206 Provincial Road, a lonely drive in the middle of nowhere
Located in Ngari Prefecture, in the central part of Tibet, in China, the 206 Provincial Road (S206) is a lonely trip in the middle of nowhere.
This road passes through remote areas, so you need to be prepared. The road was paved in late 2015. It’s 401 km (249mi) long and stays for a long time very high (150km over 5000m above the sea level) through a long high plateau. Do not travel this road in severe weather conditions. Avalanches, heavy snowfalls and landslides can occur anytime, being extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice. The wind in Tibet is usually quite strong at mountain areas. Even in summer, the temperature might drop from 20°C at daytime to -10°C at night. In July and August, it may rain continually for several days and you even can confront with snowy days.
Located near the Nepal border, the journey offers great views of geysers, lakes and mountains. It’s definitely worth it. This is a high mountain road, topping out at 5.578m (18,300ft) above the sea level, at Semo La. Do not take this drive if you have respiratory problems or any type of heart condition. Notorius lack of oxygen that tests the organisms and a high degree of steepness. Most people feel altitude sickness at around 2,500-2,800 meters. Extremely low oxygen for engine combustion. A major hazard of altitude is the sickness that can indiscriminately affect anyone regardless of age or fitness. The summit has about 40% less oxygen than at sea level, thus breathing is more difficult. Your pulse rate will increase and movement will be more laborious at the summit. The high elevation with its risk of altitude sickness, weather concerns, steep road grade, and overall inaccessibility make the pass dangerous and summit trips difficult. It has a well-deserved reputation for being dangerous because of unpredictable snowstorms and blizzards, and driving under these conditions, can be extremely challenging. The road is a shortcut between the northern (S301) and southern (G219) road in west Tibet.
Pic: By V.Steuer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons