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THE SOUTHERN AMERICAN SERIES PT14

LA PAZ, BOLIVIA

Along with Salar de Uyuni I would have to rank cycling death road as one of the most popular activities in the country.

300 PEOPLE DIED PER YEAR ON THIS ROAD

Officially known at The north Yungas Road, the road was originally constructed by prisoners of Paraguay in the 1930s. The InterAmerican Development Bank declared it as the “World’s most Dangerous Road” in 1995. On average, 300 people died on this road until a new road was constructed in 2006.

WHERE IS DEATH ROAD?

Cycling Death Road & Full Guide

CYCLING DEATH ROAD & FULL GUIDE: HOW TO GET THERE

Death road is located about 1 hour north east of La Paz. This is where all tours will depart from so there is no added benefit of getting to the road yourself if you were going to do it yourself.

How to get there – La Paz

CYCLING DEATH ROAD & FULL GUIDE: WHEN TO GO

Without something which involves a very thin line of life and death it is important to make sure the conditions are as good as possible. The temperature in Bolivia wouldn’t fluctuate a lot over the course of the year but their so called summer can be very wet. If you can I would suggest you visit between the months of April and October.

When to go – April to October

CYCLING DEATH ROAD & FULL GUIDE: IS IT SAFE

The name gives this one away, it isn’t known as Death Road for nothing. In the past the average deaths per year hit 300, that’s almost 1 person per day!

Nowadays with the help of a new road, it is almost redundant apart from the many tourists who fancy a bit of adrenaline. However, the risk still remains and its not unusual to hear of a tourism to have fallen to their death, usually while trying to taking a selfie.

Be sure to take your own precautions as well as listening to your guides as health and safety can leave a lot to be desired for here.

Is it safe – Yes for absolutely anyone. If you take suitable precautions then there will be no problems

Gear for cycling Death Road. in Bolivia. Cycling Death Road & Full Guide

Cycling Death Road & Full Guide

CYCLING DEATH ROAD & FULL GUIDE: IS IT DIFFICULT?

The vast majority of it is downhill but it’s not steep the pace you want to go at is up to you. Regular stops are made for photos and lunch. I would have no problems inviting my parents who are both in their 60s.

Is it difficult – Anyone can do it.

Tour bus with bikes for cycling Death Road in Bolivia. Cycling Death Road & Full Guide

Cycling Death Road & Full Guide

 RELATED READ: A NAKED SWEDE AND ANGKOR WAT

CYCLING DEATH ROAD & FULL GUIDE: HOW MUCH

Like a lot of places there is a wide range of deals to be hand but you will get what you pay for here and if you want to skimp on the dollars then you might just be putting your life into danger. Paying less usually means the outfit and bike are suitably inadequate so bear than in mind.

How much – $60 – $140

 FACTS:
  • 64km (40miles) of cycling of which most of which is downhill. Average fitness is required.
  • Experience both the stunning Andes and the Amazon in one adventure
  • 3,600 loss of altitude

CYCLING DEATH ROAD & FULL GUIDE: WHERE TO BOOK

If I was to return, I would book with Gravity Bolivia, great reviews and very reliable. There price is on the little high side compared to others but you will be guaranteed first class service and your bike won’t fall apart when coming up to a corner! I remember passing another group and they always seemed to be having issues with their equipment.

Where to book – Gravity Bolivia

David Simpson with locals in a van in Bolivia. Cycling Death Road & Full Guide

Cycling Death Road & Full Guide

CYCLING DEATH ROAD & FULL GUIDE: WHAT TO PACK

Quite a lot of the gear will be included if you choose a good operator. I wouldn’t worry about preparing for the rain and you are better of just getting wet, the overalls will give you a certain amount of protection.

 PACKING LIST:
  • 64km (40miles) of cycling of which most of which is downhill. Average fitness is required.
  • Experience both the stunning Andes and the Amazon in one adventure
  • 3,600 loss of altitude
 SUPPLIED FOR YOU:
  • Bike
  • Overalls
  • Hi Viz
  • Pads
  • Spare bike if necessary
  • A beer at the bottom if you’re lucky
  • Be sure to check everything that has been supplied to you.
An outpost with closed gate while cycling Death Road in Bolivia. Cycling Death Road & Full Guide

Cycling Death Road & Full Guide

CYCLING DEATH ROAD & FULL GUIDE: NEED TO KNOWS

Despite the new road you are still likely to come across oncoming traffic so keep your head up and watch out. Locals still use the road for private access.

Foggy road while cycling Death Road in Bolivia. Cycling Death Road & Full Guide

Cycling Death Road & Full Guide

MY EXPEREINCE

From the moment I was told about the death road, I couldn’t wait. I didn’t know what to expect, was I literally putting my life in danger, is there a danger of landslides, could I hit a road or slip off? These were all questions I asked but it was all fun and it’s fit for anyone.

I didn’t however expect views of such incredible landscape and lush forest throughout the route. This is where the Andes meet the Amazon but try your best not to get distracted!

We started on the main road which gave us a great chance to pick up some speed, all at your own risk however but it remained relatively safe this was the new stretch of road.

Narrow road at the side of the mountain in Bolivia. Cycling Death Road & Full Guide

THE DEATH ROAD

Arriving at the turn off for the Death Road you could immediately see the difference. Although at this stage we weren’t yet at the dangerous part per se you can see by just looking at the road that it was never well kept. It was clearly built as quickly as possible!

We were briefed again and then set off passed the sign and through the barrier. The more you progressed the more you wondered how this was ever a road. Not once did I see a fixed barrier or a flat surface, the road wasn’t even tarmacked.

Rocks and large potholes were a common site and one lapse in concentration and you knew you could be in trouble. We stopped at a popular corner for photos and heard a tale from the guides. A Dutch fella had apparently taken a step too far to get a killer selfie and fell to his death. The memorial and flowers were there as proof.

SPEED

The road continues on down the mountain where we were left to race to the bottom. It was good to let go a bit at the pace had bit a bit slow but you always have to keep in mind others in the group.

At the end we were given a beer and made our way to a local restaurant for some food and a quick dip in the pool, not a bad way to end the day

RATINGS….

  • SAFETY – 7/10
  • WEATHER – 7/10
  • AGAIN – Yes
  • RATING – 8/10
David Simpson standing by the Death Road sign in Bolivia. Cycling Death Road & Full Guide

FINAL THOUGHTS

Now you have all the information you need, just don’t go to Bolivia and not cycle Death Road!

NEXT UP

Robbed in Peru by the Police! Click to read.

SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
79/229

This post is part of The Southern American Series, click to explore or for episode 1 click here.

Question Time

  • Have you cycled Death Road?
  • What is the scariest experience you’ve had?

Let me know in the comments below . . .

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