The Karakoram Highway, which runs between Pakistan and C̳h̳i̳n̳a̳, is prone to fatal landslides
The 800-mile Karakoram Highway is plagued by a terrifying ensemble of natural disasters, including landslides, avalanches, flooding, and heavy snow.
Though it’s a popular tourist destination (some have referred to it as the “eighth world wonder”), the highway sees frequent fatalities. In October, 17 people were killed when a bus tumbled into a gorge after the driver took a sharp turn along the highway. A month earlier, a tourist was killed in a landslide that hit her van.
I̳n̳c̳i̳d̳e̳n̳t̳s like these have occurred since the road was first built in 1959. Roughly 1,000 workers were killed during the highway’s construction due to blasts or landslides.
Around 200 to 300 people die on Bolivia’s North Yungas Road every year
The North Yungas Road, nicknamed “D̳e̳a̳t̳h̳ Road,” frequently earns the title of the world’s most dangerous highway. At just 12 feet wide, the road carves a narrow stretch into the Cordillera Oriental Mountain in Bolivia, which is often shrouded in rain and fog. One wrong turn could send travelers plummeting anywhere from 4,000 to 15,000 feet to the ground.
Many of the sections are unpaved and lack guardrails, creating an added danger for both vehicles and cyclists. An estimated 200 to 300 people are killed on the highway every year.
A curvy portion of the Atlantic Road in Norway can become flooded during a storm
Norway’s Atlantic Road runs through a small group of scenic islands, but one stretch of the highway is far from idyllic. As storms begin to pick up, a curvy portion of the road is pummeled with wind and water, creating a hazard for drivers. The road was hit by a dozen windstorms during its construction in the 1980s.
Even ice road truckers fear the slippery conditions of Alaska’s Dalton Highway.
Drivers on the Dalton Highway are advised to bring their safety gear. There are no medical facilities along the 414-mile road, and no gas stations, restaurants, or hotels for a 240-mile stretch.
Much of the road is unpaved and made of gravel, making it difficult for drivers even in good weather conditions. In the winter, the road becomes so slippery and icy that even ice road truckers refuse to cross it. The surrounding tundra is also prone to avalanches.
Drivers on the Zoji Pass in India can plummet 11,500 feet to their de̳a̳t̳h̳
The Zoji Pass is often closed during the winter as heavy snowfall forms thick walls of ice along either side of the road. Under normal weather conditions, the narrow dirt path lacks protective barriers, putting drivers at risk of plummeting some 11,500 feet to the ground.
Like many of the world’s most dangerous roads, the Zoji Pass is also vulnerable to avalanches and landslides, leaving many tourists stranded at high elevations.
C̳h̳i̳n̳a̳’s Guoliang Tunnel is carved into the side of a steep mountain
The Guoliang Tunnel credits its existence to thirteen villagers who chiseled the 4,000-foot path into C̳h̳i̳n̳a̳’s Taihang Mountains in the 1970s.
Though the area has become popular among tourists, the tunnel still lacks barriers and street lamps, so drivers must enter at their own risk. Locals now refer to it as “the road that does not tolerate mistakes.”
Afghanistan’s Kabul-Jalalabad Road is prone to suicide bombings, kidnappings, and car crashes
The de̳a̳t̳h̳ toll along the Kabul-Jalalabad Road in Afghanistan is so high, locals have lost count.
Although the winding two-lane road offers barely enough room for cars to pass, drivers continue to whiz by at de̳a̳t̳h̳-defying speeds, while heavy trucks have trouble climbing the steep incline.
The road is also plagued by Taliban-led suicide bombings and kidnappings — a peril that drivers have come to accept as they make their way along the major trade route. The surrounding area, including the road, is often referred to as “The Valley of D̳e̳a̳t̳h̳.”