Cycling ‘The Death Road’ in Bolivia

One of my favourite travel experiences so far is cycling ‘The Death Road’ in Bolivia!

Me & my travel buddies about to cycle The Death Road

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!

Stunning views at the beginning of our journey

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!

The road at one of its narrowest points

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.

Posing for a photo on one of the most dangerous bends in the road

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:

Here are some more pictures from The Death Road:

Views at the beginning of the journey
Me on my bike!
More stunning views as we begin to descend into the jungle
You can see the road embedded into the mountain
You take breaks along the route
A narrow point in the road
Great Views
Along the road there are gravestones for those who have died here
A grave of someone who died here
At the end of the road we visited an animal sanctuary- this is one of the Spider Monkey’s there
At the end of the road we visited an animal sanctuary
The view from the minibus door at one of the narrow points along the route back
Me !

More pictures:

Jess Harling

Creator of Jess Travels

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