La Carretera de los Yungas is, probably, the most famous road in the world as well as the most dangerous. It has been heralded as one of the most spectaculars roads in the world by the dangerousroads.org users. This gravel dirt track covers a 69-kilometre (43 mi) stretch between La Paz and Coroico, in the Yungas region of Bolivia. This ridiculously tight road, with narrow passage and a lot of traffic includes sheer 600 meters (1,830 feet) drop, and it’s full of hairpins.
The world’s most dangerous highway (alternatively known as Death Road, Grove's Road, Coroico Road, Camino de las Yungas, El Camino de la Muerte, Road of Death, Unduavi-Yolosa Highway) climbs up a famous Bolivian mountain pass, La Cumbre, at an elevation of 4,650 metres (15,260 ft) above the sea level.
This road is legendary for its extreme danger. Based on the ratio of death per mile, on an average, 26 vehicles plummet over the edge each year, claiming more than 100 lives. The estimation is that 200 to 300 travellers were killed yearly along the road. With these numbers, in 1995, the Inter American Development Bank christened this highway "The Most Dangerous Road in the World”.
The road is specially dangerous because is only 3 metres wide and is navigated by trucks and buses, because its constant sheer drops of at least 600m without any barriers or guard rails, the extreme dust clouds from vehicles in the summer and fog all year round often reduce visibility to almost zero and the fog and the rain in the winter months that often washes away parts of the road, reduces visibility as well as causing mudslides and the loosening of rocks from the hillsides above.
Without guard rails, most of the road is no wider than 3.2 metres (10 ft). The surface is often muddy, with loosen rocks from the road and rain, fog and dust can reduce visibility. Watch out for sudden loose-gravel breaks. And that asphalt paving can ripple like a roller coaster track in places where “frost heaves” are caused by seasonal freezing and thawing of the ground.
The dangerousness gave this road great notoriety and entice people seeking their adrenaline lined hearts. Between buses, cars, trucks, and even bicycles, it seems that nobody is deemed safe on this stretch of continuous downhill riding with only one short uphill section. Starting in 1990’s, the road is now a popular tourist destination drawing some 25,000 thrillseekers. But the road has no mercy. At least 20 cyclists died on the ride since 1998. Carretera de los Yungas now has become a true business. There are now many tour operators catering to this activity, providing information, guides, transport, and equipment.
The Death Road elevation profile starts in Nuestra Señora de La Paz at an elevation of roughly 3,650 m (11,975 ft) above the sea level. After a sharply winding and precipitous ascent in a a steep and narrow zig-zag road in, the road then climbs up to around 4,650 metres (15,260 ft) at La Cumbre Pass. Finally, it goes down to the town of Coroico at 1,200 metres (3,900 ft).
The road, that connects the Amazon rainforest region of northern Bolivia, or Yungas, to its capital city, includes macabre crosses marking many of the spots where vehicles have fallen. Some of the most important accidents happened on 24 July 1983, when a bus veered off the Yungas Road and into a canyon, killing more than 100 passengers in what is said to be Bolivia's worst road accident and in December 1999, after 8 Israeli travelers were killed in a jeep accident on that road.
The road was built in the 1930s during the Chaco War by Paraguayan prisoners, and it was modernized during 20 years, ending in 2006. Now, a new Yungas Road (considerably safer than the original route) has 2 lanes, includes asphalt pavement, guardrails and features modern construction (bridges, drainage, etc.). The original road, now is much less used by regular traffic, although an increasing number of adventure travelers.
Near to this road, the South Yungas Road (called Chulumani Road), is considered to be nearly as dangerous as the North Road, and links Nuestra Señora de La Paz, at an elevation of roughly 3,650 m (11,975 ft) above the sea level and Chulumani, at 5,600 ft (1,700 m).