Bolivia: La Paz and how I survived the Death road

After climbing Rainbow Mountain and staying for a few days around Lake Titicaca, Ivan didn’t feel very well. We weren’t sure if this was some stomach problem or mild altitude sickness. He was like a baby – well and quiet only if he was fed every 2 hours and only after a cup of coca leaves tea. After the third day, I suspected that he developed a coca addiction. And this was the way we entered Bolivia -him with his coca tea and me, a highly responsible and loving wife, feeding him every couple of hours.

The first sight of La Paz, when you enter from Peru is stunning. I cannot imagine who had decided to build a city in a such harsh, strange and lunar landscape. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The result is the highest capital in the world (with elevation from 3,200 to 3,900 meters), a city where modern skyscrapers and cable cars meet with colonial Spanish architecture and indigenous traditions. We liked it a lot.

Something is wrong with this clock


There is something fascinating about the steep, curvy streets with chaotic traffic and the houses built one on top of another on eroded slopes.


It is a hard job to be a cable guy in La Paz

During our travel, we found out that the best way to understand a city is to take a walking city tour and spend at least a day wandering its streets. We couldn’t visit the famous San Pedro prison where the inmates have to pay for their accommodation and their families live with them. It was open for tourists 10 years ago, but at some point, the government decided this is not a good promotion for Bolivia and shut down the tours. Nowadays fake guides sometimes lure curious tourists inside and leave them there on their own. Our guide told us that the ransom to get out can reach 1,000 USD.

Instead, we visited the famous Witches Market, where they sell dry baby lamas, lama fetuses, all kinds of love potions, etc. We couldn’t decide if we needed any of this magic.


The next day my love made me endure his driving through the famous Death Road. I tried to avoid this trip, but his argument was: “Can you imagine how good it will stay on your Facebook?”

I don’t think it is a big secret that my hair started to turn white when I was 20 years old. Before this trip, it was more salt than paper. After the drive on Death Road, I doubt I have any black hair left.

The North Yungas road was built in the 1930s to connect La Paz with the tropical city of Coroico. It became known as the Death Road due to the high number of accidents on it. During the time it was actively used, an average of 200 people lost their lives there every year. The road starts at an elevation of 3600 meters, climbs to 4680 and drops rapidly to 1100. The original road is three meters wide dirt road with unimaginable curves and almost vertical slopes, crossing streams and even some waterfalls (see the video). 

You must drive on the left side of the road, which gives you better visibility of your car tire passing dangerously close to the edge of the road. Today, the new highway is built and only about 30 kilometres of the old road have survived. They are used by bikers looking for the thrill of constant downhill and some adrenalin junkies like my husband.  But I couldn’t leave him alone at this dangerous moment, could I?

Beautiful Coroico – a well-earned price for driving the Death Road.

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