Rivers are some of the most unpredictable forces of nature. They provide a source of livelihood and transportation to the people who live around them, but these same rivers that give life, security and wealth can also take it away. Whether it’s because of flooding, untamed wildlife or dangerous gorges and ravines, safety in rivers is nothing to be played with. With that said, here are eight of the most dangerous rivers in the world.
The Yangtze River:
The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia, spanning almost 4,000 miles. It flows through a large area of China and is a major source of income and sustainability for the people who live by it. It is rife with aquatic life like Chinese alligators, porpoise and paddlefish, and it is also a major source of hydro-electricity thanks to the world famous Three Gorges Dam. But it’s not all good with the Yangtze. Due to increased industrialization over the last several years, it has suffered from serious industrial pollution, agricultural run-off and siltation. Flooding is also a major problem with this river during the rainy season between May and August.
The most recent lethal flooding of the Yangtze happened in 1954, and 30,000 people lost their lives. To add to the scary facts, a section of the river located in Chongqing, China recently turned red, investigators are still trying to determine the cause.
The Parana River:
The Parana River is huge – it spans 3030 miles and is the only other river in South America that is longer than the Amazon river. The reason this river is classified as dangerous is that its southern end is extremely prone to strong currents and uncontrollable flooding. When this river floods, it brings along a deadly wrath that erodes river shores, engulfs buildings and displaces large populations from their homes. This is definitely not one to mess with at all.
The Congo River:
The Congo River in Africa is the world’s deepest river and it has a stunning overall length of almost 3,000 miles. This powerful river has a long and storied history rooted in mysticism and spooky folklore. The river itself was called the “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad and the rainforests bordering it have been rumored to contain dangerous pygmies, unbearable plagues, ruthless cannibals and more.
This river also boasts the “Gates of Hell” – a scary 75-mile long canyon of the most unpredictable rapids that even the most skilled rafter couldn’t navigate. The Upper Congo also ends abruptly with the Stanley Falls, another 60-mile stretch of brutal rapids.
The Amazon River:
The Amazon is generally considered to be one of the great rivers of the world. It is the second longest river on the planet (second only to the Nile), but it’s definitely the largest river in the world with regards to the volume of water it carries. Everything in the Amazon is taken to gargantuan scales – catfish can grow up to 200 pounds in weight, and the shallow areas of the Amazon have some of the biggest Anaconda snakes ever seen by man. The Amazon river is also home to bull sharks, which are an extremely aggressive and unpredictable species of sharks. Just take it like this – it’s safe to say that the Amazon isn’t one of those rivers you go in for a leisurely afternoon swim. It’s full of aquatic beasts that can literally eat you alive.
The Orinoco River:
The Orinoco River is another one of the major rivers in South America and it is 1330 miles long. It runs through both Colombia and Venezuela and it is flanked on both sides by dense and extremely lush rain forests. This powerful river has almost 200 tributaries and what makes it dangerous is that it has several waterfalls and speedy rapids that make it very difficult to navigate. Another threat to the people living on the border of the Orinoco is the rampant flooding that occurs throughout the year as a result of coastal upwelling.
The Mekong is the 7th longest river in Asia and it runs through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is one of the most bio-diversified bodies of water in the world, and its waters feature rare species like large soft-shell turtles, salt-water crocodiles and large fresh-water dolphins. The Mekong is a major source of commerce and transportation – however, it also possesses several rapids and huge fluctuations in its volume levels make some of its stretches completely impossible to navigate.
Most recently in 2008, the Mekong experienced its worst flooding in a 100 years with the water rising over 12 meters high and submerging a large number of homes and causing over $66 million dollars in damage.
The Yenisei River:
The Yenisei River runs through Mongolia and China, and it is the largest river in the world that opens into the Arctic ocean. Even though on the surface, it might look like a serene and placid body of water, the Yenisei makes this dangerous rivers list because of its high level of toxicity and radiation. According to studies done by aquatic scientists, the river has been severely contaminated by decades of pollution from a factory making bomb-grade plutonium. The contamination is so serious that it has embedded itself in the riverbeds, islands and flood plains of the mighty Yenisei. Also medical studies have shown a marked increase of leukemia in children, breast cancer in women and high incidence of genetic aberrations in infants. This river is proof yet again that humanity always tends to be its own greatest enemy.
The Mississippi River:
The Mississippi River is the largest river in North America and it passes through several American states including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Arkansas and Louisiana. Even though some areas of this majestic river contain aquatic creatures like bull sharks and large pike fish, the true danger hails from its highly schizophrenic nature. At one stretch of its almost 2340 miles, the waters could be as mellow as a serene backyard pool, but then a couple of miles upstream or downstream, a sailor could be facing dangerous floating debris, risky riptides and currents that could easily capsize any type of seaworthy vessel. For the most part, these large bodies of water are very similar to human beings. One day they are nice and inviting, and the next, they want to turn you upside down and have nothing to do with you.