El Angosto de Villa Montes (or Pilcomayo canyon) is one of the deadliest and most dangerous roads in the world. Located in the Tarija Department in south-eastern Bolivia, this balcony road, with a a 450 meter drop on the right side, unprotected by guardrails, is extremely narrow.
The road is called Ruta 11, on the way between Villa Montes and Palos Blancos. The most challenging part of the road is a short 13km section following the Rio Pilcomayo. There are some narrow sections –totally impassable for 2 cars at the same time. If two vehicles have to pass each other, one might have to reverse for some kilometers of winding narrow road to get to a place wide enough to pass. It shouldn’t be attempted by those who don't know how to reverse. The surface of the road is gravel. Along this section there have been hundreds of fatalities, as well as material losses valued at many millions.
This road tests the skill, and courage, of any driver. It’s definitely not for anyone suffering from vertigo or a fear of landslides. Only the suicidal, the insane, or the paid-to-do-this should ever drive down. It’s a kind of road not for those who fear heights. There is little room for error on these roads. It's normal for your palms to sweat looking at those photos.
The fog is usual in this section and it’s heavily trafficked by buses and trucks. The road was built in 1929. Drivers must remain cautious as the pass has been known to claim the lives of careless drivers. Take a tip from the tortoise: slow and steady wins the race. Along the way there are several crosses to remember the people who died on the road. Angosto means ‘narrow’. The area is famous due its oil exploitations.
Road suggested by: Hugh Wilson
Pic: Daniel Toffolo