Today we present another (long-overdue) installment in our popular series The World's Most Dangerous Roads, and we have to shudder showing you these vertigo-inducing images (although some hardened drivers may say "oh, shucks, it's nothing my trusty Jeep and I could not handle").
Regardless of risks, these roads are truly spectacular, and thus popular with trekkers and adventurous tourists - so much of the danger comes from overcrowded conditions and severely limited infrastructure. Also do not discount local traffic, which features some pretty extreme drivers hell-bent on delivering their goods to remote villages.
(all photos are by Stephan Peischl, exclusively for Dark Roasted Blend, unless otherwise noted)
First, we are honored to feature photography of Stephan Peischl, who visited some of most harrowing roads in Tibet and India - some shots are from the road to Spiti Valley via Rohtang Pass, while other photographs were taken in the Kinnaur valley during heavy rain and snowfall - and the subsequent landslides.
Stephan Peischl writes to us "I'm working in Biology and I like traveling, so I get to see some weird and wonderful things every now and then." - so we get to see his high adventure of traveling along the dangerous roads in India and Tibet.
Forested slopes... gloomy canyons... -
A huge drop -
Go on, take your Jeep on this short stretch:
"Rohtang Pass, is a high mountain pass on the eastern Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas around 51 km from Manali. It connects the Kullu Valley with the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys of Himachal Pradesh, India."
As for the Spiti Valley, the name "Spiti" means "The Middle Land", i.e. the land between Tibet and India, though it could also be called "the Land in the Middle of Nowhere", a beautiful but harsh and unforgiving land... The same could be said of local roads twisting away between steep drops and barren canyons:
Beautiful and unforgiving roads... leading to unforgettable sights, like the ancient Ki-Gompa monastery in Spiti Valley - home to nearly 250 monks, fantastic city in a truly spectacular setting:
A Rohtang Pass (at almost 4 kilometers altitude) on Manali to Spiti Road makes it one of the highest motorable roads in the world, the highest motorable road (at an altitude of 5.602 meters / 18.380 feet) is the Ladakh Mountain pass.
India's most dangerous road is arguably the 137 km stretch from Kaza to Gramphoo (Lahual and Spiti), though it can hardly be called a "road" (80% of the route has no pavement). You will have to forge streams, perhaps even small rivers, negotiate melting glaciers and drive over piles of sand, rocks and snow. Most of the road is above 11000 feet and only accessible between May and October.
Plus you'll have to share the road with herds of sheep and goats -
Plenty of crazy crumbling turns make it a slow going, indeed:
"50 Miles of Bad Road" -
Cracked tires seem to be a common occurrence in local vehicles:
Here at least you can see some construction machinery, hinting at repairs being made... note the line up of trucks and buses in the background! -
Here are the buses that routinely go on these roads (serving locals and adventurous tourists):
A typical view out of the bus window:
Very appropriate sticker on the bus:
Getting to the other side is no simple feat
Parts of the road seem to be faring worse than others:
Speaking about landslides... -
People stand around and evaluate the chances of crossing:
No vehicles can cross; and it's even a challenge to negotiate it on foot:
Still have to cross it, no matter what -
Signs and (Hilarious) Wonders along the Route
Load up on snacks and candy at this makeshift road stop:
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