Death Road by motorbike: is it truly so dangerous and are there alternatives?
One of the most important moments of our Machu Picchu & Uyuni Salt Flats Motorbike Tour is the exploration of the famous Death Road (Carretera della Muerte), a historic road surrounded by legend and a breathtaking landscape.
But is it truly so risky and disquieting as its name suggests? And aren’t there alternative routes to take to avoid it?
The Carretera della Muerte is a narrow and twisting road which, in the past, was the only route of communication between the jungle and the plateau. It is now possible to travel along a well asphalted national highway, rich in panoramic views, but at the period in which the Carretera della Muerte represented an obligatory route it often happened that, in the narrowest parts of the track, encumbered and heavy vehicles would hurl down from the cliff, claiming hundreds of victims every year.
On our tour, we ride along the asphalted highway as far as Coroico, offering our groups the possibility of riding along the 38 km of the Carretera della Muerte, the Death Road. The ride is safe, but the sensations that this ancient roadway succeeds in transmitting are still strong: immersed in the typical lush vegetation of the jungle, and situated at an average height of 2000 metres, the road winds among the greenery, enveloped in unexpected banks of mist and often under rain, with an unpaved, stony surface and a succession of sharp bends round the cliffs falling to immense chasms, and of waterfalls that fall directly onto the road surface. Nevertheless, in the route’s 40 or so kilometres, a sense of the unknown and adventure can be felt, which makes the Death Road one of the most profound and unforgettable experiences of our journeys.
At the end, the track reconnects with the state highway, which in its turn is rich in curves, bends and exciting and thrilling ups and downs, and makes for an excellent alternative: whoever would prefer to reach the beginning of the Death Road with our group and then continue on the asphalted highway will have the chance to ride, between going and returning, around 200 twisting and free-flowing kilometres, with magnificent views and the advantage of traffic reduced to a minimum, in view of the sparsely inhabited nature of the region.
The day that is given over to the Carretera della Muerte begins the morning very early, leaving La Paz to reach Coroico at lunchtime, with the chance, therefore, for anyone who wishes, to experience the celebrated Bolivian untarred road, while the others can continue on the asphalt until the two roads meet and finally the group re-unites to return to La Paz.