Hunderburton Adventures


A record of wanderings through Latin America

Yungas Road

January 15th, 2012 at 21:32

The Yungas Road connects the city of La Paz to the town of Coroico. For some time it was the only route to Coroico, and claimed around 200 to 300 lives a year, earning it the title of Death Road. Naturally this sort of danger attracts a variety of thrillseekers, many of whom choose to navigate the road by mountain bike. We decided to give it a shot as the biker mortality rate was comfortably low, 18 cyclists having perished since 1998.

The route is a 63km downhill ride, descending through the Yungas Valley to Yolsa village (1100m).

The ride starts at Cumbre Pass (4700m), the highest point on the Yungas Road. The surrounding area is part of the Bolivian Altiplano, sparse rocky mountain ranges just below the snow line. Visible from La Cumbre is the nearby snow-capped mountain Huayna Potosí (6,088m).The first section of the road was in surprisingly good repair, the asphalt surface allowing speeds of 30-40km/hour.

The Yungas Road is notable for its decent through distinct climates/environments. It wasn´t long before we left the asphalt of the Altiplano and entered the steamy Yungas rainforest. It was apparent that we were now on the true Death Road as the surface shifted to dirt and gravel. This section of the road is characterised by shear drops (up to 1000m) to the left side of the narrow track and cascading waterfalls and rocky overhangs to the right. It was difficult to keep eyes on the track with the incredible scenery spread out before us but somehow we managed to appreciate the vistas while avoiding hurtling over the edge.

After awhile the temperature became too tropical (around 15º warmer then when we started) and we had to shed some layers. The track progressively grew hotter and dustier during the final 1000m decent and by the end we were well in need of a swim. Luckily a dip in the local hotel pool was included in the package. The 63km bike ride lasted 3 hours and brought us to a point 3500m lower than where we started. We were quite proud of not dying and we each got a horribly fitting ProDownhill t-shirt to commemorate our achievement.

While this doesent really relate to the content of this post, we recently went to a place called ¨Moon Valley¨ which provided some pretty spectacular scenery and unique rock formations.

5 Responses to “Yungas Road”

  1. delaney Says:

    nice piccy of moon valley i wonder if theres a place on mars called earth valley thats all flat. just jokes stay safe guys XD

  2. delaney Says:

    *i meant a place on the moon called earth valley

  3. mandy Paterson Says:

    All I can say is WOW. i am glad you all got to the bottom safely. Did you go back up by bus?

  4. Anna Says:

    Yep, mercifully there was a bus to take us back home!

  5. JT Says:

    hey guys!

    Still looks like you are having a brilliant time, not that I would have expected any different!

    Sorry I’ve been comment-absent for a while! Away over Christmas and work has been a shit-fight since then.

    Any more food/water poisoning (hopefully not)? I’m told that boiling your water followed by using a UV disinfection pen overnight is your best option for killing most bacteria/pathogens (very belated reply to an email from Sven)

    Looking forward to the next post:)

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