The Death Road or "Worlds Most Dangerous Road" mountain biking tours in Bolivia are one of the most popular activities amongst backpackers.
If your looking for the safest Death Road Tours and best information for 'surviviing' the Worlds Most Dangerous Road Bolivia read our guide below.
We are an official agent for Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking and Barracuda Biking proudly offering all their fantastic mountain biking rides.
Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking have consistently been the most recommended mountain biking company in South America by all the guide books and many other media outlets.
Apart from being the inventors of the World's Most Dangerous Road bike ride, they also arrange some great single track rides and Chacaltaya - Zongo ride that starts up close to 5300 meter in altitude!
All Gravity rides include superb quality full suspension Kona mountain bikes (they have the best fleet of bikes in South America), English-speaking (as a first language) guides fully trained in rescue and first aid techniques, backup vehicles, radios, safety equipment, helmets, gloves, rain jackets and trousers, a multi-purpose buff - all this to make sure you have the safest, funnest day out PLUS a free t-shirt, great food and other Gravity-only extras.
We work with Gravity because we want to offer the best and we know that Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking are the safest and most professional option there is for mountain biking in Bolivia.
Go here see full details and book online the Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking Death Road Tour
For people wanting to do the Death Road with a budget operator we also work with Barracuda Biking who are another safe operator with reliable equipment and well-trained guides. Costing less than Gravity but still with properly maintained equipment, fully trained guides and following international safety procedures.
Go here see full details and book online the Barracuda Biking Death Road Tour
There are no proper safety regulations for biking companies in Bolivia so many operate using practices that simply would not be allowed in many other countries - we choose Gravity & Barracuda to work with because we know they self-regulate and are the only two companies to fully work to international standards ensuring safety is the number one priority.
Guide Last Updated : 5th July 2018
It was in 1995 that the Inter American Development Bank gave the North Yungas road to Coroico the infamous title of "The Worlds Most Dangerous Road". It earnt this dubious accolade due to the high number of road accident fatalities it had consistently been responsible for in the years previously.
A few years later in 1998 Alistair Matthew, a native of New Zealand travelling through Bolivia and a fantatic mountain biker saw an opportunity and started Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking company and starting taking the first adventurous tourists down the road on mountain bikes.
The numbers were few at first but word soon got out amongst travellers and media alike and it quickly became one of the most famous attractions in South America.
Gravity as a company grew and invested in more bikes and better equipment. bringing in more experience international guides to handle the demand and always treating safety as a priority.
Since then many companies have appeared to copy the idea and now 10s of thousands of travelers go down the road each year bringing in much needed income for the communities in the area and creating jobs in tourism.
The road is probably more often referred to as "the Death Road" than "the Worlds Most Dangerous Road" nowadays, likely because it is less of a mouthful but some say it was actually called Death Road a long time before.
This is supposedly due to the fact that the construction of the road by prisioners of war from Paraguay resulted in the death of many of them.
What ever the reasons are behind the names we certainly recommend you take them seriously and only go with a reputable operator and take it easy to ensure a safe and enjoyable day.There are many unsafe operators around and they have been the cause of many a ruined trip or worse.
One of the most mis-reported aspects about Bolivia's death road are the statistics regarding the number of accidents and deaths on the road.
Part of the reason for this is of course just the lack of fact checking that is so common on the internet nowadays but the other element is that it is common to want to sensationalise the road by making it seem more dangerous than it actually is.
Personal bloggers, forum or facebook posters trying impress their friends back home or journalists aggagerating to try to sell an article to paper or magazine. We seen figures of up to "500 people per day" quoted as fatality figures.
So whilst you may read blogs saying 100s of bikers die on the road every year, plus conversely you might also read people posting about how its not dangerous at all and it is all hype, the truth, as you might expect, is somewhere inbetween.
The road got its name from the times when it was the principle road between La Paz and Coroico (and therefore onto the Amazon region) and there was considerable traffic went up and down it each day.
Since the year 2007 there is now a new road on the other side of the valley that most drivers use and this has significantly reduced the number of traffic incidents.
That is not to say there are no death road accidents anymore though - it still needs to be treated seriously and people do have serious accidents during the mountain bike tours plus fatalities,which arent common, are possible.
Some Death Road Accident Statistics & Numbers
When people hear the phrase "mountain biking" tour they will often assume an off road type biking experience and think they need mountain biking experience. This is not the case for the Death Road ride - it is just riding a bike on a road albeit not like a road you might find back home.
The reason mountain bikes are used is because the road is a basic dirt road, so it is bumpy, sometimes a muddy, has small stones or gravel in parts or little pot holes.A full suspension mountain bike makes if much easier and safer than a standard road bike.
You are not expected to be a "mountain biker" just to be able to ride a bike sensibly and to a pretty "normal" standard - i.e if you have a bike back home and have no problem riding it to the shops, or park etc then your ability level should be enough.
Many people are nervoud of course but from experience we find that is a good thing as people who are nervous usually take it much easier and therefore have less accidents. It is the overconfident riders that push themselves beyond their ability that are at more risk of taking a fall.
Both Gravity and Barracuda use the best equipment around and every bike goes through a full maintenance check after each ride - they are the only companies that do this after every ride.
The bikes are top quality Kona mountain bikes and Gravity replace their bikes at least every two years ensuring they have the best conditioned bike fleet in South America. The bikes have full suspension and hydraulic disc brakes and this goes along way to ensuring the ride is more comfortable and safer.
Of course, it is important that everything works well and this is were many companies cut corners. Gravity & Barracuda only use original parts when replacement maintainence is needed and not locally created parts like disc brake pads that some other companies are known to use.
Both companies provide waterproof clothing to wear during the ride, gloves, googles and of course helmets.
For helmets you can choose between full face and open face helmets but they recommend using the open face helmets as this means you can hear others signaling to you when they are passing and also in the tropical heat lower down it is much more comfortable. Many companies offer just full face helmets and try to push this as a selling point but you can often see people riding without the helmet further down as it is simply too hot.
Finally, and extremely importantly, both Gravity and Barracuda carry with them full first aid and rescue equipment and all guides have been trained to international standards to use them. Whilst a handful of other companies have improved in this area in recent years only Gravity and Barracuda can offer all the required equipment and all their guides trained to use it. It has been proven many times over the years when gravity staff have had to take over rescue operations of other companies customers.
The day starts quite early when you meet up around 7.00-7.15am in a central La Paz cafe giving the guides time to ensure that everyone on the group is there and ready for a 7.30am departure.
Everyone meeting in one central point rather than offering door to door pickups at hotels (as some companies do) is better as it means the group can depart on time and get out of central La Paz before the traffic gets too busy.
With hotel pickups the likelihood of delays is much higher and just a small delay can mean getting caught in peak traffic, resulting in starting the ride much later and then the guides / group are under pressure to go faster which is obvioulsy less safe.
The time you get back to La Paz can vary , sometimes by quite a lot, due to a number of reasons.
As this is a group activity the speed you complete the ride will depend on how fast the slowest person in the group is going. The amount of time spent relaxing at the bottom can depend on the group. Sometimes a whole group might want to return quickly and not spend time chilling out , other times the group might want to relax as much as possible - the guides have to go with the majority and wont make the whole group leave early if just a couple of people want to get back to try to catch a bus.
Traffic will always be a factor, especially closer to La Paz and of course weather can cause problems. The high pass by La Cumbre were you start the ride can sometimes be effected by snow and there are also large parts of the road that can often be very foggy meaning driving slower is required.
So whilst an estimated return time of about 18.30 to 19.00 is given and is aimed for it is perfectly possible to return a bit before that or also hours later if conditions are bad.
Most people ask about the return time when they are trying to catch a bus to the Salt Flats that same evening. So you can see that whilst it is possible to catch a bus at 8pm (common time for local buses to Uyuni for example) it is not guaranteed. If you must get a bus you might be better going for the later 9pm bus with Todo Turismo to give yourself a bit more time.
You will usually be dropped off near to your central La Paz hostel or hotel - traffic can make it difficult to get everyone ack door to door but they try to get you as near as possible.
Rainy season runs from around September through to April but it is just usually January through to March when there is regular heavy rain. During this time it is possible to mountain bike the Worlds Most Dangerous road but it can be more difficult.
The experience will likely be a wetter, muddier and cloudier day and whilst it can still be a great day out most would agree that it is more enjoyable during the dry season.
Many ask "what happens if it rains on the day of the tour" - the answer is simple : you get wet. The tour is NOT cancelled due to rain. It would only be cancelled if the conditions were so bad , such as snow fall blocking the high pass areas or a landslide blocking the death road itself.
During rainy season Gravity and Barracuda include additional safety extras such as additional backup vehicles if required, landslide kits in the safety vehicles. These are the only companies to provide these things.
The Worlds Most Dangerous Road bike ride ends in a town called Yolosa and not in nearby Coroico as many think. Alot of biking companies do transfer you to Coroico after the ride to a place for showers and some food though.
Both Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking and Barracuda Biking finish their ride though in Yolosa itself as they have exclusive access to two nearby facilities for the riders to shower and recieve their lunch
Gravity finish at La Senda Verde Animal refuge which has plenty of shower facilties and a great buffet style lunch for the bikers plus the added bonus of being able to see the animal refuge and meet its wonderful inhabitants including cheeky monkies, macaws, capybara and many more. You can also arrange to stay at the refuge and they have several lodges for rent including a treehouse option.
Barracuda finish the ride at a local artists house that has a small restaurant and this is were you will shower and be given a pasta lunch before having some time to chill out by the jungle lodge.
At the end of the ride you have the chance to ride an amazing zipline across the Yungas valleys. This is located in Yolosa also so if your doing the ride with Gravity or Barracuda then you will be nearby and can first get changes and showered before being taken to the first zipline station.
There are three lines that total 1555 meters in length and you can get up to speeds of 85mph. Everything was build in partnership with Gravity so safety standards are good - highly recommended!
Many (most) of the biking companies drive back up the new road to return to La Paz but Gravity and Barracuda will drive you back up the same road death road that you rode down. You can grab a few beers from the local shops in Yolosa for the jounrey back and listen to the guides tell you all the stories of the famous Worlds Most Dangerous Road - it is better you hear these after the ride!
When you bike down you will find that you are looking down at the road itself and concentrating that you wont get to see the wonderfuly scenery as much as you think so the bus ride back is a great opportunity to see the views along the road and take some photos and videos as we drive back up.
Mountain biking down the “Worlds Most Dangerous Road" from La Cumbre to Coroico is one of the most popular activities amongst backpackers in Bolivia. Suitable for confident beginners and experienced riders alike this is a ride to remember. This is with Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking - the best and safest company for this ride.
Mountain biking down the “Worlds Most Dangerous Road" from La Cumbre to Coroico is one of the most popular activities amongst backpackers in Bolivia. Suitable for confident beginners and experienced riders alike this is a ride to remember. This is with Barracuda Biking - a safe and reliable company.
The Secret Singletrack with Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking is an absolutely spectacular downhill ride out of La Paz that is perfect for those who already have experience in mountain biking. You will start high in the remote hills and then rip down through incredible scenery and technical downhill trails - lots of fun guaranteed!