World’s Worst Road
Deadly twists make for a white-knuckled drive
By Justine Ingersoll
Next time you find yourself cursing a poorly paved, narrow or winding stretch of road, just remember: It could be worse. Much worse. In fact, it could be the world’s worst road: “Death Road” in the North Yungas region of Bolivia.
It has been called the most dangerous road in the world, a title earned for being more than just a bumpy ride. The yearly death toll on this 50-mile stretch is in the hundreds. “Death Road” also garnered its reputation by having precarious drop-offs, narrow single-lane sections and a lack of guardrails to protect drivers from plummeting to depths below. Abandoned wreckage clinging to the mountainside can be found along this perilous path, a constant reminder of its deadly past.
Built in the 1930s by Paraguayan prisoners during the Chaco War, the road is one of the few routes connecting the Amazon rainforest region, Yungas, to Bolivia’s capital city, La Paz. It is so narrow in parts, as few as three yards wide, that when two cars come upon one another, one must back up to a marginally wider section to pass.
Of course, where there is danger, there will be thrill-seekers. Bike tours and other events annually draw daredevil mountain bike enthusiasts who find the extreme downhill drops and curvy turns just an added bonus to the scenic ride.