World’s Most Dangerous Road (Feb 28)   3 comments

El Camino de la Muerte

(The World´s Most Dangerous Road)

The World´s Most Dangerous Road was built in the 1930´s by Paraguayan prisoners of war and winds down the steep Andes mountains from La Paz to Coroico. In 1995 the Inter-American Development Bank gave it the name “The World´s Most Dangerous Road” because of estimates that 200-300 people died annually while driving on the road. In 2006 a new road was completed by a Brazilian company that was much wider and took most of the traffic off of the old road. Only around 20 tourists have been killed on the road since 1998. The most recent, according to our guide, was a French girl (last May) who took the tour with a budget company. Coming around one of the hairpin turns her disc brakes came off her bike and she went sailing into the wild blue yonder.

The tour is a total of 64 kilometers, the first 20 of which are on the new paved road. This allowed us to get used to the bikes and adjust to the sharp turns that were to come. 90% of the trail is down hill and begins at an altitude of 4700 meters. We would descend from cool alpine forests down to tropical rainforests at 1200 meters, a total of 3.5 kilometers down from where we started.

At the start the views that surrounded us were amazing. Tall jagged mountains covered in dark green grass and low clouds interspaced with waterfalls rise up like walls around us funneling us toward our long anticipated road. After a quick blessing of the bikes with Pachamama (mother earth) and alcohol (96%) we head out. Zooming down the trail, passing the occasional car or truck, we come to a large turn and are met with a stark wall of white reducing our visibility to only a couple hundred feet. This serves as a good wake up for what is in store for us. Farther along we glide, through a drug check-point, and finally to a long dark tunnel (which we aren´t allowed to go through since someone ran into the wall and went into a coma for a few weeks) which serves as the starting point for the old road.

The old road is certainly narrower. Rough gravel, ravines, and baby heads (large 3-7″ diameter loose rocks) litter the road that is only about 3 meters wide on average. There are no guard rails and the previous night´s rain ensured a slick surface. As we begin our descent down the road adrenaline rushes into the blood stream. Flying down at what feels like 100 mph you are tempted to look over the edge where you see a sheer drop of over 600 meters. You know that death is assured, but would certainly be one of the better ways to go. At each turn you run the scenario through your head that one wrong turn, one large rock, or one second heading in the wrong direction could be your last.

The first few sections of the road were the most intense. We stopped a few times for pictures, horror stories and a couple of snacks, but most of the time was spent riding down the road. The group was quickly divided into two groups (three). The boys up front, a few seconds later the girls (followed by one girl who went about 5 mph the whole way scared to death). At one point we passed under a waterfall, soaking everyone, where the road whittled down to around 6 feet wide. At this point it began to rain making the road a nice wet and muddy trail interspaced with flowing streams testing your ability to handle the bike. As we gained confidence, and speed, the road seemed to get a little wider and the cliff face a little less steep.

Finally at the end we were ecstatic from the great views and large quantities of adrenaline still flowing through our veins. Magan and I agree that this was probably the best thing we have done so far. At the end we went to an animal reserve where we saw toucans, cockatoos, and monkeys. Here we had a nice pasta meal before heading back to town. All-in-all this was a great experience and should be on any itinerary for Bolivia.

Water fall over the road.                           River through the coca fields

Toucan and Cockatoos


3 responses to “World’s Most Dangerous Road (Feb 28)

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  1. Hey guys
    Wow–every adventure is better than the one before!!! So glad I can live vicariously
    through you! Can’t wait for you to be home.
    love you,

  2. OK this would have been it for me. Youre adventures become more and more intense as you go. Thanks for sharing and keep the pics coming. I agree with shell. It’s nice to live vicariously through you! Can’t wait to see you.

    love you both


  3. Nice to see you throw up the horns of the Great Satan. Just watched head of the Satanical Empire, Senor Barry Sotero genuflect to the ruling tribe of Earth @ AIPAC. Keep it thug.

    Restless Insurrector of Unholy Light, Lord of the Flies

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