Thursday, February 11, 2010

El Camino de la Muerte

With a name like that, who wouldn't want to cycle down it?

The Yungas Road used to kill between 200 and 300 travellers a year when it was open to traffic. This is no surprise as it is narrow, unpaved, and has no guard rails to prevent you plummeting down the steep cliff faces. A new road was recently built which allows traffic to bypass the most dangerous section of this route, so now it is mostly just thrill-seeking mountain bikers travelling "The World's Most Dangerous Road". The road descends about 3500m in altitude along 64 km of almost continuous downhill, from the cold altiplano above La Paz down to the humid jungle near Coroico. While the road is not really too difficult or dangerous by mountain biking standards, if going to fast, one could miscalculate a corner and plummet over the edge.

We used a company called Pro Downhill to hire bikes and a guide for this trip, and they were excellent. They follow you down with a safety vehicle, and provide a buffet lunch and swimming pool at the end. We arranged to be able to stay down in Coroico for a few days and then they picked us up and took us back to La Paz when they had room in their van the next week.

Ready to begin, at 4650m

Snack time: cheese sandwiches with mayo.

The end: 1200m

Swimming at our lunch spot

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