Only Extreme Adventurers Should Try Biking Bolivia's 'Death Road'

North Yungas Road, aka the Death Road, is a 43-mile route in western Bolivia with remarkable scenery and 2,000-foot cliff drops. Indeed, stellar views and perilous precipices aren't exactly the best combination for the distraction-prone — so only highly focused expert mountain bikers should think about checking the Death Road off their bucket list

The aptly-nicknamed road begins at the country's capital of La Paz and ends in the town of Coroico. Built during the 1930s and newly reopened in 2006, the intense journey draws thousands of mountain bikers and other adventurers annually. The trip is often described as harrowing, with the potential to humble even the most experienced bicyclists.

Decades ago, an astronomical and hard-to-believe 200-300 people died each year on the road. Since 1998, there's been an average of five deaths per year. So, while it's not completely devoid of danger, it's not exactly safe either. Most thrill-seeking cyclists today simply see it as a badge of honor — a must-do, especially if you're traveling in South America.

Cycling the Death Road

While a tour — and there are many to choose from — is recommended for the uninitiated, you'll have to pay an entrance fee to traverse North Yungas Road either way. It's 25 bolivianos per person (roughly $3.60).

In 1998, New Zealander Alistair Matthew began the first cycling adventure tours there with his company Gravity. He told the BBC, "It is our belief that the vast majority of the risk can be mitigated by providing people with great bikes and equipment, lots of instruction, and lots of warnings about the potential for accidents."

Another tour company in the region, Barracuda Biking, writes that the trek begins above the clouds at 15,400 feet. The Death Road descends through waterfalls, streams, and other viewpoints down to the Amazon rainforest. The journey ends at 3,600 feet, meaning it's all downhill from the start.

During the rainy season, from December to March, those with little to no mountain biking experience are strongly discouraged from even attempting to go down the road. Essentially, it's wise to be prepared by going with a reputable tour operator and making sure you have some mountain biking experience under your belt. Give space to other riders to avoid collisions and you're bound to have an incredible experience.