Bolivia’s Death Road

Worlds Most Dangerous Road Riding adv motorcycles, Tiger 800s, with Novo Adventures

Satisfied and still alive! Welcome to the Death Road…

So… Do I think The Yungas is still worthy of the infamous ‘death road’ name? Well there are sheer drop offs, no railings, landslides and drops that will give butterflies to even the bravest of souls…but given traffic is now largely just tourism, with normal users rerouted to the new road, you’re more likely to meet a mountain biker than a bus on the hairpins. It’s certainly a buzz to get the adrenaline going and give you some epic views, but it’s no long a big killer.

I was lucky enough to I ride Death Road in Bolivia on Tiger Triumph 800s with Novo Adventures and I would say it’s one for the bucket list in SA.

Who fancies it?

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More about the road and why you should ride it:

Yungas Road, grimly known as ‘Death Road’ due to its notoriously high death rate of 200-300 annually until the mid 90s, was cut into the side of the Cordillera Oriental Mountain in the 1930s by Paraguayan prisoners during the Chaco War. A combination of single track roads, 900m high cliffs, rainy weather, limited visibility, rockfalls, and lack of guardrails, has resulted in many motorists plummeting to their death.

Surrounded by mountainous terrain and terrifying precipices, the winding road stretches 69kms reaching 4,650 meters from La Paz to Coroico, connecting the Amazonian rain-forest to the capital city.

Death Road was the only link between La Paz and the Yungas region of Bolivia. It was thus not uncommon for crowded buses and trucks overloaded with people, wood and crops to overtake each other on the 3 meter hairpin turns, even at night. These perilous conditions meant many of the buses and trucks went down the side of the cliffs taking all passengers with them .

So why would we want to ride it on motorcycles? Is it still as dangerous?

In 2009, construction of an alternative road replacing the dangerous 64km stretch was completed with all traffic being diverted. Enabling motorists to travel from La Paz to Coroico without fearing the journey may be their last. But The Yungas remains open for those who dare.

Even with these improved traffic conditions, Yungas Road shows no mercy. Nowadays, the death toll is limited to local workers and daredevil tourists still using the infamous road. It is believed that more than 22 riders have lost their lives on Bolivia’s “Death Road” since 1998.

Thankfully we passed the challenge and made it to La Paz. What a blast riding on such an infamous road! The wobbly belly feeling as you glance a look at the huge descent a mere few feet from your tyres that scrabble for traction.

An absolute bucket list for riders and one I’m so proud to have completed.

Riding Bolivia with Novo Adventures

Operating from the heart of Bolivia they offer all-inclusive motorcycle tours and 4×4 rentals so you can truly explore South America. They’re also transforming lives in the local community with all profits funding drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs.
More here:

Check out riding the Bolivian Salt Flats too – here.

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