Thrill-seekers who like to have their fun on two wheels should check out the Death Road from La Paz to Coroico, Bolivia.
The appropriately named Death Road is a popular route for mountain bikers from the Andes down to the rainforest below. Riders descend from15,260 feet at La Cumbre pass to 3,960 feet at the town of Coroico, all over a distance of just 40 miles.
Combine the steep gradient with the fact that most of the road is just 10 feet wide, and the reasons for its moniker start to become a little clearer. The road used to handle heavy traffic from the Bolivian capital down to the rainforest regions, and a rumored 300 deaths per year are evidenced by the sight of the wooden crosses which dot the roadside around the hairpin bends.
Since a new, safer route was constructed, the old road has largely become the domain of adventurous mountain bikers. Needless to say, the dangers of the road are hardly mitigated by even high-end equipment. There isn’t much that kneepads and a helmet can do when you’re falling 2,000 feet to the valley floor below.
Despite the danger, or perhaps because of it, the Death Road is one of Bolivia’s biggest tourist attractions. Organize your day tour in La Paz, where around 30 tour operators ply their wares with the standard of equipment and guiding highly variable. It is best to go with one of the larger outfitters, who tend to have well-maintained bikes and knowledgeable guides.
That said, it’s just you and the road when you’re out there.
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