travel

Highway to Hell: Death Road, Bolivia

Looking for an adrenaline thrilled experience while in Bolivia, then look no further, Death Road may be for you!

Now, I have never been fearful of heights, I have skydived for charity and love a good rollercoaster but this pushed me well out of my comfort zone! Reflecting on the experience, I think the fact there are no harnesses and the fact you are responsible for your own safety, is the reason I was so nervous!

highway to hell death road la paz bolivia.png

Click above image to visit my Pinterest Travel Board

We started the day with breakfast at Little Italy and met fellow thrill seekers who were also a tad nervous. We had a detailed safety briefing and were given time to get used to our new 2 wheeled friends. As tradition goes we splashed 96% alcohol on the bike and the ground as an offering the mother earth (Pachamama). I asked mother earth to keep us all safe and even took a swig of the alcohol for ultimate effect.

death road alcohol

We were let loose single file down windy, fast, but smooth-ish roads as our first test of our mountain biking skills. The group was full of confident and speedy bikers but I held my own (well my brakes) and took it steady! The leader did sympathise with the fact that little people do feel the wind more. I appreciated the sentiment!

death road first par

Then it was time to tackle Death Road itself! I haven’t been this nervous in a long time… I was actually silent in the minivan thinking of excuses to get out of it. The Death Road itself is actually called Yungas Road and it was built in the 1930s during the Chaco War by Paraguayan war prisoners. Nowadays, this 56 km road has been dubbed the ‘worlds most dangerous road’. Each year this road claims the lives of 300 motorists and 20 cyclists on average. You see cross markings from where vehicles have fallen and believe me you see a lot of these along the track.

death road biking crosses

The Old Road is the only road in Bolivia where people drive on the left hand side. This is so they are actually closer to the edge so they can judge how close they are! Cyclists have to follow this rule too… great for the Brits until you realise how steep the drop is!
Our adventure started in the clouds at 4700 metres . The winds helped us fly down to 1100 meters, but my motto was ‘Slow and steady wins the race’. However, I always arrived last at every check point! I was kind of glad about this as I really needed to concentrate on not killing myself so being alone with the elements suited me. I also didn’t want to live up to Duncan’s new nickname for me … ‘Calamity Chloe’.

death road bolivia

Although I escaped with no injuries just 20 insect bites (random!), other fellow bikers slipped off their bikes and one even flew over the handle bars! This was actually caught on the go-pro but will be put in the safe hands of his friends haha!

Now Death Road definitely doesn’t need to be anymore nerve-wrecking than it is, so please choose a reputable company so you can feel safe! There are over 300 companies offering Death Road tours with only a handful of them being legit companies. The gold standard is Gravity with pristine bikes and additional perks such as a relax at a cabin and visit to an animal refuge. Barracuda Biking (who we picked) use the year old Gravity bikes and are a cheaper but just as safe option with a private pool to reward you at the end.

death road team photo

Thank you to Barracuda Biking for your patience, kindness and motivating words throughout the day. All pictures featured on this blog were taken by Barracuda and sent across within 2 days… how great is that! We both still wear our free t-shirt to remind us of our adrenaline filled day!

Be sure to check out their 5 star reviews on TripAdvisor!

Go the distance on Death Road,
Chloe

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