Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Myth of Stremnaya Road

This little 'mystery' was solved over a year ago now, but it is still making it's rounds on the internet. I just received one of those mass forwards from a co-worker of mine entitled "Stremnaya Road in Bolivia - The Road of Death" or something like that. The most interesting thing is that these mailings often include images of several different roads, which are actually on different continents. So I will try to sort out which one is which but do not trust me to get it right.

First: Yungas Road in Bolivia

It is in fact called the Road of Death by some, but has many other names. It runs approximately 65km from La Paz to Coroico. It was built by prisoners in 1930s (though some sources say it was built in the 70s by some company called 'Grove') and claims 100-200 lives each year. One of the worst accidents took place in 1983 when a bus carrying 100 passengers went over the edge, killing everyone. A new road has been in the works for years but at the moment this road appears to be the major truck route between the capital and the Yungas region. It is also very popular with adrenaline junkie bikers.

Second: Guoliang Tunnel in China

Located in the Taihang Mountains of the Henan Province in China this tunnel is 1200 meters long, 5 meters high and 4 meters wide. It was carved by the people of the Guoliang Village between 1972 and 1977 to create an alternative to Tianti, a stairway carved into the mountain rock and the only means of travel to the village until the Tunnel was made. This tunnel is perfectly safe and attracts many tourists each year because of its quiet tranquil beauty.

Not included in the emails but equally impressive:
Federal Highway from Moscow to Yakutsk in Russia

I guess it is sometimes called Lena (it's the Lena River region over there), and is said to be the only way of getting there by car. In the winter it is quite passable because it freezes solid. In the summer months however, rainfall turns it to mud. At one point 600 cars became stuck on the road, without food, water or any real shelter. Authorities did not want to go into to help because previous attempts had led to violence towards the rescuers by the stranded motorists. It is actually a bit of a tragic story, I think.

and in the winter:

And finally, the most ridiculous hiking trail ever: Mount Hua (Hua Shan) in Xi'an, China.

There are five sacred mountains in China and this is one of them. The mountain itself has five peaks, North, South, East, West and Middle (they all have more imaginative names in Chinese). You can get up there in cable cars but you can also hike on steps carved in stone and these insane board walks! This path is between the North and West peak (Changkongzhandao) and is basically planks, nails and some chains. You can apparently also rent a harness. There is a great account of the hike by a blogger here.


Anonymous said...

I still think 1-95 is worse !!!

Jake Jacobson Boca Raton, Florida

yemo said...

Sin duda es espectacular, pero no tanto.
En el Perú la carretera Santa-Huallanca tiene no 1, sino 42 túneles similares o mas difíciles que el que se muestra. (en letras ¡¡¡ cuarenta y dos !!!), y que fué construida en la década de 1870, sin la tecnología actual. Así que si quiere ver lo que es realmente espectacular, visite el Perú, aquí también hay varias carreteras tanto o mas difíciles que la Stremnaya y otros muchos lugares maravillosos para observar y recorrer.
El ferrocarril Lima-Huancayo, por ejemplo también construido en 1870 tiene pasos a 5,000 metros de altitud. El Cañon del Colca con mas de 3,000 m de profundidad y de mayor longitud, deja al del Colorado como una simple rayita.

tismeinaz said...

There is that one in Spain that is similar to the Hiking trail. You can see a video of it on YouTube - Dangerous Pathway.

Paulina said...

good thing they put those helpful railings all along the way, oh wait, they didn't. aaah!

PaperJerry said...

Yo creo que cada país tiene lo suyo. México no se queda atrás, con la carretera Durango-Mazatlán, llamada coloquialmente "la Cola del Diablo", por su altura y su sinfin de curvas. Y el Cañón del Cobre en Chihuahua.
La verdad, cada parte tiene lo suyo.