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Bolivia: Biking the "World's Most Dangerous Road"

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on November 13, 2006. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: adventure travel, Baja California Sur, Belize, Chile and Easter Island, Galapagos Islands, Jessica Labrencis, La Paz, Manaus, Peru, Tamarindo, vacation package.

Bolivia: Biking the "World's Most Dangerous Road"

The road through the Andes from La Paz, Bolivia's capital, to Coroico, a small town at the rim of the Bolivian Amazon basin, is known to locals as "El Camino de la Muerte" or Death Road. Every year, people plunge to their deaths on this road, but for adventurous bike riders the world's most dangerous road can be the ride of a lifetime.

The infamous biking trip descends more than 11,800 feet in four to five hours of riding, and is best done after spending a few days acclimating to the altitude of La Paz. Beginning at the La Cumbre peak, 15,400 feet above sea level, the winding dirt road has 3,300-foot drops to the left and massive rock overhangs and waterfalls to the right, and ends at the town of Coroico, at 5,250 feet. In addition to sharing the road with vehicles, you may also pass llamas and alpacas along the way. Although the trip sounds difficult, it is open to both advanced and beginning bike riders with a healthy sense of adventure.

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Mary Beth Hubbard of Brooklyn, New York, experienced the trip firsthand on a trip to Bolivia in 2004. She says, "It was so, so scary. The road is narrow, steep, and windy, and if you [went] off the road, you would plummet to your death over the side of the mountain." That being said, Hubbard says that looking back, "The bike trip was the highlight of the trip for sure. I was terrified, but experiencing the mountains that way was amazing."

A number of providers offer trips down the "World's Most Dangerous Road," but the most reputable is Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking. The company provides top-quality bikes with hydraulic disc brakes and helmets. Trips are available from March to mid-December. A one-day trip takes 13 hours (including transportation back to La Paz), but two-day trips are available with overnights in Coroico. Rides start at $55.

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