Bolivia Death Road : The most dangerous road in the world known as  Death Road

When our taxi pulled out of the 4800 meter high Cumberland & entered  fog surprisingly all  passengers inside were calm and it seemed as if a bubble had taken us to its safety this feeling was also good because We were traveling on the Camino de la Moutre or Death Road.

Bolivia Death Road : The most dangerous road in the world known as  Death Road

Bolivia's Death Road: The road descends from the Indian city of La Paz to the lowlands of Yongas & Amazon. The 64 km long road is called Yongas Road & it suddenly descends from an altitude of 3500 meters. Parts of the road are only 3.0 meters wide with many difficult turns and blind corners ie hidden places while small waterfalls also erupt from the side rocks of road.

In very few places on this road you will see security fences but more than that you will find shrines made of lip road which includes white crosses bouquets of flowers & fading pictures.

Bolivia's Death Road:Many people were killed in accidents on this road in the 1990. It was built by prisoners of war in Paraguay during the devastating Chico War fought from 1932 to 1935. Inter  US American Development Bank called the road most dangerous road in world.

Our taxi suddenly stopped. The sun was shining in front. I could see a perfectly vertical ditch 1000 meters below window. A motorcyclist coming from the opposite direction smashed side mirror of our car.

Bolivia's Death Road :Just ahead of us 3 cyclists were trying to pass by avoiding a pitcher. Although an alternative bypass has been built on most dangerous part of  road many commuters pass by here, challenging the deadly notoriety of the road. For tourists this disadvantage of route has become a virtue or an attraction.

Yongas in local language Aymara which means warm lands. About 1.7 million Bolivians speak this language is a very fertile and remarkably rich biodiversity area located between  Andes & Amazon. The two natural resources found here have not only aroused the interest of the people but have also given rise to misunderstandings & controversies & they are: coca and gold.

Bolivia Death Road : The most dangerous road in the world known as  Death Road

This road was built by prisoners during war fought in the 1930s

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After a 2 hour walk on Death Road we stopped at Koroiko a place that was once a gold mining center and now a place to relax. Climate & scenic beauty of the mountain range refreshes the nature.

There is also reasonable provision of food and accommodation. Getting out of Kuroko is not easy, but after a nerve wracking trip after spending a day here I decided to explore  surrounding area to find out what role region has played in modern Bolivia.

Due to its fertile soil and abundant rainfall Yongas has become an agricultural center. Once upon a time caravans of lamas carrying merchandise used to pass through here & this area was known as the bread basket of empires like theirs & earlier empires like Tiwanaku.

The Hard Knot Pass: Britain's most dangerous road at which even a mistake at a bend can be fatal.
The Hard Knot Pass: Britain's most dangerous road at which even a mistake at a bend can be fatal

Kund Malir

Kund Malir Where the sea mountains and desert meet

Bolivia's Death Road :This tradition is still alive today. I saw orchards of coffee cassava guava papaya & citrus orchards in the hilly fields along a centuries old road. Coca plants with oval leaves and reddish berries are also found in abundance here.

Bolivia Death Road : The most dangerous road in the world known as  Death Road

Bolivia's Death Road :Coca has-been a staple of South American cultures 4 thousands of years & Bolivia is the largest producer on the continent where the crop is grown in hundreds of square miles & 2 3rd of it is grown in Yongas. Rich in vitamins and minerals coca leaves are effective in preventing altitude sickness shortness of breath nausea fatigue and cerebral palsy helping to alleviate hunger thirst and fatigue, and relieve digestion & pain. Are For eight thousand years they have been used 4 various religious rites medicine currency & social relations.

The Spanish settlers at 1st considered coca to be haraam but when its benefits became apparent to them it was given status of a commercial crop & gradually its fame spread beyond the continent. The first reference to coca in English is found in the poem A Legend of Coca by Abraham Cowley a resident of London in 1662 in which he praised this strange & nutritious herb.

Cocaine a component of it became very popular in Europe & North America in the 19th century & became an integral part of beverages medicines & many other products. Its advertisements claimed to refresh body & mind. Many celebrities of time were shown using it.

In some places this road is only 3 meters wide so you have to be very careful to avoid oncoming vehicles.

Inspired by the success of products such as Win Mariani in the US United state of Georgia pharmacist & former Confederate soldier John Pemberton developed Pemberton French Wine Coca which was actually a mixture of cocaine and alcohol with caffeine rich cola nuts. Was gone drink later took form of coca cola from which cocaine and alcohol were extracted but cocaine free coca leaf juice is still used for flavor.

Bolivia's Death Road :Cocaine and cocaine products were legal in Europe & North America until 19th and early 20th centuries & psychologists such as Sigmund Freud experimented with and wrote many articles. At 1 point he writes: A small dose of it took me to indescribable heights.

However due to its popularity & addiction in the criminal world it was later banned as was the case with Coca Cola. However  use of Coca Cola remained legal in Bolivia.

In Bolivia most of the coca crop is grown in Yongas.

Today coca is considered a sacred plant in Bolivia and is used by 1 3rd of the country population although cocaine is illegal. In his book Coca Cola Cocaine Nine Thomas Gracefi writes: Coca Cola is acceptable to most classes regions & ethnic units. It's seen as a national tradition just like tea in the UK. 

Eventually Yongas 2nd landmark  gold mine reached the Koroiko River. 350 kilometer long resource is called the Golden Route & it enters the Amazon encompassing regional wetlands. It has-been a hotbed of gold seekers for centuries.