Once reaching La Paz and acclimating to the altitude, the next “must do” adventure on every backpackers list is cycling down the infamous Death Road. There are dozens of tour companies offering a day long trip with all the gear included. I decided to go with Madness Mountain Biking mostly because of their reputation.
You begin early in the morning and board the van which takes you to an elevation of 4670m and your starting point in La Cumbre. From there it’s a breezy ride down well-paved roads with a few breaks to take pictures and pay the park fee of 25 Bs. At the halfway point of your 65km ride, the fun really starts. The paved roads give way to dirt and gravel and the adventure begins as you wind around tight corners, under waterfalls, and over tiny roadways that seem barely wide enough for a mountain bike. The entire time, the van follows you carrying medical supplies, extra equipment, and your belongings. There’s a quick break for lunch and then you’re back on the bike and heading for the finish line and a cold beer in Yolosa.
I would absolutely recommend wearing the gloves that are provided. There’s a lot of vibration as the bike goes over the dirt and gravel so unless you want your hands blistered and bleeding for two weeks (like mine were) take advatage of those gloves.
With this adventure, I decided to put down the Nikon and pick up the GoPro HD Hero 2. You can easily attach it to your helmet using rope or, in my case, a couple extra shoelaces that were floating around the bottom of my backpack.
For more information:
Madness Mountain Biking
Top Gear: Bolivian Death Road Video (2009)