Where: From La Paz to Corioco, West Bolivia
When: Avoid Dec – March, the rainy season for safety, October/November recommended.
Remember to Bring: Check your bike is fully roadworthy & get an experienced local guide who knows the roads
Watch Out For: Dangerously narrow mountain passes
Where It’s At
The Yungas region is lush and tropical, filled with palm trees and cloud forests. It consists of deep valleys which are incredibly fertile due to the heat and the excessive rainfall; aside from growing sugar cane and coffee, the area is used to grow Bolivia’s biggest cash crop – coca leaves. The coca leaves here are the strongest in the world which leaves Bolivia in a confusion of fortune and trouble. Because of the production of coca tea, toothpaste and medicine, the leaves are produced legally. There is however, another side to the story; illegal cocaine farming unfortunately brings in a lot of money to the country – each year the US DEA destroys around 2000 acres of illegal coca but due to the continuing demand cocaine continues to be produced.
On Your Bike
To visit the Yungas, you can take a day’s cycling trip from La Paz to Corioco, a tropical paradise. The trip costs about $49, including the return bus journey and bike hire – you cycle for about 38 miles including a 2 mile drop in altitude. It is a challenging and an adrenalin stimulating trek so if you are a fan of bike riding and crave some satisfying and exhilarating exercise whilst on your travels, this is perfect for you!
Highs and Low
The trek begins on a paved section of road which allows some enjoyable riding until the journey brings you to a checkpoint; this is to stop the transportation of the processing ingredients to make cocaine from the coca leaves into the valleys.
From this point onwards the journey becomes more challenging and extreme, and the road which has accquired the name , the ‘world’s most dangerous road’ is narrow, steep and unpaved; the death toll statistics are high from vehicles falling off the road. To try to combat the dangerous conditions along this stretch, the road has now been made one way, which although reassuring still means that the route should be tackled with care; it is worth doing a tour with an experienced leader and taking care in wet conditions.
Tips for the cycling journey from Gravity Bolivia, a company that specialises in bike tours.
Good general link for information.
By Georgia Levison