People often say they will travel when they are old. It is hard for me to imagine being old and wanting to do crazy adventurous things. I may not be able to do it, but I have to admit I can be wrong. On the Inca Trail, we were with a 71 year old Kiwi, and he was telling us about his adventure on Death Road in Bolivia.
The History of Death Road
If you all do not know much about Death Road let me give you a bit of some interesting information.
The road is actually named North Yungas Road. It is a 60 Km road that connects La Paz to the Yungas region of Bolivia. Basically, it goes from La Paz down to Coroico Bolivia.
Death Road was built in 1930, but unlike most roads in Bolivia, the traffic drives on the left hand side. Due to no railings or safety meassures, the drivers are safer if they drive on the left hand side. It helps to drive around the steep mountains.
It is called Death Road for one reason only. People die on the road. In 1995, it was termed the most deadliest road in the world. On average, 200-300 people were killed a year on this road. As I looked down from the road to the bottom, I believed these stats.
Cycling down Death Road:
Since 1998, the road has been a destination for cyclists. You can mountain bike all the way down the road. Be careful, 18 people have been killed cycling since 1998.
There was a new road completed in 2006 that helps to create a safer passage for cars, trucks, and buses. This leaves Death Road to the cyclists and any locals that may use the road to get from La Paz down to Coroico.
I have to admit that this is a lot of information, but it highlights how dangerous this road really is.
For Instance, we were at a hostel, in Valpariso, Chile, talking with an Australian couple, whom had ran into a Canadian that flew off Death Road with his bike. He only fell 40 meters, with road rash on his back. His face looked like he was in a serious fight.
You may think it is scary, but it is also quite exciting. Take a tour down the road. It will be more efficient, fun, and safer.
As we looked to go biking down the road we had options to choose from a great assortment of companies. Here is our top 3 companies we would choose.
Top 3 Biking Companies:
1. Ride On
One company called, Ride On is a 5 Star company on Trip Advisor for the Death Road. This was our number one in our ranking.
The price was great. $70 USD (499 Bob). It includes:
- All Safety Equipment
- Expert Guides
They have an office, but you can contact them and book them at Loki Hostel.
The only bad part is they are closed on Sundays.
The next good company is Barracuda. Barracuda is another highly rated bike company. It is like a 4.6 stars on Trip Advisor. We ranked it at our number 2 place.
The price was pretty good at just $80 USD (570 Bob). It includes:
- All Safety Equipment
- Expert Guides
They are pretty good. We actually chose them. Ride On was closed on Sunday so Baracuda was the next option.
The last company is Gravity. It had a 5 star review as well.
These guys had everything you could possibly want except for breakfast, but the price was $125 per person.
Early morning wake-up and pick up around 7-7:30 a.m. You get a van ride out of the city for 20-30 minutes and you sit on top of a big road. This is the drop off spot for all of us to get acclimated with the bike and the ride.
We are sitting at about 4200 meters above sea level, and will descend to 2100 meters. At the height of 4200 meters at around 8 A.M., you will be cold, like really cold.
The First Leg of the Ride:
Our bikes were ready. We were ready. It was time to roll. Our guide told us we would descend for about 5 minutes take a break and keep going.
It was a 20 km ride. All we had to do is coast down the road and be careful of any trucks or cars.
The ride was fast. It was a rush going so fast on our bikes down this paved runway of road. Every five minutes, we had to bike around a slow truck just to keep going fast.
The wind was in our faces as we descended with numb hands, and sights unreal. Our adrenaline rushed through our veins as we went down this steep road.
There was a check point coming. It would be the last point on this paved new road that we would experience. The road was a 8 km uphill trek, which we road in the van for. Then we would depart on the dirt Death Road.
The Gravel part of Death Road
This was the part of the road where people died. We were advised to ride on the left side of the road, and if we felt some fear just get to the mountain side.
There were sections of the road that had the road so narrow it could be very dangerous as we approached.
We approached the road with caution. We were riding one by one behind each other. Periodically, we would stop to take some cool photos, and listen for more instructions. It wasn’t so bad. Every five minutes a little stop and break.
The Hardest part of the Road:
We stopped for a big time snack. Our instructed us to be very careful on this next section. He told us stories of people flying off the road, not to be seen alive again. He told us that this part of the road was where most cyclists felt very confident and 60% of accidents occurred.
He was quite right. I felt confident in my skills. Went a tad bit quicker, but still procedded with caution. It would not be good if an accident occurred. Good thing I have insurance.
As we road by, I noticed that two of the girls that we in the front we off on the side. I realized it was an accident.
They looked pretty ok, so I proceeded with more caution as came around the corner.
Unbeknownst to me, the one girl had crashed. The girl was found with her bike on top of her. She had hit her head so hard to cause a concussion not knowing which country she was in, and we found out later she had broken her scapula.
Accidents happen, but as our guide had informed us. “Be Careful, and proceed with caution.”
She had been asking our guides how to jump rocks, but we actually do not know what really happened to her.
Our guides, went to help. The one guide stuck with the group of three friends all night until 8 p.m. accompanying them as she was ambulanced out to the hospital.
That is what I call some good service. These guys cared.
The End of the Road
The road eventually becomes less dangerous, and more of a 20 minute ride. This is the part where you want to shed your clothing because the temperature had risen, and we were working hard.
We ended our trip in the town of Coroico, and there we came to a hostel to eat a massive buffet lunch, got a beer, and had the opportunity to shower, swim, and relax.
Our bodies were sore, tired, and we just needed time.
The trip was over. We had survived.
If I had a choice to do it again, I would say “YES!” It was an adventure.
Like I said, accidents do happen, but you just have to be cautious, and listen to the guides.
- Ask about the gear that each company provides. Ask about gloves, pants, and a jacket.
- You should ask if the companies have a pick-up.
- It will start off cold so have clothes to keep warm.
- Be careful going down. It can be dangerous
- Have some fun.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it” Ferris Buller.
This quote shows that life does go by fast. There are many adventurous activities to take in part now. When you are old you may be able to do the same things you could do when you were 20, 25, 30, or 40.
Have some fun and take an adventure.
What are some adventurous activities you have been on?
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”