Riding the Death Road in Bolivia

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There is no better adrenaline rush than to bike down the 53 most dangerous Km’s of your life!

Before building a much safer road, Bolivia used to claim to have the most dangerous road in the world.  It is still very known and a very popular tourist attraction. The Death Road is officially named the Los Yungas Road. It is commonly known like it because before the safe new stretch of road was built, we can estimate over 200 people that died every single year. You will note many crosses and graves while taking the road.

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Many tours offer the bike trek through the Death Road. From the research we have done, this is the only planned activity type that enables you to visit The Death Road. There are no such things as a tour bus that gets you there. Of course, we wouldn’t be surprised that you could find your own way to go by hiring a daring driver, but believe us, you shouldn’t do it by yourself! Doing the Death Road bike ride takes courage, common sense and nerves of steel. It also really helps if you have done mountain bike riding before, but it is not essential. There is a 4,650 metre drop so you want decent equipment.

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Our experience

Ok where to start, I definitely know how to bike, but I do not own one and only bike if while I travel it requires me to. In my case, Death Road Bike Tours was my first excuse of the year to ride a bike. G.E.N.I.U.S!

The Death Road is on both our bucket lists and there was no way Mitch was going to not do it, so I had no choice to put up my game face and go for it. Important note, the ride is around 53 KM, with 99% of it going downhill. This may sound great but many parts are very technical as there are plenty of potholes and obviously the road is very bumpy. You also build up some serious speed! If you use the brakes brusquely you might not look the same as you do now or take a leap into the nothingness over the cliff.

Personally I never had my fingers on the front brakes to avoid any confusion that could injure me or even worse!

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Some people go through it very fast, some like me take their very long time haha. Poor Mitch wanted to make sure I was safe, so he had to go at my pace all day.

Accidents do happen, but if you get a good guide that explains you very well the technique, you won’t have a problem. In our group, another girl went very slow as well but as I was biking, I saw her face planted in the ground, it wasn’t a great sign but she happily got out of it with only a few scratches and a big bump on the front arm.

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Gotta say this experience was one of the scariest things of my life, biking that long of a distance, holding your bike so tight in the thought of “You better not lose control or you are off the cliff!”

When we were done, our tour operator is the only one where the driver rides the bus back up The Death Road so the participants can see and actually enjoy the ride since during the time you bike you mostly think of your life on the line!! Seriously, during the ride up and seeing the drops, we kept thinking why the hell we have put our lives to such a test!

Nonetheless, this was one of the greatest things we have done in our lives and the views are breathtaking, you really need to do it!

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The tour we picked

Mitch did a lot of research and the big winner is Gravity Tours, the first and original tour for The Death Road. His decision made me proud. We had a great Aussie guide, his assistant guide was very supportive for our safety and the status of our bikes during the whole journey and not to mention Santi our amazing bus driver that has been doing The Death Road for over a decade. That sure made us feel safe and trusting. The best part is obviously having the chance to get back up The Death Road after our ride. Only Gravity does it. Note that the tour takes plenty of picture of you, so no need to carry your camera.

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The Death Road tour schedule in a nutshell

7:30 Leave meeting point to destination
8:30 Entry tax 25 Bs per person
9:00 Bike and equipment test
9:30 Bike down a slick perfect road for 21 KM as practice to make sure all bikers are comfortable with their bikes and breaks. Fall is on the right hand side.
11:30 lunch, if your guide suggests you to get a Trucha for 30 Bs, DO IT! ok ham and cheese sandwiches with mayo and mustard rock, but man Trucha is so good!
12:00 Real deal biking begins, the road is bumpy as hell for the rest of the 30 KMs of the actual Death Road. Not wide at all, drop is on the left and as a rule you have to bike on the left so people can pass by you on the right hand side… Scary as!
There are many checkpoints to rest and have pictures taken.
3:30 When you are done, you deserve tons of free beer courtesy of the tour.
4:30 Shower, Towels, Soap, Dinner all served!
5:30 Ride back to La Paz through the Death Road
8:15 ish we were back in town on time to catch our 9 pm bus to Uyuni!

If you don’t mind taking these kinds of risks, please enjoy our photos and vlog episode on The Death Road!

We really recommend you to do it! Will it be added to your bucketlist? Would you do it?

Get back to our AdventureFaktory Bolivia Guide.

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Goodbye!
  • Have you ever done something this crazy? Tell us what!
  • Would you be willing to do this?

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Written By

Canadian from Montreal. Loves adventure, traveling and discovering new cultures. Writer/ Blogger/ Digital Planner, nomad with no home that keeps travelling from country to country. | Québécoise de Montréal, Exploratrice / Rédactrice / Stratège en Pub Numérique, bref une nomade qui voyage toujours tout en essayant de garder un équilibre entre la carrière, la santé et s'épanouir dans de diverses aventures et projets. | EN & FR

  • Elisa Subirats

    I did it, I did it, what a cool experience! When I started on the top it was snowing and we could see anything for the first kilometres but I had a blast! I would not mind to repeat the experience but not with those conditions, ha haa

    • It was so cold for us at the top, we nearly froze our hands off hehehe – but it was totally worth it all don’t you agree?

  • Laura Lynch

    I don’t have it in me to do something that scary. But I can see the appeal of it for adventurers. I’m sure you feel really accomplished once you’ve finished it too.

  • Mansoureh

    I do biking and I know for who doesn’t ride a bike how hard can be controlling the speed and the bike on a downhill road. I am glad you did it without any injury, and so sorry for the other girl.

  • megan_claire

    This was my favorite experience in Bolivia – so glad you enjoyed it too! Yes, scary at times, but for the most part accidents only happen to tourists who are idiots on the road, like trying to take selfies while riding and ride themselves off the cliff!!

  • SylvanMist

    I’ve heard about this road. I’d be afraid to bike on it, probably would rather just walk lol. And wow you went back on it in a bus? Wasn’t that scary too?

  • Barb

    I was in La Paz and i met many tourists who rode the Death Road. It looks amazing, but so scarry at the same time. Thanks for sharing so many photos of it.

  • wow! after looking at the photos, i have decided it is not for me 🙂 🙂
    Especially the one in which all are at the edge of the cliff.

  • Jennifer Dombrowski

    I’m not the most confident bicycle rider in normal conditions. This is one adventure I’m not sure I could work up the nerve to do, though the Death Road has fascinated me for years.

  • Jean Bean

    Love it! I would so do this. We’re thinking about doing this when we go to Bolivia later this year.

  • Dare I admit, when you said Mitch really wanted to do this, so I had no choice, I was thinking, “I would leave Mitch.” Not really, but I sure would let hubby do this one by himself. I was terrified just reading your words. And glad no one on your journey go injured. It sounds like you look back on it and smile, so that’s good.

    • The guides made sure that I felt super safe and I felt so good once I completed it. Certainly some scary moments though!!!

  • Kavita

    Wow, that’s an epic experience. The views do look stunning but for me the risk wouldn’t be enjoyable, I’m not so much into the adrenalin of fear. That said, for those who are, this looks like a great adventure!

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  • Claire Summers

    This looks insane! I’m heading out to Bolivia soon and I’ve read a few things about the death road. I’m so temped, but I’m a bit of a scaredy cat and not good with heights…tempting!

  • Crazy! But awesome.

  • Ella Ivoire

    I would so be down to try this! Never been to Bolivia but sounds like an awesome adventure!

  • Omoakhuana

    You really must have had great fun in your adventure. Nice pictures too.

  • Sabra of Great Green Heron

    What a cool (and potentially scary) adventure! My daughters’ best friend is from Bolivia. I’ll have to ask if she knows about this road.

    Sabra of Great Green Heron

  • Maikel Kerseboom

    This looks like such an amazing experience! The pictures are amazing. Well done

  • verushka ramasami

    This sounds like great fun but kinda dangerous. I would only do it once I learn how to ride a bike.

  • Jasmin N

    Death road sounds kind of creepy! & creepy is definitely for me, have to experience this if I’m ever around haha 😀

    ~ Jasmin N
    littlethingswithjassy.blogspot.fi

  • Karoliina Kazi

    Well done guys!! I’m not sure I would dare to do it.. sounds so intense and the roads look like gravel in some parts. But the views are amazing and I can only imagine the feeling after you’re done 🎉🎉🎉

    • It was a super rush going down the hill but yes the feeling when you are done was like nothing we have experienced before!

  • Katja Knox

    It sounds dead scary and crazy but look at those views! The white cross on the path must’ve been a very stark reminder how dangerous it cal all be. I’m glad you did it though!
    Katja xxx
    http://www.katnapped.com

  • Oh gosh this sounds crazy. Good on you for doing it and being OK. I’m a bit of a chicken so wouldn’t do this haha

  • Maria Louisa Mae P. Mercado

    I’d love to be more adventurous but being a mom of 3 kind of hinders that. I wouldn’t travel on a death road. I don’t think you should unless you’re willing to accept and dire consequences. I think there are many death roads all around the world too.

    • The name sounds super scary, you just need to use your common sense and you will be fine!

  • Love30

    The death road!!! You’re so brave! Just knowing the name puts me off ha! Great post. Ree Love30

  • Wow, I don’t think I would do this but your story sure was fun to read about! Must be a little disconcerting to see so many crosses and graves along the way.

  • Jennifer Dombrowski

    Just the thought of the Death Road scares me. I’m not a confident bicyclist to begin with, so biking the Death Road probably isn’t for me. But I do want to see it someday!

  • I love the idea of this but given I am one of the most accident people ever I think I might become the 201st death that year! Looks like you had a great time

  • No questions this sounds like an amazing experience…sadly, I would be too afraid to do it. Bravo and kudos to you for taking the ride. Great pics and glad you went for the experience 🙂

  • Drew

    quite courageous! I’ve seen that section of highway on documentaries before, and would hesitate about driving on it, let alone riding a bike downhill! Kudos for you for being so adventurous.

  • Megan Claire

    Fabulous photos, thanks for the trip down memory lane! I loved the experience too, mainly because it was all downhill and not much peddling work … I was getting caught up in the racing my fellow tour mates though and went into the side of a cliff round a corner at once stage – slowed down straight after that and thanked god I ran into the cliff and not off it :D!

    • Im so glad that you have tried it as well! Yes the feeling when you are doing is total elation!

  • What an experience, Thuymi!!!!! The views are stunning and at the same time scary….. I haven’t been on a bike ride for quite a while and I would really like to experience this route))) Thank you for sharing!!

  • Coleman Concierge

    This has been on my bucket list for so long. It’s even higher now that I know I can get a decent bike. When I heard that many of the rental cars can’t climb up the road it made me question if I had the legs to do it. It sounds like the gravity tour might take some of the heavy lifting out of the day. Loved the story. Still on my bucket list.

  • Jen Ryder

    You two are so adventurous!! This sounds incredible, and your photos are awesome! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Kallsy Page

    YES! This sounds so amazing. I hadn’t known anything about a tour to do this. My husband and I are always searching for a new thrill!

  • That sounds thrilling yet exciting :O

    http://www.weartoloveyourself.com

  • JM

    I can say that this is a great experience. Scary but i wanna try it as well. It is fun if you are doing it with someone else but not when you are alone.

    • You definitely need to try it! Scary is good sometimes! Just have to be not stupid and break with the front brakes!

  • mr.M

    I like this post. I love adrenaline and adventures. Nice photos! I can’t wait to see your new adventures!

    http://www.mrmstyle.weebly.com

  • Hritik

    Really awesome post! all pictures are amazing with a beautiful story! 🙂

  • Carola

    Wow I’m impressed you did this. Great story. The views do look breathtaking! Must have been even better in real life :). It all looks incredible. Love your photos