Death road, Yungas road, the worlds most dangerous road and Camino de la muerte are all names for the same mountain road which leads up to La Paz. The road itself is no longer used by most of the traffic since the completion of the new Yungas road in 2006.
Death road is on the tourist must do list for La Paz; however, it has been on the waiting list for nearly 9 months. There is a lot of hype surrounding the downhill on this road with statistics like: “Between 200 to 300 travelers die a year”. What most sites don’t tell you is this is from 2006 when this road was the only choice for travelers; also that the vast majority are from buses and trucks. It is easy to see how 2 trucks passing on the narrow roads could cause such a high death rate. However; for cyclists its safe as long as you are not stupid.
Our guide was a veteran and has been running tours on the road for over 10 years. In all his time he has never had anyone have a serious accident. He mentioned that most of the deaths on cycles have come from when the rules are not followed. There should be a guide for every 5-6 people. However; to cut costs some companies will only employ a guide for 12 people. Our group originally had 6 people however 4 dropped out so it was just Ellie and I. We were recommended a new company called A1 Bikes, they have brand new bikes but cost much less to encourage customers.
The first part of the trip was on the new Yungas road, a far cry from the images from the tour operator. A slick tarmac and amazing views and downhill for miles and miles. I really enjoyed this part of the trip as you could just cruise and take in the amazing sights.
After a while we met where the old road joined the new:
This is where things got a little more interesting and you had to pay a bit more attention to the road.
The first section of the old Yungas road is the most dangerous, containing waterfalls and the infamous “corner”.
As we descended we needed shed layers, starting at 4700 meters and getting down to around 1100 freezing at the top and burning at the bottom! From high altitude to sub tropical.
At the end of the road we were picked up and brought to a hostel the river for lunch where we me this guy eating out of the mango trees.