|Its a long way down!|
Before arriving in South America, I had read about the so called 'death
road' in Bolivia, which according to Wikipedia claims up to 300 lives every
year. I watched youtube videos of buses travelling along very narrow stretches
of road, with sheer drops of over 600 metres. It looked horrible.
|Looking over the edge|
Then I started to read that it had become a bit of a tourist
attraction. Travelling down this road where so many people had lost their lives
for a thrill, seemed very macabre. I decided that I really wasn’t interested
However, the closer we got to La Paz, the more we met people
who had cycled down it. All had survived to tell the tale and most (!)
recommended that we go. We researched
the different agencies that ran tours down death road. After much deliberation, we booked a trip with Gravity, who have a
reputation for having great equipment and good guides.
|Getting started next to Lago de las Estrellas at La Cumbre|
Up early on the day of the tour, we met with the rest of the group and along with our not one,
not two but three guides, we clamboured into the bus and headed towards La Cumbre
and the start of the ride. Our main guide Moe, put us immediately at ease
describing the route and the plans for the day.
Arriving at the start (4,700 metres above sea level), we
tested out our bikes and gave an offering to Pachamama, before starting the
first bit of the ride, which happily is paved, allowing us some time to get
used to the bikes.
|Getting at taster of the 90% proof alcohol before offering some to Pachamama|
Speeding down the road and looking out at the beautiful
landscape around us felt fantastic and I was pleased we’d decided to come. However, I was
a still a little nervous about what awaited us, once we got on to death road
|Still smiling (but we've not reached the real death road yet)|
It was cloudy when we got to the beginning of the real death
road, which added to the mystery of the place. It also meant that we couldn’t
see the extent of the drop below us, which perhaps gave us a bit more
confidence than we would have otherwise had!
|Without the cloud this would have been the classic death road picture!|
It stayed quite cloudy and misty at the top, but as we
descended, it became warmer and much clearer, so we could enjoy the stunning
views of the Yungas valley below.
I grew more confident on the bike and we enjoyed
splashing through the waterfalls that come directly onto the road.
|James making a splash|
|Sarah not getting quite as much speed!|
It was a beautiful ride down, but certainly seemed much more
of a pathway for bikes rather than a road for trucks and buses. A new road has
now been built meaning that largely the only people that use this road are
mountain bikers and their support vehicles.
|It really is a bike track rather than a road!|
The crosses we passed along the way served as a stark
reminder of all of the people who had died on this road, when their vehicles
had gone over the edge. We were also told the story of the most recent cyclist
who had died here, after going over the edge while trying to take a
selfie. We made sure we stopped when we
wanted to take photos!
|Smile for the camera!|
After a refreshing beer at the bottom, James and I and
another couple decided to go on the Flying Fox zipline that passes across the
valley. We were treated again to amazing views as we zipped from one side to
|We survived (and yes we do have the t-shirt to prove it!)|
We then headed to La Senda Verde Animal Sanctuary, where we
enjoyed a hot shower and a filling lunch, before heading back to La Paz. Others
in our group went for a tour of the sanctuary, but as we’d re-joined them a bit
late post our ziplining, we decided to relax a little while longer in the
|Getting ready for the zipline!|
We then headed back up the death road in our support vehicle and
happily met nobody coming the other way! We had to get out at one point to
allow the driver to navigate a particularly tricky section alone.
The ride was incredibly enjoyable and the ride level of
thrilling! Nobody in our group fell off and I didn’t see any injuries in other
groups either, although I have heard of some nasty accidents (but no falling
off the edge) as we have talked to other travellers on the way. We would definitely go again.
|The narrowest part of the Death Road seen from our bus|
What about you? Have you
ridden the death road? Did you enjoy it? Would you go again?
Not for me. Not in a million years. Roads and lavadas in Madeira more than enough. M.M.LReplyDelete
Also did it with Gravity! We started in SNOW up at the lake amd when it stsarted snowing we thought they would cancel--No Way! Had one Russian break an arm in our group. Another group had 2 or 3 people hurt.ReplyDelete
Snow? Wow! It was cold up top when we started off but not that cold. How far down were you when he broke his arm? Did they manage to get him straight off to hospital?Delete
We heard lots about people hurting themselves, but our group were completely fine and didn't see anyone come off from other groups either, luckily.