Sunday, January 15, 2012

El Camino de la Muerte: Biking the Death Road

El Camino de la Muerte, more commonly known in English as the "Death Road", has become a popular destination for thrill seekers and adventurers in recent years. Many Americans are now aware of the infamous road through the History Channels' highly popular IRT Deadliest Roads show.

The Yungas Road, a.k.a. El Camino de la Muerte, a.k.a. the "Death Road", and a.k.a. the "World's Most Dangerous Road", earned these nicknames because it has more deaths per mile than any other road in the world. The Inter American Development Bank declared it the most dangerous road in the world in 1995. It's estimated that 200 to 300 people die each year on this stretch of road less than 50 miles in length.

What makes El Camino de la Muerte so dangerous are the extreme dropoffs of more than 1800 feet, its single-lane width of 10 feet or less, its lack of guard rails, a mud and rock surface, and nasty weather like rain, fog and dust that reduces visibility.

Not even adventures are immune to the dangers. At least 18 cyclists have died on along the route since 1998. Despite this, the Death Road has become one of the most popular adventure travel activities in all of Latin America, with several tour operators catering to cyclists.

Below is a video, from a segment of ABC's Nightline, that shows the thrills of biking down the "World's Most Dangerous Road". The ride starts out at an elevation of roughly 16,000 feet, and descends to 4,000 feet, in roughly 40 miles. The ride takes nearly 7 hours to complete as cyclists snake their way through the high mountains of the Andes to the subtropical jungles that lead to the Amazon basin in Corocio, Bolivia.

Think you would want to do this?

Hiking in

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