Yungas Road or the Death Road of Bolivia (Ruta del Muerte in Spanish) is a tragically famous scenic road near La Paz in Bolivia for the numerous accidents and deaths on it.
Where is the Yungas Road?
The Death Road is also known as Yungas Road, Coroico Road, Camino de las Yungas, Camino de la Muerte or the Road of Death of Bolivia.
It links La Paz and Coroico, which is situated in the Yungas region of Bolivia.
It is a 64 kilometers (39 miles) road that on one side, has a wall of rock, and an abyss on the other side. The elevation on the road is very impressive. Indeed, you will leave from the highest capital in the world La Paz at 3660 meters (12007 ft), then you will climb at 4650 meters (15256 ft) at La Cumbre Pass and then will go down to Coroico at 1200 meters (3937 ft). So the drop will be more than 3650 meters (11975 ft)!
You can situate the road on the map below:
Enlarge the map
Facts about the Yungas Road in Bolivia
Why the Yungas Road is so dangerous?
Journalists and travelers often mention Yungas Road as one of the most dangerous roads in the world. In the ’90s, 200 to 300 people died every year on this road. In 1995 the Inter American Development Bank officially recognized it as the most dangerous road in the world.
Many crosses mark the place where cars, trucks, or buses fell into the ravine. The deadliest accident happened in 1983 when a bus fell into the void with a result of more than 100 hundred people.
The road is very tight and it was very hard or even impossible for cars to cross on the road. The turns are also tight. Some sections are unpaved. The road is often wet because of the rain or because of the numerous waterfalls that cross it. There is also often fog on the road.
Since 2007 a new road was built and the traffic to Coroico flows on this new road.
History of the Death Road:
The Camino de la Muerte was built in 1930 by Paraguayan prisoners during the Chaco War, which opposed Bolivia and Paraguay for the Chaco Boreal territory.
Before the construction of the new road in 2006, it was the only way to go to the Amazonian region. In fact, all passengers and goods transited threw there.
How to get to the Yungas Road?
If you are coming from the capital La Paz, take the northeast direction. Follow the national road number 3 in Coroico direction. The Yangas Road is about 55 kilometers (34 miles) far away from the capital.
If you are coming from the north, it will also be the national road number 3, and the road will start in Coroico.
Things to do nearby the Yungas Road
In the Coroico area
It is a small village at the end of the Yungas road. The landscapes are amazing! You can definitely stay there and you will find easily some accommodations (like hotels with swimming pools and restaurants) and many things to do:
- El Velo de la Novia, a famous waterfall.
- Pozas del Vagante, natural pools.
- Tocaña community, a community of Afro-Bolivian descendants with, for example, their famous coffee production.
- Senda Verde Wildlife Sanctuary, a wildlife refuge where more than 600 animals live.
Down hill on mountain bike the Death Road
The main attraction of the road today is to ride the road by mountain bike.
You will start at 4600 meters (15090 ft) and the Andes Cordillera so the temperature can be very low between 5 and -5 Celsius degrees (41 to 23 Fahrenheit degrees).
Then you will ride 55 kilometres (34 miles) and it will take about 4 hours.
Many travel agencies propose this activity in La Paz, be sure to select one with good equipment and guides, generally, the price is between 400 to 500 bolivianos.
For that price, a minibus will take you early in the morning in La Paz and will bring you at the beginning of the track, give you a mountain bike and all the equipment. Then 2 guides will do the ride with you and the minibus will bring you back to the capital.
The descent is not so dangerous if you respect the security rules and follow the guide’s advice. In the last years about 10 tourists died, but, at their own fault (they didn’t respect the speed limit, used a camera or mobile phone while riding or got to close to the ravine for selfies).
An overview of the Death Road in Bolivia:
We decided not to share videos of what was the road when it was fully used. Indeed, many crashes are showed and could not be for everyone. If you want, you can go and search on our own some videos or pictures.
We share a top gear extract where the famous trio drive on this road:
Today the main attraction of the road is to go down by bike, here is a video of the ride:
Is the Yungas Road in Bolivia open?
Road is open all year round. The weather conditions can be very hard.
After the opening of the new more safe road, there is no more as much traffic as it was. For example, buses are not allowed to be on that road. Furthermore, ascending vehicles have a priority.
Night driving is forbidden on the road. Unlike the rest of the country, it’s a left side circulation, it allows the driver to better view the end of the road.
As we already wrote in this article, the road is very dangerous to drive and if you want to have an experience with it, consider doing it with a mountain bike. There are plenty of agencies in La Paz that offer this service which is safer than driving on the road.
If you are in Bolivia, and you are an extreme sensation and adrenaline fan, and you know how to ride a mountain bike: you definitely should try to ride down the road del Muerte! But, if you care about your life please don’t drive the Yungas Road by car if you don’t already know that road.
Pictures sources: Alex Proimos CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25648473 / https://www.flickr.com/photos/philliecasablanca/
Discover other roads around the world: click here or see our road map!