1.Bolivia’s Road of Death
North Yungas Road is hands-down the most dangerous in the world for motorists. If other roads could be considered impassable, this one clearly endangers your life. It runs in the Bolivian Andes, 70 km from La Paz to Coroico, and plunges down almost 3,600 meters in an orgy of extremely narrow hairpin curves and 800-meter abyss near-misses.
A fatal accident happens there every couple of weeks, 100-200 people perish there every year. In 1995 the Inter-American Development Bank named the La Paz-to-Coroico route “the world’s most dangerous road.”
Among the route there are many visible reminders of accidents, wrecked carcasses of lorries and trucks lie scattered around at the bottom.
The buses and heavy trucks navigate this road, as this is the only route available in the area. Buses crowded with locals go in any weather, and try to beat the incoming traffic to the curves.
It does not help that the fog and vapors rise up from the heavily vegetated valley below, resulting in almost constant fogs and limited visibility. Plus the tropical downpours cause parts of the road to slide down the mountain.
Note: The Bolivian road of death has been closed to regular traffic for a year or two now. There is a newer, much much safer road connecting La Paz to the Yungas now. The road of death is now open only to tour buses, hikers, and bikers. The traffic now is so low that others are not really an issue.
2. Russian Siberian Road to Yakutsk
This is the official federal-government highway to Yakutsk, and it is also the only one to get there. As there are no other roads, the intrepid motorists are doomed to wallow in this dirt, or wait in week-long 100 km car line-ups (they say women even gave birth there while waiting).
This can turn into a major humanitarian disaster during rainy spells, when the usual clay covering of the road turns into impassable mud blanket, swallowing trucks and tractors alike. In the meantime the city has to partly airlift food products.
3. Magnificient Guoliang Tunnel Road in China
– Road that does not tolerate any mistakes
The road shown here is the Guoliang Tunnel in Taihang mountains (China). It has been built by villagers themselves, which is an inspiring story in itself:
“Before 1972, the path chiseled into the rock used to be the only access linking
the village with the outside world. Then the villagers decided to dig a tunnel through the rocky cliff. Led by Shen Mingxin, head of the village, they sold goats and herbs to buy hammers and steel tools. Thirteen strong villagers began the project. It took them five years to finish the 1,200-metre-long tunnel which is about 5 meters high and 4 meters wide. Some of the villagers even gave their lives to it. On May 1, 1977, the tunnel was opened to traffic.”
Apparently some companies make business on the road’s dubious fame by selling the extreme bike tours down that road. “Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking” is one of them. (you can read one such biker’s account here.) If you are nuts enough to consider it, please be advised that you will be only adding to the road hazards, as it’s hard to spot a cyclist on the road’s hairpin curves, and your shrieks (as you fall down the abyss) will disturb the peace and quiet of the villagers nearby.