The most dangerous road in the world can be found in Bolivia, in the western part of South America. Known among locals as La Carretera de los Yungas, the North Yungas Road has been called by the Inter-American Development Bank as the deadliest road in the world in 1995.
This Bolivian thoroughfare leads up to a famous mountain pass called La Cumbre, situated at over 4,000 meters above sea level. The North Yungas Road (also known as Death Road, Coroico Road, El Camino de la Muerte, Grove’s Road, and Unduavi-Yolosa Highway) is a popular destination for adventurers or for people who want to test their driving skills navigating through a narrow, winding mountain road.
The nickname Road of Death was earned by this mountain path because of the number of people falling to their deaths while driving through it—it is estimated that nearly 300 people die of motor accidents on the North Yungas Road every year. Driving through this Bolivian Road, you will see plenty of crosses on the side of the road; but this is not about how religious many South American countries are or about the locals’ hope of divine guidance while traveling. The crosses mark the sites of fatal accidents.
The North Yungas Road stretches 35 miles between Coroico and La Paz (the capital of Bolivia), with a very narrow width enough for a single vehicle. Aside from the high altitude of the road, there are no guardrails that would prevent vehicles from falling over to the ravine. During the rainy seasons, heavy outpours reduce the visibility down to zero; winter months bring on the fog, while summer months mean dust clouds from passing vehicles. Even without heavy rains, the surface of the North Yungas road can be very muddy. With rains, however, a driver has to deal with poor road visibility, muddy roads, and the possibility of rock avalanches and mudslides.
Even though the road is highly dangerous and very unforgiving of even the slightest of mistakes, thousands of people flock to the road every year for an adrenaline-fueled drive. Since the 1990’s, the North Yungas Road has been a popular choice for adventurers, but even those who brave this road on their mountain bikes can be victims of the Road of Death. Many cyclists have made miscalculations while traversing the North Yungas Road and fell to their deaths into the rocky ravine.
If you are brave enough to cycle or drive through the North Yungas Road, make sure that you contact reputable tour operators that will provide you with the information, vehicle, equipment, and locals that you need for an adrenaline-fueled (yet safe) adventure on the Road of Death. Preparation is also important, as skill would definitely come in handy while negotiating a difficult road like this. Brave adventurers are rewarded with dramatic views of the Bolivian mountains—and you would definitely feel like you are driving on the clouds. Just make sure you do not get distracted by beautiful views!