#2. The Afar Triangle -- Africa
In 2005, geologist Dereje Ayalew and his colleagues went for a nice helicopter ride, because college lied to you and being a geologist is actually all fun and games. When they landed to take a look at, like, probably some stupid rocks (buzzkill), the very Earth split open. And we don't mean that how you think -- that a little fissure started to appear. It happened like earthquakes do in movies: A yawning void suddenly broke open and ripped toward them, hungry for their bones.
And then the Earth grumbled about pant sizes being smaller nowadays.
Objectively speaking, what they witnessed was the dramatic tectonic initiation of the African continent splitting from its horn. Subjectively speaking, they saw the Earth turn into Pac-Man, and they were the little white dots.
"Quick, stop it with the power of geology!"
Since that time in 2005, the Afar Triangle has been possibly the most unstable area on the planet, with huge, gaping cracks splitting open at seemingly complete random. But if you fall in, it's not just the drop that will kill you: The cracks are not only frighteningly deep and dark, but also fire out blasts of superheated air (around 750 degrees Fahrenheit). The sound of bubbling magma can be heard from the depths of some cracks, and plumes of sulfurous gas erupt from others. If the Tsingy park is Mother Nature's tiger trap, the Afar Triangle is its Bond-villain-esque trapdoor of doom.
And these wiggly lines are the wavering loyalties of the Bond girl. Metaphors.
So if you ever find yourself having to visit the Afar Triangle, just make sure that you're the absolute best at whatever you're doing. The Afar Triangle does not tolerate ... disappointment.
#1. The Corryvreckan Maelstrom -- Scotland
We know that whirlpools are a thing. But we tend to think that, in the real world, they're either relatively small-scale phenomena or, at worst, a temporary hazard -- something caused by a shift in tides, or a sinking mass -- that'll eventually just go away on its own. Whatever the case, it's certainly not like in video games or pirate movies, right? There's no permanent watery vortex waiting to gobble you up. But nobody told that to the Corryvreckan Maelstrom: It's a massive, eternal whirlpool off the coast of Scotland. The vortex is caused by a dramatic underwater pinnacle that rises to within about 100 feet of the ocean's surface, and it's directly adjacent to a large depression. Complex tidal forces and the unique geological formation combine to create an incredibly powerful, perpetually spinning whirlpool of death.
This isn't like quicksand, which can't actually suck you down like it does in the movies. The maelstrom behaves just as ominously as its fictional counterparts. For example, a documentary team once equipped a mannequin with a life jacket and a depth gauge, and then tossed it into the Corryvreckan. When it was eventually found, the depth gauge had a maximum reading of over 650 feet. The maelstrom hungrily grabbed that thing like an inert, water-bound Boba Fett and swallowed it straight down. The mannequin was also severely damaged, showing signs that it had either been forcefully dragged along the ocean floor or else partially digested by the sea beast that lives at its center.
Use the hero bow, Link. The hero bow!
In calm weather conditions, a local boatman can take you near the vortex for your viewing pleasure, because hey -- you've cooked lunch on a boiling lake, summited a limestone spear forest, landed a helicopter in the planet's gaping maw and jumped the Pleasant Brook of Death -- you might as well complete the set. But remember: If a windstorm kicks up while you're out there, the maelstrom can produce standing waves 15 feet high. And if you capsize anywhere near that thing, everybody in the water is going right down the ocean's throat.
Everyone turn around and say "human turd!"
Wait, holy shit: The Tsingy forest chews you up, the Boiling Lake cooks you alive and the triangle, Strid and maelstrom all swallow you whole ...
We knew it! The Earth is too trying to eat us. Take that, schizophrenia meds!
Budd Erickson is a freelance philosopher and writer, although he does most of his philosophy pro bono. Contact him for some free philosophizing or bargain price freelance writing here.
For more ways Mother Nature will kill us out of spite, check out 5 Bizarre Ways the Weather Can Kill You Without Warning. Or discover the 6 Ways Your Office Is Literally Killing You.