Traveling is good for both the body and the mind. Studies show that they make us feel younger. But, what if the roads are not repetitive highways that we encounter every day? Instead, they are located on top of mountains and are filled with hair-pin curves? While it might be nerve wrecking for most of us, there are many who enjoy such roads, instead of the consistent roads we drive. Except for those who do it for the thrills, there are many who have no other option but to drive through these rigid terrains as part of their every day routine. Here, we have scoured the web to find some of the most dangerous roads you can drive.
1. The Atlantic Road in Averøy, Norway
The Atlantic Road, known as Atlanterhavsveien in Norwegian, is one of the most scenic routes you can imagine. The road leads to a bridge that curves and dips over the Norwegian Sea, which is known to be subjected to powerful waves during storms. During its construction, workers had to endure 12 powerful storms.
The winding roads connect the communes of Eide and Averøy in the county of Møre og Romsdal. When there are no storms in sight, the roads have breathtaking views and are some of the most popular roads traveled by tourists around the world. But, on a stormy day, gusts of wind and huge waves crash over the barricades and onto unsuspecting cars.
2. The Stelvio Pass in Italy
The Stelvio Pass snakes 9,000 feet uphill with 48 sharp turns into the Italian Alps. The high mountain pass stands at an elevation of 2,757 m (9,045 ft) above the sea level and is one of the highest mountain roads of Europe. Drivers using the pass get one of the most scenic drives in the world, but the marvel of engineering skill is asked to be driven by experienced drivers for their safety as well as others.
There are 48 hairpin bends stretching throughout the road. Apart from that, it also has exceedingly narrow points, and some very steep inclines. There have been several reported accidents in one of the most magnificent road passes in Europe and most of the accidents involved people underestimating the difficulty involved in traversing its zigzag path.
3. The Guoliang Tunnel in China
High in the Taihang Mountains of the Henan Province, lies the village of Guoliang. For several years, the only way in or out, to and from the village was a set of stairs etched into the mountains called the “Sky Ladder”. The stairs were extremely slippery during rainy seasons and proved to be treacherous for even the strongest climbers of the village. The village, with a mere 350 inhabitants, pleaded with the government to find a solution, since they were completely isolated from the outside world.
As expected, the government closed the doors on the villagers and their plea for help. The villagers decided that if the government was not going to help its own citizens, then they have to help themselves. So, the villagers sent their 13 strongest men down the cliffs in an effort to pave way towards the outside world. None of the 13 men had any experience in engineering but they had a strong determination to help their friends and family.
Five years after the work began, the men, with patience, carved their way inch by inch to make a tunnel that connected the Guoliang village. In 1977, the roadway was completed. The tunnels have no pillars holding them and could collapse at any moment. The workers built the road around places with least resistance, so the road dips, twists and turns at unpredictable places.
4. The Zoji Pass in India
The Zoji Pass is located 11,500 ft above sea level and has no protective barriers. The mountain pass in India is considered to be one of the world’s most perilous road. The Zoji pass is sandwiched in between the Kashmir valley on one side and the Drass valley on the other. Apart from the fact that there are no barriers along the road, it is extremely narrow. It is also subjected to strong winds day and night, as well as occasional snowfall across the region; making it even more difficult to drive.
To top things off, landslides and avalanches are a regular thing. Since 2009, there have been more than 60 landslides, causing people to become stranded at the edge of the cliffs. Kashmir police had to rescue more than 350 people in 2009 alone. Zojila is actually the second highest pass, after Fotu La on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway, which is located at 13,000 ft above sea level.
5. The Leh-Manali Highway in India
The Leh-Manali Highway is a high mountain road situated in India. Spanning over a length of 479 km (298 mi) among the Himalaya mountain range, the road is subjected to unpredictable weather, high winds, extreme cold, altitude and no civilization for miles, making it a treacherous track. Those who are committed to scaling the route are requested to carry extra food, fuel and GPS trackers in case of emergency.
This road connects Leh in Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir state and Manali in Himachal Pradesh state. Travelers who use Jeeps to scale the mountain pass have to travel a full day to reach the other side. If they prefer to travel by bus, the journey takes two full days to be completed. Cars, trucks and bikes are allowed to pass through but only for a short period of time during summer months.
6. Tianmen Mountain Road in China
The Tian Men Shan Big Gate Road is located within the Tianmen Mountain National Park, in northwestern Hunan Province, China. It stretches over 11 km (6.8 mi) from the top to the bottom and the highest point is 1,300 meters above sea level. It has 99 sharp turns, making it extremely dangerous for relatively inexperienced drivers.
Those afraid of driving through the extremely dangerous, yet heavenly road can take the cable car. According to China, it is the longest cable car system in the world with a distance of 7,455 meters and a height gap of 1,279 meters (4,196 ft).
7. The Yungas Road in Bolivia
Thrill seekers from all over the world gather together at one of the most adventurous and exhilarating places in Bolivia. The Yungas road, also known as the “destructive” road by locals, is famous for biking and trekking. Driving up or down this 43-mile (69-kilometer) road is not as easy as they make it look. Fog, landslides, cascades, and cliffs that drop 2,000 feet (610 meters) at every turn is just a few of the things that makes the road extremely dangerous to drive.
The road connecting Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, to the town of Coroico has a maximum width of 10 feet (3 meters) at all points. Merchants traveling between towns had to squeeze through just one lane of traffic until 2006. When the number of casualties was rising, the government decided to step in and constructed a new road by a mountain range close by; thus reducing traffic.
8. Paso Internacional Los Libertadores in the Andes
At approximately 3,200 meters (10,500 ft) elevation, Paso Internacional Los Libertadores is one of the highest border crossings in the world, connecting Argentina and Chile. During good weather conditions, the road is a beautiful place to travel. Travelers leaving Argentina don’t have to stop here but travelers crossing into Argentina from Chile have to go through customs.
Inclement weather causes the crossing to be closed most of the time and travelers have to stay up to date on the alerts since it’s not a good idea to be stuck up here at night without accommodations and warm clothing. Between June and September, the crossing is closed from 9pm to 9am.
9. Karakoram Highway
The Karakoram highway connects China and Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain range. Also known as mountain lover’s paradise, the KKH is the highest paved international road in the world. Although paved, the road is filled with hairpin curves and dangerous inclinations. Standing at an elevation of 4,693 meters (15,397 ft) above sea level, the road has a length of 1,300 km (800 mi).
Construction began in in 1959 and was completed in 1986. Travelers who wish to take the route to China or from China to Pakistan, require four wheel drive Jeeps or trucks with tires that are capable of taking on treacherous roads. Occasional snowfall, floods and landslides cause the roads to be blocked for several days at times.
10. Passage du Gois in France
Passage du Gois in France is a natural passage that extends 4.3 km (2.58 miles) through the open sea. The road connecting a French island to the mainland disappears during high tide, submerging anything and everything along with it. For traveler’s safety, there are towers built along the road in case they are stranded.
The island of Noirmoutier is either accessible by sea or through this three mile road across the Bay of Bourgneuf. Those who wish to reach the island by road can access it twice a day for a short period; 45 minutes to an hour. If travelers take too long to pass, the water level rises up, making it look as if the road never existed in the first place. Throughout the years, many people have purposely stopped in hopes of taking pictures, causing them to get stranded. Stranded people can either wait for rescue or use the safety poles to wait out the high tide until the next day.
Every year, France hosts a foot race known as the “Foulées du Gois”, where participants try to beat the tides and make it safely to the neighboring island. Throughout the road, there are signs warning travelers about the dangers of high tide but people still ignore them and manage to get themselves stranded.