The Death Road

THE DEATH ROAD

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The North Yungas Road (alternatively known as Grove’s Road, Coroico Road, Camino de las Yungas, El Camino de la Muerte, Road of Death or Death Road) is a 65-kilometre (43 mi) road leading from La Paz to Coroico, in the Yungas region of Bolivia. It is legendary for its extreme danger and in 1995 the Inter-American Development Bank christened it as the “World’s Most Dangerous Road”. One estimate is that 200 to 300 travellers were killed yearly along the road. The road includes crosses marking many of the spots where vehicles have fallen.

A South Yungas Road (Chulumani Road) exists that connects La Paz to Chulumani, 64 kilometres (40 mi) east of La Paz, and is considered to be nearly as dangerous as the north road. Photographs of China’s Guoliang Tunnel are often incorrectly identified as showing the Yungas Road.

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Description The road was built in the 1930s during the Chaco War by Paraguayan prisoners. It is one of the few routes that connects the Amazon rainforest region of northern Bolivia, or Yungas, to La Paz city. Upon leaving La Paz, the road first ascends to around 4,650 metres (15,260 ft) at La Cumbre Pass, before descending to 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) at the town of Coroico, transiting quickly from cool Altiplano terrain to rainforest as it winds through very steep hillsides and atop cliffs. Because of the extreme dropoffs of at least 600 metres (2,000 ft), single-lane width – most of the road no wider than 3.2 metres (10 ft) and lack of guard rails, the road is extremely dangerous. Further still, rain, fog and dust can make visibility precarious. In many places the road surface is muddy, and can loosen rocks from the road.

One of the local road rules specifies that the downhill driver never has the right of way and must move to the outer edge of the road. This forces fast vehicles to stop so that passing can be negotiated safely. Also, vehicles drive on the left, as opposed to the right like the rest of Bolivia. This gives a left hand drive vehicle’s driver a better view over his outside wheel, making passing safer.

On 24 July 1983, a bus veered off the Yungas Road and into a canyon, killing more than 100 passengers in what is said to be Bolivia’s worst road accident.

The danger of the road ironically made it a popular tourist destination starting in the 1990s, drawing some 25,000 thrillseekers. Mountain biking enthusiasts in particular have made it a favourite destination for downhill biking since there is a 64-kilometre (40 mi) stretch of continuous downhill riding.

Since 2007, a new road has been openned, where pass almost all of the vehicles. Thus the ‘Death Road’ is more quiet and biking tour is now a delightfull day tour, in breath taking sceeneries.

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