Today was meant to be a rest day after a week on the road, an opportunity for the girls to kick back and do some local shopping. Well that’s what they thought, Chris on the other hand had booked us on a little mountain bike excursion. Yes just a little one…. the most dangerous commercially operated mountain bike ride on the plant. Referred to as the “Death Road” and yes the stories were there to prove the many fatalities that have occurred by mountain bikers travelling this narrow and dangerous road. The fact is that this ride commenced at 4760m (a new high point for us) and travels initially down a sealed part (the new road) then onto the original “Death Road” which is gravel and down through the lush jungle to the bottom at 1200m. The guide reminded us that our decent would be three times that of a Sky dive. The road at times had no room for passing traffic and there were trucks clearing slips and tour vans travelling this road. Some of the previous fatalities had been mountain bike riders that had simply stepped back after dis-mounting their bikes and had fallen the 500m over shear drops to their death.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) by the time we had reached the more dangerous part of this journey heavy rain and fog had set in and our trip suddenly turned from one of concern for heights to a concern for hypothermia as a number of the group had unclad (under our guides advise) expecting higher temperatures. Just as we were expecting things to get better they got worse as Lucy and I came across a very active slip that had spread rocks and soil all over the road even the bulldozer operator had retreated to the comfort of his truck while he watched large rocks and jungle fauna tumble down across the road, the road was now impassable for all traffic. The question I asked myself was would the whole area suddenly collapse like an avalanche and sweep us down the mountain.? I am not sure our decision was the right one but we darted across this slip to the sound of moving earth and retreated to the safety of the other side, could it get worse?
Fortunately for all we descended below the cloud and into sun and warmth typical of a sub-tropical jungle. We were glad for the hot shower and late lunch before boarding our bus for the 3 ½ hour journey up the road that now replaces “Death Road” and back into the peak traffic hour of La Paz.