The World's most dangerous road, La Paz to Coroico !
Wow, what an incredible day we had on the 5/2/2010 we got woken up by an excited Gustavo at 7 am, had a bit of bread with jam on it and some coffee and we were picked up by our tour operator. On our bus was Gustavo, Carol, Lucas, 2 Australians called Ben and Pheobie and Mishee & myself. We could tell right away our group was sound and were going to be a great laugh, I couldn't stop taking the mickey out of poor Gustavo as he was terrified about this downhill bike ride!! Half an hour later we were at an altitude of 4,800 metres, feeling a wee bit dizzy we got our gear and safety briefing and started our journey of 64k and a descent of 3500 metres!!
As you would except the boys zoomed off as if it was a race and I felt I had to be right at the front because of my competitive nature! I could tell this German guy was as competitive as me and we kept over taking each other whilst exchanging dirty looks, I kept slowing down to see what the crew were up to at the back, then blasted again, such good fun and a huge rush.
We got up to some high speeds on this part of the mountain as the roads were paved and you could really tank it, the weird thing was the brakes were the opposite way round, not the best road to be changing the way you have braked all your life on the Worlds most dangerous road!!!
About an hour into the ride we stopped and waited for everyone, Gustavo was in the van with concussion, he fell at some pace, he was very confused and kept repeating himself, he had blacked out from the altitude and fallen off his bike. We were so worried about him, but he was still smiling typical Gustavo, he took the van down for a couple of sections to clear his head. Apparently he said to Carol are Adam and Michelle with us?! And kept repeating himself.
After an hour or so we got to the dangerous part of the road (death road), vertical drops, very slippery gravel and a path no wider than 3 metres, This road is flanked by epic scenery and punctuated with massive waterfalls,we were riding through beautiful subtropical valleys where steep forest mountain sides fall away into humid cloud filled gorges, the area is called the Yungas which is home to many Afro-Bolivian settlement.
This crazy Yungas road has an average of 200 -300 fatalities a year crosses and memorials every where on the side of the roads, the road it self is much more dangerous to drive down than bike down, sure tourists have died on this trip but if your sensible you will be fine and stay away from those big drops. Our tour company told us last year a English tourist died because he passed out because of the decline in altitude, a few months after that a tour guide took a picture of his memorial and fell of the cliff. You could tell the bike guys were still very saddened by this, and took extreme safety precautions to make every one have a safe fun time. For instance checking our brakes a lot, standing on the dangerous corners telling us to slow down, the crew were awesome. 2 hours in we stopped at an amazing waterfall to have lunch and got to know the 12 people or so, and Gustavo the champion got back on his bike, what a brave guy. I took it easy with him at the back to make sure he was OK, and then began to bomb it down a little bit, felt like a video game. The bikes were amazing as well with full suspensions and hydraulic brakes, although I broke one, I tried to jump over a boulder, didn't quite clear it and the boulder knocked the gears off the bike. Oops, the guide didn't mind and I had a new bike in seconds, go vertigo biking.
We stopped every half an hour or so to have a break, a chat and to take in the scenery as its hard to when riding, as you are concentrating so much, so so much fun. After riding for almost 5 hours we got down to the bottom, had a celebration drink for surviving the worlds most dangerous road. We were all so glad to be in one piece especially Gustavo, he did amazing as he hadn't done much riding. After this we went to a cute little hostel for lunch and Gustavo and the boys had a dip in the swimming pool even though it was chucking it down!
The company we went with was called Vertigo biking, amazing so professional, fun, and safe.
There was always a guide at the front and at the back, and a van at the back also with a first aid kit and a stretcher. This company was 1 of 14, this was middle priced one 400 Boliviano £40, worth every penny, with that we got picked up from our hostel, all the latest gear, snacks, big lunch, photos and a t shirt and back to La Paz if you want.
Mish and I had an emotional good bye to Gustavo, Carol and Lucas, they were a big highlight of our world tour and they have invited us to stay with them in Brazil which I think we will do. These guys are so much fun to be around, lovely genuine people.
So Mish and I are in a town called Coroico, which is at the end of the bike tour which worked out great because its on the way to the Amazon Basin and hopefully Ben and Pheobe will join us on that trip, by not going back to La Paz we have saved ourselves 6 hours on a bus, perfect.
Coroico is perched on the shoulder of Cerro Uchumachi and only at an elevation of 1700m which is low for Bolivia!! A very very laid back place.
We got a short scary taxi ride into the town and found a hostel no problem by asking some other gringos (tourists) The hostel was fantastic, definitely recommend it, the owner is a lovely guy, there a cheap restaurant, a massive swimming pool and the views are the best in town, a double will set you back (£12 bargain with them)
We had six glorious days 6 days in Coroico and fell in love with the relaxed lifestyle of this mountain town, put plenty of hours in by the pool, Mishee hasn't really been talking a lot here as she has had her head in a book she loves! I struggled at times and had to annoy her sometimes to get some attention! But loved chilling and spending more than 3 days in one place it had to be done! We had some great meals out as well, we went to restaurant La Casa 3 nights for its amazing cheese fondue, only £ 4 each, another thing I love about Bolivia you can eat out a lot as foods so cheap, another good meal we had was the all you can eat up at hotel Esmeralda, £3.20 for 3 courses as much amazing Bolivian coffee, grown locally. Has WIFI to.
On the last night we befriended an Irish couple who came into our hostel, Patrick and Brona, we took them to our favorite restaurant, they liked it so we were chuffed, and heard about their years travels. Good night all round.
There's not a great deal to do here, here are a few highlights. Me getting a massive water bomb thrown at me my a little local kid, and them him denying it when I pointed at him! Reminded me of me when I was young very cheeky! Buying essentials from dear old women from their little shops. Watching the local boys play football in the square, watch out world definitely some skills in Bolivia! The coffee here is silly good also, grown locally and you get a massive cup for 70p 100 times better than Starbucks, hate that place! I'm never paying 3.50 for a Latte ever again!
Quality time here, time to move on, we are completely refreshed and ready to take on the scary as hell mountain bus to The Amazon basin, Rurrenabaque, doing a pampas tour should see some amazing wildlife including pink dolphins!
Love to all
x Ads and Mich x