2018AdventureBoliviaLandscapesSouth America

The “Death-Road” – Mountain biking downhill 4,000 meters through the Yungas

The “Death-Road” is also one of the 10 dream roads of the world: after the Carretera Austral in Chile and the Ruta 40 in Argentina, it is now the third dream road on our journey. Until 2007, it was the main connecting road between La Paz and the northern lowlands. Since it is a one-lane gravel road with up to 1,000 meters deep gorges, there were always numerous deaths (the worst accident had more than 100 victims). Also the road was closed during the rainy season almost every day because of mud slides. Since 2007, there is a well-developed bypass and the old road has since been used mainly as a downhill route for daring mountain bikers. It is disputed whether the deaths have decreased or increased since then. Nowhere else in the world is it possible to get down 4,000 meters of altitude in just 49 km on a mountain bike, the challenge for me was clear. Unfortunately Karin had to cancel the trip due to her severe bacterial margin / intestinal illness at short notice so that I had to enjoy this unique experience by myself.

At the top of the pass at temperatures of just over 0° C I am still deeply packed into various layers of garments, then the vegetation becomes lusher minute by minute, the noise of the environment changes, the humidity rises, the temperatures get to well over 35° C. Several times we stop and have to get rid of more and more of our clothes. On the mountain side we drive under waterfalls, on the valley side we look into the deepest and unsecured abysses. A perfect giant downhill bike with 200 mm front suspension, knee and elbow protectors and a Formula 1-style crash helmet tempt to let it go … once the sanity wins, then again the fun (you live, as you know, only once). An experience that is unequaled. The planned lunch and the visit to the pool at the finish in the lowland jungle need unfortunately to be canceled, as the Coca farmers once again protest and have blocked almost all roads. So it goes back with our escort bus again on the death-road, as this is the only open connection … only this time you are no longer master of your own destiny, but of course we manage it unscathed. An amazing experience.

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