The morning of death road we got picked up from our hostel at 7.30am by our company Extreme Expeditions. A couple hours later we were having breakfast at the starting point, getting a group brief, and putting our kit on…we looked sexy.
To get to death road, first we had to cycle on the main road for a little while, a throwback to our cycling on the (Machu Picchu trek). We all stopped to wait for the last couple stragglers…however we were waiting for about 20mins. At this point, it emerged that one of the girls in our group had never ridden a bike before so was cycling at a snail’s pace. It seemed her boyfriend had convinced her that death road on Day 1 of cycle school was a good idea…oops. The official most dangerous road in the world! The guide told her it was too dangerous so she spent the rest of the day tailing us in the bus.
We reached the start of death road and it was a beautiful day, so you could see the road (and terrifying precipes) for miles…not sure this was a good thing! Our guide Max led the way and we were off, the dirt road was bumpy but wider than expected so that comforted us a little! We all cycled in a single file, with plenty of space in between, and just enjoyed the views (whilst also keeping one eye on the road and a tight grip on the brakes!)
Death road got its name because it used to be the only road connecting the Amazon to the capital and high mountains. Everybody had to use it and it’s not a stretch of road that can cope with cars passing in both directions, particularly in rainy season when the road literally gives way. As a result there were many deaths. This became particularly clear at one point when we went under a very narrow stretch of road with a light waterfall flowing overhead. There was a cross standing on the edge of the road commemorating a bus that had fallen with 85 passengers during San Juan bank holiday many decades ago. Hence why it’s called San Juan waterfall. It was scary enough on a bicycle!
We continued on, the whole stretch of death road is around 70km, and eventually stopped for a snack. Emma and I were very grateful for this as our bikes didn’t have the best suspension so we had to concentrate on the brakes most of the time and our poor bums took a caning from the bumps!
The whole experience was amazing, it was one of the things I was most looking forward to on the trip. We were definitely more relaxed and confident during the second half of the ride. But you do have to be careful not to get cocky…we heard horror stories of people dying because they tried to take a selfie while cycling!
We finished at a small resort Yolosa and were rewarded with a pool, shower, and buffet! Deluxe! The group recovered and chatted for about an hour and a half before we hopped back on the bus (which survived) back to La Paz. On the bus, Max handed out our souvenirs…’I survived Death Road’ t-shirts! Yay!