The Most Dangerous Roads in the World
Posted on February 23, 2016
A world away from tarmacked and beautifully maintained highways, some roads around the globe have gained a reputation for being as deadly as they are beautiful. Often in remote or mountainous areas, sometimes little more than dirt roads, they are a catalogue of every driver’s worst nightmare: twists and turns, precipices, rock falls, earthquakes and in the middle of absolutely nowhere. If you fancy a challenge or have a death wish, book your plane ticket now; otherwise, shiver at the thought that it could be you driving them…
Skippers Canyon Road, New Zealand
Our first stop is at home, with the Skippers Canyon Road, in the Southern Alps.
Formed by glaciers, deposits of gold made this area a magnet for prospectors in the 19th century, and the road was built to facilitate access for inhabitants and especially for transporting large machinery. Despite its danger, it has become a tourist attraction and is protected by the NZ Historic Places Trust.
Skippers Canyon Road is so narrow and winding that you actually need a special permit to drive it, which can only be attempted with 4-wheel drive vehicles. If you secure a permit, expect impressive pot holes and no guard rails next to vertiginous precipices -and if you pass a vehicle, good luck to you as the road is often not wide enough for two vehicles!
Taroko Gorge Road, Taiwan
With its infamous title of the most dangerous road in Taiwan, it will test the skills and courage of any driver. Carved into the mountain, it links the east and west coasts and one cannot help but admiring it as a feat of human ingeniousness.
Taroko Gorge Road cuts through the Taroko National Park and affords spectacular scenery, which explains its enduring appeal with tourists. But don’t be fooled by its beauty, it is deadly with blind curves, debris dislodged by heavy rain falling on vehicles with no warning and seismic activity, not to mention that cars, pedestrians scooters and bus all compete for space on this very narrow road.
North Yungas Road, Bolivia
The North Yungas Road’s nickname says it all: it is locally known as ‘Death Road’ and estimated to be the most dangerous road in the whole world, claiming 200 to 300 lives every year.
Connecting La Paz to Coroico, it is one of those roads with no guard rails along vertigo-inducing precipices, and it is well-known for sending buses and trucks tumbling down as they try to pass each other.
The Way to Fairy Meadows, Pakistan
Despite its harmless-sounding name, Fairy Meadows Road is one of the deadliest roads in the world. Located in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan at 3,300m (11,000ft) above the sea level, this 16.2-km (10-mile) stretch is no more than a gravel track, not maintained and with no guard rails. It is so narrow that you can’t drive it all, and the end section has to be walked or cycled.
Having said that, it has to be acknowledged that it is an area of breath-taking natural beauty, leading to Nanga Parbat, also called The Killer Mountain, with serene vistas over the valley below.
Karakoram Highway, China to Pakistan
Linking China to Pakistan via the Karakoram Mountains, this 1,300-km (800-mile) highway follows sections of the ancient Silk Road and is one of the highest roads in the world.
Named the Eighth Wonder of the World, its driving conditions are treacherous, with landslides, the inherent dangers of mountain roads and the fact that it is built across two tectonic plates and therefore prone to experiencing seismic activity.
Guoliang Tunnel Road
There is no denying that the Guoliang Tunnel Road is spectacular. Carved into the Taihang Mountains by villagers from Guoliang, it provides them with their only connection to the rest of China, being surrounded by impassable cliffs.
Although it doesn’t see much traffic, its very location in the flank of a mountain makes it a dangerous road.
Luxor-al-Hurghada Road, Egypt
While the roads we have been mentioning so far are dangerous for natural reasons, that linking the ancient city of Luxor to Hurghada is in a good state and well sign-posted but presents perils of a different sort.
A hub for tourism attracting foreigners all year round for its diving sites and good weather, the area has also, unfortunately, become a prime target for bandits and terrorists. Violent attacks on tourists, presumed wealthy, are a well-known risk. And if it’s not bandits, then terrorists will get you!
To avoid detection, many drivers have taken to keep their lights off at night, causing many collisions and fatal accidents.
Patiopoulo-Perdikaki Road, Greece
Perdikaki-Patiopoulo Road starts at 700m (3,000ft) to climb up to 1,160m (3,800ft) in mountainous terrain in Aetolia-Acarnania.
As though the steep climb (or descent) wasn’t bad enough, the state of the road will challenge you at every step: it offers vehicles next to no grip as its surface is gravel, and it is plagued by huge pot holes, no guardrails and no painted lines to determine where the edge of the road is! Add to this livestock and pedestrians and it is no mystery why so many people die on it every year.
If you are feeling particularly suicidal, take this road at night: it is, obviously, not lit, and plummeting to your death is highly likely!
Stelvio Pass, Italy
One of the most dramatic mountain passes in the European Alps at 3,000m (9,000ft), the Stelvio Pass offers 48 switchbacks over 10km (15 miles). Its daunting turns are not recommended if you are prone to motion sickness, but they are nevertheless a rite of passage for adrenaline junkies, motorcyclists and cyclists alike.
If reading this article has given you the travel bug and you simply must drive those dangerous, but undeniably stunning roads, contact McCullough on + 64 9 303 0075 to get a quote to transport your vehicle. We have over two decades’ experience shipping cars internationally and we will make sure that yours arrive in time where you need it to be.