Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bolivia - Driving the World’s most Dangerous Road. Public transportation in Bolivia goes on strike! Against the government and Me! And Chicks dig bikes!

The next day I was off to the Yungus road, known as the “Most dangerous Road in the World”. Aka the road of death, la via de muerte, north of the capital of Laz Paz towards the town of Corico.

The route there was freezing cold passing through snow capped mountains and lakes. Again up to 15,000ft and more.

After passing some military check points and such I saw a sign that said Road Yungas, but didn’t realize it said south Yungas, and I needed to take the north Yungas. So I drove off into the distance for a few hours and got lost going the wrong way.

I eventually found my way back to the road I deterred from, but road conditions had severely deteriorated and it was getting very nasty. So I drove on for a while but my visibility diminished to about 3 feet in front of me I was able to see.

It was getting late so I called it quits and turned back to La Paz.

 I’ve been driving on a street tire since Mexico and I’ve had a spare dual sport tire I’ve been carrying all the way from Ecuador to Peru and now to Bolivia. It still had some life to it, another 5000 miles I estimate, but after seeing the road conditions trying to find the Yungus road, I knew it was time to switch over to some more off road grip.

So what does Alex decide to do at 1am when he wakes up in a cold sweat from a dream of falling off the side of the Yungus road, that’s right, change a tire. Needless to say the other inhabitants of the hostel didn’t like the sounds of banging and tools clicking and hitting the floor at 1 am.

Finished at 4am due to some mechanical issues and went to bed.

Woke up at 7am to retrace my foot steps and find the real Yungus road.

I went all the way to the town of Corico without finding the entrance. Corico is the end of the Yungus road. But luckily I talked to some people and caught it on the way back.

So how do you make the world’s most dangerous road more dangerous? Well you drive it backwards going uphill climbing from 4000ft to 14,000ft in elevation while dodging tourist mountain bikers coming down the hill at high speeds. I sure do like to make things difficult for myself don’t I?

So I went from jungle rainforest to freezing mountain tops on this road. It was awesome!

It was not the most technical of roads to drive but any small miscalculation and your toast!

Apparently 300 to 400 people died every year on this road until a new paved road was opened just 5 years ago.

Going through this amazing road was majestic.

As I focused on driving, I occasionally looked off 2 feet next to me to look over the edge of death where so many have lost their lives. The whole way up I could imagine crazy bus drivers going down this thing and losing control, toppling over the side and killing countless people, which is what usually happened.

There were lots of crosses everywhere mourning the dead.
Crazy feeling when you see bunches of these along the road your currently driving

Regardless this road turned out to be one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever driven. I don’t know if it was the danger or the beauty, or perhaps a combination of both, just the right balance of beauty and danger, it was awesome.

The whole ride is now engraved in my mind for the years to come as one of the most exhilarating roads I’ve ever driven.

So finally hit asphalt again, and I looked back to see the entrance. It was ridiculous, how would I ever find that going in. So for those of you wanting to visit this road, it is the first off road entrance to the right after you pass the only gas station after the military narcotics check point going from La Paz to Corico.

I headed back to La Paz and found a nice $12 hostel with adequate parking….well sort of….

And a good bed...finally...

As I got in I noticed quite a lot of girls hanging around the area. To my surprise there were 7 girls working at the hostel at the same time.

I was captain popular….again….the curse of the cool looking motorcycle continues.

As I mentioned in my crossing from Panama to Colombia post, chicks dig bikes, who new right!?

So as I set off the next day, I noticed the highway was a little too empty for a capital city. I thought well it’s Friday, there should be plenty of traffic, but there wasn’t.

So I moved on, passed through down town with little traffic on the streets and headed out towards the world’s largest salt flat of Uyuni, my next destination.

As I was headed out of La Paz when I saw this. Empty streets in a major capital city!

People were out on the major highway playing soccer, burning tires, putting rocks on the street, stopping traffic, demonstrating, chanting and more.

Turns out every bus driver, micro bus driver, or anyone doing anything with transportation was on strike! It made travel impossible for backpackers, but not for me.

The entire capital city if not the entire country of Bolivia was on strike! That would explain the empty streets.

As I passed the burning tires and people trying to stop me and possibly stone me, I suppose to make a point to the government to receive higher wages, I got an eerie sense of Armageddon. Its like those movies we see where the world is about to end and people are out on the street looting and such. And urban free for all is what it felt like.

It was a crazy feeling knowing that everyone was out to get you, to stop you on the road and not let you pass.

The burning tires and people yelling at me put some notions and feelings of, this mob of people has the capacity to kill you, drive faster!

So for about an hour I was swerving through the mass mob and gang of people running for my life! It was like playing a really messed up video game. This was probably the most hostile area I’ve been in besides that one area in Mexico, difference is that here everyone was a potential threat.

Here's a little bit of what I caught on film

So finally out of the crazy, dangerous, life threatening mess I headed out to Uyuni, where the world’s largest salt flat exists.


  1. Querido amigo, Dios te bendiga en casa kilometro de tu camino.
    Me quito el sombrero ante tu expedicion.
    Me encantaria platicar contigo al regresar a El Paso.
    Me gustaria que les dieras una platica a mis estudiantes, que fueron estudiantes de tu querida madre tambien.
    Fica com Deus !!!

  2. Perdon, en CADA kilometro de tu camino.
    Tu querida madre es medio exagerada con la gramatica.

  3. Yes, please get rid of the dark screen on the comment page, you really can't read it correctly.
    Wishing you the very best !!!

    Rafael Alvarez

  4. Por cierto, buenos modelitos en tu motocycleta, wow !!!

  5. I am thinking about riding from Bolivia to Mexico. If you have any suggestions for lodging or places to see please let me know.



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