The History of Bolivia’s Death Road
Yungas Road covers 70 kilometers approximately and connects the capital city La Paz with the town of Coroico in the Yungas region of the Bolivian Amazon Basin. This lethal road was built in the 1930s by Paraguayan prisoners of war from the deadly Chaco conflict.
In that time Yungas Road was the only link between La Paz and the Yungas region. So, if you needed to make the trip, you’d be risking your life along the way. Nowadays, it is not as used as often. In 2009, the Bolivian government opened a modern highway with two lanes, new pavement, drainage systems, and guardrails that eliminated the need to travel on the Death Road.
Today, this road is still used by adventurous thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies by biking the famous Bolivia Death Road.
The Conditions of Yungas Road
Along the road, the altitudinal range changes considerably upon leaving La Paz. Yungas Road starts at an altitude of 3640 meters (11942 ft). The road quickly first ascends to around 4650 meters (15260 ft) at La Cumbre Pass before descending to 1200 meters (3900 ft) at the town of Coroico.
The fluctuations in altitude mean travelers will experience various diverse condition changes fast and without warning. Travelers will experience cold and windy conditions in the highlands and hot humid conditions in the rainforest below.
The actual physical components of the road do not promote safe travels. The road contains:
- A single lane which is 3 meters wide
- Limited guardrails
- Cliffs of up to 600 meters (2000 ft)
These steep cliffs have taken countless lives throughout the years. Along Bolivia’s death road it’s common to see many crosses and altars marking some of the many spots where people lost their lives.
Different Conditions in Different Seasons
The road has different conditions between rainy and dry seasons. During the rainy season, rain and fog can severely disturb visibility and water runoff can turn the road into a muddy terrain. In the dry season rockfalls are common and dust limits visibility as well.
It’s important to know that unlike anywhere else in the country, on the Yungas Road, the downhill drivers are required to drive on the left side of the road in order to have a better view and make passing safer. Keep in mind that the left side is the edge of the road which means this creates extremely risky and dangerous conditions.
Yungas Road Tourism
The danger of Bolivia’s Death Road attracts tourist from all over the world. Every year many mountain bikers arrive in the country to ride this risky route and hopefully live to tell the tail. Today, the road is still dangerous and at least 18 bikers have died traveling this road since 1998.
In order to ensure safe travels on this road, be sure to look into Death Road Bolivia Tours. Gulliver Expeditions offers a wide range of safe and cautious guides to satisfy your Yungas Road Tourism needs. A professional guide will take you along this exciting route without risking your life.
Contact our travel experts for your next Bolivia adventure today!