Teds Travels Death road an adventure you can’t miss
When travelling to La Paz, you need time to adjust over several days as it set at 3640 mts above sea level.
Things you must do:
- walk around Plaza Murillo,
- visit the witches’ market,
- take a tour out to the ruins of Tiwanaku,
- try all the “foodie” places and of course,
- take a few rides on the “Mi Teleferico” cable car systems.
Once you have done all that, there’s one thing left to do:
- ride a bike down the “Death Road”.
Death Road is the name given to one of the most dangerous road in the world, Yungas Road. This road stretches about 61 km and covers La Paz to Coroico. In recent years, this has become a major tourist attraction in La Paz, with people wanting to get their t-shirt that says “I survived my ride on the world’s most dangerous road”.
However, do not be alarmed by its title… although the Death Road needs to be respected, it has become much safer in recent years. Traffic has been stopped on many parts of the road to give cyclists a fun and safe trip. We book this day trip with only the best tour operator Gravity. Although I have not done the ride yet, one of our staff in the office has and so asked Daniela to tell us about her experience. Over to you…Dani
Thanks Ted and ETB Travel News for given us a bit more room (haha). The adventure on Death Road is one of those that stays with you forever. The route starts at 2,750 meters above sea level. From the top, you can see how the narrow road zigzags the mountains and gets lost in every curve. We were advised to keep left at all times which meant to ride on the edge of the road while riding downhill. Yes, that’s a scary thought I know, but that was the only way if you didn’t want to get run over by a car.
Peddling down seems simple when you are on asphalt but when you need to skip big stones while you bounce like a bouncy ball is not so simple. In fact, I found it difficult to grasp the technique: stopping and releasing the brake from time to time to let the bike “fly”, it seemed to be the only way to not feel the blows of the seat. The brakes become your best friends. While you drive down, you read signs that don’t help ease the nervous heart: “Devil’s lookout”, “Death’s Curve”, “Devil’s bridge”, “Red Hill”. Come on! Could they have put more reassuring names?
Occasionally we stopped to freshen up or take pictures. There were key places like the “Balconcillo” where the picture was simply spectacular or like San Juan waterfall, which in rain season (November to March) you can hardly see and makes it one of the most difficult parts of the road. The landscape is beautiful, -or so I’ve heard- but the truth is that I only had the chance to enjoy it when we stopped as I was focusing on the road to avoid accidents!
Very few cars still use some parts of the road, when you see them driving you realize that even for them this is still a challenge. They drive the road daily, but as I discovered, they have an innate talent to drive this road and its edges.
We finish at 1,070 meters down in Coroico Village. The sun was responsible for burning my shoulders. My wrists and forearms ended with heaps of pain for having held the handlebar, the brakes and my whole body in tension. But everything was worth it! It really is an unforgetful experience that meets all the requirements of an extreme adventure; and although there is never a feeling of “life and death” kind of situation, just remembering how it is for cars, I get the goosebumps all over again.
Ted Dziadkiewicz is Director and Founder of Contours Travel, Australia’s longest running tour operator to Latin America. He has been more than 100 times to Latin America over the past 40 years and visited over 20 countries. If you want to know more visit www.contourstravel.com.au