Traffic Jam on the Highway of Death

Bolivia is home to a notorious stretch of road running through the mountains that is officially known as the Unduavi-Yolosa Highway, but has earned the nickname “the Highway of Death”. Widely thought to be amongst the most dangerous roads anywhere in the world, the route winds through the Andes, dropping more than 11,800 feet in just 40 miles. The twisty, narrow, mostly unpaved road, barely has enough room for two cars to pass one another, which often results in nasty accidents.

Recently, travel writer Patrick O’Neil, wrote about his first hand experience on the treacherous road for the Australian newspaper The Age. You can read his sometimes amusing, sometimes scary, account of the ordeal here and begin to get a good idea of what it’s like on this Bolivian highway.

O’Neil’s adventure started off as a way for him to get out of Santa Cruz and head towards the small town of Cochabamba, which was just a stop over on his way to his eventual destination of La Paz. The trip is suppose to take just five hours, but his ride turned into a much longer journey than that thanks to an accident on the road that caused traffic in both directions to come to a standstill for more than 24 hours.

The story offers some great insight into travel in remote areas of less developed countries, which can, at times, be both trying and and rewarding. In the end, O’Neil reached his destination 34 hours behind schedule, but in those hours on that road, he bonded with the Bolivian people and saw a side of the country that few visitors ever get to experience.