Saturday, August 4, 2012
San Isidro de General – Cartago (Costa Rica)
The Pan-American Highway has plenty of dangerous stretches, but the old road that passes through the Costa Rican mountains to link San Isidro de General and Cartago is especially hazardous.
The high point in the pass is known as Cerro de la Muerte, or Mountain of Death – not technically because of the road, but because people traveling through the pass before the road existed often didn’t survive the cold journey. However, the name happens to be an apt descriptor for the road itself, which tests drivers with excessive potholes, steep, narrow curves, and plenty of fog. The road’s height (13,000 feet) can also cause altitude sickness, further impairing drivers.
In addition to these perils, you can also expect to deal with the imprudent habits of local bus and truck drivers, who tend to drive very aggressively and irresponsibly despite the unsafe conditions. Fortunately, a new paved road between Quepos and Dominical has recently been completed, which will give travelers an alternative to the Mountain of Death route.