Vertical Limit (by MAPG)

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
Trip End Feb 19, 2010

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Everyday tons of adrenaline junkies go to calle Sagarnaga in La Paz, in order to put their lives in the hands of one of the (licensed) travel agencies that operate the 65 km road between La Paz and Yolosa, also called the Death Road. Agencies provide downhill bikes, a guide disguised as a photographer, and the transport to the starting point of the world most dangerous road. Ex-most dangerous that is, the section being replaced in 2006 by a new asphalted road, which handles all the heavy traffic nowadays. The old road, a 45 km long dirt road descending around 3500 m with tight corners only 3 m wide, was transformed into a national park and is a tourist cash cow.

The safe part of the course, intended to get familiar with the bike, starts at 4700 m on the new road. The landscape is so beautiful it could become itself a cause of accidents. The actual downhill madness is some 20 km later, when the asphalt ends and the road narrows. After the fog clears, everybody becomes a spectator of this engineering necessity that served as a corridor between La Paz and the northern lowlands. Questions like "What the hell am I doing here?" are strengthened by a memorial plate that marks the death of six tourist in a car accident. The up to 700 m deep cliffs claimed the lives of hundreds each year, especially locals travelling in overfilled buses but also 26 tourists and guides in the past 15 years. The road is steep enough to reach destination just after an hour, but the roughness and the rising temperature force to many stops. The rider starts to take off clothes as he drops over 3500 m from the altiplano to the jungle. Waterfalls and puddles offer a good cold shower once in a while. At arrival, the brave tourist is rewarded with a T-shirt and with a resort offering Swedish buffet by the pool (standard across all agencies) Gringos relax and drink overpriced beers (optional). Recommended!
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