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07/02/2018

The Road of the Yungas: the most dangerous road on the planet

The Road of the Yungas (Bolivia) is popularly known as the Road of Death. This road has been a mandatory route for any type of vehicle for decades. Workers and drivers from La Paz risked their lives to travel to the mining region of the Yungas, and vice versa. For a long time, these 80 kilometers of land and stones were the only connection between the Bolivian Amazon rainforest and the country's capital.

The road barely has a width of four and a half meters, even in some points it does not manage to pass the three meters. The Mirador del Diablo, the Curve of Death, the Devil's Bridge, the Red Hill ... are some of the deadliest points of the route, the nomenclature of the place leads one to believe that one is closer to the other life than to the other. the own earth.

Its origin dates back to the Chaco War, in 1930. It is said that it was built by Paraguayan slaves and prisoners captured during the conflict between the two South American countries.

As the locals say, this is the only road in Bolivia where you drive on the left. In this way, drivers who climb can better see the edge of the road. The one that goes down, yields. A misunderstanding could be fatal.

At 4,700 meters of altitude there are no guardrails, what there are are curves of almost 180 degrees. The drop in some points is 800 meters. Until 2006, between 100 and 150 people died annually on this highway. However, since there is an alternative route, few people use it and the deceased are only 30 or 40. According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), until the alternative road to La Paz was built there were an average of 209 accidents and 96 people killed every year.

For this reason, in 1995 the IDB awarded the Camino de los Yungas the title of the most dangerous road in the world.

The road is a narrow ledge carved in vertical mountain. Straight walls above and below the road. Fog and rain that so many times, according to those who know this place, has been the architect of tragic landslides.

Throughout the journey, it is normal to see crosses on both sides of the road, reminiscent of the lives that were lost between the straight walls of the mountain. One of the crucifixes recalls an accident of 1983, when 100 people died when the bus in which they traveled rushed to the void.

Today, it can be said that the biggest beneficiaries are the companies that organize bike descents. Since 1995, when the recreational cruises began, only 29 cyclists have been killed.