Survival 101 for “Death Road”

One of the top tourist attractions while visiting La Paz includes hurtling down 64 kilometres of the infamous passage, also known for its high death toll, Death Road. Due to its popularity many tour companies will provide a day tour, approximately 2 hours outside the hustle and bustle of Bolivia’s capital city, which doesn’t seem to see much peace and quiet. By day you will most likely encounter one of the many strikes and protests and the typical South American street vendors yelling as haughtily as their vocal chords will allow.

While scouting out a tour that suited our needs, my friends and I decided to book a mid priced trip with Barracuda, a company that specialises in mountain biking. Setting off at 7:30 we wound up mountain roads to an altitude of 4,700m, a little short of breath, we got our bikes set up with the help of our wonderful guides Fernanda and Cristian. Before we set off we saluted Pachamama (the Mother Earth), a common Bolivian ritual, thought to ensure safety as you swig the 95% alcohol. To accustom ourselves, the first third of the journey was along the smooth tarmac roads (the main reason for the well-kept roads were the 50bs tourists have to pay), zipping along trying to keep my eyes on the road, I couldn’t help but gawp at the sheer drop and the rugged landscape that awaited ahead of me.

Once we reached the bridge, the smooth cruise of our journey was nearly over, wobbling over shale, unused to the slippery and bumpy surface, I dived out the side exit of my bike. Unscathed, I jumped back on, realising the main part of the journey probably wasn’t going to be such a walk in the park!

Entering Death Road, you’re greeted by a rather large sign, of course, it can be quite disconcerting. The following 33 kilometres are extremely scenic and at parts can be a real test for your legs, arms and wrists as you don’t want to lose hold of your brakes!

Once you reach the end, if you’re not through with thrill seeking, you can zip line across the valley for 220bs. We were very grateful to be greeted by a cold swimming pool and a buffet lunch to end our tour.


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