Also Read: Part 1 - Roads in Bolivia, Russia + trek in China Part 2 - Roads in China, Thailand, Italy Part 3 - Roads in Nepal, Philippines Part 4 - Roads in Alps, Slovenia, Norway
Crazy Routes in Andes, Albania & New Zealand
Necessity may dictate that you choose the "road less traveled", but for goodness sake, leave weaker-nerved passengers behind. They might experience life-changing (and underwear-changing) circumstances that they will never forget, or forgive.
One of the Chinese military roads to "boost the morale of their troops" -
and here is how they navigate it:
Outside of military scares, our first pick among the seriously crooked roads today is
"Los Caracoles" Pass in Andes
Rodrigo L. van Lamoen tipped us about its existence and describes it in this way: "It's a place in the mountain pass "Los Libertadores" that goes trough the Andes between Chile and Argentina. It's called "Los Caracoles" and is a series of very hard switchbacks on a very steep road, with no barriers and ice and snow present most of the year. Add the cargo trucks and double-decker tourist buses... and you get the idea. I've done that a couple times, once in a double-decker even, and it's quite an experience."
However, this road is maintained pretty regularly and does not have as morbid an accident-record as the following:
Tirana to Elbasan Road in Albania
This is a hairy route, very high, badly maintained with high volume of heavy truck traffic - count on these Albanian drivers to be dare-devils, too. Whatever pictures we could get, look pretty serious: (click to enlarge)
The "Lord of the Rings" country contains the prettiest landscapes in the world and the hairiest roads to reach them. At least we got this impression after receiving a dozen tips from our readers to investigate and to cover some of this island's fearsome backroads. Here are a few examples:
Mount Hutt road (sent by Mick) -
Looks like a good Optimus Prime hangout:
It gets pretty interesting in foggy conditions (sheer drop less than a meter away) -
Katie Laurence writes to us: "This road is made from a very narrow cut in the middle of a sheer cliff face. The large tourist buses go along it, and it's so narrow that if two vehicles have to pass each other, one vehicle might have to reverse for anything up to 3 kilometres of winding narrow road to get to a place wide enough to pass. It is the SCARIEST road you could imagine..."
Among other cliff-side roads of New Zealand we have to mention the Paikakariki road on the North Island - rewarding with awesome coastal views, but demanding driver's full attention at the same time. Otherwise the careless stray glance toward a pretty landscape may become the last thing you'll gaze upon, period. (images courtesy David Wall)
The helicopter view reveals how spectacular the drive really is:
- Irimahuwheri Bay, Perpendicular Point (Paparoa National Park, West Coast, South Island) - State Highway Six at Ten Mile Creek, north of Greymouth, West Coast, South Island
Milford Road in Upper Hollyford Valley (Fiordland National Park, South Island) is something else again, but not as dangerous to drive, barring avalanches:
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