Ice roads that can melt, vertical wooden steps up mountains and overflowing rivers. Nope, this is not some Ironman triathlon. This is what some kids go through to get to school. And you thought you had a bad day because you missed the bus.
If you’re one of the lucky ones, your future alma mater might be a few blocks down the road, or you can catch a bus to get there. Unfortunately, children in some remote areas of the globe have to risk their lives to get an education. We’re about to show you the most extreme routes, filled with obstacles and bad weather, that some kids endure every single school day. Why is this village considered to be an impenetrable fortress? Why would you need a tube to attend this school? How could a branch save your life?
Number 4. Rizal, Philippines
The Philippines is an archipelago made up of about 7,107 islands. It’s not uncommon that your school and home might be on different islands. Kids in this rural village in the Province of Rizal have to walk more than an hour and then cross a river to get to their elementary school. The river can be as deep as 9 m (30 ft) and there’s no bridge. They need an inflatable tube to make the trip and paddle across using their hands.
And since daily rains can cause flooding and dangerous currents, the most important thing to survive crossing this route is to judge if the water is safe enough to get into. If it is too deep or there are churning rapids, you’ll be better off taking the extra time to walk along the river’s shoreline and finding a shallower stretch to start paddling from.
Number 3. Rio Negro, Colombia
Students in this valley have two options. Hike almost four hours up and down a canyon to reach their school, or cross a raging river riding a steel cable 400 m (1,312 ft) above the ground. The pulley system includes a hemp rope that acts as a seat and a wooden branch that serves as the brake. This is particularly important since you can reach speeds of more than 80 km/h (50 mph). That can be deadly if things go wrong.
Riding the cable isn’t an easy task. You’ll have to hammer at a steel bolt on the pulley to make sure it doesn’t get loose. It is not rare that accidents occur, resulting in broken bones. Sometimes worse. Despite the cable being a public utility, you still need to bring your rope. Learn to make a good knot, or else that will be a long fall.
Number 2. Zhang Jiawan Village, Southern China
This village is located in the mountains surrounded by sheer drops on all sides. It’s remote. It was once considered an impenetrable fortress. To attend school, kids must leave the safety of home and face the dangers of nature. The path is made of unstable wooden ladders that lean against a 60 m (197 ft) cliff. Imagine having to carry your notebooks through all this. Oh, not to mention there is absolutely no harness or safety gear. To successfully climb the unstable ladders, you’ll need someone with you to hold the base to keep them steady. Always make sure that no more than one person is climbing at a time.
Number 1. Zanskar, Himalayas
Climbing a mountain on your trek to school is hard enough, but in this case you’d have to tolerate freezing cold temperatures. This region is so remote and isolated that locals claim “… only their fiercest enemies or best friends would want to visit.” The path that children take to school is about 100 km (62 mi) long, so students need almost 10 days to get to class. Thankfully, this is a boarding school.
To make the hike, you’ll need to wait till the Zanskar River freezes over in the – 40° C (- 40° F) weather so you can walk over it. And even with those temperatures, you’ll see the water flowing fast under the crystal ice layers. Keep your eyes open. These layers can break open every few days.
You survived the trip through these extreme conditions and you think a car would solve some of your transportation issues, but not so fast. About 3,700 people around the world die in traffic accidents every single day. Want to know how you could avoid becoming a statistic?
- “13 Unusual And Dangerous Journeys To School – Theirworld“. 2022. Theirworld.
- “25 Of The Most Dangerous And Unusual Journeys To School In The World“. 2022. Bored Panda.
- “Safe River Crossings (U.S. National Park Service)“. 2022. Nps.Gov.
- “Everything You Need To Know About Ladders“. 2013. Popular Mechanics.
- “Risky River Crossing: Filipino Kids Tube To Get To School“. 2012. NBC News.
- “A Primary School In Gulu Village ⇆ Bloomize“. 2022. Bloomize.Com.