Cycling the most dangerous road in the world

Trip Start Sep 19, 2009
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Trip End May 19, 2010


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Where I stayed
El Cafetal

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Friday, October 9, 2009

For those of you who don't know about this road it's a very narrow and winding 45km stretch of gravel road with one side a cliff edge with a drop of between 2000m to 4000m which lorries and buses career up and down to get to Coroico and we were going to cycle down it, for the fun of it…..Believe me I was asking myself why a few times on the morning of our tour (Ben: as was I, 600 Bolivianos each! That is roughly a week of accomodation, food & travel for both of us - or 4 hours being terrified on a bike at the edge of a 4km drop cliff...), especially when I found out more info from our guide Steve, a bike mad kiwi. I had not really thought of doing this ride down the road until I had found out that a new (semi tarmac) road had been built so most of the traffic is now on that one, however Steve then enlightened us that the new road was closed today to fix a bridge, oh great….next an aussie guy on the tour asked about if there had been any deaths this year,  yes…2….ok this really wasn’t helping my nerves…….Apparently in April an English guy cycled off the edge as he was going too fast and then a guide in another tour went to show a group a few months later where this guy had fell off, then when the guide went to cycle off, he stood up on his bike, his chain came off and he slid off backwards…..terror…

So off we went. To be fair, we had all the gear we needed and the bikes were amazing - with dual suspension and very sensitive brakes. We started off on tarmac a bit b4 the MDRW (most dangerous road in the world) to get us used to the bikes, breaks and curves on the road. Hmmm, I thought, actually this wont be so bad…. but soon we hit the gravel. Here the rules of the road are if going down you have to give way and keep to the left, easy enough for us, although to the left was the very prominent cliff edge….not so easy! So not only did we have to watch and stop for vehicles coming up,  but also other tours groups and inexperienced cyclists wanting to whizz by, the cliff edge but also not to fall or skid off onto the gravel breaking a leg or collar bone which is fairly common... The tour was organized well in that we had 2 guides, one at the back and one at the front and we stopped every 15 mins or so to all catch up together and to explain what sort of bends we expect In the next part. Ben and I were by far the slowest in the group being very cautious, but to be fair we had 2 mountain bike experts and a mad german girl to compare with! After 4 hours of cycling I am glad to say we all made it down safely to an animal reserve hostel in Yolata, to have a well deserved beer, some lunch and a much needed shower... a cheeky monkey (literally!) from the reserve even joined us for a shower!

When the rest of the group headed back to La Paz in the bus we headed upwards to Corico to relax for a few days. We bumped into the couple we met in Sucre and followed to La Paz so we all stayed in a French run hostel with restaurant, so some lovely french food dinners were on the menu….

On Saturday we decided to take it easy and took a leisurely 6k walk to some waterfalls, which turned into about an 14k walk and 3 very small waterfalls with little water... But hey, it was a nice afternoon and good exercise with lovely valley views and large hawks (we think!) circling around. Good training for Machu Picchu (well, apart from the fact that the walk was very flat!!)

Just found this on the website where it is still no 1 for the most dangerous road in the world, infact 3 or 4 seem to be in South America...
1) The North Yungas Road (Bolivia)
Some of the nominations here may seem a little quirky, but few will deny that Bolivia's 'Death Road' is THE most dangerous in the world. North Yungas Road snakes across roughly 70km of the Andes, from La Paz to Coroico, with drops of up to 3,500m... and dozens of wrecked vehicles at the bottom. Drivers need to contend with crazy hairpin turns, oncoming traffic (often rushing to beat you into bends), an almost constant layer of fog and, during tropical downpours, high risk of landslides too. In the past, as many as 200-300 travellers are thought to have died in a single year, but it's carried significantly less traffic since the opening of a bypass in 2006. Tourist companies continue to cash in on the road's notoriety by offering extreme bike tours down it. We'll give that a miss, thanks.
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