High in the Bolivian Alps and built in the 1930’s, lies the world’s most dangerous road, called the Road of Death (El Camino de la Muerta). The local people say, the condition of your vehicle isn’t so important. “Prayer is the only way to come out live at the other end”.
Plunging around 3.600 metres, the narrow 64 kilometre trail, has no protection, no guard rails and steep walls that drop away hundreds of metres to the Coroico River far below. Fatal accidents every two weeks is common, with around 200 – 300 deaths every year. You see find both drivers and passengers feeding the dogs that live at the base of the mountain, so as to satisfy the earth deity Pachama. Drivers are frequently heard praying as they negotiate the deadly bends and narrow pathway, that is given the doubtful title of a roadway.
At a chilly 4,700 metres, lies the barren and windswept La Paz, one of the world’s highest cities on Earth, encircled by glaciated peaks, is the beginning of the world’s most treacherous gravity-fed bike ride.
As the group of bikers prepare to push off on the most perilous road in the world, after having raced down the prelude at tear streaming speeds of 80 km per hour, the guide warns them, “Make sure you give way to everything bigger than yourself.”
Not all who dare to attempt to travel the road,make it successfully. Signs of former accidents are easily visible. There are no emergency services on this deadliest of all roads.
At the completion of the ride, the cyclists, having dropped 3,600 death defying metres, relax in a bar with some margaritas. It is not the legs or arms that are pained from the day’s effort, but the hands, from applying so much pressure to the breaks, during the white-knuckle gravity-fed race down the mountainside.
A much safer road will eventually replace this death trap, but it has been twenty years in the making and nowhere near completion yet.
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