La Paz ¨¨Death Road¨¨

Trip Start Jan 18, 2011
1
12
25
Trip End Jan 18, 2012


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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Well today was one of the most amazing day´s of my trip, if not my
life, so far! There is no photo I could show you or way I could describe
it that could convey just how amazing and unforgettable today has
been but I'll try as best I can as I always do…

The following account may not be suitable for readers with a nervous breakdowns (i.e parents) so read on at your own risk!

Death Road known as the worlds most dangerous road. It was constructed by a group of paraguayian prisoners many years ago , they where giving sticks of dynamite and told go build a road for the Bolivian people. It’s 76km from beginning to end starting at just under 5,000m in altitude up in the snow peak mountains and heading all the way down to just over 1,200m in the jungle below.  The dangerous parts come in when after the first 26km the road turns into a dirt track approximately 3m wide with traffic trying to pass in both directions, sharp bends and a
sheer cliff face on one side with no barriers and no sign of where you
would come to a stop if you did go over the edge!!  You would think that
the idea would be to stay as far away from the cliff edge as possible
but given the sharp corners and the way the Bolivians drive in fact we
had to cycle just half a meter from the sheer drop at all times so we
didn’t end up meeting any traffic head on.  For encouragement different
bends in the road are named 'Japanese Corner’ or ‘Irish Corner’ etc
after various people who have died in those places – yikes!

So our day began being picked up from our hotel in La Paz
(which was again lovely ) at 8.00am by a Bolivian guy called Juan. He turned out to
be a lot of fun and during our mini-bus ride up to the peak where we
got our bikes and the trip began he shared various horror stories and
words of wisdom with us to prevent us from being another statistic of
death road . The bikes they gave us were unbelievable, they could handle anything, full suspension and brakes that could stop wild horses.  That was half of my problem though, the brakes were
so strong I had to practice a fair bit to try to remember not to pull on
them too hard or risk catapulting over the edge leaving the bike behind
me!  We got fully suited up with safety gear and prepared to start out
on the 20km of tarmac road that would get us used to the bikes before we
hit the official dirt track start of Death Road.

Nothing can describe the feeling of taking the first corner, as soon as
we started sailing down from our start point the scenery revealed itself
to us and a beautiful valley (of course with a massive drop off the
side of the road) set the scene for the first stretch, of course we
couldn’t be staring out at the scenery on the bikes, that’s pretty much
lesson one of how to die on Death Road.  We had lots of stops to check
the bikes and take in the views as we went as on the tarmac the bikes
were in their element and we were flying along much faster than the
traffic and still having to hug the outside lip of the road half a meter
from the edge.  Another rule we were given was to keep two bus lengths
between each of us, so if someone did fall you wouldn’t get caught up
with them, this made the whole experience much more independent and you
could feel like you were alone with the scenery . We got through the first stretch quickly and without and
hitches so were ready for the dirt track to begin.  A quick banana and
chocolate bar snack stop for energy and we were ready to see what the
bikes could really do.

Thanks to the amazing suspension on the bikes we weren’t thrown around
too much as they would take the impact of the majority of rocks we went
over, the only issue was that we couldn’t sit down on the bikes, partly
due to the control we had on them and partly because we’d get very
bruised bums after a while!  So our experience really began once we hit
the dirt track and it only added to the thrill, the scenery was
jaw droppingly beautiful and you felt like you were a part of it.  In
the distance you could see our winding road making it across the
mountains and as we cycled our way down from altitude we started to be
able to breathe more clearly, feel more energetic and shed layers as the
heat started to hit us in waves as we turned corners.  We cycled
through a couple of waterfalls, rivers and luckily saw very minimal
traffic on the route.  I had the worst of it I think when a massive
lorry the width of the entire road caught up with me just before a stop
and I was forced to cycle right next to the cliff edge to be out of it’s
way.  The rest of the group were stopped for a break just
further down and got their camera’s out .

When we finally made it in one piece to the bottom.It also didn’t help that when we reached the bottom it was really hot and we were covered in dirt and dust. I relished the hot shower ,swimming pool and buffet we were offered when we got to the bottom.After such a great day we now faced the most terrifying part, driving back up death road in a mini-bus!  Far scarier than cycling down
ourselves. Of course in classic Bolivian style there were no seatbelts and the
driver would occasionally check his mobile phone or look at his filty nails to the horror of all of
us.  Out of the windows you could see that we were only just short of
being the entire width of the road.He was a terrible driver passing out trucks and cars ,with not giving a fiddlers fuck about the rest off us in the back. We all could not believe how crazy he was. No wonder 200 to 300 people die on this road every year , and a bus or car falling off the cliff once every two weeks.

Ok gotta go hope you´s are enjoying our blog , chat soon please leave a comment or two
chou

PS.. look up these links below on youtube about the death road

Top gear on death road ..  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXLxszv9eCM&feature=fvsr

watch this video about la paz and death road. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KKaQscc2cE



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Comments

tina on

looks very scary cathal i wouldnt do it lol

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