The road north of La Paz was named the most dangerous road in the world. Before it closed to general traffic, on average 26 vehicles and 200 to 300 people a year would disappear over the edge.
It is a stretch of road 61 kilometers long that is carved into the side of a cliff up to 600 meters above the ground. The road’s sole purpose now is to feed the need of adrenaline for tourists. There are tour agencies that offer transportation, mountain bikes, “safety gear” and guides that lead you down the hill.
We were debating it for a few days but decided to go for it. It took us about 4 hours to get down the hill, which involved little pedaling. The first section we biked was paved and still open to traffic. We started at an altitude of 4700 meters, almost 5 kilometers above sea level and let gravity take us down to 1200 meters ASL. Along the way we saw grave markers and plaques for both locals and tourists who have gone over the edge over the years. We were told that in the past 20 years, 50 tourists have fallen to their deaths, either from loosing control on their bikes, or taking selfies while standing on the edge.
We were above the clouds for a section of the ride, then in the clouds for about half of it, and the final section, when we descended into the Yungas (Bolivian Jungle) we passed through the clouds and had a beautiful, but distracting, view of the mountains and cliffs. The lower we got the more inhabited the road became and we were warned to watch out for monkeys, chickens and pigs on the road.
In the end we made it down safely although a bit sore.