Tuesday, March 1, 2011

ruta de la muerte - death road

Built in the 30s and "closed" to traffic in 2005 (ish) more than 85.000 people have died on this road. That's about 5 deaths per day over 70 years, hence the nickname. It is also called the Coroico Road or the "Camino de las Yungas", but names like this are a bit boring.

Yumi, Yvonne and I booked a last minute ride with "Gravity" on sunday night for monday morning. Only a few riders (18) have died on this road since 1998 but to be honest, to fall of the cliff, you need to:
- be drunk
- not knowing how to use the breaks
- lack common sense
- think you are much better than what you are
- be really unlucky

Contrary to what people think, it is not a dangerous road if you are on a mountain bike. It is wide and not steep. If you want to have fun though, you need a double suspension bicycle otherwise you may walk funny once you reach Yosala, the little village at the bottom of the valley.

We started at La Cumbre ("summit" in Spanish) at 4650m, some 700m above La Paz. Just like London, it takes you ages to get out of the city and then if you manage to avoid dogs, oncoming traffic (the bigger trucks have priority), pedestrians, potholes and mudslides you'll get there.

We went downhill on paved road for about 1h30  -to get used to the bikes- before reaching the Death Road. I guess we reached about 60km/h, which is not bad on a double suspension mountain bike.

It will take you about 4h30 to do the 55km on The Coroico Road, some sections are really long and fun. You have to ride on the left hand side though, quiet close to the cliff, which makes it really interesting at some points. 

Overtaking is easy but make sure you tell other riders where you are going to pass, otherwise some may panick and crash.
Just like this:
we got drenched in rain, cycled under cascades, crossed rivers, crossed a mudslide with our bikes (we had signed a "if-you-die-it's-your-fault" form) and tasted tropical weather (as the bottom is at 1500m above sea level). 

The change of weather hits you at one corner, you feel like you are cycling into a hairdryer. It was an amazing ride, if you have the chance to do it: Do it!

PS: Thomas decided to accept the guides´challenge and go 45minutes uphill and climb "heartbreak hill". At 4200m above sea level. "That´s %&¿?$# hard", he later said. But he made it. :) 


  1. Hi Yumi and Thomas that bike ride looked amazing but scary! Your mountain climbing at that altitude is something you will remember for a life time, you crazy young things. That guide needed a Bear clip around the ear!! Keep having amazing adventures even the scary ones are good cos your still here to tell it. Have you tried roasted guinea pig yet!
    Love Bear

  2. Wooow .. scary ! I am scared of height and I don't think I could do that. I can just imagine the fall. You better pack your parachute when you ride downhill on that road :-D