Riding the `Death Road`

Coroico Travel Blog

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The road rounding the mountain. Its still paved at this stage.

One of the big tourist attractions in Bolivia is riding what is commonly known as the world’s most dangerous road, however our tour company and lots of them here refer to it as the death road. It sounds scary, so I’ll use that terminology.

 

Sarah had decided that she was much to petrified to attempt the road after hearing all the horror stories of various people being maimed on the trip, so I saddled up with Daan our Dutch friend from the Pampas for the day. We decided to do the ride with one of the more expensive tour groups, other friends had recommended to go for a reputable company (not that it helps as you sign your life away) and get a better bike with front and back suspension and brakes that work.

Daan and i (you can see the hawthorn guernsey if you look closely).
This was a good tip.

 

Off at 7:45am in the jeep for an hour or so to the start of the road at about 4700m, it was damn chilly at this time of the morning at this altitude. Anyway we got on our `Downhill Madness` gear (the name of the company) and saddled up. The first hour or so of the ride was on paved road and was two lanes, not sure what they are talking about, dangerous road, bollocks! The paving was good though, gave you a chance to get used to the bike, and the guide wasn’t shy with the speed, good fun.

 

The real `death road` started at the end of the paved section, it quickly turned into a single lane dirt road. Trucks were going up and down, if they met, the one heading down had to back up till it got to a passing spot. This got really interesting when several trucks were coming down and they all had to back, lots of wheels hanging off the edge.

The start of the unpaved section.
At this stage I think I also found out why its classified as the worlds most dangerous road, every truck has 10, 15 or as many Bolivians in the back as they can fit, therefore if one goes over the edge, there goes lots of the little men (and women). Anyway on the bikes we had to follow these trucks down, passing them where we could, and get out of the way as quickly as possible of the ones coming up, gets very interesting around blind corners.

 

Our group split into two for the ride down, a fast and a slow, luckily I got in the fast one. We were going down pretty quick I have to say, much quicker than I was anticipating, but Daan was first behind the guide and I wasn’t letting him drop me so I went flat out. Such good fun, a must do for anyone in Bolivia, not nearly as scary as people say. That said two girls on our trip crashed, one slide over the edge and was stopped by the trees, she had a trip to hospital that night.

 

By the end of the ride we all covered in dust and the dust masks the guides gave us for the bottom section of the ride were a good thing. We got to Coroico where the ride finished and had a swim in the pool, a buffet lunch and beers before heading back to La Paz, back up the same road in the road, very interesting. Got back to La Paz about 9pm, a long day.

David says:
wow good thing the trees stopped the girl
Posted on: Jun 06, 2006
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The road rounding the mountain. It…
The road rounding the mountain. I…
Daan and i (you can see the hawtho…
Daan and i (you can see the hawth…
The start of the unpaved section.
The start of the unpaved section.
Nice view from the road.
Nice view from the road.
Lets ride!
Lets ride!
Another nice view.
Another nice view.
It got dirty towards the bottom.
It got dirty towards the bottom.
A close up of the road. Very inter…
A close up of the road. Very inte…
At the bottom, time to jump into t…
At the bottom, time to jump into …
We stopped about half way for a dr…
We stopped about half way for a d…
The road ahead. Nice drop from the…
The road ahead. Nice drop from th…
Coroico
photo by: Belluomo