We pack our things and drive on. The idyll on the small river did us good. I have in my head the bold idea of taking the old road “Yungas Road” to La Paz, which is also called “Death Road” because accidents have happened there so often. A few years ago, however, a solid road was built around it, so that there is hardly any traffic on the old road.
However, this is very narrow and steep, so I only want to ride it when the weather is good. However, the weather report announces thunderstorms starting tomorrow and the four days after.
Nevertheless, we want to drive to the foot of the Yungas Road in the small town of Yolosa and wait for the next day to see how the weather develops.
WE HAVE THE DEATH ROAD AHEAD AND THUNDERSTORMS ARE FORECAST
We pass through small villages and market stalls. Fresh orange juice is offered, as well as fruit and chocolate from their own production. We can’t say no to that. We also buy fresh honey. It’s amazing what’s on offer here. We also take some fruit with us and then we continue.
Of course there is also “peaje” again, i.e. tolls to be paid, and a police station where you have to identify yourself. But there’s only a small official sitting there who takes a quick look at the aduana, the customs paper, and my license, and then it’s on.
On the way we stop at the small village of Sapecho. Edwin, whom I found in Couchsurfing, welcomes us there. He has a cocoa plantation there with his family, but unfortunately no time for us because we show up at an unplanned time. Unfortunately we didn’t have internet to announce our exact arrival. He greets us and shows us his house and also the fresh cocoa he has there.
We are allowed to settle in, but unfortunately he has to go again. His pit bull keeps us company.
We have lunch, but we decide not to wait until the evening for our host, but to take the chance, maybe to enjoy good weather the next day, to be able to drive the notorious but beautiful road.
The road is becoming more demanding. At a bend there is a larger square where a cross is erected and where many people are resting. I wonder what people are interested in here and I look at it. When I arrive at the cross, I understand that it is a makeshift sacrificial altar.
Drivers leave flowers, beer or other things there to ask for safe travel over the dangerous route. I’ll put three coins in for us. It certainly won’t hurt. Maybe some gods would be happy about small change for a cigarette machine.
Before we travel to the mountains we must make sacrifices to the gods
We stop briefly in Caranavi to feed Leon. The view of the city in the warm afternoon light is impressive. We decide to continue driving.
It’s not really that far anymore, but if we want to drive the Death Road tomorrow, we want to get right to the start of the infamous road to see what the weather is like there.
The road to the mountains is getting more and more adventurous. Truck traffic increases and the road narrows. Next to us a gorge goes down. There’s a white water gurgling down there. Although the sun is slowly setting, most vehicles have no lights. The number and size of potholes on the route is also increasing.
In some places the road narrows, but all vehicles continue to drive at full speed and do not even think to brake when another car or truck is coming.
The road becomes more exciting and the sun goes down
In the dark and on a very adventurous road, which is very narrow and steep, first up the mountain and then down and through the bush, we reach Yolosa, a small village at the foot of the Yungas Road, or “Death Road“, or the “Ruta de la muerte” . When this was the only road from La Paz into the lowlands and truck traffic came this way, there were at times three hundred deaths a year as the road is narrow and the slopes are steep.
The small town looks shabby at first, but then reveals a neat village square with a public pool. In front of it we park and spend the night. Leon has been asleep for a long time and Sara does everything to keep it that way. We set up the bed quietly and I go out and get us something to eat. There are no empanadas, but fried potatoes, rice and chicken. We go to sleep and are curious about what the next day will bring.