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The Scariest Places on Earth

Gomantong Cave, Malaysia

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(Image credit: Liz Price, www.cavesofmalaysia.com.)

Like a self-contained horror film, in this cave, the darkness is alive!

If the millions of bats don't creep you out, maybe the millions of cockroaches feasting on massive mounds of bat guano will. And the roaches don't just eat the guano. Bats or birds foolhardy enough to fall into the heaving mountains of insects are quickly devoured, their tiny bones picked clean by the insatiable cockroaches.

However, there is some poetic justice at work. Enormous, cockroach-eating centipedes skitter across the cave's walls. And so the circle of life, in all its beauty, rolls onward.

Don't get caught in here without a flashlight. Or perhaps a completely-sealed space suit.

Madidi National Park, Bolivia

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Ghastly remains: A Cordyceps fungus attacked this butterfly in Madidi National Park, invading its tissues, spreading throughout its body and eventually killing it. (Image credit: Gerhard Hüdepohl, www.atacamaphoto.com.)

We humans are accustomed to our spot at the top of the food chain. The conditions in this tropical rainforest turn that paradigm on its head. In this steamy spot, you are the food.

Photographer Joel Sartore's unforgettable account of his time in the park, first published in National Geographic in 2000, was so terrifying we still can't get it out of our heads.

During frightening days and dark nights filled with the cries of mysterious beasts, Sartore recounts horror after horror: botfly maggots that burrow into the flesh; packs of wild pigs that will tear a man to pieces; stingray bites that can leave a person bedridden for more than a month; parasitic worms that infest the human stomach; stinging ants; fungus that attacks human skin.

Even the leaves and moths here are venomous, and touching them can leave a person in pain for several hours.

Sweet dreams tonight...