The North Yungas Road, also known as Death Road or Road of Fate, was built in the 1930s during the Chaco War by Paraguayan prisoners and it connects La Paz to Coroico in the Yungas region of Bolivia.
A decade ago the Yungas Road was modernized and made much more safer then the original route, but the project bypassed the northern section: the ‘Death Road’.
Most of this section is the width of a single vehicle and it has no guard rails and cliffs of up to 600 meters: vehicles are required to drive on the left side of the road, to give the driver a better view of the vehicle’s outside wheel.
In 1995 the Inter-American Development Bank dubbed it as the “world’s most dangerous road”: it was calculated that more than 200 people a year felt to their death in trucks, cars and public buses.
For the reasons above, this road is now almost completely abandoned by traffic and it is become a popular destination for downhill biking but nevertheless it remains dangerous.
I was traveling across Bolivia from Peru and I spent some days in the capital, La Pax.
Nowadays I cannot say why I agreed doing this crazy tour, but I did it and looking at the photos I can still feel the dizziness.
We met with the guides from B-Side Mountain Bikes Adventures early in the morning and they brought us to the starting point at 4.700 m.a.s.l (La Cumbre Pass): during the briefing we received excellent safety instructions and we jumped on our bikes wearing a reflective jacket and pants, a safety helmet, gloves, a mask and knee and elbow guards.
We made a ride of approximately 69 kilometers downhill (downhill percent: 85%) reaching the town of Coroico at the end of the road (1.200 m.a.s.l) after five hours.
The panorama was breathtaking at every turns. We went through many different ecosystems: the highland Puna habitat, the montane and evergreen cloud forest, the tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forest.
An adventure I will never forget and of which I am really proud of but, honestly speaking, I am not sure I would do it again right now!