the Old Yungas Road

That’s the real name. It would be a more grabbing post if we named it Death Road, the Camino de la Muerte – the traditional names. It’s the most dangerous road in the world.

The relevant part of the track
Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 6.16.25 PM

The Death Road is the lower track from (my waypoint) ‘beginning of yungas road’ to the town of Yolosa. The upper track is the new Yungas road, built because of the danger of the old road.

You can see from the track that I rode it from left to right, downhill. This is the most dangerous way to do it.

From Wiki:

It is legendary for its extreme danger and in 1995 the InterAmerican Development Bank christened it as the “world’s most dangerous road”.One estimate is that 200 to 300 travellers are killed yearly along the road. The road includes cross markings on many of the spots where vehicles have fallen.

This is one of the few routes that connects the Amazon rainforest region of northern Bolivia, or Yungas, to its capital city. Upon leaving La Paz, the road first ascends to around 4,650 metres (15,260 ft) at La Cumbre Pass, before descending to 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) at the town of Coroico, transiting quickly from cool Altiplano terrain to rainforest as it winds through very steep hillsides and atop cliffs.

The largely single-lane road has no guard rails and cliffs of up to 600 meters (1,968 feet). Most of the road is the width of a single vehicle, about 3.2 metres (10 ft). During the rainy season from November through March (oops), rain and fog can severely hamper visibility, and water runoff can turn the road into a muddy track, affecting traction (tell me about it). In the summer, rockfalls are common and vehicle dust limits visibility as well.

One of the local road rules specifies that the downhill driver never has the right of way and must move to the outer edge of the road. This forces the faster downhill vehicle to stop so that passing can be negotiated safely. Unlike the rest of Bolivia, 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 and making passing safer.

Enough of the drama though, it’s close to La Paz, so off we go
IMG_2543

The road out of La Paz through the mountains
IMG_2548

To the entrance. The sign says ‘ride on the left’. The locals know this so this sign is for the new trend – mountain bikers thrill seeking. 18 have fallen off the edge since this became cool
IMG_2551

Here’s the first mile, picture taken from the road out later in the day. It’s not totally serious at this point but you can see a couple of exposed sections that get you into the feel of things
IMG_2626

I’ve noticed from other ride reports that no-one gets many photos. The reason is obvious – you just want to get the job done and ride it out.! There’s one famous place everyone gets a photo. The corner here is an incredible 25 feet wide, so it’s where riders stop to talk, take a pic, drink some water, lie about how easy it is. The drop here isn’t significant but the view is tremendous. There’s Lucinda
IMG_2582 - Version 2

Actually the riding is technically not hard. Except it was raining half the time and the clay sections were slippery
IMG_2561

Waterfalls everywhere

A standard section with serious exposure. This is what about 2/3rds of the route was like. Maybe 1000 feet straight down here
IMG_2557

Dense rain forest
IMG_2568 - Version 2

Some of the inside corners had breathtaking drops and crucifixes where people hadn’t made it. The video to the left is another one of the fun inside corners (click, enlarge and click HD). Raining like crazy so I’m going very slow – there’s even less visability through my visor than through the camera. My Contour camera isn’t waterproof so it came off after this
IMG_2597

Down to the town of Yolosa
IMG_2610

Lunchtime
IMG_2611

Four French adventure seekers on mountain bikes and their guide were drinking water here. I asked them what they thought. One said ‘terrifying’. I didn’t laugh.

Despite the legendary reputation it’s not close to the recent Canyon del Pato or the Cordillera Lagunas route for sustained edgy riding. But it is more dangerous. But when I finished del Pato I had to sit down for a minute and go holy shit that was intense

The weather was clearing on the ride back to La Paz

IMG_2619

It’s rainy season here for the next three or four months

IMG_2629

A good day. Thank you Lucinda
IMG_2635

Comments

5 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Tom,

    Photos don’t tell the whole story. But the video did. There’s fucking rivers running along the road!
    How the hell did you get off the bike – I would have assumed your sphincter would have inhaled Lucinda’s seat and you’d need a prybar to get it out.

  2. Hugh Thomas,

    Great posts Jeremy. Keep it up. Glad Lucinda is back in shape. You didn’t say if you met traffic along the way. How were the passings? Being a motorcycle I may have hugged the wall and let them go around. Getting close to Christmas, I guess you aren’t going to be going home. I’m riding along vicariously, keep it going. Good luck, H.

  3. Claudia Terreaux,

    Ey guapo!
    Un video muy interesante y una ruta muy peligrosa, una aventura que Jeremy Guard nunca se perdería.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.