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Published: December 6th 2008
Day 606 (24.11.08)
Well, today we were risking life and limb on what has been dubbed (for the tourists) 'the most dangerous road in the world'. Having booked with El Solario one of the cheaper, but held in higher regard than some of the other fly by night companies offering the trip, we started the day with a hearty brekkie at their office. Smashing our way through numerous cups of coffee, cheese and ham toasties and bread and jam, we climbed into our cycling kit provided by the agency, grabbed our bags and made our way to our awaiting chariot. With 9 of us braving the road today the mini bus was rammed. The roof was not only stacked with all the bikes but a load of bags that couldn't fit inside with us, making for a slightly top heavy drive up the mountain out of La Paz.
Climbing up from La Paz further we eventually reached La Cumbre, a pass at 4700m from which we were to start our death defying journey. As we prepared we had a bit of a talk from one of the guides about what to expect and what lay in store for the
rest of the trip.
We were soon on our bikes and grateful that the first section was tarmac. As we got used to the bikes and our downhill winding route, we gradually picked up more and more speed as we took in the awesome views we were passing.
We were about 200m into the ride when a girl behind Mark had a malfunctioning bike and had to stop for the support van to deliver a replacement. First casualty of the day but no one harmed.
The guides were very safety concious and the tour in general was great. Every 10-15mins they would pull over on the side to make sure that everyone was still together with the support van taking up the rear to mop up any potential spills or mechanical issues.
With all of us back together and a new bike rolling down the road we had a good long ride (all down hill, the lazy mans cycling) until we were once again stopped and gathered together at a police check point. this was the start of a climb and a section of road that the tour companies once again pack you into the van
and drive another 15 mins further to the start of the most infamous section of the road.
This section of the road is extremely narrow, unsealed and clings to the edge of a cliff offering sheer drops of up to 600m. It used to be the main thoroughfare for traffic coming into La Paz and with numerous trucks, buses, cars etc. going both ways there were many accidents and deaths giving it its dark title. However in response to the numbers of cars, trucks, buses and tourists (allegedly over 9000 people died) that toppled off the side of the road, they have built an alternative tarmacked route which has greatlly reduced the amount of traffic on the road and therefore made it much safer.
Starting off down the track it took a bit of time to get used to the rough and loose terrain but after a while we began to get more and more comfortable as we hurtled on down trying to take in some of the views. The scenary continued to be breathtaking and seeing the road winding along the valleyside with vertical drops from the road with numerous memorials at the roadside just acted as
a constant reminder of the road's history.
It was highly exhilarating and great fun and with the ability to go as fast or as slow as you wanted, it meant that you could squeeze as much or as little adrenaline out of you as you wished. One or two of our group came off their bikes gathering some flesh wounds to add to their travelling tales but most came off unscathed.
The road continued to descend winding us around the hillside, under waterfalls, through streams and over bumpy dusty and stony ground all the way to the small town of Yolosa. Over the last few hours we had travelled about 60km and descended by over 3000m in altitude, with the climate change distinctly noticeable from the chill crisp air at the top to the hot humid atmosphere we reached in Yolosa. Of course we had also cheated death on the World's most dangerous road, something to be proud (and relieved) about! What an excellent experience!
After a very tiring bit of up hill (we were glad that was the only bit of up hill in the day) we arrived at our rest stop for lunch. The place
we stopped at was a bit shabby but functional. It had good showers which we took full advantage of, and a greenish looking pool that we didn't. We were treated to a feast of a lunch before jumping back in the van for our onward or homeward journey. We had decided to not journey all the way back to La Paz as our planned route came past pretty much where we had arrived to. We (along with a French couple, Christian and Caroline) opted to stay however at the slightly larger Coroico and managed to get a lift the short way into town. Finding a place to stay we met a Sapnish lady called Isabel at the reception and soon set out together to explore town, finding a mountain of coca leaves spilling out of a house, a stunning view of the sun going down over the misty valleys and generally walking the streets of this pretty town nestled in the mountains.
Finding a terrace and settling in for a beer with some more fellow travelling folk, we waited for the stars to appear before going for a cheap feast from one of the local eateries.
Tot: 2.571s; Tpl: 0.058s; cc: 40; qc: 170; dbt: 0.0937s; 2; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.7mb