It is surprising how some things can be tourist attractions. One would think that the most dangerous hotel in the world, the coldest city on the planet, or the most dangerous sports in the world would be too scary for tourists to pursue. But that is not the case for many tourists who are ready to go as far as possible to experience new thrilling adventures. This is why the most dangerous road in the world is now a bustling tourist destination that thousands of tourists now come from different parts of the world to experience. Buckle up and get ready for a ride of a lifetime on North Yungas Road.
About The World’s Most Dangerous Road
Also known as Death Road, North Yungas Road is a mountain highway of great peril. It was built during the Chaco War by Paraguayan prisoners in the 1930s and stretches for approximately 60 km, linking the town of La Paz - the capital of Bolivia with the town of Coroico. The road rises to an elevation of 4650 m and proceeds downhill toward Coroico in the Yungas region of Bolivia. This change of elevation comes with different temperatures from freezing to warm and even sweltering. While its height is one thing to worry about, the thin road is positioned at the edge of a mountain range and is usually covered in thick fog and dust in summer which makes it difficult to see what’s in front.
The region also experiences year-round rainfall which keeps the road wet and slippery at all times. Besides causing a muddy and slippery surface, the high amount of rainfall loosens rocks above the road, thereby exposing drivers plying the road to falling rocks. Some parts of the road are even more slippery than others as there are waterfalls constantly raining down water and keeping the road wet and more dangerous for riders.
A Popular Tourist Attraction
Despite the chilling characteristics of North Yungas Road, it is still a bustling tourist destination for many tourists. Every year, North Yungas Road draws in approximately 25,000 tourists. Few tourists simply take a bus through this road to experience the peril associated with it. It is estimated that more than 200 people lose their lives each year on this treacherous highway although this number has reduced since a new motorway was opened near North Yungas Road. Previously, trucks and large buses carrying passengers and goods used the North Yungas Road. The majority of these heavy vehicles now use the nearby two-way road which is much safer. North Yungas road is now mainly left for bikers seeking to test their bravado and perform dangerous stunts like taking pictures while sitting at the edge of the cliff with their legs dangling below. Since 1998, up to 18 cyclists have lost their lives on this road. Still, this does not deter many from engaging in the thrilling adventure. In fact, biking North Yungas Road is one of the must-do activities in Bolivia.
Exploring North Yungas Road
The internet and the title “World’s Most Dangerous Road” assigned to North Yungas Road by the Inter-American Development Bank have made it popular worldwide. Exploring the road, however, is not for the faint-hearted. With most parts of the road barely 3 m wide, it is difficult to explore this road on a vehicle which makes biking the best option for exploring North Yungas Road.
Several mountain biking tours are now being organized at the beginning of the road in La Paz by different tour companies. The tour companies provide the equipment needed for the trip including biking outfits and bikes as well as guides to keep an eye on riders. Prices for these tours range from $80 - $150 and prices differ with different operators. Keep in mind that cheaper tours also come with less reliable equipment including bad bikes with unreliable brakes which might make the ride even more dangerous.
The ride can last anywhere from 6 to 7 hours and bikers are usually expected to be ready as early as 7 am to begin the adventure. First, bikers are picked up at their hotel and then equipped with the needed equipment for the biking adventure which then begins later in the day when the road is a little brighter. Bolivia Hop, one of the most popular tour companies, begins the ride at 10 am, taking riders through a day of cycling downhill through jungles, waterfalls, and lots of dust during the summer months.
Tips For Safe Biking On North Yungas Road
Safety is the most important part of biking North Yungas Road and the first step to a safe exploration on North Yungas Road is getting reliable equipment and examining the equipment to make sure they are in good condition. On such a dangerous road, brakes are highly important and should be checked before the adventure begins. Gears and tire conditions should also be examined to ensure they are in good condition.
To prevent future accidents, some parts of the road where fatal accidents have occurred in the past are cross marked and bikers should take note of these areas. Be aware that there will be traffic on the road hence it is important to stop and check blind spots properly before proceeding. While such an experience deserves lots of photos, do not do stupid things just for photos.