Death road the dangerous road in Bolivia

Yungas Road usually known as ‘Death Road’ due to its notoriously high death rate, was cut into the side of the Cordillera Oriental Mountain chain in the 1930s by Paraguayan prisoners during the Chaco War. It begins at 15,400 feet and for an estimated 300 people a year ends in the loss of their life, Bolivia's North Yungus Road better known as 'The Death Road' is among the nation's biggest drawcards for thrill-seeking tourists. This is one of the few routes connects the Yungas region of northern Bolivia to the capital city. Upon leaving La Paz, the road first ascends to around 4,650 metres at La Cumbre Pass, before descending to 1,200 metres at the town of Coroico, transiting quickly from cool Altiplano terrain to rainforest as it winds through very steep hillsides and atop cliffs.


The road was specially dangerous because it's is only 3 metres wide and was navigated by trucks and buses, because its constant sheer drops of at least 600m without any barriers or guard rails, the extreme dust clouds from vehicles in the summer and fog all year round often reduced visibility to almost zero and the fog and the rain in the winter months that often washes away parts of the road, reduces visibility as well as causing mudslides and the loosening of rocks from the hillsides above. The surface is often muddy, with loosen rocks from the road and rain, always fog and dust can reduce visibility. To make matters worse, the road is swathed in cloud, and in places waterfalls crash down onto its surface. Drivers will likely encounter groups of cyclists during the treacherous journey  and the tour operators lead rides along the road, marketing the experience as an extreme-sports challenge.

Three cyclists, including a guide, have died since January 2014 alone in death road. Yet bike traffic on Death Road jumps by about 5% every year, says Mark Symons, a guide for Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking, Bolivia’s largest tour operator. Getting to the bottom in one piece “makes people feel they have somehow cheated death,” says the Australian. “The hype serves very well. We feed on it.”


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