The World’s Most Dangerous Road: Death Road (64km) downhill biking
September 18, 2018
Welcome to the Death Road (Yungas Road) where 18 cyclists were killed since 1998.
On my short six-day trip to La Paz and nearby cities, this is the most exciting day that I’ve been looking forward to! Not that I was seeking for a dangerous adventure, but a fun and beautiful ride, besides it is actually a completely safe ride (as long as you go with a good agency that offers good downhill mountain bikes and security measures) while you have good control of the bike.
I decided to go with Barracuda Biking agency (itinerary here), after doing various research and reading about other travelers having done this tour with them. Before the trip and booking the Death Road cycling excursion, I wrote them various emails asking questions regarding the bikes, gear, logistics, etc… and they always replied instantly and made me feel confident to put my life in their hands. I totally recommend doing the Death Road with Barracuda Biking, a very professional company that offers quality downhill mountain bikes with completely safety measures. At the end of the ride they washed every single bike for good maintenance.
In order to acclimatize I spent the first 4 days around La Paz, not drinking any alcohol to stay in the best condition for this day.
Is the Death Road dangerous?
Death Road’s total journey’s elevation starts from La Cumbre pass 4700m and down to Coroico 1200m (thank god for all downhill riding only, the uphill was on the bus with Barracuda), the cliff edge (300-600m drop) was just at the corner on the Death Road (most of the time we had to cycle on the outside left edge), but you are safe as long as you look ahead on the road and have some basic knowledge of mountain biking which the guides do brief us on, and maintain good control of downhill speed. You’d have to be irresponsible or distracted to have an accident during the ride.
After the first part of paved road, most of the remaining road was gravel and quite easy (not too rocky and does not require any technical mountain biking skills). We were lucky to have good weather, if it had rained it would have been a different riding experience. Most of the Death Road is the width of a single vehicle and traffic rules specify that the downhill driver never has the right of way and must move to the outer edge of the road. It is very safe today as this road is used primarily for bicycles excursions.
The scenery is stunning especially in the early morning with mountains covered in fog. But I didn’t dare to look much while riding down and keeping my eyes on the road.
I was a little nervous in the beginning part on the gravel road as I haven’t had much mountain biking experience, but felt very comfortable after getting used to the terrain and moving around the bike. The downhill ride was thrilling and I loved every second of it!
Our entire group survived the Death Road! The only minor casualty was myself at the very end going down full speed and lacking technique on a tight corner (just slipped and had a minor scratch on my arm). It was an awesome adventure and I can’t wait to do more mountain biking!