Transportation routes, in general, have been created for a safer and more efficient means of travel; whether its shipping goods across the ocean or flying to a far-flung destination, transport is supposed to be safe – but as our research has revealed, that’s not always the case.
These dangerous routes from all over the globe attract thrill-seeking tourists and are used by locals in their daily lives. From deadly mountain roads with sheer cliff drops to railways on stilts here are 11 of the riskiest routes that are not for the faint of heart.
Risky Routes – The Deadly Statistics
We tend to think of our global transportation as pretty safe. Even those of us with a fear of flying still manage to get ourselves on a plane to get to that sunny destination for our holidays by telling ourselves “what are the chances of it actually going down?”
Well, in 2018, there were 15 recorded airliner accidents which totaled in 556 deaths according to the Aviation Safety Network (ASN). In terms of the global population and the volume of flights up in the air every day it doesn’t seem like a lot but this number is more than double what it was the previous year.
Our roads aren’t looking much better either. Overall road accident deaths are increasing year-on-year, reaching a total of 1.35m last year (2018) equating to a death every 24 seconds according to the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety. The chances of dying in a road collision increases by three times for those in lower income countries and is the number one cause of death for those aged five to 29.
Railroads, on the other hand, seem to be improving, with 6% fewer deaths in 2018 on the railways globally than in 2017. The numbers totaled at 39 reported accidents, which resulted in 175 fatalities
Whether you’re travelling by land, air, sea or rail, we’ve put together a list of the 11 most dangerous transport routes, which would give even the bravest traveller pause for thought.
Yungas Road | The Death Road | Bolivia
Bolivia is home to one of the scariest roads on the planet, so many people have died whilst travelling on it that it’s even got the nickname of ‘The Death Road’.
The North Yungas Road (its official title) claimed up to 300 lives every year. “Why do people still use it?” you ask. Well, the road passses through a section of mountain range that make it an essential transportation route for locals and businesses to ship goods, and many see it as a risk worth taking.
Sichuan-Tibet Highway | China
The Sichuan-Tibet Highway cuts through the vast mountain ranges of China between Chengdu in Sichuan and Lhasa in Tibet. It takes a total of 15 days to cross (if you aren’t in a rush) and if you do the whole route you will experience a range of climates with the weather changing at every turn, only adding to the danger.
The road is not well maintained and if you have the guts to cross it your vehicle will have to traverse deep, water-filled potholes, watch out for rock avalanches and landslides which have been known to knock cars right off the road to fall down the mountainside below.
The Canning Stock Route | Australia
Australia is home to one of the world most iconic roads –The Canning Stock Route. It cuts straight through the perilous desert of Western Australia. Originally built for farmers to transport their goods, it has now become a tourist attraction for thrill-seeking adventurers who want to put their survival skills to the test.
When the road was carved into the landscape, fresh water wells were also constructed along the route to give travellers a means of surviving this long route. Unfortunately, many of these wells have fallen into disrepair, so you would need to pack enough water and fuel for you to complete the route.
Spine-Chilling Shipping Routes
Bermuda Triangle | Bermuda
The Bermuda Triangle spans almost 500,000 square miles of the North Atlantic Ocean and is steeped in mystery and conspiracy theories. A strange number of ships and aircrafts have gone missing in this area and it has become a mythical place in its own right
The area stretches from Bermuda to Puerto Rico, and even though it has developed a spooky reputation, the route is heavily travelled, with ships carrying all kinds of goods making their way to the US, Europe and the Caribbean.
Not only is it a popular shipping route but due to its location in the Caribbean, surrounded by picturesque islands, it’s also constantly swarming with cruise ships of holidaymakers making their way to the sugar-white beaches that the region has to offer.
South China Sea | Strait of Malacca | China
When you think of piracy you probably think about Jack Sparrow, muskets and Caribbean waters. But, piracy is still alive and well today with ships being attacked in the shipping highways in the South China Sea, along The Strait of Malacca.
One of the most travelled shipping routes in the world, it’s no wonder pirates try their luck in these waters. Tonnes of precious cargo is transported across these waters every day which has made it a hot spot for pirate attacks with just over a fifth (41%) of the world’s pirate attacks happening here between 1995 and 2013.
Somali Coastline | Somalia
As far as modern piracy goes, the most well reported incidents have happened in Somalia. The region has grown a reputation as being one of the most dangerous places for ships to traverse in the world with 435 piracy incidents reported between 2009 and 2013.
The root cause of piracy in this region is reported to be related to illegal overfishing in the ‘90s by international vessels. In response, the Somali fisherman (who felt their livelihoods were being threatened) formed vigilante groups in order to regain control of their waters, leading to piracy peaking in 2011, with over 200 attacks recorded.
Frightening Flight Paths
Flying over the Himalayas | India/Nepal
Route L888 above the Himalayan mountains is one of the most dangerous routes for aircrafts to travel. But, known as the Silk Road of the sky it’s an important route for commercial and cargo planes alike.
High above the Himalayas, the climate can change in an instant, pilots have to keep their wits about them ready for any change in the weather. Strong gusts of winds, freak storms and bad turbulence can test even the most seasoned pilot. Over the years, many have failed that test plummeting their aircracts into the mountains.
The Himalayas are also home to the most dangerous runway you can imagine. The airport of Lukla is every pilot’s worst nightmare. The airport is positioned on a mountainside, 9000 ft above sea level, with a sheer drop below and a very short runway. Planes have been known to misjudge the distance of the runway and crash straight into the mountain at the end. Lukla’s position in relation to Mount Everest makes it a popular starting point for many climbers hoping to make their way to Base Camp.
Ukraine Airspace | Ukraine
One of the most covered airline incidents in recent years is the MH17 Malaysia Airlines flight that was hit with a missile in 2014 above Ukrainian airspace.
After the incident, many airlines boycotted Ukrainian airspace choosing to make detours around the country on their routes.
Argo Gede Railroad | Indonesia
In the rural Indonesian countryside lies the Argo Gede railroad; a popular with tourist route looking travelling between Bandung and Jakarta with scenic views of rice paddies that make for a great Instagram post.
While the majority of the route is every backpacker’s dream, looking out at the paradise of that Indonesia has to offer, for a small section of the journey the train has to make the nerve-wracking crossing over the Cikurutug Bridge which is both unsupported and unfenced, and the cause of a major derailment in 2002.
Chennai-Rameswaram Route | India
The Chennai-Rameswaram railroad was built to connect the two islands in the South East coast of India. It stretches across the sea but is one of the most risky ways to makes the crossing as the track has been known to flood and the waters in the sea are very choppy. Strong winds also blow across the track, making those on board the train bite their nails as they fear for the train being blown off the tracks.
Nose of the Devil Railroad | Ecuador
The Trans-Andean railroad has become a popular attraction for tourists in Ecuador, it crosses through beautiful mountain ranges, showcasing the stunning nature of the country. The Devil’s Nose is a particularly perilous section of the route that zig-zags up the mountains, climbing more than 500 ft in just 12.5km.
There are steep cliffs on either side and the track winds its way up the mountains making sharp hairpin turns that raise hairs on the back of the necks of the passengers on board.
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