My sister Julie gave me an article with photos that she thought I would like. Its title was “This is The ‘Most Dangerous Road’ In The World”. It was written by Carly Ledbetter, a Huffington Post writer. It sent me searching the internet for similar articles, and I was stunned by the number of lists on this subject. Plan 5 minutes for doing this and lose at least an hour. Most of them eventually list the road Carly wrote about, Bolivia’s North Yungas.
One of the most shocking bits of information I ever heard while traveling occurred near the North Yungas. Ruth & I were on a tourist bus and our guide warned us about renting a car in Bolivia. He said it was not unheard of for a large family to sacrifice one of its children by pushing him or her in front of a moving car containing likely, and very naive, renters from the United States. That driver would be in insurance hell, or worse, for the rest of his or her life. I know about accidental child fatalities because I had a cousin who hit a child and could never get past it. She eventually committed suicide.
The North Yungas’ nickname is El Camino de la Muerte, The Road of Death, for obvious reasons. It connects Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, to the Amazon Rainforest. Crossing mountains, this road’s drivers find it astonishingly narrow. If a turn is missed, a 2,000 foot drop is probable. Another hazard on this road is thrill-seeking cyclists.
Check these dangerous-roads-websites out. YouTube even has some gut-wrenching short videos accompanying its list. Viewers are warned about Alaska’s James Dalton Highway and the challenging Trollstigen in Norway. One of my favorites was CNN’s list of treacherous roads that included the one in Afghanistan connecting Jalalabad to Kabul. Not only do its twists lead to daily, fatal crashes but it also goes through Taliban territory. Bolivia’s Road of Death is #2 on the CNN list. It’s #1 on Oddee’s.
#8 on CNN’s list is a road I’ve actually driven and loved, Croatia’s coast road. Ruth & I had been warned that renting a car here was an act of insanity, but we did it anyway. The results were definitely interesting, but we survived and now have some great travel tales to tell. This busy route experiences 11,650 accidents each year. This rental reminder got me to thinking about other scary roads we’ve been on, like the one across the top of Scotland that is one-way all-the-way. I’m glad that John was doing the driving. I, however, was driving last October when we chose a road in Iceland that neither Ruth nor I thought we would survive. It was October, 2015, and late at night. The road was gravel, no one was on it but us, and the temperature dropped to 32 degrees as we climbed ever upward in an icy rain. Another hateful road was on Kodiak Island.
As we travel internationally, we generally seek out public transportation and avoid renting cars. The foreign country where we’ve done the most driving is probably Italy. The rules of the road are definitely different there, and, other than having an accident, the last thing you want to have happen to you is to get wanded. I’ve been wanded.