“What are men to rocks and mountains?” asked Jane Austen, thus summing up the majesty and absolute awe mountains inspire in humans. For the adventurous travellers, mountains are but the next giants to conquer. Here are 6 incredible mountain passes in the world that will challenge and excite the explorer in you.
- Col de Turini, France
Situated more than a mile above sea level, Col de Turini is a mountain pass in the south of France. It is one of the most exciting roads on Earth that was subsequently a part of the 20 miles rally stage of the Monte Carlo Rally of which combines 34 challenging hairpins and long stretches where cars go over 111 mph. The pass was featured in the pilot episode of Top Gear season 10, when the show presenters went in search of the best driving road in the world.
The highest point is Col de Turini is 1607 meters. In the north, the Col de Turini begins with an incredible series of hairpins and finally ends up in a gorge, with a steep rock-wall on the right and a wild river on the left.
- The Leh-Manali Highway, India
The highway spans over a length of 297 miles among the Himalaya mountain range is one of the most challenging mountain passes in India. It passes through some of the world’s utmost mountain passes, with a mean altitude between two to three miles above sea level. The road is one of the most difficult and taxing roads in the world with constant snow, landslides and terrain making the journey exceedingly difficult for anything other than a sturdy four wheeler with an experienced driver and can make for an exhilarating road trip. The road was built and is kept up by the Indian Army.
- The Road of death, Bolivia
The North Yungas Road also severely referred to as the ‘Road of Death’ is a 43 mile road connecting La Paz and Coroico, 35 miles northeast of La Paz in Bolivia. Famous for its tremendously dangerous terrain, it was baptized the “world’s most dangerous road” by the Inter-American Development Bank in 1995.
The extreme drop offs, single-lane width and lack of guardrails, accentuate this mountain passes’ sinister nickname. Further, the rain and fog can make the road surface muddy and visibility poor, slackening rocks from the hillsides above. It is projected that 200 to 300 travelers are killed per year on this treacherous mountain pass. Though the old North Yungas Road is not frequently used by common traffic these days, a growing number of adventure bikers ride on it for the adrenaline.
- Taroko Gorge Road, Taiwan
The Taroko Gorge Road in Taiwan is a mountain pass made by carving out rocks and boulders. The road passes through the Taroko national park and is of appeal to the tourists, as well as serving as a mode of transportation for the abundant amounts of marble found in the Gorge.
The word Taroko means “wonderful and splendid” in the indigenous Truku language, describing the road that runs through the gorge perfectly. This mountain is deadly for drivers because of blind corners, huge mountain drops and narrow sections.
- Road of 52 Tunnels, Italy
This is a hiking trail made out of a series of tunnels built during the First World War and today is an incredible mountain pass situated in the Pasubio Mountains. The road serves mostly motorcycles and hikers. The road is dangerously slippery and narrow; spanning many tunnels and cliffs faces coupled striking scenery, making this a popular destination for adventure junkies.
A short distance away from the end of the pass is Ossario Del Pasubio which has a modern WWI military museum and monument which houses the remains of several thousand Austrian and Italian soldiers.
- Los Caracoles Pass, Andes
This road sweeps through the Andes Mountains range on the way between Argentina and Chile. The road has many hairpins and steep inclines without any safety guard rails. The mountain pass is covered with snow for the most part of the year. The snow together coupled with the nature of the road requires intense patience and skill to negotiate.
However, this mountain pass is maintained pretty frequently and does not have a morbid accident record. Cargo trucks and surprisingly even double-Decker tourist buses travel through the road on a daily basis, and it proves to be quite an experience for the travellers.