One of my favourite travel experiences so far is cycling ‘The Death Road’ in Bolivia!
The North Yungus Road, more commonly known as ‘The Death Road’, is one of the World’s most dangerous roads. It leads from La Paz to Coroico. A 2006 study estimated that 200-300 people died on the road every year. Although it is still dangerous, there are now fewer deaths and fewer local vehicles on the road because a newer, safer road was built as an alternative route.
Don’t let these figures put you off though! If you go with a reputable company like Gravity Bolivia you will be well looked after and safe so long as you don’t cycle like a maniac!
You begin 4,700m above sea level and end at 1,100m. So throughout the journey you descend well over 3,000m ! This means the scenery you experience along the way is so diverse- you begin in the cold, snow capped mountains and by the end you are in humid jungle!
At the beginning the road is tarmac and much wider but then you begin to enter the jungle and the road becomes only wide enough for one car at a time with a sheer drop into the forest on one side. There are very few tourist deaths on the road now and we were informed that most fatal incidents that do occur are due to the cyclist going too fast and losing control.
You do not need to be a professional mountain biker to cycle The Death Road. So long as you can ride a bike and are not nervous on a bike you will be fine. Almost all of the cycling is downhill hence why it is called ‘Gravity Mountain Biking’ – so you will not have to do too much pedaling. You just have to focus more on braking!
The experience itself lasts around 4-5 hours but you do need to allow the entire day as it takes some time driving back to La Paz. There are lots of tour operators in La Paz and the cost can vary but do not just go with the cheapest one! It is so important to go with a good company that takes care of their bikes (if you bike brakes haven’t been serviced you could be in BIG trouble). I would recommend checking out the Gravity Bolivia website as they have lots more detailed info.
During the day your guide films you at certain points along the road. I put together some of those clips so you can get an idea of what it was like: