Long before we ever arrived in Bolivia I had heard about The World’s Most Dangerous Road, and, of course, shortly after hearing about it, I declared to Stevie that WE would be driving it.
Caveat – I’m going to say “The World’s Most Dangerous Road” a lot in this post, not because it is, but because it sounds cool.
My philosophy on life is simple, anything that begins with “The world’s most” or “the world’s best” must be experienced. I do not intend to miss out on these exceptional things while I’m visiting this planet.
Stevie, of course, said, “NO WAY.” I wasn’t concerned with the reply of my co-pilot at the time. I knew I had a couple of years to wear her down. And that I did. By the time we hit La Paz, she was ready to join me on the drive.
We left La Paz on Monday morning, and our first mission was to make it out of the city. Easier said than done, even with a GPS!
We had heard rumors of major police road blocks and harassment, but we didn’t have a single problem. The Sprinter was cloaked in good karma. I even gave these guys a little ‘honk’ when one of their bikes failed to start. I was about to yell out the window, “get that piece of shit off the road,” but Stevie jabbed me in the ribs with her kindle.
With the help of our GPS, we sailed out of the city in record time. It was easy. We just followed Jesus. I found this to be a very good sign heading to “The Death Road”.
Onward, to The World’s Most Dangerous Road!!!
For the record, I’m not just making that name up. Back in 1995, the Inter-American Development Bank declared this the World’s Most Dangerous Road. With most sections being only one lane, and with a sheer cliff ever present, many cars, buses and trucks have met their dark fate.
Until 2006 the Death Road was the only road connecting the town of Coroico with La Paz. About 10 years ago a new paved 2-lane road was constructed and, of course, everyone now uses that road. But the old road is still there, and it was up to us to drive The World’s Most Dangerous Road!!!
We found the entrance and marked it for future overlanders! (In case you miss the tiny Sprinter Life sticker, just email me for the GPS coordinates)
Once we turned off the main highway we found ourselves in the clouds on a narrow dirt road clinging to the side of the cliff. Everyone was in good spirits! The tribe was feeling it.
How they built this road I have no idea. It was literally chiseled out of the side of the mountain.
One thing became crystal clear, wearing a seat belt was a moot point. Any mistake on this road and they’d never even find the Sprinter, yet alone our bodies.
Having said that, did I think it was ACTUALLY dangerous? I don’t know. The road was one lane, and had frequent pull outs, so as long as you paid attention there didn’t seem to be any significant danger. But I will say that you wouldn’t want to be driving this road if you had any fear of heights.
Assuming you can drive in a straight line and you’re not drunk, you’re gonna be just fine. The only wild card would be the road just giving out underneath you. And there were plenty of places where the road seemed to be falling into the abyss.
I’m not sure if it was for show or what, but in a few places there were actually “guard rails.” But I highly doubt these toothpicks would stop a car, even moving at a slow speed.
As we journeyed down the mountain there were ever present reminders that there are people in the world who can’t drive in a straight line, or were dunk. I cannot imagine being a bus passenger driving down this road back in the day. Terrifying would be an understatement.
We took it slow, and I drove extremely careful. About an hour into the drive I noticed that Sol had fallen asleep. I was super disappointed.
Really Soleil, falling asleep on the Death Road? Is that what it’s come to? Your Mother and I “BORE” you on The World’s Most Dangerous Road! <sigh>. Guess I’m gonna have to up our game.
We eventually found a good spot that was wide enough for us to pull in and have lunch. It was a spectacular perch and Stevie whipped us up some grub.
After lunch Sol got her second wind. Good to see some family enthusiasm. That’s Daddy’s little girl!
We’ve driven a lot of roads from Mexico to Bolivia. There were many I thought were way more sketchy than this one, like the road to Santa Teresa in Peru (remember here).
But I would have to say that this is one of the most beautiful drives we’ve ever done!
After about 5 hours we finally crested a ridge and saw the tiny town of Coroico perched on the side of a mountain.
If you ever get a chance to drive “The World’s Most Dangerous Road,” I would highly recommend doing it! If not, here is a short video clip of our drive. (note, I’m not trying to win and cinematography awards. It’s just some broken clips). Click here to watch…
This was one of my best days driving in the last 4 years. Thank you universe for such a wonderful experience and for allowing us to pass safely!
Some cool throw-back photos of when this road was heavily used…