Photo Friday: Riding the Death Road

Dozens of people ride the death road each day, and it is may be one of Bolivia’s, if not South America‘s, greatest adventure travel attraction.  But until you do it, you can’t really imagine what it’s like.   Imagine cruising at top speed across loose gravel, through mud puddles, and hopping along a washboard road while at the same time having nearly a kilometer’s drop straight down just to your left.  High waterfalls sprinkle down on top of you to add to the drama, something you’ll never be short of on this downhill mountain biking adventure.

Bolivia’s “Death Road” used to be called The World’s Most Dangerous road.  However, a new highway has taken all of the bus and truck traffic off this road an left it, for the most part, in the hands of tourists seeking a thrill.  The trip starts at high altitude (around 4700 meters above sea level) where there is little sign of plant life and glacier lay roadside.  But quickly, as the road begins to drop, you find yourself in the middle of the jungle, eventually dropping to around 900 meters.  Not only is the death road absolutely stunning and exhilarating, but for those who have been at high altitudes for quite some time, getting down to the jungle at the end of the day is a great reward since you won’t have to fight for oxygen any more.

Words don’t truly describe the feeling of this amazing journey and photographs don’t fare much better, but I hope that these pictures will give you some sense of the experience.

Death Road, Bolivia, start

Bolivia’s “Death Road” starts at high altitude amidst the tall mountains of the And

Death Road, Bolivia, cliffs

After a dozen or so kilometers of highway the road reaches the cloud forest where cyclists get their first glimpses of the sheer cliffs

Death Road, Bolivia, graves

Roadside graves are a constant reminder that one wrong move could make you a permanent resident of the Bolivian rain forest

Death Road, Bolivia, turns

Cyclists make their way around the winding roads of the Death Road below

Death Road, Bolivia, rider, mountain bike

I stand alone, and proud on one of the steepest cliffs of the death road in awe of my surroundings.

Death Road, Bolivia, grave, cross

I’ve ridden the death road 4 times, and thankful to say that I made it down without incident, I wish I could say the same for the rest of the people who made the same journey


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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10 Comments

  1. Once again Brendan, you have composed another journey for your readers…I enjoyed this roadside downhill journey in Bolivia…Your photos are majestic…
    Keep up the good work…
    Are you still in Canada? Safe trip to wherever you may go next…
    Patti thecrazychef Somewhere in Mexico

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  2. I am going to head down there very soon! Done with Paraguay and most of Argentina so def will make my way up there 🙂 Great pics!

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  3. These are some great photos of the death road. It also remind me the Runyon Canyon that I hike a week ago in LA. no fence next to the trail and no mountain view like that.

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  4. Great shots of what is undoubtedly an exhilarating ride!

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  5. The pictures of the rainforest are beautiful. I am no hurry to kick the bucket, but when I do I could think of worse places to be a permanent resident of.

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  6. I am soooo jealous! I was going to do this, but broke my ankle days before and couldn’t go. My ex went though and someone on his trip ended up breaking his neck, no joke!!!

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    • Wow,,, that’s intense! Well, I guess it’s another reason to go back!

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  7. I really wish I was brave enough to attempt this when I was in South America. I reckon now that I commute by bike to work in London I might just be able to handle the Death Road! Great photo essay

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  8. I am totally planning on making that ride! I’ve been working as a pedicabber here in Austin and I should be in tip top shape to take it on. Fantastic pictures!

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