The world´s most dangerous road

La Paz Travel Blog

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cold at the top of the ride

The world´s highest capital city was a critical juncture on our journey.  Ten people left and eight new ones joined.  This makes for a few interesting days while new groups are formed, roommates are shuffled, and everyone feels each other out.  I will miss a few of the recent departies most notably Lieutenant Dan (my former tent buddy) and Cormac who was formerly the eldest on the tour and got us started on hacking.

La Paz itself did not really impress me a whole lot.  The thing I will remember the most is that they have very poor electrical systems.  There were thousands of seemingly random wires strung across every street.  In one of the many markets that we strolled through there was a metal stairway railing that was fully charged to 120V which gave us a little surprise.

Monkey at the dinner stop
  The markets went on and on for miles miles jam packed with locals scurrying about.  You will find shoes for a couple blocks, then fruit, then lights, the car parts, etc.  There are two blocks of anything you can think of.

The best part about La Paz was it´s close proximity to the worlds most dangerous road.  This stretch of steep winding road that drops from 4500 meters to 1700 meters in 67 km claims the lives of about 300 people a year in motor vehicle accidents.  It has become a popular tourist activity to ride a mountain bike down it.  Ten of us from the tour took on the challenge.  I was a little nervous about it since I had not been on a bike for over five years. 

The day started poorly, the girls forgot about the time change and were a half hour late, the bus broke down costing another hour and a half, Mike had to stop and puke, and we got stuck in traffic for better than a half an hour.

Kath and Tim
  All together we were about three hours behind by the time we got to the snowy beginning of our adventure.  Our hands literally froze during the fogy first downhill section on quick pavement.  Our guide was the number one mountain biker in all of Peru.  After a grueling airless 7 km uphill section we thought we had seen the worst.  A few kilometers of steep s bends later the guide informed us that we were about to start the worlds most dangerous road.  "What the hell have we been doing?" we thought to ourselves.  The pavement turned to a six foot wide gravel road.  We had to take the guide´s word that there was nothing below for 400 meters of the edge of the road because the fog was so thick visibility was negligible.
Typical power line.
  Eventually the fog lifted as we darted downhill continuously pushing our comfort levels.  There has never been a day when I had so may chances to die. 

Three hours of fun later we reached the bottom.  We had a nice buffet meal and beer while we watched the monkeys, parrots, snakes and other domesticated critters scurry around the tropical resort.  We were warned not to get to close to the monkeys that were tied up because they were pick pockets in training.  Even though this was a relatively expensive side trip at $75 USD I give it highly recommended.  It was the best day I have had so far after Machu Picchu.

amaude says:
Solid blod buddy! Im going to be doing this trip in May. You went with "Gravity Assisted", right?
Posted on: Jan 16, 2008
AnnMartin says:
Shaun,
We're loving your travels! Colinne experienced alot of the same places and activities that you write about. (eg. biking down the most dangerous road in the world - she actually fell over the cliff, but a shrub and friend helped her out!) I think I'll put you on my daily prayer list!!!!!!!!
Auntie Ann xoxoxo
Posted on: Sep 12, 2007
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cold at the top of the ride
cold at the top of the ride
Monkey at the dinner stop
Monkey at the dinner stop
Kath and Tim
Kath and Tim
Typical power line.
Typical power line.
The bikers
The bikers
A band on the streets of La Paz
A band on the streets of La Paz
Me and Mike
Me and Mike
The boys
The boys
La Paz
photo by: wilfredoc2009