Jamaica’s road system over recent years has massively improved. Superhighways now connect all points of the island from north to south and east to west. Driving in Jamaica should be pretty straightforward for visitors. However, there are still a few intimidating roads that are daunting to even locals.
Bog Walk Gorge is one of them. A popular route for large trucks and speeding taxi drivers, its a narrow road connecting Linstead to Spanish Town with a rock face on one side and an unpredictable river on the other. Between 2005 and 2018 it has claimed 34 lives.
No worries though. If you want to transit between these two towns there’s a new highway for that too. You will never have to take this risk if you don’t want to.
No road in Jamaica, however, can be compared to what’s on this list. Here at Hummingbird, we have compiled a countdown of what we think are the most dangerous roads in the world.
5. Kabul – Jalalabad Highway, Afghanistan
Built in 1969, the road has been of significance to the country, providing a route for trade, humanitarian aid and the return of Afghan refugees. The road was asphalted at the initial construction, however, years of deterioration has turned much of it into a gravel road.
The difference in height between Kabul and Jalalabad which the highway connects is around 1200m. So that means climbing or descending through the extremely mountainous terrain.
Cars get crushed by overloaded trucks that are falling back while attempting to climb steep slopes. Buses full of passengers racing and colliding. And trailers trying to make sharp turns and plummeting 2000ft down the vertical rock face and into the Kabul River. The frequency of accidents and fatalities on this road means everyone has stopped counting the death toll a long time ago.
A combination of these factors is topped off with the threat of Taliban members who often kidnap for ransom. FUN! (Sarcasm)
Really it is hell on earth set in one of the most beautiful and breath-taking terrains on earth. Whatever tourism industry is that is left in Afghanistan and Pakistan are mountaineers who take the risk to see these sites each year. This, unfortunately, has been decreasing as a result of the increase in threats.
4. Fairy Meadows Road, Pakistan
The spectacle and danger continue with number 4 on our list. Fairy Meadows Road is a 16.2km road, more like a gravel path, located in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. As seen in the photo above, there are no guardrails and the road is extremely narrow.
At around 3300ft, it is the starting point for trekkers and climbers who to explore the Nanga Parbat, the 9th highest mountain in the world. The road has not undergone any maintenance since it was built by the ethnic people of the mountain hundreds of years ago.
Full caution must be taken when driving on this road as it is famous for taking the lives of reckless drivers. In 2014, a family of five soared to the alley floor after their driver lost control of the vehicle. Luckily the road is not a critical route for transit or death tolls would be much higher. This, however, does not make it less dangerous.
The area has not previously been affected by Taliban or Al Qaeda but this has changed in recent years. Most, notably a massacre of Chinese and Ukranian climbers who were executed by gunmen dressed as paramilitary forces at their base camp.
3. Guoliang Tunnel, China
With such a narrow pathway, locals say you must have a monk-like focus to drive here. One of the biggest threats being oncoming traffic.
13 villagers in remote China carved this tunnel along the side of a mountain in 1972 to connect their small villages to civilization. Prior to this, they had to use a “Sky Ladder”, a deadly and steep almost vertical pathway.
During this project, some of them were killed but the team was fully committed to its completion. Since opening to the public in 1977, the villages have been flocked by tourists who are welcomed for the revenue they bring.
2. Zojila Pass, India
Runner-up on our list standing tall at 3529m or 11580ft is Zojila Pass. Found in the western section of the Himalayan Mountain Range, it is used as a lifeline for the people of Ladakh, India. It connects them to Kashmir and the rest of the world.
This narrow winding strip of road overlooks dense jungles and snow-covered summits. In 2012, 11 tourists were killed when their bus lost control and they fell into the gorge. Incredible to think how much thousands of feet the fell before ultimately falling to their deaths. There have also been of 60 landslides on record.
Travelling on this road you also run the risk of being blocked or even buried by heavy sheets of snow. Which rushes down the mountain during heavy winds and snowfall. As a result of this, the road is often closed to the public for half of the year.
1. Road of Death, Bolivia
HERE IT IS…..#1 on our list. Formally the official most dangerous road in the world, ROAD OF DEATH or North Yungas Road in Bolivia. It is no longer considered that because of more accessible roads being built close by. It is still as dangerous as ever, however, for those who are daring enough to experience it.
This dirt track covers 69km or 43mi between La Paz and Coroico an astounding elevation of about max elevation of 4600m or 15,260ft above sea level! As you descend you will leave a cold mountainous region which is very different in contrast to the surrounding Amazon rainforest at lower elevations.
The estimation is that 200-300 per year perish on this road up until the late 1990s. Famously in 1983, when a bus fell into a canyon killing 100 passengers.
Built in the 1930s, North Yungas is single lane, having a width of 3.2m at most points with just a few guard rails. Rainy season brings rain and fog that affects visibility and creates water runoffs that makes the track extremely slippery and increases chances of landslides. The dry season brings dust that affects visibility as well as rockfall.
Mountain bikers love this road and visit from all over the world since the road became less used by the public. While there are tours available, the trek is safe by no means. Since 1998, 18 of these cyclists have died riding on Yungas.
With threats and records like these, the rightly coined Road of Death, is our NUMBER 1 of the most dangerous roads in the world.
There you have it, Hummingbird’s top 5 countdown for the Most Dangerous Roads in the World. Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments section