Sure, it feels fantastic to traverse the vast stretches of the best roads in the world via adrenaline pumping speeds. How about a complicated road, one that twists and turns, or has downright congested traffic, or unforgiving terrain? They might give you a headache, but it sure feels good when you’ve conquered them. Here is the list of the world’s most complicated and dangerous passes. Some of these complicated mountain passes can be dangerous if not negotiated with utmost caution.
Without further ado, we present our top 15 list
Col de Turini France
Col de Turini, France Situated more than 1 mile above sea level, Col de Turini is a mountain pass situated in south of France in the Alps. It’s also part of a 20 miles rally stage of the Monte Carlo Rally of WRC, which combines 34 challenging hairpins and long stretches where cars top 111 mph. It is one of the most exciting roads on Earth. The pass was featured in the very first episode of Top Gear series 10, when the presenters went in search of the greatest driving road in the world. At its highest point, Col de Turini is 1607m high. In the north, the Col de Turini starts with a dazzling series of hairpins. Finally, we end up riding in a gorge, with a wild river on the left, and a steep rock-wall on the right.
The Stelvio Pass
The Stevelio Pass. Located in the Eastern Alps in Italy, the Stelvio Pass Road connects the Valtellina with Merano and the upper Adige valley. This mountain road pass is situated at an altitude of around 1.7 miles above sea level. The road is particularly challenging to drive due to the presence of 48 hairpin bends, with the road becoming exceedingly narrow at some points, and some very steep inclines. With a height of 2757 meters, it is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps and the second highest in the Alps, after the 2770 m high Col de l’Iseran. While it might not be as dangerous as the other routes, it is certainly breathtaking. The toughest and most spectacular drives are from the Prato side. The mountain pass is one of the best continuous hairpin routes in the world.
The Leh-Manali Highway is situated in India and spans over a length of 297 miles among the Himalaya mountain range. It passes through some of the worlds highest mountain passes in the world, with a mean altitude in between 2 to 3 miles above sea level. The road is one of the most complicated and challenging roads in the world, with snow, landslides and terrain making the journey exceedingly difficult for anything other than a capable four wheel drive vehicle. The road was built and is maintained by the Indian Army.
The Road of death, Bolivia
The North Yungas Road (also known as the El Camino de la Muerte, ‘Road of Death’ in Spanish) is a 43 mile road connecting La Paz and Coroico, 35 miles northeast of La Paz in Bolivia. Famous for its extreme danger, it was christened as the “world’s most dangerous road” in 1995 by the Inter-American Development Bank. The single-lane width, extreme drop offs, and lack of guardrails, only add to the danger lurking behind. Further, the fog and rain can make visibility poor and the road surface muddy, loosening rocks from the hillsides above. It is estimated that 200 to 300 travelers are killed per year on this treacherous road. Although, the old North Yungas Road is much less used by traffic nowadays, an increasing number of adventure bikers travel it for the thrills.
Russian-Georgian “Military” Mountain Roads
The Russian-Georgian “Military” Mountain Roads,When they are not covered in sheets of snow, then it’s the thick, grueling mud. These remote highways would probably swallow your car in the snow or mud. Though neither affect the locals who drive their Lada cars down it regularly. Situated in the Caucasus mountains, these roads are to be tackled only by the Russian military which probably explain why they lack any official designation. The harsh surface, along with the problems posed by snow, makes this road almost inaccessible during winter. The seldom used road connects Russia and Georgia and assumes of strategic importance for both countries.
Guoliang Tunnel Road, China
The magnificent tunnel road in the Taihang mountains was built by 13 local villagers headed by their chief, Shen Mingxin, and took around five years to finish. Many villagers lost their lives in accidents during construction of the tunnel but the others continued relentlessly. The tunnel was opened to traffic on May 1st, 1977. The 1200 meter long tunnel is about 5 meters high and 4 meters wide. It is located in the Henan Province of China. The Guoliang tunnel is another addition to most dangerous and complicated roads to travel. Dubbed as “the road that does not tolerate any mistakes”, most accidents in the tunnel are primarily caused by the neglect of the traveler. Nonetheless, it is an extremely scenic route and is a key destination on the Chinese tourism map.
Taroko Gorge Road in Taiwan (Chungheng)
The Taroko Gorge Road in Taiwan is another mountain route made by carving out rocks, like the Guoliang Tunnel road. The road passes through the Taroko national park alongside the Taroko Gorge. The road is an appeal to the tourist, as well as a mode of transportation of marble found abundantly in the Gorge.
Pasubio (Vicenza), Northern Italy
This is a hiking trail made out of an ancient road trail. The road serves mostly for motorcycles and certain types of car. The road is dangerously narrow and slippery, spanning many cliff faces and tunnels with stunning scenery, making this a popular destination for adventurous travelers.
The Halsema Highway in the Philippines
The Halsema Highway runs through the Central Cordillera Valley in Philippines. It is also called the Baguio-Bontoc Road. The road is approximately 150 miles long and is mostly unpaved. The road runs through steep cliff faces which barely have any guard rails or other safety devices installed. The narrow roads and steep cliff faces make the road almost impassable during the rainy season. It’s known for the rock slides and mud slides and buses driving dangerously fast on its narrow passage. There are plenty of accidents and many overturned buses on a yearly basis. There are sheer drop offs of more than 1000 feet without a safety guard rail. This route is for sure one of the most dangerous roads in the world.
Trollstigen in Norway
The Fjord in Norway has many roads that attract tourists. The most notable among them is the Trollstigen which is a series of stunning roads with a breathtaking view of a few waterfalls. The word Trollstigen means the Troll Ladder. The road, though not lacking in safety standards, takes a lot of concentration and driving skill to conquer. The vertigo-inducing steep inclines, intense set of hairpins and narrow roads leave no margin for error. However, once you are at the top, the view is just breathtaking. The narrow road leaves us with extremely few possibilities for vehicles to pass each other. The frequent rockfalls in the region have resulted in some upgrades to the road in 2005. At the top, there is a viewing balcony which overlooks the road and the Stigfossen waterfall, a 320 m long waterfall which falls down the mountain side.
Los Caracoles Pass in Andes
This road passes though the Andreas Mountains on the way between Chile and Argentina. Los Caracoles is a series of hard switchbacks on an extremely steep incline. The road has many steep inclines and hairpins without any safety guard rails. The road is covered with snow for the most part of the year. The snow together with nature of the road requires extreme patience and skill to negotiate. However, this road is maintained pretty regularly and does not have a morbid accident record. Cargo trucks and even double-Decker tourist buses travel through the road on a daily basis, and it’s quite an experience.
Iroha-zaka winding road, Japan
Iroha-zaka winding road is the main route that connects central Nikko and Oku-Nikko. The First Iroha-zaka is used to come down, and the Second Iroha-zaka to go up. Each corner has an ancient Japanese alphabet, and you will see it in alphabetical order starting from I-ro-ha and hence the name. The road was used by ascetics in the past. The number of curves on the road was 48, matching the 48 letters of the ancient Japanese alphabet. Therefore, the tourist guides started to call the slope Iroha-zaka. After the construction of the second Iroha-zaka there were 50 curves, but 2 were decreased to remain corresponding with the 48 letters. How’s that for complicated?
Van Zyl’s Pass, Namibia
Van Zyl’s Pass, or the DR3703, located in Namibia, is a classic extreme road. It is not exactly a road, just a route made over the mountain by the travelers over time. The outrageously steep pass provides a pure adrenaline rush, but the route that leads up to it is a 10-15km of tough driving where one has to dodge their way through rocks, boulders, badlands and ravines. At the end, the road descends to the ancient glacial valley called Marienfluss valley, which is one of the planet’s most beautiful sights that await only the brave-hearted.
El Espinazo Del diablo, Mexico
El Espinazo Del diablo or ‘The devil’s backbone’ is the mountain pass in Durango, Mexico. It’s about 5 hours long, and it was the only road from Durango to Mazatlan Sinaloa for a long time. We have heard many cautionary tales about crossing the devil’s backbone, El Espinoza Del Diablo, But the road is exceptionally well maintained and there are many cautionary signs marking most of the hazards. Of course these are in Spanish, so keep an electronic translator or a dictionary, handy. Pull out spots are frequent, so you can easily stop anytime you want. There are some tight curves, too. So tight that a truck needs all of the road to make it around. These hinder potential two way traffic in these regions. However, stunning rock formations rising around you and the lush, green vistas stretching on for impossible distances make every inch of the drive breathtaking
Lysebotn Road, Norway
This is probably the most fun road you can travel on four wheels, and then maybe on your two legs checking out the various hiking trails leading from the area. In fact, this might be considered the most breathtaking place in Europe. It all starts with the narrow road up the steep walls of the Lysefjord, Norway. It has 27 switchbacks and a 1.1 km long tunnel at the bottom, with 3 switchbacks inside. The last 30 km of Lysebotn road is a true roller-coaster! It’s narrow but has a perfect surface, winding left and right all the time. If you happen to ride a motorcycle in Norway, then this is the road you simply cannot afford to miss!