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Bolivia-Travelogue  |  Travel time: September 2005 - July 2006  |  by marc and nora L.

BOLIVIA: La Paz

Here we go....the city of many tourist horror stories of robbery, muggings and tragically murder was about to be experienced. Of all the places we were to visit on our travels of South America La Paz filled us with the most fear. For this reason we had no real intention of staying here too long. In fact we were here for two reasons: To try and change our flight tickets and to cycle the "Worlds Most Dangerous Road".

When we arrived there was a big festival going on in La Paz which is called "El Gran Poder" - apparently the biggest festival in the capital. Hence all streets were closed and we were dropped off by a bus miles away from our hostel. La Paz is located very high - whoever has been here knows what we mean when saying that going up stairs become a real struggle...
...well here we were with our huge rucksacks on the back and the small ones on the front, it was boiling hot and the whole city was dancing and singing and we had to go uphill and fight our way through the crowds...a very EXHAUSTING experience! But after a shower we enjoyed the festival a lot - it was very colourful and very loud!

Well we also had a nightmare with the tickets and in short we couldnt change them....the wonderful airline alliance of "One World" were unable to help even after visiting in person each of the following member airline offices in La Paz: British Airways, Iberia, Qantas, Amercian Airlines, Taca and Lan......we have got to be travelling with one of the most unflexible and unchangeable flexible and changeable RTW tickets ever! Anyway back to deadly roads on two wheels.....

"The worlds most dangerous road", have you heard of it? Why the name?

Well Starting high in the Bolivian Andes, the steep and bumpy La Paz-to-Coroico road plunges down almost 3,600 meters on its 64-km path to the town of Coroico. The narrow and very often extremely narrow (less than 3m wide) dirt track hugs the walls of the sheer valley (drops of over 1000m with no safety barriers) as it zig zags its way beneath waterfalls and rocky overhangs. A fatal accident every fortnight is not uncommon on the Coroico road. In 1995 the Inter-American Development Bank dubbed the La Paz-to-Coroico route "the world's most dangerous road."

When you see it and when you see the traffic that uses it on a daily basis you soon realise that it is pretty mental. You can have a 50 seater tourist coach coming up the hill and a petrol tanker going down the hill.....don`t forget the road is 3m wide in some places....some reversing skill is required here! Amazing really!

Anyway we didn`t have to worry about reversing in petrol tankers because we were to cycle down the 64km long road on some pretty amazing "Rocky Mountain" mountain bikes. Kitted out with Helmets, gloves, over trousers and jackets we set off on our trip of a life time. The first hour of descent or so is over some pretty fast tarmac roads on which you can really build up some some serious speeds....pretty safe looking roads so far. After this there is a small uphill section (about 4km) at the end of which you are fed chocolate, water and bananas in preparation for your arrival at the start of the ´death road´...need energy for increased concentration! Then it begins...the dusty dirt track...dusty? Oh no did I forget to mention that it was pissing down with rain so we had no dust only mud, puddles and lots of rain....and of course no view due to the low cloud cover just sitting in the valley below us. Probably better if we don`t see exactly how far we could actually fall to our deaths! The decent on this section takes about 3hrs and to be honest on a bike it isn`t that bad. You are small enough to pull over to the side of the road when a truck or bus needs to pass so you feel as though you have a least some control.

la fiesta "El Gran Poder"

la fiesta "El Gran Poder"

La Paz

La Paz

La Paz - old city centre

La Paz - old city centre

La Paz - old colonial street

La Paz - old colonial street

street vendors - a typical sight are dried Llama foetuses!!! (in boxes above woman's head)

street vendors - a typical sight are dried Llama foetuses!!! (in boxes above woman's head)

La Paz street market

La Paz street market

typical market life in Bolivia - women carry huge (and heavy) bags on their backs and it is pretty crowded

typical market life in Bolivia - women carry huge (and heavy) bags on their backs and it is pretty crowded

Mountain Biking - getting ready for the death road

Mountain Biking - getting ready for the death road

All Ready to go!

All Ready to go!

still on the asphalt road

still on the asphalt road

the view from above

the view from above

And thats it! the infamous death road

And thats it! the infamous death road

Marc and me taking the challenge

Marc and me taking the challenge

a typical corner - dont ask me how a truck and a car manage to pass here!

a typical corner - dont ask me how a truck and a car manage to pass here!

The death road with a coach in the background

The death road with a coach in the background

Here comes Nora

Here comes Nora

We made it! Soaken wet and muddy all over but happy (to be alive)!

We made it! Soaken wet and muddy all over but happy (to be alive)!

A Death Road Survivor: Shattered after an exhausting and scary ride

A Death Road Survivor: Shattered after an exhausting and scary ride

On the way to Lake Titicaca - The Suburbs of La Paz

On the way to Lake Titicaca - The Suburbs of La Paz

© marc and nora L., 2005
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The trip
 
Description:
Hello - 5 more days!!! On the 12th of September we are setting off! Our plan is to travel round the world for a period of 10 months. 1st stop: Thailand (1 month) and cambodia 2nd stop: Via Singapore (overland) to Australia where we plan to stay for approximately 4-5 months. 3rd stop: New Zealand (2 months) (north and south island) 4th stop: South America (approx. 3 months) (Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and if time and money allows we might visit costa rica)
Details:
Start of journey: Sep 12, 2005
Duration: 11 months
End of journey: Jul 31, 2006
Travelled countries: world-wide
United Kingdom
Thailand
Malaysia
Cambodia
Singapore
Australia
Australia & Pacific
New Zealand
South America
Chile
Argentina
Bolivia
Peru
Ecuador
Canada
The Author
 
marc and nora L. is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 14 years.
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