Nicole Wildman Death Road Bolivia

Biking Death Road, from La Paz, Bolivia to the Amazon Rainforest

I spent several months exploring South America last year and it was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. I had a couple of real vacations while I was there. (For me, that means I spent days without cell phone service or wifi, so I couldn’t work.) One of them began with a day of biking Death Road, which connects La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, to the Amazon Rainforest. It is about 60km/40 miles long, and from La Paz, it’s mostly downhill.

It’s called Death Road because so many people have died on it, and after biking it, I’m not surprised! I think a two wheeled vehicle is much safer than a four wheeled one on such a narrow, winding road. It’s foggy, parts of it are worn away from the waterfalls that cross it, it’s lacking guardrails, and if you get too close to the edge, the rocks fall from under your feet into the valley. It starts at an elevation almost twice as high as the minimum for altitude sickness and ends at just 1,000 km/or .6miles above sea level, which isn’t much time to acclimate when returning to La Paz. It’s an exciting enough road to have been featured in an episode of Top Gear!

There is a new road open today that’s much safer, so the majority of the traffic on this one is tourists who want to cycle or drive death road, but there is still some local traffic.

This was such a long day and it was SO hard to stop and take photos and too dangerous to hold a camera in one hand while I was biking, so I really don’t have many photos…

We chose to bike with a tour group who has led lots of tours and is known for their safety. One person in our group dislocated his shoulder during the trip, and several of us nearly went over the handlebars a few times. You an see the rocks in the road in some of the photos – it’s really hard on your wrists if you want to maintain control of the bike! (I’d still do it again though!)

Biking Death Road, from La Paz, Bolivia to the Amazon Rainforest

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