Published: December 16th 2011December 16th 2011
So I crossed into Bolivia from peru at Lake Titicaca where I saw a glimpse of the Bolivian Navy. First destination was La Paz which sits at 3660m. With a population of 1.5 million I thought this city was CRAZY! The traffic and choas on the roads and the fumes polluting the air did not excite me! Many people had told me how great La Paz was but for me, I wont be rushing back there! I went to explore the witches market and that turned out to be very disappointing, more of a tourist market selling crafts than stalls selling dead llama fetus's (that you read about in the travel books)! So to cheer myself up I treated myself to a leather handbag instead! Whilst in La Paz tourists have the option to travel out of town to cycle down the worlds most dangerous road.......so what better to kill time and get away from the choas of the city than to attempt to survive this challenge!? Death Road, Bolivia
Prior to 2007 on average 26 vehicles a year would fall off the cliff edges of this road. With drops of over 600m and the road as narrow as
A section on gravel
Me concentrating hard!
3.2m it is understandable why with two way traffic this road built up such a reputation. In 2007 a replacement road was built which has now left the old road open for tourists to cycle down and claim their own T-shirt at the end for the mere cost of about 60pounds! Around 15 cyclists have died doing this route (the most recent in May 2011) and numerous non-fatal accidents have also unfortunately occurred.
The route itself starts up at 4700m and is 63km long decending down to the Amazon basin at 1200m. The first 3rd is on the new road and is on tarmac which you share with the general traffic. The last two 3rds are on the old road which is gravel based and has waterfalls falling onto sections of it.
By the time we set off it was about 8.30am and we were in the clouds with about 20m visibility and it was wet and cold.....not good! After the first 5minutes of freewheeling down hill our guide pulled us over to check that everyone was feeling confident, instead he discovered that non of us could feel our fingers and laughed at us. Despite having gloves on
I have never experienced such cold before in my life, I honestly thought if I carried on for much longer my fingers would fall off! No-one had warned me of this! Luckily we were decending quickly and by the next stop point we could all once again feel our hands! (which are quite important in order to work the brakes remember!) This first section was pretty smooth and not too scary (except for when you got stuck behind a lorry and had to try and overtake it.....) so we were all in good spirits so far....then it was onto the old gravelling road.
I had told myself that I was there to complete this and not for an adrenaline rush, so along with a few others I remained firmly at the back of the pack with the brakes applied 99% of the time! Because of this, in the end i did not find the ride too scary. Yes i had to concentrate alot so i did not take in that much scenery (luckily along with our guide we had a camera man who was taking all the pictures for us) but i never felt unsafe at any point (until
the bus journey home...but thats a story for later!) We stopped frequently to regroup, have snacks and take group photo's but before long we all arrived safely and in one piece at the bottom! A patt on the back to us all (The Canadian boys who i met in ecuador have a slightly different account to tell of their experiences, where 50% of their group came way hurt!!!)
After a quick swim and buffet lunch at a nearby hotel is was back into our bus for the 3hr ride back to La Paz. It was at this point that I learnt we were to go up the replacement death road which although has tarmac, still clings to the side of the cliffs and winds its way up the hills we had just come down. By this time the weather had just started to turn on us and before long we were once again surrounded by cloud with only about 10m visibility! it was terrifiying, and i did not enjoy it!! Especially as we past a motor vehicle accident which was on the stretch of new road that we had cycled on! After deciding it was better to close my
eyes and try and sleep instead of fearing what was ahead we arrived in La Paz to collect the all important T-shirt and the CD with photo's and video's on from the day.
From La Paz we spent a few days in Sucre which i much preffered to La Paz and is very similar to Arequipa where I visited in Peru. From Sucre we head to Potosi...
There are more photos below