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10 Things to Know Before Biking Death Road in Bolivia

Biking Death Road in Bolivia La Paz

Are you brave enough to bike Death Road in Bolivia? Coined the ‘most dangerous road in the world’, visitors cycle the 69 kilometres/43 miles day trip from La Paz every day, with a group of fellow daredevils for support. 

Along with the Uyuni’s Salt Flats, Death Road biking is one of the most popular attractions in Bolivia. So let’s pedal into what you should know before you go. 


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1. How Many Hours is the Death Road Cycle?

The first advice in our biking Death Road guide is the timeframe you will need to set aside during your Bolivia itinerary. 

You will easily spend two days in La Paz, Bolivia’s capital.

Especially if you are planning on partying in one of the highest cities in the world. 

The day trip to La Carretera de los Yungas, which is the road’s traditional name, requires a very early rise and takes up most of the day. 
Death Road Bolivia with Gravity

The day kicks off with a short meeting, paperwork and approx. an hour bus ride to La Cumbre ‘The Summit’ which is 4700 above sea level (asl).

On arrival, you are kitted out and set on the first leg which is a smooth road.

Don’t be fooled by the terrain, the lorry drivers which you share the road with are mental. 

This is leg is just over one hour on a developed road to ease you into the official ride. 

The Death Road cycle itself is four hours with stops and then lunch. 

Death Road Bolivia Gravity

2. How To Choose Which Of The Death Road Bolivia Tours To Go With 

There’s plenty of choice between Death Road tours and you will see adverts for many companies in La Paz hostels, on associated websites and through booking agents. 

Things to consider: 

  • Quality of kit and bike 
  • Safety of bus and driver, you will hear countless stories about South American bus crashes during your travels 
  • Company reviews

Your tour of choice must provide:

  • Protective coat and trousers in case you fall on gravel
  • Gloves
  • A helmet 
  • A bike with great suspension and brakes 
  • They usually provide a drinks bottle too

We went with the most popular company, Gravity.

You can see the tour and reserve your spot in full here.

Photo of the fortnight

3. You Have To Pay An Entrance Fee 

After the first leg, you arrive at the official entry point and this is where you pay the additional 25 bs per person to cycle the Death Road. 

Remember to pack the extra cash. You may want a little more of the end of cycle activities and lunch options. 

Once everyone has paid up, the group are asked if they want to cycle uphill, with altitude against them, or take the bus to the start of the route. A unanimous vote for the bus! 

Death Road Bolivia South America

4. You Don’t Need To Be An Expert 

Used to Amsterdam cycling and not sure if this attraction is for you? 

You don’t need to be a mountain bike expert to cycle Death Road but it does help if you can cycle confidently and are not afraid of heights. 

Be prepared to take on hairpin bends and heights f 11,800 feet (3,600 meters) between La Cumbre Pass and the lowland town of Coroico.

Have you seen Death Road on Top Gear? 

5. Death Road Isn’t For Everyone 

Contrary to believe, the road doesn’t get its title as ‘most dangerous’ because of the number of cycle victims. 

The name originated from the number of deaths the road caused during the construction of it and it was not Bolivians that built it.

War prisoners from Paraguay were responsible for La Carretera de los Yungas to give it its real name.

However, if you find that once you start the route that the ride isn’t for you, don’t worry. 

Just tell your guide and they will organise of you to sit on the bus which meets the rest of the crew at the bottom. 

Still persevering? Don’t be afraid to be the one at the back. That was me, and my new friend Kristian. 

I honestly felt like I was going 60 mph, on reflection and watching the video back, it was more like 6 mph. 

Death Road Bolivia

6. Listen to Your Guide 

So now you know the real reason for its title, it doesn’t mean its time to get cocky. 

It is still claimed hundreds of people lose their lives on this road every year.

Recently a 21-year-old cycled off one of the cliffs and miraculously survived, being saved by a ledge. 

It’s not just yourself you have to be cautious of, locals still use this road to drive between villages, when you see it you will think how?!

Listen to the advice from your guide who will talk you through the best options for balancing and maintaining control. 

Plus, your guide will show you where to get the Instagram cliff shot souvenir! 

It’s likely your main guide with have a wingman, one will take the lead and the other with kick back. 

7. Death Road Cycle Packing List and Gear 

  • Wear flexible pants like leggings and tracksuit bottoms
  • Layers, merino wool is ideal
  • Bring additional liner gloves if you can, it gets really cold 
  • Wear closed-toe shoes such as trainers/sneakers
  • Sunscreen
  • Shades
  • Swimming gear if taking a dip
  • Towel if taking a post-cycle shower 

8. Celebrate With A Beer 

Once you make it through Cotapata National Park, with the Andes as the backdrop, and to the endpoint (Yolosa at 1200 asl), collect your celebratory beer, take a group selfie and chill for a while. 

Death Road, Bolivia North Yungas Road Views

9. Lunch Is Included 

Once everyone is reunited, the team embark on a buffet lunch. 

Here you can have a shower and/or take a dip in the swimming pool before the bus ride all the way back on the mountain and back to La Paz.

10. Wear The T-Shirt

Been there, done that and now you can wear the t-shirt!

Most tour companies provide a brand T and buff for around your neck to prove you cycled the world’s most dangerous road in Bolivia! 

Death Road, Bolivia


Final Words

Whether you are an active cyclist with a need for speed or a backpacker looking to tick off a bucket list item, La Paz’s Death Road is a fun day out. 

Calling all thrill-seekers! Are you brave enough to volcano board down an active volcano? We did in Nicaragua!


Pin to your Bolivia planning board!

Any questions? Just leave them below and we will get back to you.

Cycling Death Road - things to do in Bolivia | Adventure travel

 


We worked with our affiliate partner Tinggly who comped two Death Road cycle tours. Our honest opinion as always.

9 Hostels in La Paz, Bolivia Starting at £6

Hostels in La Paz

Looking for the best hostels in La Paz, Bolivia’s capital city? Look no further. Whether you are visiting on a budget or looking to make new friends, this guide to affordable yet fun La Paz hostels details what’s on offer, the best locations and where you should stay in one of the highest cities in the world.

Best Hostels in La Paz

Wild Rover La Paz

Fancy a fiesta? This is where it’s at.

Wild Rover is a chain of popular hostels found in Peru and Bolivia.

If you stay in all four, you can claim a free t-shirt!

Wild Rover La Paz is situated in an ex-presidential palace in a touristy area of La Paz.

The staff are friendly, the bar is jumping, there’s live sport on the TV and sun loungers in the ‘garden’.

Coined, the highest Irish bar in the world, Wild Rover is aimed at backpackers looking for a party.

Rooms include traditional dorms for those saving every Boliviano to modern bunks with privacy curtains.

Dorms include lockers, electrical sockets with shared or private bathrooms featuring power showers.

Request one of the smaller dorms if you want to be propping up the bar but not sleeping directly next to it.

Prefer your own space? There are double (matrimony) and twin rooms available too.

Prices include a basic backpacker breakfast of bread and spreads.

There is no kitchen but the hostel restaurant serves local and comfort food.

There’s a TV room so you literally don’t have to leave Wild Rover but you should.

The only gripe, the WiFi is poor. Welcome to backpacking in South America!

Arriving with Bolivia Hop? Enjoy a free welcome shot.

  • Pros: Friendly, party-ready, vodka (praise be!)
  • Cons: Not for the faint-hearted! This is a party hostel, breakfast is typical, WiFi is weak, no kitchen

Wild Rover La Paz

Hostels in La Paz

Loki Hostel La Paz

Two minutes walk from Wild Rover you will find another South American hostel chain, Loki.

Popular in Peru, Loki La Paz is a big party hostel aimed at social people.

Like Wild Rover, there is an on-site bar with a signature drink called a Bloodbomb, happy hour, themed nights and entertainment is organised by the friendly staff.

Don’t want to party too hard or partied too hard? There’s a TV room with Netflix.

Rooms start with 4-bed dorms and go up to 10 bed. Private rooms are also available.

Showers get rave reviews.

Request a top floor dorm if you need to try and get some sleep.

A restaurant is located in the hostel.

There’s no laundrette on site but there is one over the road.

Prefer something a little more upmarket?

Check out the La Paz Loki Boutique.

  • Pros: Friendly, party hostel with events
  • Cons: Loud, no kitchen, weak WiFi

Loki Hostel La Paz

Selena Hostel La Paz

Selina is a chain of hostels not aimed at party backpackers.

The target audience for this hostel in La Paz are visitors with are slightly older mindset who are looking for some social activity in a nice setting.

There is a co-working space available for those who need to get some hours in.

Selina is more like a clean boutique hotel than a backpacker hostel.

A variety of rooms are on offer from 4-bed dorms to 10-beds. All dorms have private curtains.

There are also private rooms.

There is a bar on site which sells beers, cocktail and food.

Unlike Loki, there is a small kitchen which guests can use if they can get access. Try to avoid peak times.

Selina is located in a quiet neighbourhood, 5 minutes walk away from a local shop.

It’s a little out of the way, about 15 minutes from the city centre.

  • Pros: Friendly, clean, privacy
  • Cons: A little out of the way, not party orientated if that’s your vibe

Selina La Paz Bolivia

The Adventure Brew Hostel

The Adventure Brew Hostel is one of the traditional backpacking hostels in La Paz which pulls in a tamer crowd who like a drink.

This is a craft beer hostel which offers tours of the Saya brewery every Sunday.

Even better news, every guest gets a free beer on entry!

Other events such as a weekly BBQ are also popular.

Rooms available include traditional dorms from 4-bed up to 20-bed as well as private rooms. Showers are hot.

We stayed in a private room for one night and did the brewery tour.

Its proximity to the bus terminal is also an appeal.

Prefer to be downtown? There’s a second Adventure Brew Hostel in town.

  • Pros: Chill hostel, free beer and awesome brewery tour
  • Cons: May be a little tame for some

Adventure Brew Hostel La Paz

The Greenhouse Hostel

You’ve probably never heard of the Sopocachi neighbourhood but if prefer an up and coming side of a city then The Greenhouse Hostel in Sopocachi may be for you.

Coined the wealthy and bohemian area, quality restaurants can be found here and if you’re a fan of food you might consider The Greenhouse Hostel for its kitchen.

One of the smaller hostels in the city, Greenhouse has nine rooms over two floors, four of which are shared and five are private. All use the shared bathroom facilities.

The open patio and greenhouse is a hit with visitors.

  • Pros: Cool area, big kitchen
  • Cons: Not central but that’s the point

Prefer to be closer to the centre? The Cathedral is the sister hostel which is built around the same ethos of the ‘chef hostel’ aimed at visitors who want to cook.


Cruz de Los Andes

If breakfast is your priority then you might want to consider Cruz de Los Andes.

This quirky bed and breakfast is more like a hotel than a hostel but it’s bright, clean and the staff are helpful.

Each room is private and has a unique mural painted on the walls by local artists.

Great location, tucked up Calle Aroma near lots of restaurants and the bustling Witches Market.

The staff at the reception are very friendly and there is a holding room for luggage if you are trekking or checking out.

The breakfast of fruit, yoghurt, bread and EGGS is a welcomed change.

You won’t get breakfast like this included in any hostel stay in La Paz.

Cruz de Los Andes is ideal for those looking for a quiet hostel to chill out and get a good sleep.

Another traveller says ‘this is the nicest place we’ve stayed in South America’.

  • Pros: Friendly, clean, breakfast, location
  • Cons: Not one of those looking to socialise

Hostels in La Paz


Estrella Andina

Estrella Andina is just around the corner from Cruz de Los Andes, again near The Witches Market and restaurants.

The views from this hostel are incredible. We enjoyed watching the sun set over the red clay buildings of the city and a firework display during our stay.

The hostel also has a rooftop patio on floor five.

The room itself, like the rest of the hostel, is very clean.

The shower was scorching, we checked in after a fourteen-hour bus journey from Sucre so this was a dream.

Rooms also have a small TV.

The breakfast is a delight.

You’ll become obsessed with the quality of accommodation breakfast during your South American travels because most are terrible. Stale bread and jam.

Here there’s a platter of fresh fruit, yoghurt, bread, eggs AND pancakes.

To add to the pancakes, Dulce de Leche! South America’s is Nutella.

Best working WiFi during our stay in the city, which is unusual for La Paz where the WiFi is notoriously crap.

The staff are friendly and helpful and again there is a storage room for those looking to dump their stuff.

There is also a nice common area with cool llama chairs.

  • Pros: WiFi, views, friendly, clean, breakfast, location
  • Cons: None, bar if you are looking for girls on a bar then look elsewhere

Best hostels in La Paz Bolivia
Hostels in La Paz

Hostels in La Paz


Airbnb in La Paz

There is more than just hostels for affordable accommodation in La Paz.

Airbnb apartment rentals are also available which is ideal if you’ve been on the road for a while and want some private space.

We stayed in the Achumani area of La Paz which is a sun trap with a local market.

Final Words

Wondering where to stay in La Paz? The questioning is now over. Whether you are looking for a party atmosphere or co-working space, hostels in La Paz have it all.

Garden seats La Paz

Biking Death Road in Bolivia La Paz

Thanks to the generosity of the hostels we worked with in La Paz (Wild Rover, Adventure Brew, Cruz de Los Andes Estrella Andina). Our own opinions, mouthy Scots!