|"QUANTUM SHOT" #519|
Link - by Avi Abrams
Wicked Routes in Pakistan, Romania, Ethiopia and Germany. Yes, Germany.
"Last road to see before you die" for mad motorists and visual candy for location-starved Hollywood producers: depending on your driving experience (not on your "Need for Speed" scores) and your outlook on life, these roads can be either the ultimate, or the scariest travel destination. (this page is a part of our bigger series, read it all here)
Want to feel happy and safe? Then gaze on this picture for a while, because the rest of this page is only going to unnerve and distress you.
The Way to Fairy Meadows (is steep and narrow indeed)
There is no free lunch. If "Fairy Meadows" sounds like a heavenly destination, the way to reach them can be expected to look like a road to hell. Sure enough, it's a 10-km single lane road leading to one of the highest peaks in the world, Nanga Parbat in Pakistan. From Raikot Bridge (over the Indus River) to Tato village, the view gets better and the road gets dizzier:
(images by Shah Khan, Vaughn)
"Halfway down our engine died and the driver used nothing but brakes to control our descent," remembers Vaughn.
(image credit: Hassan Wassim)
Don't look back, or down. The road ahead is all you really need to watch... If rocks come plummeting down, there is no shoulder to avoid them:
(image credit: Umair Shaikh)
Admittedly, the road has been built by the residents of Tato and the Pakistani Government had no part in it - which means you can't sue anybody if the worst happens. However, once you get to the Fairy Meadows, the scenery is heavenly enough:
(images by Umair Shaikh)
Another great road-challenged destination in Pakistan is Deosai National Park. Deosai means Land of Giants, and it is one of the highest plateaus in the world. Here is a nerve-wracking bridge crossing, braved by fearless local drivers:
Photos by Qavi and Captain Ash
Aptly named Bridge of Big Water (Bara Pani), this suspension bridge is pretty adequate for Deosai, which is snowbound most of the year with Himalayan brown bears being the only population for many months.
Not every suspension bridge crossing ends safely:
Bridge in Kashmir, India - image via
Crossing Pan-African Highway bridges in Congo (Zaire) in Central Africa can be a good challenge for your truck:
Photos by David Wall)
Not as bad as, say, in the William Friedkin's film "Sorcerer" -
Africa is a continent with so many roads in dangerous condition that it requires its own page. Who has ever heard of Weldiya, Lalibela Road in Ethiopia? At 12,000 ft, be glad nobody asks you to drive an overloaded truck there:
Photos by David Wall)
You can consider yourself safe, once you cross the Fagaras Massive
The second highest road in Europe (highest point: 2040 m. elevation) features ex-vampire and ex-communist castles placed among the "highest, largest, widest, rockiest and most impressive mountain range" in Eastern Europe - try this route for automotive excitement:
(images by Dénes László, via)
Roads in Romania can be intense, for example, when you drive on top of the spectacular Barajul Vidraru dam:
However, one road - Transfagarasanul Road through the Carpathian Mountains - stands out from the rest.
The Fagaras mountain range features the Fagaras Castle, a Medieval stronghold of Transylvanian Princes, used in the 1950s as a prison for opponents and dissidents of the Communist State of Romania. There are also ruins of Poienari Castle, Vlad the Impaler's real castle, lurking on this route, to get your blood flowing. As you can see, some Van Helsing action can be almost guaranteed... in the ever-present mist:
You can have lots of fun: you can make way for swaths of snow -
(photos by Thomas Stellmach)
...or crash through the tunnel's doors, if necessary:
(image credit: Thomas Stellmach)
Another fun road in Romania: Mateusz Figat sends us his experience of braving a Romanian National Road - TransAlpina 67c:
(images by Mateusz Figat, 1)
"From 500 to over 1700m high, mostly not paved, with creeks running on the road - all with standard Ford Focus and a whole family inside!"
Want even more excitement? How about driving on a racetrack that is open to the paying public?
I am talking about Nürburgring Nordschleife in Germany - the greatest & most challenging race circuit in the world.
Ever since Germans started building the autobahns (as part of the Nazi's plan to revive the economy), we've come to think of driving in Germany as fast, exciting and safe experience:
But for those who are willing to up the stakes and risk their lives, there is the option to book a few laps at Nürburgring Nordschleife - also called "The Green Hell" - a foggy and ridiculously twisty forest route. It is said that there is one fatality per week (so take out an insurance policy before tackling it).
One reader tells us: "There is a scary story of a biker that had an accident throwing him and his machine into the woods. Although not killed in the crash, he died there because nobody noticed the accident."
You think Gary, Indiana, has potholes?
(image credit: Reuters)
Maybe not so dangerous looking, the following road has deadly statistics: the Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, Philippines, in terms of deaths and accidents is far more dangerous than even the Halsema Highway (which we featured in Part 3). It's known as "killer highway" to the locals: most deaths are blamed on too much traffic congestion and chaos.
(images by Rico Sempai, Dr.Iluminada F. Castigador)
Landslides - "premature road seizures" - can render a road obsolete in a few seconds:
Such ruined roads, however, might be happily used by the 4x4 enthusiasts: these guys are constantly on the lookout for epic locations. But if they get stuck, they get stuck on an epic scale, too:
("Mickey's Hot Tub" in the Sand Flats Recreation Area, Moab, Utah - via John J. "Jud" Leslie)
There are plenty of hair-raising mountain roads in U.S (see our extreme off-roading article): some of the great routes include Gold Camp Road (from Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek), the road up to Yankee Boy Basin, or the highway from Ouray to Silverton (all in Colorado)
Idaho Springs, Colorado, also sports a nice drive called the Oh My God Road. In the same state, there are roads up to the summits of Mt. Evans, Pike's Peak, Black Bear Pass, Mosquito Pass... the list goes on. Canada beckons north of the border with some wicked 4x4 roads, too.
Hazards of mountain road construction also cry out for their own page. Check out this one-man bulldozer which digs off the higher side of the slope and fills in the lower side (more info)
(image credit: modernmechanix)
Spectacular routes, but don't take your eyes off the road!
It's frustrating when you can only afford fleeting glances around you, trying to keep the car on the road - and some of the best scenery on Earth passes you by. Check out, for example, this twisty road in Morocco's Atlas mountains, offering an awesome view on the Dades Gorge:
(image credit: Rosino)
Another great road, this time in Peru: near Aquas Calientes, at the base of Machu Picchu -
Night cruising in Rueifang, Taiwan, close to Taipei City:
(image credit: Te-Wei Liu)
This one is great for drifting:
Roads like these are great for auto rally spectaculars:
Cyclists have to be careful while enjoying the Gavia Pass in Italy:
(photos by PistonHeads, David, Bob Rogers, Marc McDaniel)
Extreme biking? Try this one:
Hiking Trails for the Those in the Know
Hike the Deepest Canyon in the World! No, it's not the Grand Canyon, it's the Colca Canyon in Peru, which for hundreds of kilometers maintains a depth of 3400 meters (around 2 miles). That's more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon!
(image credit: Kevin)
Try some trails in Himalays, China - just be sure not to lean too much to the left:
(trail to Kangtega peak, close to Periche village, in the Khumbu valley)
(image credit: D. Chatrov)
This path goes on long enough: one can follow it for four days, ending up at an altitude of 5,000 meters. Be careful crossing bridges, too:
(image credit: Ne-Palec)
The Most Dangerous Staircase in the World? -
(image credit: Chris and Amy)
Send us photos and accounts of driving on crazy, dangerous roads - for inclusion in the next part of the series.
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