The Champagne Backpacker: Michael's Round the World Trip 2005-2007-- The Adventure of a Lifetime travel blog

View At The Start Of The Ride

The Israelis: Moran, Tal, Omer, Taly, Irys

Early In The Ride

The Most Dangerous Road In The World

Me And The Israelis

One Of The Many Dangerous, Yet Beautiful Stretches Of Road (This photo...

Taking A Break

The Weather Warms Up

Cycling Down

End Of The Ride (l-r: Moran, Tal, Omer, Me, Taly, Irys)

View From Coroico

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2006. CYCLING DOWN THE WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS ROAD. One of the things to do while in La Paz is to ride a mountain bike down the world's most dangerous road. It's called the most dangerous road because every year dozens of people die on this road due largely to reckless driving. The ride starts at Cumbre, just outside of La Paz, at 4,670 meters, and goes 63 kilometers downhill to the town of Yolosa, at 1,120 meters, a descent of over 3,500 meters.

I decided to go with Chacaltaya Tours, one of many companies that offer this ride (280 BOL/US$35, incl. tee shirt and photo CD). It's considered even more dangerous during the current rainy season (Dec. - Feb.). Nevertheless, I and five Israelis (Moran, Tal, Omer, Irys, and Taly) decided to go for it.

Our bikes were Trek 4300s. We had two guides and a support vehicle driver. We started the ride at about 8 a.m. at Cumbre on a well paved road. As we began the ride, it started to rain. Within minutes, we were all wet and cold. There was not a lot of traffic on the road, making navigation of the road a little easier. As we took the cut off to Yolosa, the paved road turned to gravel. I was holding the brakes for most of the ride. Continuing further down, the road narrowed to the width of one vehicle, with sheer drops on our left and mountain on our right. For me, as I'm sure it was for the others, it was quite a scary ride considering one misstep could mean certain death. The drops were almost vertical, with limited vegetation to stop a fall. I slowed down and clung to the brakes during the most dangerous portions. Besides the ride, the scenery was spectacular—lush rainforests, numerous waterfalls, scenic mountain ranges. As we got to a lower elevation, the weather cleared, the sun came out, and the temperature warmed up. We removed our rain gear and continued our ride to Yolosa. After about five hours of riding, we finished our ride at Yolosa. We drove to nearby Coroico for lunch at Hotel Esmeralda. I was the only one to return to La Paz, while the Israelis stayed, with plans to continue on to Rurrenabaque in Bolivia's Amazon basin.

This bike ride will certainly be one of the highlights of my travels through Bolivia and South America. It was both a thrilling and, at many times, hairy ride. There is certainly added risk in doing the ride during the rainy season (Dec. - Feb.), but, if you survive, it will be a most memorable and enjoyable experience.

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