Grim markers along “The Death Road” in Bolivia
More than 25,000 biking aficionados come from all over the world to ride the North Yungus Road in Bolivia, known by locals as “The Death Road” or in their native tongue, “El Camino de la Muerte.” “The Death Road” starts at a staggering 11,000 feet in the snowy Andes mountains, and takes riders on a 40+ mile, adrenaline-fueled trip through the Amazon Rainforest.
Brave bikers traveling the Death Road
While at times it may appear to be an idyllic trip full of waterfalls and mythical, untouched vistas, the road lives up to its name, claiming approximately 300 victims a year. The grim reminders of those who lost their lives on the Death Road are marked by crosses. And there are entirely too many of them along the treacherous route. Originally constructed by Paraguayan POW’s that were captured during the Chaco War (1932–1935), the road was formed using only picks and shovels. Some ravines along the one-lane route plunge more than 1,500 feet straight down. Naturally, as it is a road of death, there are precious few guardrails, if any at all, to protect those brave enough to ride the road.
Base-jumper on the Death Road
Some of the braver (if not brainless) bikers are also known to “base jump” off the road into whatever lies beneath.There are loads of tour companies that offer guided excursions of the road and people who run them have told stories of young tourists showing up to ride hungover (yikes), or of overzealous bikers armed with GoPro cameras on their helmets that only aid in distracting them from the very real dangers of the road.
Of course not every biker that tries their luck on the Death Road are foolhardy or unprepared for the intimidating trek. Many who take on the Death Road are legitimately skilled thrill-seekers in search of their next challenge. While base jumping into a blissful looking rainforest may be appealing those who live to die another day, I’d just rather watch people doing it. So if you just nodded your head in agreement to my last statement, please enjoy the following video of a guy base jumping off the Death Road. Viva la DEATH!
POV video of a base jumper on the Death Road