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WOW – A day on the Death Road Bolivia

Posted by on August 29, 2013
Death Road Bolivia

Lets have a go then

All five of us, Sandra, Dominick, Frank , Merv and I had been staying in the same camp-site for a few days, doing repairs on our trucks, motor-bike and Merv visiting the dentist, so we decided it was time to have a day of fun and adventure on mountain bikes, and it did not disappoint. We started our descent at 3150m and by time we finished 29kms later we were at 1226m.

We hired our mountain bikes and gear from extremeexpeditions@hotmail.com and I would highly recommend them. All bikes were in good condition , great suspension front and back, and perhaps more importantly the brakes were excellent, take it from me I know as I used them a lot. They had helmets of all sizes, also clothes, not just like some places that have one size fits all. Even the T-Shirts that we got at the end were S,M,L, and X-L , makes a change to have a choice!

The gravel track is 3.2m wide, really just suitable for one vehicle at a time, with sheer 1000m drop-offs with some rocks overhanging the road as well as water-falls that spill across the track eroding it in places. Mind you these water-falls are a welcome relief when you cycle through them as they cool you down. Particularly when cycling this road you see some of Bolivia’s most rewarding fantastic vertical scenery. You can stop whenever and wherever you want for how long you want. It is breathtaking stuff, and you can have all climates in the one day. We started off with snow, then cold, then sun and as we descended more and more into the Yungas suddenly we were in a tropical climate.

Bit of a snarl up due to the snow

Bit of a snarl up due to the snow

Bus loads of bikes and lunatics.

Bus loads of bikes and lunatics.

Frank looking to see why the delay

Frank looking to see why the delay

Catching a lift, Bolivia style

Catching a lift, Bolivia style

Many crosses ‘Bolivian Caution Signs’ line the way to show the frequency of vehicular tragedies. The accidents along the way usually stem from disputes as to who has the right of way when passing oncoming traffic. Bolivian traffic normally keeps to the right, downhill traffic passes on the outside, whether that’s the right or the left side of the road. Therefore vehicles heading downhill must move into the ledges closest to the big drop and wait while the traffic squeezes past. This ensures that the risk is taken by the driver with the best possible view of their outside tyres. Just before we started our down-hill descent we saw many drivers blessing their vehicles tyres with alcohol ( known as a cha’lla) so as to keep them safe. We wondered should we have done the same with our bikes, but we all said positive thinking !

yes, you can see us on the road.

yes, you can see us on the road.

Death Road Bolivia

First reaction on seeing the road up close

Not sure was the road or the clouds higher up

Not sure was the road or the clouds higher up

a look at the road below.

a look at the road below.

Death Road Bolivia

Sarah heading off near the start

There is now a new road on the opposite side of the valley, this takes most of the traffic but it is consistently being maintained due to the effect of the rainy season, and in parts it is just as rough as Death Road itself. Mind you vehicles still drive the old road, and probably will continue to do for many years still, despite meeting crazy mountain bikers along it, I guess they are used to them by now, they know what to expect around each and every corner.

Sandra having a blast

Sandra having a blast

Sarah at speed

Sarah at speed

South American scene

Sarah on the edge

South American scene

Frank not sure if he should ride the bike or carry it

 

If you look closely, you will see the cyclists

If you look closely, you will see the cyclists

Sarah in action

Sarah in action

Merv loving it

Merv loving it

by the edge

by the edge

Ah, it would never be the same without the hat.

Ah, it would never be the same without the hat.

Sarah crossing a stream near the end of the death road

Sarah crossing a stream near the end of the death road

I guess the burning question you all want to know is ‘Would the Mog fit’, in Merv’s words….. length no problem, width probably okish (if we met no other vehicle or mountain bike) height not so sure…. Also not being able to stop and take photographs and enjoy the scenery would have been a big disadvantage of doing it in the truck, plus we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the cold beers when we reached the end .

death road bolivia

A calming beer at the bottom of the Death Road

And a video to really get a good look at it.

Thanks Sandra, Dominik and Frank for a brilliant day, looking forward to our next one!

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5 Responses to WOW – A day on the Death Road Bolivia

  1. wastedwords

    Not sure about the hat being put through these sort of risks, after all where would you find another? How do you replace
    the irreplaceable? It certainly looks a little droopy. The altitude appears to have a kinda jaundice effect on you manhood also:-)

    • Merv

      I think the hat is minded better than I am Stuart! and as for droopy, I had other things on my mind – like Survival! 🙂

  2. Lynda

    Hi Merv and Sarah,
    To quote Mum, who was sitting beside me as we watched your video:
    “what did he just say?”
    so I replayed what you said at the beginning
    “you little fecker!”
    🙂

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