Death Road Bolivia or the “Yungas Road” is a route for cyclists which reaches about 60 kilometers in distance, and connects La Paz and the Yungas region of Bolivia. It has been referred to as the most dangerous road in the world, and those who are brave enough can take on this challenging mission with the support of experienced guides.
Death Road Bolivia starts at the city of La Paz, which is known to be the highest national capital at 3640 meters above sea level, and goes all the way to Coroico. Coroico is located in the rainforest with an elevation of 1471 meters above sea level. It is considered to be the most dangerous route in Bolivia.
The Bolivian “Road of Death” is not so steep, but it has many sharp curves and a sheer rock face on one side, with a steep drop-off into a 2000-foot abyss on the other. The weather can also be an influencing factor – rain and foggy weather can be expected which can affect visibility.
Death Road Bolivia attracts about 25 000 tourists per year that travel from all over the world to experience the rush of downhill mountain biking, while soaking up the stunning views, and connecting more with themselves through this somewhat “crazy” expedition. Along with Uyuni’s Salt Flats, Death Road Bolivia is one of the most famous attractions in Bolivia.
The history of Death Road
The history of how the famous “Death Road” was created, is definitely an interesting one. Initially, the route was constructed by Paraguayan prisoners of war from the Chaco conflict in the 1930’s. The purpose was to link the city of La Paz with Las Yungas, and the Amazon.
It was officially known as “The North Yungas Road”, but in 1995 the Interamerican Development Bank declared it the “World’s Most Dangerous Road”. The reason was because of the shocking statistics that showed an estimated 300 people that passed away on the old road, before the new road was constructed and completed in 2006.
How to prepare
All this talk about how dangerous this route is may scare you off, but alas! You do not need to be a bike expert in any way to cycle Death Road. However, it is recommended to be able to cycle confidently, have a good level of fitness, and not to be afraid of heights.
Prepare yourself for hairpin bends and heights of approximately 3600 meters between La Chumbre Pass and the lowland town of Coroico. You do not need to have your own bike or equipment, there are many companies that can arrange this for you. It is important to check that these companies have all the necessary equipment and that they are in good conditions to enhance and smoothen your experience.
The company should provide a protective coat, and trousers that will protect you in case you fall on the gravel road. You will also be provided with a set of biking gloves, a helmet and a bike with great suspension and brakes.
What to expect
The first thing to consider when deciding to take on the famous Death Road of Bolivia is that contrary to all the other roads in the country that use the right-side of the road, vehicles have to use the left-side to make it safer for downhill riders. It is important to stay focused and try not to lose control, as you will ride very close to the precarious cliff.
The views of Los Yungas are truly breathtaking. Imagine lush cloud forests and beautiful mountainous landscapes as the Andes drops down into the Amazon. Be careful not to get too distracted though! Keep your eyes on the road and stay focused. Also, look out for big rocks on the road which can appear unexpectedly on every turn.
It’s a full day journey. You will wake up at 6am, and return home when it is already dark. Many of those hours will be spent on riding a rocky road and sweating out the humid tropical sun. It is highly recommended to get a good night’s rest before and avoid excessive drinking or eating the night before.
The climate varies a lot. Riders travel down from the snowy Andean peaks, to the lush tropical jungle. This means that temperatures range from really cold and freezing, to hot and sweaty. We recommend bringing a good backpack for different types of clothing which will serve the right moment during the route.
Things to do nearby
Taking on Death Road is an adventure like no other, and should be on the bucket list of every adrenaline junkie. But Bolivia offers a lot more, and a downhill cycling tour on Death Road should not be your only destination to this magical country.
Approximately 10 kilometers from La Paz you will find the alien landscape of El Valle de la Luna, or better known as “Moon Valley”. This is a stunning site, very important to its national residents. It is a protected geological area that rests at 3650 meters above sea level, and it laid at the bottom of the sea thousands of years ago.
Experience heaven on earth at The Salar De Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. It reaches over 10 000 square kilometers in area, and sits at an elevation 3656 meters above sea level. The salt flats were formed as a result of transformations between prehistoric lakes that existed approximately 40 000 years prior but had all evaporated today. Now it is covered by a few meters of salt crust, leaving a magical site to be explored and wandered.
Experience Death Road with Kuoda
Bolivia wins the prize for boasting some of Latin America’s most dramatic landscapes. The daunting Andean peaks, shining white salt flats, the valley of the moon, and more. These are just a few examples of the great contrasts and endless experiences that this diverse country has to offer.
We understand the stresses involved in planning a cohesive trip such as this one, and how important a well-planned itinerary is in these cases. Kuodo specializes in customized luxury travel throughout South America – whether you are planning to explore the streets of La Paz, embark on a private city tour, bike the challenging Death Road or take endless photos of the magical Salar de Uyuni – our trained and specialized agents are here to serve you in all ways possible.
Get in contact with us today, and start planning your trip with us. We promise a fun, exciting, and memorable journey. Speak with one of our trip designers to talk about your specific needs and requirements.