A Gentile Bike Ride In The Countryside

Trip Start Aug 26, 2009
Trip End Mar 01, 2010

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Wednesday, October 28, 2009

P's Report
After Machu Pichu we were to make our way leisurely down to Bolivia & La Paz via Lake Titicaca for a few days - unfortunately due to no fault of my own the place we stayed had no ATMs, and thus we had to make a much earlier departure with only around 5p spare to our name. It could have been much more embarrassing if we hadn't had a birthday gift of some dollars stashed away from my Brother and family for Gillian which paid our hostal bill. Instead of the planned lounging about in hammocks at the best hotel in town for G's birthday, we ended up having to get the first bus south to La Paz and its cash machines.

So we are now in the highest capital of the world at 4100m, which means we once again feel like pensioners walking up any stairs, but on the plus side the slightest whiff of alcohol has a great effect. La Paz is the gateway for a number of adventures and one in particular that I have been looking forward to for a while, which was a 64km downhill bike ride.

The North Yungas road is about 40k north of La Paz the road first ascends at around 4700m, descending down to 1200m over 64km to a place called Coroico. It was built in the 30's by Paraguayan prisoners and connects the Andes with the Amazon Rainforest. Sounds great, must have some lovely scenery and its nearly all down hill - excellent! Oh there was one other thing, no one really knows it as the North Yungas road - especially after it was officially crowned the most dangerous road in the world, or its shorter title 'Death Road'.... That's because of the extreme drop-offs of more than 600m, its windy nature and narrow track which at sections is only 3m wide - oh and that nearly all of it is muddy road / loose rock and no barriers. This road in its heyday claimed anything from 100 - 300 lives a year (there is now a new road on the other side of the valley which has reduced its usage significantly).

So while Gill did a Spanish class and some flower arranging or sewing or something, I took off on a mountain bike for 64km worth of downhill fun. I'm here writing this so I made it! That was after overtaking lorries, avoiding rock fall, getting soaked through waterfalls and having a local kid throw a stone at me. At the end there was a hotel where I soaked away my aches in their pool had a great lunch and then put the bike on a truck for the return journey. What I hadn't expected though was that he would take the same road back...Its a lot more hairy sat in a jeep looking over the edge and having to stop and maneuver when something is coming the other way...

I will let Gill update you all on her needlecraft day some other time. We are now packing to head off to the Amazon so will be out of contact for a week or so.
More then P&G

Travelers Tips:I booked originally with Bside tours who seemed v good and had good kit/bikes (also one of the best free t shirts around). Unfortunately late the night before I was meant to go they had a cancellation from the other parties so transferred me to Luna Tours. This were also v good and can be highly recommended (sadly their free t shirt leaves a lot to be desired). You might want to think about staying in Coroico at the end its a great setting, a number of hostels (all with pools) and gets you away from the hussle of La Paz for a bit.
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