Inside Valley of Death – tourists banned from Russia spot that kills what passes

A relatively unknown spot in Russia has been haunted by a variety of unusual deaths for decades.

The Kamchatka Peninsula, also known as the Valley of Death, is a volcanic winter wonderland located in Russia’s far east – and it’s incredibly lethal.

While the site of snow blanketing the rugged mountains may be beautiful, anyone who enters one of its smaller valleys will never be seen again.

The Kamchatka Peninsula is known as an animal graveyard but it’s dangerous for people as well, which is why it’s closed off to tourists.

When the snow melts, a variety of animals emerge in search of food and water, with many of them dying soon after. When predatory animals – such as wolves – spot an easy meal and venture over, they die as well.

The spooky part is that these corpses are naturally refrigerated and preserved and often show no traces of external injuries or diseases.

The land was undiscovered for years until it was accidentally stumbled upon in the 20th century.

Legend has it that two hunters came across the spot in the 1930s and were met with an arid wasteland covered with dead animals. After experiencing strong headaches for several minutes the duo fled, which ended up saving their lives.

This story has garnered strong interest in the area and many adventure seekers visited the valley in the 1940s and 1950s, but not all returned. Locals estimate that around 80 people have since died there.

The official version claims that the Valley of Death wasn’t discovered until 1975 by a group of volcanologists led by Vladimir Leonov. They were greeted by dead animals as far as the eye could see.

Research conducted from 1975 to 1983 determined that the animals were killed due to a volcanic phenomenon. A volcano emits a deadly mixture of hydrogen sulphide, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, and carbon disulphide which would collect in the valley's lowlands without any winds to drive them away.

Birds are usually the first victim, as they come to drink the water in the thawed river. The corpses then attract foxes that come to the valley to hunt, bringing larger predators with them.

The deadly gases prevent the bacteria responsible for decomposition from forming, which results in the bodies of the dead animals being preserved.

Some believe that gases in the valley can cause partial paralysis, however, this has yet to be verified.

What has been verified is that humans are frequently struck by headaches, fever, and weakness, which can lead to death.

While lots of scientific research has been undertaken, unconfirmed stories about the valley continue to circulate.

Animal corpses, for example, are allegedly taken from the valley on a regular basis, though no one knows who does it.

Another unsolved mystery stems from the mid-1970s. According to Viktor Deryagin, a student of Leonov's who assisted in discovering the valley, Soviet military authorities visited in a helicopter, gathered some unusual samples, and promptly departed.

Whether these stories are true or not, the Valley of Death is still dangerous. While it's closed for visitors, it can be observed from an observation deck installed at a safe distance.

The other way to see the infamous territory is to take a helicopter tour from which you can see other parts of the peninsula.

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