The 5 Most Dangerous Roads in South America
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The 5 Most Dangerous Roads in South America

5 min read

May 4, 2017

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By Martin Kaleta

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Last updated on October 27th, 2020 at 10:18 am

The Most Dangerous and Adventurous Roads

in South America

Are you in search of the most dangerous roads in South America? Look no further. South America is an immense continent. There are many remote cities and villages spread across snow-capped mountains, tropical rainforests, deserts, and everything in between. Miles of highways are necessary to move people and resources. The continent’s diverse landscapes have made it difficult to link populations together. Therefore roads are important. From the single-lane switchbacks of the Andes Mountains to 9 de Julio in Buenos Aires (the widest avenue in the world), roads in South America come in all shapes and sizes. Let’s embark on a journey to South America and explore the most dangerous roads!

1. Yungas Highway or the Death Road in Bolivia

dangerous-roads-in-south-americaAs one of the most famous roads on the planet, the Yungas highway in Bolivia undoubtedly tops the list of most dangerous roads in South America. The highway crosses the Yungas forests and spans 43 miles from La Paz to Coroico. The single-lane road reaches an altitude of nearly 15,000 feet with cliffside drops of almost 3,000 feet.

Heavy traffic, poor road conditions, and steep drops earned the moniker of Death Road and the title of “World’s Most Dangerous Road in the World” in 1995. After years of modernization, much of the local traffic has been diverted to a nearby alternative route, making the road considerably safer and open to tourism. During a Bolivia tour, the Death Road is the perfect day excursion from La Paz for the thrill-seeker in you. For a complete Bolivia adventure, sign up for a guided biking tour down the Death Road.

2. Paso de Los Libertadores in Argentina & Chile

dangerous-roads-in-south-americaAlthough Chile and Argentina share more than 5,000 miles of the border, due to the mighty Andes, there are only a few places in which to cross. One of the most nerve-racking, albeit beautiful passes is the Paso de Los Libertadores. This popular pass forms the main connection between Santiago, Chile, and Mendoza, Argentina.

The Argentine side is much less intimidating with a gradual incline before reaching a tunnel into Chile. The Chilean side has some switchbacks, and sharp hairpin turns. Take this side of the pass extra slowly. If you’re not up for this Chile adventure, there are also quick one hour flights between Mendoza and Santiago.

3. Ruta 5 in Chile

dangerous-roads-in-south-americaComing in at #3 for most dangerous roads in South America is Chile’s Route 5. This road spans more than half of the country from Arica in the north to Puerto Montt in the south. The dreadful stretch of road traverses the Atacama Desert from Arica to Iquique. Although the Atacama Desert is known as the driest desert in the world, its proximity to the Pacific Ocean causes strong winds and unexpected fog. These weather conditions can create difficult driving conditions.

Additionally, Atacama’s barren landscapes seem to stretch forever and can quickly desensitize a driver. The combination of fatigue-inducing backdrops and low visibility makes this one of the most dangerous drives on the continent.  However, if on an Atacama tour, I highly recommend driving along the road, not just for bragging rights, but to enjoy some of the most otherworldly landscapes.

4. The Devil’s Trampoline in Colombia

The Devil’s Trampoline, or “Adios a mi Vida” as it is known locally, is Colombia’s answer to Bolivia’s Death Road. The road was originally built in the 1930s to transport troops, never converting to accommodate everyday traffic. It remains a heavily used, single-lane highway to this day. The Devil’s Trampoline begins in the Sunday Valley and connects the villages of San Francisco and Mocoa in southwestern Colombia.

If you can brave the poor road conditions, blankets of heavy fog, and sharp drop-offs, you will see some of the most beautiful views of the Colombian countryside from 9,000 ft above sea level.

5. Route 319 in Brazil

Finally, # 5 for most dangerous roads in South America is Brazil’s Route 319. Unlike many of the roads featured in this list, Brazil’s Route 319 is a relatively flat highway cutting through the Amazon Rainforest. The highway is about 500 miles and was built to link Porto Velho and Manaus. Manaus is the capital of the state of Amazonas and the main jumping-off point for Amazon rainforest tours.

What makes this highway particularly troublesome is the state of the road itself. Poor construction methods and flooding during the rainy season have washed the road away and destroyed wooden bridges, but for our thrill-seekers, this is the way to go. Luckily, ferries are an excellent alternative to traveling along the worst road in Brazil.

Contact an Expert on Dangerous Roads

in South America

Have you thought more about winding down one of the most dangerous roads in South America? Contact us today, and we would be happy to help you get started planning your next customized South America vacation!

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Last updated on October 27th, 2020 at 10:18 am

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