By M.P. Pellicer | Eerie.News
The gravel path starts in the Bolivian rainforests, and snakes along 43-miles of the most harrowing, dangerous stretch that for good reason is known as the "Death Road".
The official name is Carretera de los Yungas (North Yungas Road) located in La Paz, Bolivia. And every factor that could contribute towards a Kamikaze ride is present: landslides, hairpin turns, year-long blinding fog and steep cliffs with drop offs of 2,000 feet. In the summer extreme dust clouds churned by other vehicles inhibit visibility of where you're going, and what's coming towards you. There are places where waterfalls land on its surface.
Paraguayan prisoners of war were used in the 1930s to cut the route into the unyielding mountain to connect La Paz to the town of Coroico with plans to use it to transport goods.
Even then, only small vehicles could be used as right turns don't allow for larger trucks. The road is no wider ten 10 feet, which is why many trucks loaded by merchants with people and livestock went down off the side.
There is no asphalt for tires to grip, only gravel and dirt with no guardrails to halt the progress of a vehicle that has lost control, especially when rain makes its muddy and slippery.
In 1946, 26 persons were killed when a truck plunged down a 500-foot cliff into the Tamanpaya River.
In 1960, a truck traveling to La Paz for Palm Sunday services slid off the mountain road into a ditch. Thirty-seven were killed, fifteen were injured.
On July 24, 1983, a bus veered off and fell into a canyon. More than 100 persons were killed. It is considered one of Bolivia's worse road accidents.
This proved that even drivers who lived in the area, and were supposedly experienced was no guarantee against a disaster.
For those who are not natives, there is also the danger of the thin air.
In 1961, Rev. Murray Dickson who had been ministering in Bolivia since 1943, was found dead in his car. He was 46 years old, and was presumed to have died from the effects of high altitude. He was in enroute from the La Paz where he lived to the Yungas Valley.
In 1999, eight Israeli tourists died on the road, which is when it was named the Death Road.
While the rest of Bolivia drives on the right side, on this thin strip vehicles drive on the left. This allows a driver a better view of the edge of the road. Vehicles heading down must yield and move to the outer edge. Many times passing can only be negotiated with both vehicles stopping first.
Crosses, in a macabre decoration line the road as memorials to those who never reached their destination.
Once you leave La Paz, the road climbs a mountain pass known as La Cumbre to 15,260 feet (above sea level) as you traverse 43 miles before you come to a steep descent down to nearly 4,000 feet.
Despite it's notorious reputation it has become a tourist attraction, especially for thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies.
In 2009, a new route was opened to connect La Paz to Coroico with two lanes and guardrails, however Yungas Road is still used mostly by backpackers, local workers and bike tours which accounts for most of the recent deaths. More than a dozen cyclists have died in the last 10 years. Often they do not having enough time to brake before they are hurled into a fall of thousands of feet.
The road has many names which are: Death Road, Grove's Road, Coroico Road, Camino de las Yungas, El Camino de la Muerte, Road of Death, Unduavi-Yolosa Highway, Ruta de la Muerte
It is not surprising that a roadway known for its many deaths is replete with ghost stories.
Those that live in the area and traverse it often describe hearing voices, laughing and crying.
It is told that a trucker who regularly traveled on the Yungas Road came across an old man walking along the road. The man made a signal asking for a ride. The driver stopped saying that it was a cold day, full of fog and he felt sorry for the hitchhiker. Once inside the man starts telling him his story, where he worked, who he was, and how much he loved his wife and children. An hour later the man asked him to stop because he said they had come to his home.
The old man then took off his coat, and gave it to the driver who had left his home without one. All he asked was that it should be returned when the driver came back on his way home.
The driver delivered his cargo and as promised on the return trip stopped at the traveler's home. He followed a winding trail that ended in a small house that appeared to be uninhabited. He knocked on the door, but no one answered. After waiting a bit, he turned to leave when he saw two crosses. At that moment a young man comes around the house and asked him, "Who are you looking for?" Since he didn't know the old man's name he described the hitchhiker. The young man started to cry.
The trucker asked him, "Why are you crying?"
The other replied, "The man you described is my father. He died two years ago along with my mother. They were returning from a trip where they had gone to sell coca leaves. The truck they traveled on rolled off the road, and everyone inside was killed."
The trucker could not believe the man who had ridden with him was a ghost.
Another phantom that is regularly seen is a red dog that passes in front of vehicles, many times causing an accident.
In the Sud Yungas there is a haunted castle known as El Chaco or El Castillo del Loro built for one-time President of Bolivia, Jose Luis Tejada Sorzano. It was constructed during the Chaco Wars (1932-1935). Like the "Death Road" it was built by Paraguayan prisoners of war.
For many years it stood desolate and unoccupied except for a caretaker.
There were reports of footfalls in the hallways, and doors that open by themselves.
One of the ghosts is supposed to be Tejada Sorzano himself. He was removed from power by a coup d'etat in 1936. Exiled in Chile, he died two years later. Sorzano's mistress is also supposed to haunt the place. Left behind, she allegedly killed herself when she learned of his death.
The property was later bought from the Sorzano heirs and converted into a hotel with an ecological reserve surrounding it.
El Castillo del Loro is close to the small town of Chulumani which is known for its healing mineral springs. The town square is a trade center for the farming communities in the area.
Another ghost is said to be Klaus Barbie, the Nazi war criminal who lived in the sawmill above the town after he fled Germany in the aftermath of WWII. This property also belonged to the Tejada Sorzano family. During the 1950s, a certain Klaus Altmann worked there as a supervisor. His true identity was Barbie known as the Butcher of Lyon. He was discovered in 1972.
Another source of the haunting is said to be the souls of the Paraguayans who built the castle and the Death Road, and died and were buried in the surrounding jungles.
A caretaker who lived there during the years it was unoccupied, reported that while in the kitchen he would hear whistling coming from the dining room. Scared to go investigate he stayed in the kitchen. He said the ghost would whistle louder and louder, as if upset that it was being ignored.
Another time while he slept, something came to lie on top of him, and then he heard steps and a door open and close as the entity left his bedroom.
During the time it had become a hotel, a group of friends and family came to stay s there. The first night nothing happened, but the second night everything changed.
One the young ladies, claimed she felt someone watching her when she was taking a shower. Later that night while the group was standing in the foyer, the lights started to blink and then went out. One of the girls screamed, and said someone had touched her shoulder. She pulled back her shirt, and found scratches ran across her skin.
Later they studied photographs taken during their stay there, and found the transparent form of a woman in the background of several pictures. Some wondered if this was Sorzano's deserted mistress.
Eerie News | Stories of the Mysterious and Unexplained
For all the latest news articles and stories about the world of the paranormal and the unexplained.
Fair Use Act Disclaimer - This site is for educational purposes only. Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976