Contributed post (Image: Pamir Highway, Tajikistan)
Any two-wheeled journey needs to be treated with care. We all know the truism that statistically you are most likely to have an accident within a few miles of home. That said, some roads in the world need to be treated with much more respect than your mum on Mother’s Day.
Below we are going to look at four of the most dangerous motorcycle routes in the world. Not the roads that are statistically most dangerous but the ones that that will reward you with life-changing views and experiences but could also lead to life-ending injuries should you get things slightly wrong.
The Canning Stock Route, Australia
Canning Stock Route
Stretching for 1,850 km from Wiluna to Hall’s Creek in the Kimberley Region, the Canning Stock route follows the historic trial of what was once the longest cattle driving route in the world.
If you’re imaging cowboys driving cattle along dusty trails, then you have it exactly right. The Canning Stock route remains exactly that, only without the cattle or cowboys. It’s now just a dirt track through some of the most barren and unforgiving terrain Australia has to offer.
Over two to three weeks of hard riding, the route passes through not one, but three, deserts, the Gibson, Little and Great Sandy. Don’t expect any roadside cafes on the way, the most you can hope for is that the century-old wells you need for survival won’t be dry when you arrive.
With stretches without fuel as long as 665km this is not a route to tackle solo and not a route for the faint-hearted. It not only requires incredible bike-handling skills, but it also demands in-depth mechanical knowledge, a great deal of logistically nouse, a hell of a lot of mental fortitude and cojones, big ones.
The Pamir Highway – Afghanistan, Tajikistan & Kyrgystan
Known officially as the M41, and colloquially as the “heroin highway”, the location of this road should be a bit of a giveaway as to why it’s so dangerous. Any road that weaves its merry way through Afghanistan and Tajikistan isn’t going to a walk in the park. And while kidnap, robbery and corrupt police and army officials are a big problem on the Pamir Highway, the biggest danger is the road itself.
The road has its roots in the millennia-old silk road that linked ancient China with Central Asia. It is the second-highest altitude international highway in the world, but calling it a “highway” probably gives it more credit than it’s due, for most of the route it is more pothole than road.
This is definitely not one for beginner drivers, you guys have enough to worry about and these motorcycle safety tips can help you.
Landslides, erosion, earthquakes and extreme cold are all factors any brave rider will have to contend with on the Pamir Highway. In return, however, motorcyclists are treated with some of the most mind-boggling vistas the world has to offer and the chances of meeting other tourists are almost zero.
North Yunguas Road, Bolivia
Chances are you may know this road already or at least seen it on tv. It’s often referred to by the far catching and dramatic title of the “Bolivian Death Road”.
The North Yungas road connects the world’s highest capital city, La Paz (3,660 metres in altitude) with the low-lying Yungas region of the Amazonian Rainforest. The route itself is less than 70km long but by some estimates in its heyday it was claiming up to 300 lives a year. Eek!
The road was build in the 1930s by Paraguayan prisoners of war and is a feat of spectacular engineering. The route, which at some points is only 3 metres wide, is cut into sheer rockface with drops of over 600metres into the rainforest below. If you suffer from even the slightest vertigo, this is one to avoid.
A newer, and thankfully safer highway was now been build that sees most of the regular Peruvian traffic but the Death Road is still open for any brave two-wheeled adventurer who wants to put their skills against one of the most notorious routes in the world.
Manali-Leh Highway, India
Open for just four months a year when the melted snow allows it, the Manali-Leh highway connects the historic capital of India’s Ladakh province with the state of Himachal Pradesh. Stretching for 490km the route can be tackled in as little as two or three days.
However, like the Pamir Highway, one of the unforeseen risks to many riders taking on the route to Leh is rapid changes in altitude. Going up and down too quickly when you are at an average altitude of 3,000 metres plus can lead to increased chances of altitude sickness. And feeling drowsy and struggling to breath whilst trying to drive a motorbike is no fun whatsoever.
Road conditions vary from good to not so good, to very very not good. And getting a hang of the road surface is the ever-present danger of overloaded Indian buses and their less than orthodox driving style, which often involves overtaking on blind hairpin bends.
Well, there you have it adrenaline fans, four of the most dangerous and rewarding motorcycle routes in the world. If you have conquered one of these roads then you can truly call yourself motorcycle adventurer. Enjoy and good luck!