As car enthusiasts, driving roads are magical places in which we can rev our engines, row our gears and roast some rubber. However, good driving roads are hard to come by. Often times, the typical roads we drive on are bland and boring straightish roads, filled with traffic lights and teenagers texting. It’s rare that we come by a road that gets our blood pumping. It’s even less often that we encounter a road so treacherous that it makes us think twice about actually driving on it. These roads exist, and have cult followings of daredevils who wish to walk the fine line between life and death.
These terrifying roads can be found all over the world and can be both exhilarating and life threatening. Some of these roads are famous, some are not so famous. So let’s take a look at some of the world’s most dangerous roads.
5. Road to Hana
Maui, Hawaii: The road to Hana is probably the least treacherous on the list, however, that doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the most dangerous roads in the world. It’s a 62 mile winding mountainous road that connects Kahului to Hana. In its 62 miles you climb around 4,700 ft above sea level on roads so narrow that at many points there isn’t enough room for both sides of traffic. There are also 620 turns, most of them near hairpins, in just those 62 miles. For those of you bad at maths, that’s 10 turns per miles. That’s insane. The road surface is poor, there are few, if any, guardrails, insane amounts of tourism traffic and drop-offs that offer no chance of survival. Combine that with the beautifully breathtaking views which are of constant distraction, and the Road to Hana is one of the most dangerous roads in the world. I’ve personally been on this road, and at many points it’s gorgeous, but it’s mostly terrifying. But I’m afraid of heights, so maybe it’s just me.
4. Taroko Gorge Road – Taiwan
While beautiful, the Taroko Gorge is one of the most dangerous roads on the planet. Twisting through the mountains, the narrow road is only wide enough for one car at a time, meaning oncoming traffic must play chicken with each other to see who passes. There are dozens of blind corners that cause endless front end collisions each year and the weather can be deadly. With storms constantly flooding parts of the road, cars are constantly slipping around and getting stuck. Then there’s the frequent landslides and falling rocks which claim numerous lives each year. Sounds fun.
3. Highway 1, Kabul to Jalalabad, Afghanistan
This 50 mile stretch of road that rises to around 2,000 feet above sea level claims so many lives that people actually stopped counting. The deaths are attributed to the fact that the roads are so narrow, with so many blind crests and turns, along with the hundreds of Afghan drivers who are so used to reckless city driving that they are constantly speeding and crashing. Take into account that the guardrails are made of poorly constructed cement, and you can see why this might not be the ideal road of choice.
2. Fairy Meadows Road – Pakistan
This road (I say road, but more like dirt, sand and rock trail) climbs 8,000 ft above sea level up the ninth highest mountain in the world, Nanga Parbat. There’s a six mile stretch of loose gravel road that hasn’t been updated or maintained since it was developed hundred of years ago by locals carving it out of rock. The entire road is loose gravel, there are no guardrails of any kind and the least stretch of road can only be traversed on foot or by bicycle. The road is no wider than a standard Jeep Wrangler and there’s plenty of through traffic. One false move and it’s a very long drop.
1. Road of Death – Yungas, Bolivia
While all of these roads are incredibly dangerous, none hold a candle to the Road of Death. It’s called the Road of Death, that should be reason enough. The entire road is made of dirt, it climbs 11,800 ft in just 40 miles and no guardrails at any point. The elements also play a factor, as there is commonly blinding fog, sudden rainstorms and even landslides. Then there’s the fact that, because there are no alternative roads connecting the Bolivian capital to the rainforest, there are hundreds of people driving on it each day and it isn’t wide enough for two lanes of traffic. So often times, drivers must either squeeze or retreat to a wider area, both options which can end in a fall to a fiery death. To get an idea of just how dangerous, the three host from Top Gear drove this road in an older episode and there’s a particularly tense moment when Clarkson must squeeze on the outside of another driver with a plummeting death only centimeters away.