Biking is a very popular sport, and pastime to many around the world. To those adventurous cyclists, the World’s Most Dangerous Road is a must-do– attracted to the adrenaline and beautiful scenery, people, experienced and inexperienced, flock to the “deadliest” road in the world. The road gained its name due to the countless traffic accidents during many years, but, with the opening of a new paved road in 2006, the Death Road has become a, though you still see a few cars here and there, a tourist destinations for those seeking the thrill.
I consider myself an cycling aficionado, but I never thought about doing the Death Road until I had a chance, and without really thinking twice, I booked a tour with Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking. Next thing you know, I found myself signing my life away in a beautiful La Paz morning. The excitement took over the fear as my group and I were getting briefed by our guide, Kieran, in our way to La Cumbre.
When we arrived to La Cumbre, we started getting all of our equipment– helmets, gloves, bikes, etc. Then, Kieran, proceeded to give us another briefing on what to expect on the road, the do’s and don’t’s, and asked us to basically use our common sense. After that, we were all ready to start the Death Road… before anything else though, an offering to the Pachamama (Mother Earth) needed to be made– spilling a little of alcohol to the ground, then to our wheels and finally, to make the offering complete , take a sip ourselves…
With the protection of Pachamama, we started the tour… and Mother Earth did not disappoint, the scenery at 4,900 meters above the sea level is breathtaking– not because of the high altitude, but because of the snowy peaks, and the valleys right below them. This first part of the tour, in my opinion, is the easiest as you ride on a paved road, the only thing you need to be aware of is the crazy “minibus” drivers!
As the tour continues, you can witness the shift in the vegetation– from, literally just rocks, mountains and snow, to more plants, grass and trees. This also meant that we were approaching a drug check-point, right before entering Unduavi. Once in the town of Unduavi, we had to pay a 25 Bolivianos tax and we also had a bathroom break. At this point, I started shedding some layers, as I can’t tolerate heat very well. After we finished paying, we hopped back into our bus, and received something Kieran had promised us as reward (had we made it to Anduavi safely)– a sandwich, and got driven to the start of the gravel part of the Death Road.
Once we arrived, and with all the adrenaline left in my system, we were off — I tried to stay close to our guide along with other two guys, and will say it proudly, we were able to almost keep up with him. The gravel part was the most exciting for sure, as you go fast and you test your mental quickness, reflexes and skill. To be fair, though, I almost fell twice.
As we progressed, vegetation became thicker, waterfalls visible and jungle everywhere you looked– as well as the very steep drops that made the view and ride more dramatic. To add to the drama, you could see lots of crosses, or plaques commemorating people that weren’t fortunate enough to make it out of the “Death Road”…
We reached the narrowest point of the North Yungas road, which is 3 meters wide, and here, you had to go through a few small water falls– it was refreshing as it was a hot day. We all got muddy, wet and revitalized by the fact we made out safely of the most dangerous part of the road.
From there on, it was an easy ride to Yolosa.
We made it to town, all safe and sound, dying for a well-deserved cold beer. Kieran, our guide, bought us all a round, then as a group decided to have a few more before heading to Senda Verde Animal refuge.
There, you could see all sorts of wildlife- macaws, monkeys, turkeys, parrots, etc. Some of us went for showers, had some delicious food. I went to take a dip in the river. It was incredibly refreshing and calming, as it was the perfect way to end an awesome adventure.
You may think because you’ve never ridden a bike, or don’t rides bikes very often, the Death Road isn’t something you can do… but that’s far from the truth, anybody can do it!