The Road of Death

The Most Dangerous Road in the World

Has a nice ring to it.

La Ruta De Muerte” also sounds pretty intimidating.

Driving this route has been the subject of debate for quite a while. I want to drive it – she doesn’t. Angela has tried to get me to ride down it on a mountain bike instead.

Eventually, I stumped her with “What am I going to tell Mitch?” As a last resort, I stopped using logic. You can’t argue with crazy.

A few notes on driving this route:

It’s generally just a car-width and recently-graded gravel. But, there are plenty of turn-outs. Honk your horn around the blind turns. Watch out for bikes. Drive on the left.

This last part maybe this is why it’s so dangerous. The Bolivians use some twisted logic and explain that driving on the left here is somehow safer. The downhill driver’s side wheel will be on the edge of the cliff and they can see better. Right.

This is a tourist attraction – watch out for bikes.  I figure we saw 100 mountain bikers or more. At $100 USD each, that’s a $3.65 million dollar a year industry. Most of these folks seemed uncomfortable on a bike, period. Why coast down 2500 meters on the most dangerous road in the world if you can hardly ride a bike? Apparently, you get a T-shirt.

We stopped and talked to one of the tour guides leading a biking group. Nice folks. Bode was “on”. They offered him a job whenever he wants it. As a parent, having your child offered future employment is always encouraging.

Oh, and I call bullshit on the History Channel. They were shooting a TV show – something about ‘Extreme Truckers’ – and had been filming here for weeks trying to get the perfect shots. A pro stunt driver in a big blue truck hauling an empty steel tank –  for no reason at all. There is a perfectly good new paved highway not far away that all the trucks and buses now use. Fake ‘extreme reality trucking’ shows. History Channel, we’ve got your reality right here.

Despite my incredulity, the road is still pretty insane. You drive through waterfalls. You drive within inches of straight vertical drops. One mistake and you’re dead. It is serious.

Of course, I was aware that I was placing my son in some level of danger – he thought it was pretty cool. Still, despite riding in what is likely the only car seat in South America, there probably wouldn’t be enough magic to protect him from any plunge over the edge.

We survived – but didn’t get a T-shirt.

9 thoughts on “The Road of Death

  • May 26, 2011 at 7:09 AM

    I probably would opt out too in the lights of things.

  • May 26, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    ang, honey, your tee shirt is waiting for you back here in oaktown!

  • May 26, 2011 at 2:33 PM


  • May 26, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    That old VW 181 is crying out for a restoration – you don’t see many of them around anymore!
    The sealed new road seems to be open and closed willy-nilly (from all I read). No more flagman before blind corners? Did they all lose their little income?

  • May 26, 2011 at 6:59 PM

    Good driver, cool vehicle-“Hip Hip Hooray” for Team BodesWell! Do it while you’re there.

    Take care & have fun!


  • May 26, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    Oh no you di’n’t.

  • May 27, 2011 at 6:09 PM

    This made me think about when we towed an RV up a narrow windy mountain road and looking at the sheer drop down the side of the mountain the whole way … to the ski resort. Never again! I nearly died of terror!

    Or … the time that we had to drive at top speed around another very windy, steep, mountain road to get our son to hospital as he had crushed his finger (it ended up needing 1.5 hours of plastic surgery).

    These roads aren’t that fun, but we’ve gone on them. The kids never seem as worried as I am.

  • June 5, 2011 at 2:50 AM

    the worst part of those rodes is the cars that are there are very beaten up

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