Having enjoyed the Christmas episode of Top Gear and after the laughter had finished I was struck by the incredible reality of the danger presented to the cast and crew during their trip to Bolivia. The programme has fantastic script writers and i think sub consciously they brought about a fantastic piece of reality to the programme whilst it may have been unintentional. It just goes to prove that its very easy to take for granted the fact that travel in the UK is realatively easy, many of the Bolivians risk their lives everyday just making a journey that is required for them just to survive.
‘Road of Death’ or ‘Death Road’ as it’s called, the Yungas Road, in the Yungas region of Bolivia has one of the toughest terrains in the world. Reports estimate ‘killer-road’ takes 200-300 lives each year. Due to the dangers associated with the road, the Inter-American Development Bank christened it the “world’s most dangerous road” in 1995. The road includes crosses marking many of the spots where vehicles have fallen.
The North Yungas Road (alternatively known as Grove’s Road, Coroico Road, Camino de las Yungas, El Camino de la Muerte, Road of Death or Death Road) is a 61 or 69-kilometre road leading from La Paz to Coroico, 56 kilometres (35 mi) northeast of La Paz in the Yungas region of Bolivia. It is legendary for its extreme danger and in 1995 the Inter-American Development Bank christened it as the “world’s most dangerous road”. One estimate is that 200 to 300 travellers were killed yearly along the road. The road includes crosses marking many of the spots where vehicles have fallen. Via Wiki
“The Yungas road is not merely a passageway to the thick dense jungles of Bolivia, but is in itself a rite of passage.”
Jonathan Derksen (2002)
Yungas road earned its reputation because it has the highest death toll per year than any other road in the world. At least 25 vehicles fall off the road per year and more than 100 people per year lose their lives on the Yungas Road in Bolivia.
The Yungas road was built by prisoners during Bolivia’s 1932-1935 war with Paraguay and continued many years after. It has been the only route linking northern Bolivia and the Yungas Valley to La Paz. The road is carved into the sides of the mountainside and it can have vertical drops of more than 1,500 (457m) feet just off the road and it has no guardrails.
The two-way road often times no wider than a single car, has blind corners and hairpin turns. It has been the only route from the farmlands of the Yungas Valley up to the capital in La Paz. There has been a staggering death toll: in one year 300 people died in cars, bus loads of people and trucks have plunged over the sheer cliff sides. via Travel-bolivia.com Link
The North Yungas Road in Bolivia is reported to have a fatal accident every other week, 100-200 people perish there every year. It is said to be the most dangerous road in the world and has earned the nickname “The Winding Road of Death“. In the 1930s the road was built by prisoners of war.
The North Yungas Road leaves the city of La Paz, the world’s highest capital city at 12,000 feet. It leads to Coroico, 56 km (35 miles) northeast of La Paz. In July of 2003, a safer route opened in an attempt to route traffic away from the dangerous road. View slide show of winding road of death. It is one of the few routes that connects the Amazon rain-forest region of northern Bolivia, or Yungas, to its capital city. Because of the extreme drop-offs, single-lane width, and lack of guardrails, the road is extremely dangerous. Speaking of accidents, due to the remoteness of the area, if you go over the edge it will be hours before a rescue crew can reach you. The first responders to accidents are usually the fellow motorists. via Prettysleepy |link|
Some incredible pictures of Yungas.
As a blog writer i think the world is best described in pictures, this is truly a remarkable place, unique and purposeful but not without the risk and danger. You are clearly taking your life into your own hands in order to complete a remarkable journey only matched by that of everest. My last pictures are dedicated to all of those individuals , groups and families who have embarked on the incredible journey and taken on the incredible challenge of the “Death Road” Bolivia.
So, we have the stories and the pictures and i would like to conclude the article with a video dedicated to Top Gear and the Yungas Death Road, what an incredible programme not only have you brought us laughter but its been a education. Like my page on Yellowstone this will probably end up as one of the most remarkable places in the world that i have never seen although i would never say never !
I hope you have enjoyed the article please leave a comment or tweet it on.
Yungas “Death Road” Top Gear December 2009
Whitaker, Mark (2006-11-11). “The world’s most dangerous road” (Podcast). BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/6136268.stm. Retrieved 2007-05-10.
Mostrous, Alexi (2008-04-25). “British cyclist Tom Austin killed on Bolivian ‘Highway of Death'”. The Times. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article3814406.ece. Retrieved 2008-04-25.