The Death Road!
La Paz Travel Blog› entry 60 of 99 › view all entries
This is one of the travel legends you hear about, but I wasn't sure whether I would do it. It is a road that starts at 4700m approx above sea level, at La Cumbre, which is above La Paz. It goes down on a regular tarmac road for a while, until it branches off onto a gravel road and continues down to 1200m above sea level, down in tropical rainforest. Now there is a tarmac road that takes a safer route and which the buses and lorries must use.
So now that there is no chance of meeting a lorry or a bus coming round the corner with a 400m drop off one side, I was much more inclined to try it out. My german friends and I decided to go for the middle of the range of tours, not too cheap and not unnecessarily expensive either, but mindful of safety!
Barro Biking turned out to be a very good choice and our guides were good and the support vehicle always nearby.
At the top it is very very cold and we were well wrapped up. For the first hour we went downhill on the tarmac road, going as fast as we dared. At one point a lorry was holding us up!
We had to go uphill for a while, with only two gears to choose from and neither appropriate unless on a really steep slope, which apparently is unusual because most companies pick you up and drive you from there to the start of the Death Road proper. I didn't mind, I needed some exercise and going downhill isn't exercise, it's just a test of nerves.
After a long break and a snack and some water, we finally set off down the Death Road itself. Our guide was good and stopped us regularly for rests, bike checks and information about how to ride the road ahead. I think we were quite tentative to begin with, but after about half an hour, we were all trying to squeeze every little drop of speed out of the bikes and the danger of the precipices off the side of the road were forgotten.
It came as a disappointment when the road levelled out a bit and wound down to a conclusion. We all really enjoyed it! Luckily there was a bar at the bottom with nice cold beers to celebrate making it down alive. Then we were driven up to a hotel above Coroico (1850m) where we had lunch with a spectacular view and a dip in the pool to cool off in the tropical heat.