Death Road, Winding Road Of Death: The North Yungas Road

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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.

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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.

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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.

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jbw
    Mar 05, 2008 @ 20:21:12

    You gotta love those South American people they got stamina and guts! Unfortunately it appears they are one brick short of a full load to even get near a road like this.

    Reply

  2. concerned citizen
    Jan 10, 2009 @ 06:22:56

    WTF!

    Reply

  3. Mom
    Aug 11, 2009 @ 16:31:45

    A few weeks ago I was on the highest paved road in North America. Mt. Evans near Breckenridge, Colorado has a 15 mile paved road which is barely wide enough to let two cars pass. There are no guard rails when you are on the outside of the road even though you are sitting down, strapped in your car, your knees still get that wobbly feeling. At one point when we were at 14,238 feet mountain goats were crossing the road then they stood and watched the cars go by as if to say, “Crazy people using wheels to get up here instead of 4 legs.” After that road trip I know I would never take the road trip in Bolivia. I nearly passed out on the paved road!

    Reply

  4. TopGear Fan
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 20:20:18

    If you really want to see how treacherous this road is, watch the Top Gear season 14 episode 6 where they actually drive this road in crappy SUVs they bought unseen from the Bolivian classifieds.

    Reply

  5. Trackback: Yungas ‘Death Road’ [topgear] The Most Dangerous Road in the World « JezZBean
  6. Inca World Peru Agency
    May 14, 2010 @ 20:39:30

    oh my friends this road is very dangerous by this you should visit Cusco en http://www.incaworldperu.com

    Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Peru, trek information to Machupicchu, discover the lost Cusco, explore the
    Ausangate Salkantay Mountains, whitewater rafting in Urubamba, Temple of Koricancha Cathedral in the centre
    of Cusco, continuing to: Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Puca Pucará and Tambomachay

    Reply

  7. Outspeaker
    Nov 17, 2010 @ 22:09:02

    I don’t know what that damned Morales is doing since 2005, when he was elected as president of that country.

    They could easily widen that road, and make it like any road in the civilized world (bridges, culverts, asphalt pavement, edge rails etc.). Morales has nationalized many foreign companies, but where the money so earned? I don’t see any major investments in Bolivia, looks like they spend all that money on alcohol and koka.

    Reply

  8. betterware produkty
    Sep 12, 2013 @ 18:45:40

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  9. dobre bramy przesuwane
    Dec 29, 2013 @ 11:33:43

    I’m not sure exactly why but this site is loading extremely slow for me.
    Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue
    on my end? I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.

    Reply

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