Thursday, July 22, 2010

La Paz, Bolivia - Apocalyptic day @ The Death Road aka "The World's Most Dangerous Road"

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The Death Road is a 61-kilometre road leading from La Paz to Coroico, 56 kilometres northeast of La Paz in the Yungas region of Bolivia. It is legendary for its extreme danger and in 1995 the Inter-American Development Bank christened it as the "world's most dangerous road".

One estimate is that 200 to 300 travellers were killed yearly along the road. The road includes crosses marking many of the spots where vehicles have fallen. Because of the extreme dropoffs of at least 600 metres, single-lane width – most of the road no wider than 3.2 metres and lack of guard rails, the road is extremely dangerous. Further still, rain, fog and dust can make visibility precarious. In many places the road surface is muddy, and can loosen rocks from the road.

The danger of the road ironically made it a popular tourist destination starting in the 1990s, drawing some 25,000 thrillseekers. Mountain biking enthusiasts in particular have made it a favourite destination for downhill biking since there is a 64-kilometre stretch of continuous downhill riding with only one short uphill section. There are now many tour operators catering to this activity, providing information, guides, transport and equipment. Nevertheless, the Yungas Road remains dangerous. At least 18 of these cyclists died on the ride since 1998.

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