Sightseeing in Bolivia: Cycling The Death Road - Adventures of Anette

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sightseeing in Bolivia: Cycling The Death Road

Today me and Dorte joined Gravity Bolivia on their trip down Yungas Road, better known as el Camino de la Muerte or the Death Road. This road is supposed to be the most dangerous road in the world, and every year there are somewhere between 200 and 300 travellers who end their life's here. Sounds like a fun place to go for sightseeing, right? :-/

So anyway, I persuaded Dorte into joining me for this trip (well, not really, she was actually just as excited as me..), and since Dorte lives downtown I spent the night at her place, and in the morning we walked into the city centre to one of the Alexander cafès which Gravity Bolivia use as their meeting spot. After a quick breakfast the guide picked us up, and the journey began.
After a 45 minute long drive we stopped by a small lake, and got to try out the bikes a little on the normal roads for an easy start. It was really cold, but like we had been told to we were using loads of layers, so it was fine. Luckily the travelling company helps you out a lot also; they have available trousers and jackets for those who want, and you also receive a buff that helps keep you warm.
Ready to hit the road!
Getting down the rest of the bikes for the ride
We started out nice and easy with some practice driving down the normal roads
But don't expect nice and flat pavement once you reach the Death Road..
Unfortunately we didn't get the best weather for the trip. In the start everything was fine, but just as we were getting closer to the Death Road itself it started to get both rainy and foggy, and we couldn't really see much of the view. Which of course was really disappointing.. If you look at the bright side though it might also have been a good thing, cause at least you don't get as frightened by the hight as you might have been if you could have seen it... Still, I would have preferred to see more. Some parts of the trail you could only see a couple of meters in front of you.
Going dooown!
Another group of cyclists posing for their camera. Not that easy to see because of the fog though..
You better be careful when biking on the Death Road, cause you never know what awaits you around the corner..
But even though we couldn't see what was below the road we were cycling at, we were still reminded about the dangers of the road by all the crosses placed by the roadside.
They might not always be that easy to see, but you do pass loads of small crosses going down the Death Road, which reminds you that a lot of fatal accidents occur along this road every year.
You better not be afraid of hights..
Taking a break to take a look at the nice view. At least we were supposed to be taking a look at the nice view, but the weather made that rather impossible.
One of the mountain bikes
After having biked a couple of hours the fog lifted though, and we got to see more of the view. Suddently it was a lot warmer also, and we got to enjoy the trip more. Sadly this was only for the last 30-40 minutes of the trip though:p..
The fog is lifting

After the fog had disappeared we could easily see why this road has been claimed to be the most dangerous road in the world..

Enjoying the view!
"Cozy" Death Road:p
Though this is a really dangerous road, the company we traveled with puts a lot of focus on security. The trip costed us 720 Bolivianos (+ a fee the government makes you pay, but that is not more than 25 boliviano and it goes to maintaining the road). Though you guaranteed can find the trips cheaper with other companies, there is still something odd about thinking "which I the cheapest one?" when you are in fact going down the worlds most dangerous road. Besides, most of the accidents among bikers here happens because the equipment isn't working as it should. Not to mention that some of the other companies drove like crazy today, and I'm really glad I wasn't travelling with one of those.
And although it is more expencive than if you travel with competeting companies, Gravity has a lot of things to offer you beside just the trip: you get free videos and photos from the trip as well as a short stay at the animal rescue shelter La Senda Verde at the end of the trip (for those who are interested, it is possible to work as a volunteer here as well!) where they also have buffet.
The last downhill of the trip, and the entrance to La Senda Verde

Crossing a bridge to the animal shealter
At La Senda Verde you have the chance to take a shower, swim in their swimming pool or simply just chilling out watching the monkeys, the parrots and the other animals enjoying the freedom of the shelter. In addition to all this you also get a free beer and a free t-shirt! And for those who are interesting in a little bit more action you have the chance to go woth a zip-liner at the end of the trip, which costs 160 if you buy it along with your bikecycle-trip, or 200 if you make up your mind at the trip.
A parrot from the animal shealter. ..The cage is actually for us visitors; it's a restaurant:) No animals are put in cage if it is not strictly necessary.

If I were to do the trip again I would not have had any doubts at all about which company to choose..
I have to say though, that the trip back by car was a little bit scarier than the bike trip, the driver was really fast, and there was less fog so we could see everything more clearly. Oh well, now I can say I survived the worlds most dangerous road!
Going back the Death Road by car

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who'd gladly trade a trip to the shoppingmall for a hike in the forest any day.

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Adventures ofAnette


The classical story about a girl who went for a one-year exchange program to Japan, fell in love and got stuck there. Starting out as a student in Kyoto in 2010 I now work full-time in Tokyo as a hotel consultant, and write mostly about my travels, working life in Japan as well as a bunch of random stuff.
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