We’ve just had the most exhilarating, scary, amazing and mind numbingly mystifying experience possible. After chilling for one day in La Paz (world’s highest capital at 3,600m above sea level), we decided that it was time for some action.
Yungas Road, also known as the World’s Most Dangerous Road, has more fatalities per km than any other road in the world. The 64km single-lane gravel road has a straight dropoff of 400m on the left, and a straight mountain wall on the right. It has no guardrails, and due to it’s twisty nature you can’t see the opposing traffic.
It was replaced by a new, wide, paved road so most of the motor traffic is now gone, leaving the Yungas road for the mountain bikers. Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking has one of the best safety records for organising mountain biking trips down the Yungas road, and until last Saturday, they had not had any fatalities during their 10 years of existence…
Us and 12 other travellers with a slight death wish met with our two guides Dale and Jube at 7am to start what has got to be one, if not THE, scariest thing I’ve ever done.
By 9:30am we were at 4,700m high in the Bolivian Andes and started our 4,5hr ride down the mountain. The first 5km were on the new road (the wide, paved one), which was otherwise fine except we were going down at 40km/hr, overtaking trucks and other bikers. And that was the easy part.
Due to the recent accident (56-yo American guy fell off his bike and 400m down), our guides were pretty paranoid about the safety and scared us to death with their horror stories of how long it would take to get the helicopter/ambulance to the road should any of us fall down the mountain. On a positive side it made sure that all the adrenaline nutters in our group also slowed down!!!
The next 3,5 hrs we drove down this amazing, beautiful, mystical mountain road, riding through water falls and stopping every now and then to admire the most awesome forest covered mountains everywhere . It truly was like Jurassic Parc – you half expected a dinosaur to stand on the road after the next turn.
Fortunately no dinosaurs, cars, people, animals or indeed anything else was standing on the road (at least not on our group’s path) and we got down the whlo 64km without incidents. During the three hour decent from 4,7km to 1,1km we peeled off layer after layer of clothing as the climate at the bottom is tropical.
Our efforts (four hours of squeezing the breaks and standing on the pedals at high altitude!) we were rewarded by cold beer and a nice lunch buffet at the local animal sanctuary. Photos to follow (sorry, still not able to upload any), but in the meanwhile have a look at some of the photos on the Gravity website.