The World’s Most Dangerous Road

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…

 Sprinter Life on-sights The World’s Most Dangerous Road 

 

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!

-TREE

 

Some cool throw-back photos of when this road was heavily used…

 

Comments

  1. Fantastic photos. I just showed this post to my husband, and he’s practically barfing. Glad you made it safely. Every time I read one of your posts, Sol is even cuter than the last time. 🙂 Safe travels!

  2. Auntie Alex says:

    Beautiful! But I hate heights and pretty much would feel like I had to puke the whole time. 🙂 it actually doesn’t look too dangerous. Still great navigating the beast sprinter though! I think that’s where the main challenge is…maneuvering the Sprinter.

  3. Michelle Franco says:

    You’re a great story teller I look forward to all your blogs! Love the pics and really enjoy the travels w/all of you!!!!!!

  4. I love these resent pics! keep’em coming!!

  5. You guys are a super cool couple. I’m business student in college right now and I resonate with a lot of your philosophy on life and travel in general. I can’t quite hit the road full time, but my roommate and I will be backpacking around Costa Rica for a couple weeks. Thanks for the inspiration and keep up the posts!

    • Sounds like you’ve got a fun trip coming up Ian. In Costa Rica we really like Pavones for the surf. And the Paquari river is top 5 in the world. Try to get on it with one of the local companies. Have fun bud

  6. cheryll says:

    Breathtaking photos! You guys ROCK!

  7. Those old pics with all the trucks are burly!!!!! I wonder what the bottom of those cliffs look like…. bet there are some old wrecks down there. Did you pass any cars during the drive? Or were you the only (insert name here) ones to drive that vs the new road? How long did it take?

    • Hey Hoop, yeah, there are dozens of vehicles burried in the jungle below. Recovery would not be an option. We passed a couple other trucks, locals. The total drive was about 5 hours on the old road (vs 30 minutes on the new one). That gives you an idea of the road. 🙂

  8. Tim Wilson says:

    Awesome! Looks like you guys owned it. Curious also regarding Hoop’s questions?

  9. Damn! Where was this post a couple months ago??? I could’ve totally talked Shannon into doing this if she read your post…so what if it was the rainy season and we were having brake problems, we would’ve been FINE!

    Great photos. Glad to see Sol made it sound like a drive to kinder-care 😉

    • you guys gonna make it back up here? or just meet us in Mendoza? What is your return date anyway?

      • Doubt we’ll head back up to Bolivia, but it’s VERY tempting…We’ll definintely meet you guys in Mendoza (unless you beat us there). Our return date to Uruguay is October 1st

  10. A. Didn’t your parents teach you not to video and drive. Are you kidding me? Videoing and driving on the MOST DANGEROUS ROAD IN THE WORLD! Earth calling Tree. Pick up Tree. Hello?
    B. I don’t to ever hear a word from you when I’m jammin to my throwback Tupac. I heard Snoop Dog in the background of your video. Oh yea. Didn’t think I wouldn’t notice? Booya.

    Kisses for baby Sol. The kids can’t wait to see her and dress her up (like some sort of doll) in August.

    Xoxo- Sis

  11. Great Aunt Debby and Great Uncle Barry says:

    Looks amazing! Tree ask you mom about the time she and I were on Hurricane Ridge. She was driving my van and I was in the back seat with Jake who was almost two years old. All of a sudden she froze unable to move forward or even take her hands off the wheel to turn the car off. It was pretty scary! I don’t think we would have made it on this road.

    • Nonituyas says:

      It’s called vertigo, and it was the scariest thing that I can ever remember ( except for that time I was actually driven over a cliff). I would not have done well on your “scary road”, and as a sort-of-surviver of a real fall, I would have needed to WALK the whole trip, hugging the inside and carrying Sol!

    • oh, I remember that story

  12. Ruin Runner Expeditions says:

    So cool…

  13. Great post! I want to go!

  14. John Rich says:

    Nice job Tree! But really, it looks to me just like a better than average Oregon logging road.

    • Anonymous says:

      That looks like a piece of cake compared to some of the roads I have driven on, but it sure is pretty!

    • Clint Bogard says:

      It looks like a u-turn would be tricky.

    • Donna Clary says:

      Don’t where you folks drive, but it looks really scary to me.

    • Yeah, like I said, you’d have to be drunk to screw it up. Having said that, I’ve driven some pretty sketch roads, from Nepal to Tibet to Colombia to Peru… this road is way more rowdy than an Oregon logging road. Guess the pictures don’t do it justice. I think the real danger was years ago, when it was two lane TRUCK traffic on a one lane road with the cliff as a consequence. That’s what was killing people. See the new photos I just added to the bottom of the post. – TREE

  15. Chuck Seaman says:

    nice TREE, living a dream

  16. Javier says:

    tambien recorri esos caminos!!

  17. Daring road…not me, but beautiful scenery. That picture with Stevie and Sol near the grave markers…Stevie looks sincere and serene and Sol has an ever so slight ghoulish grin! Hee hee! Thank you for sharing.

  18. Kathy Card says:

    Holy shit

  19. Tree,
    How did you get those photos of the van (like on the mountain road) that look so far away? On some of them it look as though the van is a couple hundred feet in elevation away.Some even look sort of as if taken from the air?
    Should I eat more shrooms ?? Did you make Stevie walk to get the pics?

    Be safe, precious cargo on board!

    • Yes, he made Stevie walk to get the pics 🙂

      • Hey Stevie,
        You are amazing, you look so slim and pretty. Miss hearing your voice, your contagious spirit and love!! Hope to see you guys this summer! Especially longing to entice some giggles and such from your beautiful Sol. Sounds as if Tree is a veteran road warrior so sit back and enjoy all the deadly stuff!!
        Much love

  20. sprinterlife stickers?! where can i get one?!

  21. I found you through http://www.advodna.com/. We’d love to do what you’re doing someday, though not sure about “The World’s Most Dangerous Road!” Thanks for sharing.

  22. Great drive! You give much needed inspiration to our travelling dreams. I stumbled on your site busy searching for a rv-sprinter(need more room than yours) in the US. I am packing up as an accountant in Cape Town, South Africa. The idea is to rv all the US states with my family(wife and three kids, 3.5, 2.5 and 8months). After that we paln to do the Pan American to Buenes Aires in Argentina.

    • sounds like you guys have a great adventure planned. Stay in touch. I bet our paths will cross at some point! Cheers

  23. Aniil Kumar says:

    Nice post. Enjoyed every bit of it.

    Second photo in the throw-back photos is note from this road. It’s an Indian road. I could make out that from the writing on the bus and the style of the truck behind the bus. 🙂

  24. you people are idiots. Want to risk your own life, great. Have at it. Leave the kid at home.

  25. The fourth to last archive photo of the two trucks is not on the road in Bolivia. You can see that the bus has Hindi characters on it. It is a road in northern India.

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