Cycling on "Carretera de la Muerte" (Death Road)

Trip Start Jun 13, 2008
Trip End May 25, 2009

Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Hide lines

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Monday, June 30, 2008

OK, this entry begins as a warning to anyone who wants to get their hair done in Bolivia... more speicifically, La Paz... Do it yourself! It's probably going to turn out more like what you wanted!!!

I decided to use a hairdresser and dye my hair fire engine red... Long story short, this isn't what I got... It doesn't look bad, but it's not what I wanted, so I felt a bit cheated... And I think they thought I didn't notice that the lady doing my hair and her daughter were arguing over whether it was going to work... I was left with what I can only describe as an electric tea cozy on my head, underneath which, was a bucket of cold water with a heating element in it... this was later used to rinse the dye out...

Anyway... I don't think it was a disaster, but just be warned!!!

OK... so... Death Road!! In the past, about 200 people a year died on this road because it's very narrow and there are sheer drops all the way round... In the last two years they have opened a new road so that big trucks don't have to use the dangerous one anymore, but apparently they still do!! So, some companies in Bolivia have started running cycle tours down it... Now there are very few accidents there, if you're careful... although we did stop at the point where an American man died 2 months ago... it wasn't a good story...

Anyway... we took a tour out of La Paz that takes you up to about 4800m - so it was a wee bit hard to breathe...! We paid more for it that a lot of companies were offering, because they had such good equipment - Downhill Madness - they were really great... we had better bikes and helments than anyone else I saw and hi-vis vests and gloves... the whole hog... ontop of that, Mark, our instructor was not only a very experienced mountain biker, but also a former paramedic, which was nice and reassuring!

We started on the new road that leads to the old one... Whizzing down the hill, and actually overtaking the odd bus and truck! It was bloody brilliant!!

When we got to 'Death Road' (there was a 6km long up-hill bit that our instructor decided to cut out... well done him!) we were pretty much surrounded by cloud... but once we got going, it didn't take long before we could see the road properly and blue skies broke through.

We weaved around the edge of the mountain, stopping every 5-10 minutes to hear some story about the road and then setting off again... The scenery was beautiful... Again, we started at cold mountains and decended into warm jungle, cycling through waterfalls and (very low) rivers... it was just brilliant...

All in all we went about 64km and at the end we got to have a buffet lunch at a hotel and have a swim in their icy cold pool... but I got in anyway, it was much needed and lush!

The only thing they DIDN'T tell us when we booked was that once we cycle down death road... the 4x4 that followed us down, had to drive us back up it again... I've got to say, I was pretty darn scared for a LOT of that ride... it was well over an our, close to the edge of sheet drops, and having just been told at least five separate stories of deaths on the road, all five of us in the van were gripping onto the bars and gave a huge sigh of relief when we got back to the new road...

And that was yesterday... Today Tom and I are leaving La Paz with Dan, Neil and Kelly, the English guys we have been doing things with since Cusco, on a local bus... which should be interesting...! There were road blocks yesterday, meaning no-one could travel, but we're told it's all OK today... we shall see!
Slideshow Report as Spam
Where I stayed
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • Please enter a comment.
  • Please provide your name.
  • Please avoid using symbols in your name.
  • This name is a bit long. Please shorten it, or avoid special characters.
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: