Aah, spring is in the air! Now that the days are getting warmer, Daylight Savings Time has begun (in the USA), and various buds and flowers have started celebrating the new life associated with spring, I have started making plans for travel and vacation.

As I was thinking about various places to go, an article from a couple years ago suddenly came to my mind. Have you ever taken a wrong turn while driving through an unknown area, and suddenly found yourself on a somewhat “less than inviting” road, perhaps even a precarious one? I used to think that I had …

My wife and I enjoy traveling. We make various camping and hiking trips every year, although such trips have become increasingly more difficult to plan and follow through on with the “little ones” around. While I am neither daring nor overly cautious when it comes to choice of destination, there are a number of places where I would rather not make the place of a vacation … especially one involving the family.

First one out — Bolivia’s “Road of Death” … 

North Yungas Road is hands-down the most dangerous in the world for motorists. If other roads could be considered impassable, this one clearly endangers your life. It runs in the Bolivian Andes, 45 miles from La Paz to Coroico, and plunges down almost 12,000 feet in an orgy of extremely narrow hairpin curves and 2500-foot abyss near-misses.

Despite being incredibly narrow,  buses and heavy trucks frequent this road. It does not help that the fog and vapors rise up from the heavily vegetated valley below, resulting in almost constant fogs and limited visibility. Plus the tropical downpours cause parts of the road to slide down the mountain. External Link

Next, let us not take a “hiking” trip up Mt. Huashan in China … 

Seriously! This trail is probably the most dangerous experience a “normal” human can have on his two legs. As surprising as it may be, this is a relatively heavy-traffic trail for tourists. At the top of the peak (if you make it there) is a temple, making this a religiously important site as well. In fact, Mt. Huashan is one of only five sacred mountains in China!

While I am certain that the view is absolutely spectacular, and the sunset stunning, I am not so certain I would brave this trail. In fact, I would feel far safer with a harness and rope than those boards and chains. Obviously, deaths are not unheard of, although the actual frequenzy is nothing more than a guess, following China’s censorship of news.

There is a big difference between a hiking trail and a climbing route. Trying to merge the two should, in my opinion, be punishable by being forced to watch Czech soap operas for 48 hours straight (no offense meant towards Czech readers at all). Imagine if it starts raining while you are ascending or descending this peak!

Luckily, once you reach the top, they have at least provided a way for visitors to relieve themselves, so to speak. External Link

Onward to Norway, and its fjord landscape …

While Norway is neither home to the world’s most dangerous road, nor the world’s most dangerous “hiking” trail, it is nevertheless home to precarious, albeit wonderfully beautiful, locations. The narrow fjords are flanked by steep walls, allowing access through spectacular hairpin roads. There are even switchbacks inside some tunnels!

However, once you reach the top, the view is breathtaking! I believe these next few images speak for themselves …

Now, the 3000-foot drops associated with some of these locations are certainly not to be taken lightly. However, at least the travel up until that point, before you take a few last dangerous steps to the edge, is sure to be both stunning and rewarding, even if you “chicken out” at the very end. External Link

Needless to say, neither of these locations is an option on this year’s list of potential vacation locations. The first two are out due to the danger factor, especially when one has children. The latter, Norway’s fjords, I actually hope to take my family to one of these days, although it is not going to happen this year.

Whether there is a lesson to be learned from this post or not, I will leave for others to judge. Personally, I find our world amazing, although certain locations I feel are best enjoyed via a suitable image search in one’s favorite search engine. If I were crazy enough to ever visit North Yungas Road in Bolivia, or Mt. Huashan in China, I think a lot of preparation and planning would be needed. Danger becomes more dangerous when not met with the respect it commands. Without careful preparation, one might end up like the driver on the left; location unknown.

Have you read about (or, even better, visited) a “scary” place similar to those depicted above? Please share with us!

“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.”
Clifton Fadiman (1904–1999)