Death Road from La Paz

La Paz Travel Blog

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La Paz has the honor of being the highest capital in the world (thought apparently Bolivia has 2 capitals, cheating) and we could definately feel it slugging up the hill the our hostel with lungs about to implode.  Comming into La Paz it seemed to also holds that honor for being the only city built entirely by do-it-yourselfers, without input from acutal builders, architecs or engineers.  The outskirts of the city are precariously perched atop crumbling cliffs that were eroding before us and every house is made out of the same type of bricks.

Luckily for everyone involved the centro area is quite a lovely place, and being at the bottom of a valley it isn't going to fall anywhere.  We spent a couple of days roaming around town and trying to decide what to do next before Tristan finally got up the courage to take on the infamous "Death Road" with a bike.

Now "Death Road" is not called "Death Road" because it's a nice little ride in the countryside with cute little fluffy pink bunnies hopping alongside you singing "Oh what a Beautiful Morning".  No sir....  Apprently it gets it's name because it has a higher rate of fatalities per Km then any other road in the world (this may be attributable to the fact that 100s of tourist outfits run bike rides down it).  The road itself drops from the tops of the Andes at 4600m to the almost tropical foothills at 1700.  A 2.9km drop in just over 70km of tight turning, wet, gravelly road.

The top section was paved and pretty fast, but at that hieght, at 8 A.M., the speed caused my fingers to freeze into a vice-like grip on the brakes.  It had been a long time since I'd been on a bike and the first 20 minutes was quite hair-raising, but I gradually  remembered how to ride and  settled into it as much as possible.  The we hit the gravel which  was really the best part of the ride. 2 of the 8 people on the ride ended up  falling (but no broken anything) and I almost came a cropper when I rounded a corner and found a big "MACK" sign heading for me. The only thing greater than the danger was the views and the shower at the end was absolute heaven.



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La Paz
photo by: wilfredoc2009