A right of passage for any traveller to La Paz is to descend the Camino de la Muerte, or Death Road. First brought to our attention back in the UK by the Top Gear boys in their Bolivia special, the North Yungas Road has enjoyed a renaissance.
Ever since an alternative route between the eastern jungle regions and La Paz was completed in the 00's, the road has been opened up to thrill seeking tourists such as ourselves.
The route begins on a high mountain pass, 4,650m above sea level and finishes at 1,200m in the valley below the hill town of Coroico, 64km later after a total descent of 3,450m! The first section is on asphalt, and it was at this point that I longed for my road bike as the mountain bike tires hummed in protest beneath me.
There is a short uphill section before the turnoff for the main event, where drivers are asked to switch sides on the road, allowing them to gauge their distance from the cliff edge. Not encouraging!
The next section of the road was in heavy cloud, but the road surface was grippy and the the bikes soon came into their own. We stopped for a break at San Juan waterfalls where one of the trickiest sections was on show below us.
Some of the cliff drops were impressive in their severity and the road bears many memorials for motorists and cyclists lost to the road. Some deaths due to stupidity, others tremendous misfortune, but all had the desired effect on us and we were much more liberal with our use of the brakes after each stop.
Our tour company had us dressed up to the nines in protective gear, earning us the nickname, "Power Rangers" from the guides of other firms. The only downside was discovering that Rose's head does not fit full-face helmets all too well. The hand gesture is to imitate llama, try it, its quite convincing!
The lower slopes of the road opened out into lush rainforest with long views east to the hill town of Coroico where we planned to visit in a days time.
Surrounded by avocado trees and coca plantations we flew down the road with increasing confidence.
I now see the attraction of downhill cycling, uphill is such bloody hard work in comparison.
We finished the day at a local hostel for a victory chicken dinner. Thank you RideOn Bolivia and thanks to all in our group for making the day so memorable and fun.