The North Yungas Road in Bolivia is reported to have a fatal accident every other week, 100-200 people perish there every year. It is said to be the most dangerous road in the world and has earned the nickname “The Winding Road of Death“. In the 1930s the road was built by prisoners of war. The North Yungas Road leaves the city of La Paz, the world’s highest capital city at 12,000 feet. It leads to Coroico, 56 km (35 miles) northeast of La Paz. In July of 2003, a safer route opened in an attempt to route traffic away from the dangerous road. View slide show of winding road of death. It is one of the few routes that connects the Amazon rain-forest region of northern Bolivia, or Yungas, to its capital city. Because of the extreme drop-offs, single-lane width, and lack of guardrails, the road is extremely dangerous. Speaking of accidents, due to the remoteness of the area, if you go over the edge it will be hours before a rescue crew can reach you. The first responders to accidents are usually the fellow motorists.
The most dangerous stretch of the road is called ‘The Corners of Death’. It is a dangerous series of sharp curves around the mountain. On most of these curves, it is impossible to see around the corner. The road is one unpaved lane hacked out of the mountainside, bordered by 3,000-foot cliffs. A staggering percentage of its curves are blind, and a cautionary “look-out” honk is usually all the warning you’ll get from the many trucks carrying bananas and other tropical products uphill. In several sections, waterfalls crash directly onto the road, and it can be muddy throughout. Because so many have died along this stretch, there are many volunteers on this stretch of road, known as ‘human traffic lights’. They station themselves at the most dangerous curves and signal to the drivers if it is safe to continue around the bend. They often are tipped by the drivers.
Passing is also a problem. When two vehicles meet, descending drivers normally have to back up until there is enough space for ascending drivers to pass. With horrifying frequency, they back entirely off the cliff. The government is replacing the road, which winds down from the Andes mountains into the Amazon jungle.
Some say the safest way down the road is mountain biking. There are several companies that specialize in bike trips down the road. Guess what your most important safety rule is for the ‘Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking’ is? Check your brakes before you journey down. I don’t think you want to go over the edge. If you do, you’ll most likely go home in a box.