La Paz take 2, Restaurant Gustu and the WMDR

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June 15th 2013
Published: June 18th 2013
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After a slightly scary flight from Rurrenabaque that was completely in the clouds we landed in La Paz on a cold and wet day. The flight was as i say slightly scary as we were completely covered in cloud flying through mountain passes, some of which we did not get higher then on the previous flight. It was made worse by the fact that co-pilot kept falling asleep!

I didn't think La Paz got any rain at this time of year, and it painted a very different picture. Not only could you not see the glacial capped mountains, but we could not see the top of the valley. It was a bit miserable after sunny Rurre. We had made plans with Paul and Sharon to go to Restaurant Gustu on our second night back. Gustu opened about 8 weeks ago, and is the creation of one of the co-founders of Noma, the number one restaurant in the world for the last 3 years. As with Noma, Gustu has similar principles in that only Bolivian ingredients are used, and is designed to train locals into becoming world class chefs. We had decided to go the whole hog and do the 15
Start of the RideStart of the RideStart of the Ride

yep, that's the road we went down at the beginning
course degustacion with matching drinks, all this for $150 US each. Fantastic value. It took us 4.5 hours to make our way through some amazing food, and surprisingly fantastic Bolivian wine. We sampled things as varied as alpaca, llama, and Singani infused ice cream. Singani is the local rocket fuel that is drunk on the altiplano and is made from a particular distilled grape. It is strong, but Mojo has developed a taste for it. I haven't been able to find a menu in English that was the exact match for what we had, but this one is close.

That night we sadly said goodbye to Paul and Sharon, as they were due to fly back to the UK in a couple of days. The four of us really hit it off, and it was nice to hang out for the short time that we did.

The next day was spent recovering from drinking 15 + drinks at altitude, and booking ourselves into mountain biking down the World's Most Dangerous Road (aka death road). The look on our parent's faces when we told them via a skype call that night was priceless.

So today we completed the death road unscathed. It is a fantastic thing to do, and one of the highlights of our trip to date. We started at 4700m at the La Cumbre pass, in mountains covered in fresh snow and ice looking down into the Amazonian Yungas valleys, some 3000m below. The first 26km was spent hurtling down a steep ashphalt road, firstly surrounded by snow, which quickly made way to glacial fed streams and green covered mountains where clouds were being formed in front of us. It was really cold, and we were glad that we had multiple layers on. It didn't take long to do the 26km, and soon we were on the proper death road. The road got its name from the Inter-American Development Bank titling it as the worlds most dangerous in 1995. A new road was built and opened in 2006, so it is not so crazy now, but in the period between 1930 and 2006 approx 85000 people died, mostly from plumitting off the narrow gravelly and bumpy road that is essentially the size of a one way road but with two way traffic. In places the drops off the road are 100's of metres down sheer cliffs. At the moment the new road is having road works, so there was more traffic then usual. Strangely, the cyclists have to ride on the side of the road where the drops are at all times, which has resulted in 18 deaths in the last 14 years. Mainly caused by distracted tourists staring at the views instead of the winding road that hugs the cliff line.

Tearing down the steep road you are soon riding under waterfalls and the climate becomes very tropical, and we soon stripping off layers. It took just over 4 hours to do the 64km ride where we finished at 1100m. The only incident was when one of our group collided with a dog towards the end. Otherwise, as long as you are focussed it is not that dangerous. But what an amazing and rewarding ride. What was more scary was the ride back the death rode in the mini bus! As you are so focussed when cycling down, you don't see all of the dangers. However, in a van that is about the same width of the road in places it is revealed in all its glory/horror. At times, it was not possible to see the road when looking out the window, instead just a drop of a few hundred metres.

Still, a great experience and one not to be forgotten.

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


The middle section of the WMDRThe middle section of the WMDR
The middle section of the WMDR

the best bit, fast and curvy
Still don't know how this truck got past this...Still don't know how this truck got past this...
Still don't know how this truck got past this...

there was no paint on one side of the truck tho
Famous corner of the death roadFamous corner of the death road
Famous corner of the death road

where the TV show top gear had one wheel of the edge of the cliff

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