I never plan to bike down North Yungas Road in Bolivia. I’m not even sure I plan to go to Bolivia, although I hope to explore at least one country in South America. That’s a continent still on my bucket list.
But I know a little about the steep, treacherous North Yungas Road because I researched and wrote an article about it (below) for HowStuffWorks. Photos you’ll see make it look akin to Spain’s El Caminito del Rey (pictured to the left), which I hiked in 2019. This path is also on the side of a mountain, but the walkway has railings, and you’re not pitching steeply downhill.
A Sneak Peak into North Yungas Road
I don’t want to give too much away about cycling down North Yungas Road, and all of the injuries and deaths over the years – you’ll have to read the article to find out the heart-thumping details! But I’ll give you a few hints.
- Tour companies shepherd cyclists down today. So if you’re not an experienced mountain biker, yet are intrigued about Death Road (the path’s nickname), you’ll (probably) have a safe journey.
- The path doesn’t plunge straight downhill the entire way. Part of the road’s danger comes from the often-rainy and cloudy conditions.
- If you want to try biking up North Yungas Road, it’s also billed as one of the most difficult paths in the world to cycle uphill.
- Today, the path is a little wider than in the past, so there’s “only” about one death per year.
Do You Have What It Takes?
I’m an adventurous person. But not insanely so. So I’ll let the rest of you tackle North Yungas Road. I looked back through past articles to see how far I pushed myself when it comes to peril. I definitely faced potential pitfalls during my thru-hike of the Arizona Trail. In 2019, there was a lot of snow during my hike. I once had to evacuate from a mountaintop, and another time feared I’d get lost in the deep snow atop Mt. Humphreys.
And I got lost plenty of times during my three treks along Spain’s Vía de la Plata, one of the ancient Camino pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. When Ed and I hiked Iceland’s Laugavegur Trail, we tackled dense fog right as we had to cross a melting glacier. We couldn’t see the blazes for quite some time, and had to wait it out. We feared being stuck overnight, wet and freezing, sans tent. Luckily, the fog lifted and we crossed safely. And certainly our bungee jumping excursion in New Zealand carried some risk!
Despite some misadventures in my travels, I stay safe because I plan ahead and take proper safety precautions. The biggest precaution for North Yungas Road is making sure to sign on with a well-regarded tour guide. Have fun!