Aoife Hoey and Hugh Mongey are Irish couple currently backpacking across South America, transcribing their incredible journey via a blog called Two Hungry Backpackers.
As they sat and absorb the surroundings from their sunny terrace from their hostel in Coroica, Bolivia, they write “Every morning we awake to clouds mingling around our hostel, giving the impression that we are in some sort of magical flying citadel. That's what makes it particularly strange that, as I sit here in this self proclaimed paradise I can't help thinking to myself, 'It's quite possible that I may die tomorrow!”
The couple set off on a trip of a lifetime, but one that was truly hazardous.
Cycling 40 miles downhill along a cloud covered, waterfall strewn, dirt trail and with very few barriers in place to prevent a cyclist veering over the edge, did we mention the track was only 3.2 metres? No wonder the route is called “Death Road”
Only 500 metres into their 64 kilometre trip, the couple and their travelling party came to an abrupt halt as they met a tour guide who was signalling for someone to call an ambulance. Thankfully when a support vehicle arrived, the downed cyclist, rose to his feet and was taken away for treatment.
Aoife Hoey and her boyfriend Hugh Mongey, slightly shaken, continued on with their adventure “We ventured forth with perhaps a little more focus than we may otherwise have had. After the initial reality check, I'm pleased to say that everything went smoothly from there on in."
We are more than pleased to report that although the couple are still travelling around South America, overall their challenge on “death road” was, as described “An absolute pleasure.”
“We didn't quite anticipate the beauty of the cycle. Between the cascading waterfalls, lush vegetation and incredible views of the Yungas hills, it was an awe inspiring sight to behold.”
“I won't lie, there was a slight element of relief when we all finished the tour in one piece, but it paled by comparison to the exhilaration felt! Like children at a fairground we immediately wanted to go again. More sensible heads prevailed though, and instead we all went to lunch. It seemed like a safer bet."
We agree, lunch IS a safer bet!
Do you think this is something you can see yourself doing? Well, lucky for you Aoife and Hugh have compiled their
Top 5 Tips for Surviving Death Road
- Research your tour operator - Cheaper is not always better. Chose the operator that best suits your needs; are you experienced/inexperienced on a bike? Do you want the tour to involve additional stopoffs such as to an animal sanctuary? For us rather than booking from La Paz we booked from the smaller town of Coroico, and went with a small group, Coroica Star Food & Biking.
- Sometimes smaller is better - Ask how many are going in your group. In our opinion, small groups are more fun and allow more flexibility for stopping for photos etc.
- Go at your own pace - Don't feel that you need to keep up with the fastest in your group. Keep to a speed that you feel comfortable and in control with.
- Safety first - Ask your tour operator, in advance of booking, about their bikes and the quality of their safety equipment. Ideally your helmet and knee/elbow pads will not be called into action, but if they are, you'll appreciate knowing that they are of decent quality!
- Enjoy the view - You'll probably only do this cycle once, and it'll feel like it is over in a flash, so make sure that you actually take the time to stop and enjoy the view!
Stay up to date with their travels via their blog Two Hungry Backpackers