Sometimes you find yourself on a road that is just too good to be true. You pinch yourself as you drive over asphalt that is smooth as silk, stare into the most stunning panoramas and encounter hardly any other drivers… And then there are roads that are… well, the exact opposite. Roads in a terrible shape, that lead you through some of the most extreme landscapes on earth and are famous for their spectacular death toll. So here they are, five of the most gruelling horror roads you will ever see.
The Karakoram Highway, between China and Pakistan.
Some refer to this highway in the Karakoram Mountains as the 8th Wonder of the world, because of the difficulty of its construction, which took over 20 years. Almost 1000 Chinese and Pakistani road workers lost their lives to complete it. With an average of 400 extra deaths a year, the highway is still one of the most dangerous roads around. Fog, blizzards, heavy rains and land slides can turn your journey into a nightmare. And of course snowfall can ruin your ride as well. At 4700 meters, this road along the historic silk route is one of the highest paved roads in the world.
The Widow Maker, Cheshire, UK
Not all deadly roads are located in faraway mountain ranges like the Andes or the Himalayas. England’s Peak District, a National Park between Manchester and Sheffield, is home to a road called the Widow Maker: the most dangerous road in the UK, with around 280 deaths every year. The A537, also known as the Cat and Fiddle Road, is a 12 kilometre stretch between Macclesfield and Buxton, in the county of Cheshire. The road is a real British beauty – that is why it is so popular with tourists and motorcyclists. But the danger lies in the amount of severe bends and steep falls. On top of that, dry-stone walls edge the road for almost the entire length.
The Zoji Pass, India
With an average of 372 annual deaths, you could say that this mountain pass in the Indian Himalayas, between Kashmir and Ladakh, takes one life every day. But at the same time, the road is a vital lifeline that connects the isolated people of Ladakh with the rest of the world. Obviously, winters in the Himalayas are nothing to mess with, so it is no surprise that the road is often closed for months. The Zoji Pass runs at a dazzling altitude of approximately 3530 metres.
Yungas Road, Bolivia
If there is one road that deserves to be named The Death Road, it is this one. Located in the mountains close to the Bolivian capital of La Paz, the Yungas Road is considered the most dangerous road in the world. It got that reputation after a bus crash in the nineteen-eighties killed over 100 passengers. The road is very narrow, there are hardly any guardrails and extreme weather conditions can turn it into a muddy hell. Yungas Road has become a major tourist attraction in recent years, as adventurous mountainbikers go there to experience the thrill of a lifetime.
The Guoliang Tunnel, China
This tunnel in China’s Henan province is carved in the Taihang Mountains. It connects the isolated village of Giuliang to the outside world. The village is located in a valley, surrounded by towering mountaintops. When the government decided it wasn’t worth to invest several millions into a road that would only be used by 300 people, a group of villagers began carving a road in the mountains in the early seventies. They had no access to power tools, so construction was mostly done with primitive tools like hammers. At the most difficult stage, the tunnel progressed at a rate of one metre every three days. The result is a 1,2 kilometre long tunnel that looks astonishing, but is ruthless to those who want to pass. About 368 people per year die in the tunnel.