Worlds Most Dangerous Road - La Paz, Bolivia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by GuiltyParty, Aug 18, 2010.

  1. GuiltyParty

    GuiltyParty drifter

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    Riding the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:Street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Worlds Most Dangerous Road</st1:address></st1:Street> (Death Road) by mountain bike is a pretty standard thing to do when in <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">La Paz</st1:place></st1:City>…but who wants to do the standard thing when you can do it on a motorbike?! I’d been pining to get back on the bike since I left <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Australia</st1:place></st1:country-region> and this was the perfect opportunity. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    The plan was to hire a bike, a guide and find as much dirt as possible. I picked up the bike from “Motorcycle Tours <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Bolivia</st1:place></st1:country-region>” and they quickly had me kitted out in all my gear and my soon to be thrashed XR400. I can’t recommend this company enough…superb :clap


    My guide said its not a good idea to ride down Death Road in the morning because of all the cyclists. Apparently a motorbike blatting past them at 80 clicks can distract them and send them over the edge :huh Our route then was to ride from <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">La Paz</st1:City></st1:place> through a bunch of towns and tackle Death Road at the end of the day. <o:p></o:p>
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    After a short burst through <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">La Paz</st1:place></st1:City>, as I adjusted to riding on the right, we were out of the city and bound for some dirt. From that point on it was dirt the whole way.<o:p></o:p>
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    The majority of <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">Bolivia</st1:country-region></st1:place> is at altitude (above 3000 metres) so we meandered up, over and through big mountains all day on nice twisty roads. <o:p></o:p>
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    My guide had a little lay-over when coming out of this little water crossing, blaming it on an orange peel. That only happens in cartoons buddy!<o:p></o:p>
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    We flew through this town.<o:p></o:p>
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    We stopped by this coca plantation, which the locals chew on to help with the effects of altitude (lack of breath, tiredness, headaches etc). Key ingredient in cocaine too. Thought I'd throw that in.<o:p></o:p>
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    After lunch it was time for the 69km’s of Death Road goodness from Coroico to <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">La Paz</st1:place></st1:City>.

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    Here’s a few facts about Death Road taken from Wikipedia to paint the picture (Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yungas_Road). <o:p></o:p>
    “Upon leaving La Paz, the road first ascends to around 4,650 metres at La Cumbre Pass, before descending to 1,200 metres at the town of <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Coroico</st1:place></st1:City>, transiting quickly from cool Altiplano terrain to rainforest as it winds through very steep hillsides and atop cliffs.

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    Because of the extreme dropoffs of at least 600 metres (2,000 ft), single-lane width – most of the road is no wider than 3.2 metres (10 ft) and lack of guard rails, the road is extremely dangerous.:eek1 Further still, rain, fog and dust can make visibility precarious. In many places the road surface is muddy, and can loosen rocks from the road.

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    One of the local road rules specifies that the downhill driver never has the right of way and must move to the outer edge of the road. This forces fast vehicles to stop so that passing can be negotiated safely. Also, vehicles drive on the left, as opposed to the right like the rest of <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Bolivia</st1:place></st1:country-region>. This gives a left hand drive vehicle's driver a better view over his outside wheel, making passing safer.

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    On 24 July 1983, a bus veered off the <st1:Street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Yungas Road</st1:address></st1:Street> and into a canyon, killing more than 100 passengers in what is said to be <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Bolivia</st1:place></st1:country-region>'s worst road accident.

    One estimate is that 200 to 300 travellers were killed yearly along the road”<o:p></o:p>
    I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. <o:p></o:p>

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    I survived!

    From there we went up nice rocky roads to this spectacular view (at 4400 metres). Note the glaciers in the background. Truly an amazing country!

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    All in all an awesome day and just made me want to come back to <st1:place w:st="on">South America</st1:place> and do it all by motorbike. <o:p></o:p>
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    #1
  2. TomTom63

    TomTom63 Motorradfahrer

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    Nice pictures. Definitely an adventure road :thumb
    #2
  3. the darth peach

    the darth peach eats crackers in bed

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    Very nice.

    :D
    #3
  4. BusyWeb

    BusyWeb Adventurer

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    :clap
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  5. VTbeemer

    VTbeemer Traveler

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    I am traveling to La PAz next month to begin my S American tour south.

    What did it cost you to hire the bike and guide for the day trip to the Death Rd?
    #5
  6. Mr. Huero

    Mr. Huero HÖÖSK-ËË

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    Great pics, great story... thanks
    #6
  7. Tarka

    Tarka Doesn't wave back.

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    Awesome photos and wow,what a thrill it must have been to ride it !!


    However,I`m a bit confused by the paragraph below....

    Are you saying that,despite driving on the left,downhill vehicles must move to the right hand side of the road when giving way ?
    As in,on the edge of the drop (looking at some photos with cliff to left when coming downhil)?

    Also,I don`t quite follow what you say about the LHD vehicle driver having a better view of his outside wheel, making passing safer.....because if they are driving on the left,the overtaking vehicle will be passing the slower one on it`s right side and the overtaking driver will be on the wrong side of their vehicle for clear vision.

    Rather like when I was in Europe (drive on right) on my UK sided Ural Combo (sidecar on the left) which made overtaking a bit difficult at times because of difficulies in seeing past the vehicle ahead.
    #7
  8. LC8TY

    LC8TY must......find.......fuel

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    Great stuff mate :thumb

    Do you get a "I rode the Death Road and lived!" sticker at the end. :lol3
    #8
  9. GuiltyParty

    GuiltyParty drifter

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    Hi VTbeemer, it was $200 for 9 hours of riding, all gear and insurance included. Very cheap considering it was $50 for a mountainbike with only 2 hours of riding

    You're going to have so much fun in South America, especially around the Andes and Patagonia in the south of Argentina / Chile
    #9
  10. YnotJP?

    YnotJP? Long timer

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    Tarka, I think what he is saying is the driver is on the left side a the car, the drop off is also on the left side of the road, and by him driving on the left side of the road he is able to better see how close to the drop off his wheels are.

    Here in the Philippines yesterday, a bus going from Baguio to Bauang went over a cliff, killing 41 passengers.
    #10
  11. GuiltyParty

    GuiltyParty drifter

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    Downhill vehicles must move to the left with the drop on their left (normally drive on the right with LHD)


    That bit was taken from Wikipedia, but what they mean by passing is one vehicle coming up the hill and the other down the hill. Regardless, the slower downhil vehicle will have stopped to the left of the road with clear vision of their left wheel and allowed the other to pass. The passing vehicle will then be against the cliff face and won't need the same sort of clear vision as the vehicle on the cliff edge. There are sections on the road where double lanes exist and passing is quite easy.
    #11
  12. Tarka

    Tarka Doesn't wave back.

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    Thanks for your reply and explanations.

    Rather similar to something I discovered about Italian lorries.... until recently they were RHD despite Italy driving on the right.
    It meant the drivers could have the best possible view and judgement of the sheer drop off the Alpine passes.
    :eek1 :evil


    Awesome report,and thanks again. :freaky
    #12
  13. TallRob

    TallRob Long timer

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    I remember when the Death Road didnt split and you had traffic going both ways..Too many people died on it so they decided to finally split the road in two. smart move.
    #13
  14. GuiltyParty

    GuiltyParty drifter

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    No problems Tarka


    Oh yeah I should have mentioned that. As you say there is now a new, paved road that has taken a lot off the traffic of the old Death Road. Can see why!!! Still, there is traffic going both ways just nowhere near as much
    #14
  15. Lee Gunn

    Lee Gunn Long timer

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    great story - omg - you are my new found hero :sweeti
    #15
  16. rhino_343

    rhino_343 Southern Explorer

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    Awesome mate, you lucky lucky bastard...:super :jose
    #16
  17. DANNOj

    DANNOj Long timer

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    Wow thats awesome Craig!!

    Makes those Vic High Country slopes seem like a walk in the park.

    Good to see you're having fun over there mate.

    Cheers,
    Dan
    #17
  18. squonker

    squonker Eat my shorts

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    Wow! That's so cool - I plan to be the first person to ride that road while standing on my handlebars, with one arm duct taped behind my back. I'll let you know how I make out!
    #18
  19. Thorne

    Thorne Sherpa-ing around

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    Thanks for posting your RR. Someday in the near future, that is one of the roads in SA I want to ride.
    #19
  20. markharf

    markharf Been here awhile

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    Interesting. We saw no uphill traffic whatsoever except at the very lowest portion of the road, where there are a few settlements and therefore some minimal traffic. However, the lower section isn't at all dangerous, at least by Bolivian standards. And there was no downhill traffic at all except for our group of motorbikes plus several large herds of mountainbikers and their shepherds driving support vans. In fact, the whole ride was a bit of an adrenaline letdown, since it involved rather little or no risk. Some of the mountainbikers looked scared....but I like to think I'm made of sterner stuff than your average novice mountainbiker. Of course people do still die there on occasion; they run off the edge in bad visibility or due to failures of skill or equipment.

    I thought the ride was worth doing for the scenery and sense of what it must have been like when it was the main access to La Paz, but I'd have been reluctant to pay for a bike rental. Maybe it's more hair-raising in rain (or snow!). Plus the surrounding area is truly spectacular, and features plenty of nice riding of all sorts.

    Mileage varies.

    Mark
    #20