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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.

(image via)

1. Pakistan:
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" -

(image via)

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)


2. Romania:
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:

(images via)

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:

(image via)

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!"


3. Germany:
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).

(image via)

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?

Think again:

(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.

(images via)

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:

(image via)

Roads like these are great for auto rally spectaculars:

(original unknown)

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:

(original unknown)


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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Anonymous Anke Wehner said...

"It is said that there is one fatality per week" - Someone who actually did research (asking the local police station) found rather lower numbers, even if 3-12 per year is still a lot. http://www.nurburgring.org.uk/warning.html

Anonymous Jealousy said...

I was there few years ago on that road in Transylvania. My second scariest ride ever (number one was also in Romania). I was there on biztrip and had to go across Romania from one corner to another. I decided to make it a little more enjoyable and visited Dracula's castle/ruins (Poienari). After that i stayed on that road in the mountains. On map it look like a nice ride across mountains. In reality I was scared to death.

I had some help for that feeling: heavy rain started, which started some mud avalanches (don't know the right English word for it) and flooding the road. As i got higher in the hill, cellphone lost signal, because there is no network... And as an added bonus - my fuel gauge was right at the bottom.
On the way up i passed some locals riding horses and a few ghost(ish) villages. At one point there were PET bottles blocking the way, but i got through. Soon after that i understand that warning. After one sharp turn the road just ended. It was all covered in snow. Absolutely no chance to keep going, even on foot. To make it even more unpleasant, right there was an abandoned truck, partially covered in snow. Apparently some time ago he was stopped by the same snow, and could not go back, because the road was too narrow for a truck to turn over.

At that point i was really really scared. No phone, almost no fuel, raining as hell... I turned back and driving crazy fast (just to get to the point where there is phone signal) headed back down. My luck - it was all the way down, which helped saving fuel. I managed to get back down to the city and went straight to the nearest petrol station.

This probably doesn't sound very scary, but then and there it really was :)

Here are some pics from that trip: http://picasaweb.google.lv/jybook/Hungarija#

Blogger Danny Colligan said...

The road from Quito, Ecuador to the Amazon is pretty treacherous, especially since the bus drivers drive like they are at the wheel of Ferraris!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't fall for the Nazi Autobahn propaganda myth. In fact, the democratic Reich had already built Autobahns and put them into operation before the Nazis gained power. Their propaganda effectively made people believe that the Fuehrer's order to build Autobahns created lots of jobs and helped struggling Germany to overcome unemployment, which is not true. First, the democratic Reich had already put up significant amounts of capital for exactly that purpose, second, the number of people working to build Autobahns was negleglible small number compared to the 6 million jobless Germans.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

King Canyon in California's Sierra Nevada is about 10,000 feet (approx. 3 km) deep.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@jealousy :
If you had looked for information before going on your, i quote, "second scariest ride ever" you would have known that part of that road is closed every year by the authorities until june or sometimes even july exactly because of the heavy snowing that is normal in wintertime there.
For someone who gets scared of PET bottles and forgets to check the fuel before going on a trip, i can understand how that was scary, bu-hu-hu :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I drove the road trough the transilvanian alps too ... It's not a bad road actually, it's especially spectacular. The road has quite some holes in them but nothing really crazy. We, too, got blocked eventually by the snow - but If you're ever driving by car from Bucharest to Sibiu, somewhere after may - really, take this road, it'll be the most beautiful you ever took

Anonymous Gennaro said...

I'd give Bolivia the honors for this one. They have a road that is the die for.

Blogger Stickmaker said...

When I was a kid, the road to my paternal grandparents' home in Harlan County, Kentucky passed under a rock cut similar to the one in the second image. My sister and I always made sure to duck. :-)

Anonymous Bang Poltak said...

That pothole picture, is in Medan. It's the capital of North Sumatra province of Indonesia.

There are more gnarly dangerous potholes here in Jakarta, Indonesia. Those potholes literally kill people.

OpenID second-ju said...

I've been to Tajikistan, and the highway connecting the two major cities of that country (Dushanbe and Khudjand) is almost as scaring as the first road in this series. The road from Dushanbe to Khorog (a town in eastern Tajikistan) is even more scaring.
Both roads are unpaved, and they go through mountain passes over 3,300 meters high. They are really spectacular! Please check these ones for your next series!

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Thank you for all the tips and suggestions - we'll use them for next parts...

Anonymous tim said...

This dangerous roads series is probably my favorite topic on drb. Thanks

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wasn't even expecting a mention of Colorado's mountain passes - Bravo! We have lots that will tighten the sphincter and aren't for inexperienced flatlanders who don't know how to use 4x4 on shelf roads, handle crazy grades and "roads" that are as wide as a hiking trail and have boulders as tall as a sedan. hahaha. Certainly not as crazy as the deadliest one in Bolivia, but there are certainly some old mining roads and passes here that qualify as some of the world's most dangerous roads. Anyway, glad to see Colorado got a mention!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khumbu Valley and Pheriche are in NEPAL!! Get your facts straight guys!

Anonymous Anonymous said...


that there is a wickedly dangerous hicking path in spain.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are many mountain roads in North India that are similar to the Bolivian death road.

Anonymous Festivalul Luminii said...

Amazing roads. I've only seen one of them, the one in Romania, but I absolutely want to see the others. They are just amazing.

Blogger pojoel said...

I drove the Transfagarasan about ten years ago. It was very exciting, but I loved every minute of it! Then again, I did it with a Volvo, not a Dacia... ;-)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, those are some sketchy looking roads! This road certainly doesn't compare to any of the ones shown in your series, but I have been on it and it was pretty hair-raising for me. It is the Illinois River Road in Oregon, National Forest route 4103, which is the eastern access road to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. I couldn't find any pics of the road, but I did find this topo map.


As you can see, there are stretches where there is a sheer 300 - 400 foot drop into the Illinois River on one side. That, and the fact that it is an unpaved road built on serpentine, makes it quite treacherous in rainy conditions. Serpentine is very slippery when wet, and the road surface has a slight angle towards the cliff edge in certain areas. No guard rail, of course. Thanks for the series!


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