About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi

"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Most Dangerous Road in the World

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"El Camino de la Muerte"....."The Road of Death".....For some macabre reason, riding the Death Road on mountain bikes called out to the Bravo duo.  This road, long famous through TV documentaries and countless internet articles, leads from near La Paz to Coroico, an amazing 56 km piece of rutted, gnarly gravel highway(???).  In 1995 the Inter-American Development Bank christened it as the "world's most dangerous road".  Up until a new bypass road was opened in 2006, buses and trucks traveled the route daily.  One estimate is that 200-300 travelers used to be killed yearly along the road, or one vehicle every two weeks.

Since the opening of the bypass, some local truck traffic still travels the road, but today most of the traffic seems to be of the two-wheeled, bike variety.  Though the death toll has dropped dramatically with the opening of the new road, an estimated 20 cyclists have died on the ride since the first rider made the descent about 12 years ago.  What is the attraction of riding about 40 miles down a mountainside, with the knowledge of the 600m cliff at your left for nearly the whole time???  Well, for one thing, the scenery, when you dare to look up, is absolutely breathtaking.  With views down the valley appearing out of the mist, it really does require concentration to avoid possibly deadly distractions.  But much like bungee jumping, motorcycle racing, or skydiving, it's mostly perhaps just an adrenalin producing whacky sport with an undeniable draw to a certain subset of the population.     I guess the Bravo team lives with one foot in that subset!!!

Many bike tour companies offer the ride, and we signed up with Vertigo Biking.  Great choice.  The guides were professional and safe, while keeping a great sense of humor for the whole 12 hour day.  The bikes were fully suspended hydraulic disc Haro's, and we wore full protective gear.  With 14 riders + guides, drivers, and team mechanic, it was a big group.  Big, but a whole lot of fun.  Riders on our group were from the US, France, Netherlands, South Africa, England, Canada, and Australia, and all had a great time.

Backboaards on support wagons got our attention

The ride itself is about 67 km, and drops 3500m (11,480')   We started at a high pass at around 4700m / 15,420'.  The first stretch was about 17 km on pavement, before reaching the actual dirt Death Road, which would be the remainder of the 5 hour ride.  Although paved, this first part was spectacular as it wound its way down from the high peaks.  Passing a couple of antinarcotics police checkpoints, though, we were all nervously ready to get on the dirt.

Cindi in fine form staying near the head of the pack

The clouds came in as we reached the start of the dirt track, and as we started down along the top of the cliff, the mist and fog shroud was surreal, if a bit unnerving.  Although we couldn't see the drop, we always knew it was there.  The constant crosses and memorials of earlier travelers who didn't make the passage was a sobering reminder of the danger of a fall.

Cross marks the spot where a rider went over the edge 3 years ago

We took frequent stops for the mechanic to adjust brakes, and check out the views which kept getting better as we dropped elevation.  Absolutely amazing.  As the gang got more comfortable on the bikes the speed increased.  Happily on our ride we didn't encounter any oncoming traffic.  A guide was always at the front of the pack just in case.  And the 2 vans were at the back, with first aid equipment (including back boards and cliff rescue gear).

Sign said bikes to the left, so vehicles hug the cliff...Uhhhhh....I think NOT!!!

After crossing streams, rocky stretches, and washouts, at last we were down. Down in the jungle. The temperature change as we dropped over 11,000 ft was amazing. We hit a little hotel/restaurant for lunch, beers, and a swim in a pool before heading back to La Paz. A fun day on the Death Road was had by all.....


  1. holy crap that looks scary! You are way braver than I! xo

    1. Good clean fun!!! Very happy turkey day to you and the family!!!