The World's Most Dangerous Highways
The Leh- Manali Highway, India: The Leh-Manali Highway is a 479 km mountain highway that connects the towns of Leh and Manali. The journey takes two days and there are camps along the route. The highway is open three months of the year, because the rest of the year it is impassable because of snow. In June the snow is cleared from the highway and the road is opened.
However the snow amasses along the mountain sides and often causes avalanches which kill and injurie many people every year. Along the route there are perilous mountain passes, the highest of which is Taglang La at 5,324 meters. Travelers on the highway are known to have suffered acute mountain sickness, which can be fatal.
The Guoliang Tunnel, China: The Guliang Tunnel in the remote Taihang mountains of China has to be one of the most spectacular road tunnels in the world. The tunnel took five years to construct, is 1,200 meters long and was built by the people of Guliang village in the 1970’s. It replaced a narrow mountain path which was the only access to the village. The Guoliang tunnel road appears safe where it covers, but at certain points the twisting road is exposed to the mountains cliffs.
The Deosai National Park trail, Pakistan: There is a route in northern Pakistan that crosses the Deosai Plains, one of the highest plateaus in the world. For most of the year the park is inaccessible because of snow. But between the months of November and May it is possible to drive across a suspended wooden bridge, if you dare, to enjoy spectacular views of the Himalayas.
The Russian-Georgian Sukhumi Military road, Georgia: Route A301, also known as the Georgian Military highway, crosses the Caucasus and the Klukhori pass at 2,815 meters. Drivers not only have to deal with the a dangerous mountain road but also avoid the many trucks and military vehicles that use the route.
Taroko Gorge Highway, Taiwan: Folks crossing the Island of Taiwan from Hualien city, use the cross island highway through the Taroko Gorge, also known for its jade deposits. The scenery is spectacular as the road from the coast meanders and ascends through the mountains. However it can be tricky as the two lane highway is often busy with scooters and cyclists.
The Splugen Pass, Italy: Before the construction of the San Bernardino Tunnel, the Splugen Pass was the only route that connected the Swiss town of Splugen on the Swiss side of the Alps to the town of Chiavenna, on the Italian side. The Splugen Pass has it highest point at 2,113 meters. Along its route it has 42 hairpin bends, that zigzag across the landscape like spaghetti and there are numerous dark tunnels to negotiate. These days it is closed during the winter but even in summer it is a test for any experienced driver.
Denison’s Road, Canada: John Denison and his crew pioneered the building of ice roads to supply mines in remote parts of northern Canada. From Yellowknife to the Northwest Territories there is a 520 km road made entirely of ice. Temperatures in the region can be 60 below zero and there are often blizzard conditions.
China to Tibet Highway: Highway 317 of the Chinese national highway system runs east to west from Chengdu in Sichuan province to Naqu in Tibet. The route which is 2,043km long, crisscross’s 14 mountains with the highest point being Litang at 4,700 meters. However it isn’t the altitude that’s such a problem for those who travel the highway, but the constant threat of mudslides and avalanches in winter, which have killed or injured many.
The Yungas Road, Yungas, Bolivia: Until 2006 the North Yungas Road was the only route from South America’s highest capital city La Paz to the city of Coroico, and eventually the Amazon in the north eastern Bolivia. The 61 kilometer, single lane, unpaved road, corkscrews around the mountains and in many place’s trucks, cars and buses could barely pass one another. Falling ruble and heavy rain also made the road hazardous. On almost every bend one could see crosses’ and flowers left by grieving relatives. The road was made infamous by the Inter-American Development Bank who described the Yungas as ‘the worlds most dangerous road’
Fortunately the road was completely modernized over a twenty year period. A two lane highway was constructed with asphalt, guardrails and drainage, making it much safer. Also a new section with bridges, bypasses the worst sections of the old road. These days the only people to use the old road are thrill seekers.
All images from flickr.com and wikimedia with creative commons licence.