrounding Les Innocents collapsed and allowed a slew of corpses to spill uninvited into an adjacent property, the city finally set to tackling the issue.
Over the course of 12 years, Paris emptied its cemeteries, relocating the bodies to its subterranean labyrinth leftover from limestone mining. Between six and seven million bodies were moved, some of which were over 1,200 years old.
Nowadays, visitors may explore approximately one mile of the ossuary and admire the yellowing bones, which have been arranged in artistic patterns. But please do not touch the skulls—that Hamlet photo shtick has been done to death.
Are you a thrill-seeking backpacker tired of leaping out of small planes and off of bungee platforms? Then consider traveling with a live snake in your pants—that’s adrenaline for ya! Or, if you’re looking for a middle ground between bungee jumping and live snakes, then check out these spooky destinations.