The death road or Yungas road is probably the most popular tourist activity in La Paz. As the name suggests, the death road is notorious for its uneven surfaces, cliff-edge drops and stunning views from high altitude to jungle. But with so many options, what’s the best way to go about seeing this infamous road? We went with an awesome company called Barracuda biking who took us to see the death road by bike.
What made us choose Barracuda?
First off, they were affordable. For only 570 bolivianos they provide you with two skilled instructors, hydraulic brake bikes, food, transportation, kit and a t-shirt. Other companies are almost double the price and we later found out that this is because they hire overseas instructors. Having witnesses over 10 groups on our tour, we can safely say there’s no real difference between the experiences. That being said our instructors took particular care about the rules and regulations of riding down the death road whereas other groups kept zig-zagging precariously throughout the day.
The death road tour
Our day started at 7am where we took the bus from central La Paz to our starting point at 4500m where we were kitted out and given our bikes which were all height and weight adjusted.
What followed was a 45 minute descent on the asphalt road before the actual death road began. The scenery was incredible but unfortunately we were greeted with torrential rain and hail – this is pretty common, so be sure to bring waterproofs and a tonne of warm layers.
The actual death road was divided into 5 or 6 sections (for convenient breaks) and consisted of pretty bumpy gravelly surfaces with the occasional mudslide and waterfall.
The group is staggered so you can go at whatever pace you like, there’s always one instructor at the front and one at the back, so there’s no need to stick to a certain speed. If you’re not comfortable or have any bike problems (which can easily be fixed by the instructor) you can always ride in the bus where you’ll still get some pretty awesome views.
Along the way you’ll also be provided with snacks, and once you reach the end of the death road at Yolosa town, you can go zip lining and after the crew will take you to a lunch spot with a swimming pool and showers. The lunch was an excellent buffet-style meal which catered to all dietary requirements. Be warned though, bring long clothing and tonnes of bug spray – the doctor/yellow flies are horrendous and will leave you itching for days.
For ease, here’s my essential pack-list
- Waterproof jacket
- Long-sleeve shirt (to wear initially)
- Thermals (to wear initially)
- Long trousers (to wear initially)
- Warm gloves
- Sunglasses or biking glasses (wind, rain and sun are expected)
- Bug spray
- Sun block
- Change of clothes (one set both warm and cold tailored cos the weather is unpredictable)
- Some money for drinks and snacks (or bring your own)
- GoPro as they provide you with clips on the helmets (I’d leave your big cameras as it’s not worth taking photos along the death road)
All in all a must-do in La Paz and Barracuda offered excellent, affordable and fun services!